My 5 Year anniversary

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… of being out of the closet has rolled around.  I remember it well. How could I forget a significant period of upheaval,  emotion and life changes?

I remember speaking with one of my friends whom at the time was very close with me. My mom overheard our conversation,  tempers flared and the news was out. Rather than blatantly tell everyone I let my mom tell my sister and dad. I wasn’t able to face other horrible reactions.  But they came nonetheless. My mom and sister who used to hug me while saying goodnight suddenly stopped hugging me. Because of ignorance,  they worried I was suddenly attracted to them. I fought daily. Mean insults were hurled. Our relationships became more toxic. I took up smoking cigarettes regularly at work.

Fast forward to now. My family knows and I believe accepts me for being gay. At times I wonder what life would have been like if I had waited to tell my family till I was out of the house for good. When I came out years ago, I did so on Easter. I had been attending college and I went to live with my family every summer in between each school year.

The first year was definitely the hardest. I chopped my beautiful wavy hair off a few weeks after I broke the news to a shaggy pixie cut. I loved it. I felt so liberated.

I started dressing more comfortably.  This involved experimenting with different clothing styles. I tried out dressing like a butch and found it wasn’t quite my thing. But I realized that I enjoy cross dressing and rocking a tie some days.

I loved my short hair. I played with my hair and started doing more funky styles. When my hair was longer I kept it in a ponytail most of the time because I didn’t want to bother with styling it. With short hair I felt free, fun and spunky and I enjoyed styling it.

I stopped trying to be uber feminine and fit the circular mould that I as a square would never fit in. This caused conflict with my parents but I was an adult now and as time progressed, they realized I was my own person and they couldn’t make me do anything.

I learned that what I looked like on the outside by not conforming to the standard of feminine beauty most women do makes one an outcast. People look at you differently when you have short hair,  don’t wear much makeup (or any) and you wear comfortable/slightly masculine clothing.

It was a wakeup call. I don’t think I’d been terrible to people before coming out, but I definitely began becoming more empathic to others afterwards. I now knew what it was like to be an obvious minority. I knew what it was like to be judged for something many knew nothing about or didn’t understand. I knew what it was like to feel hurt and have friends and strangers alike be disgusted with me because I made a choice to follow my heart.

As the years passed, my family has come around. I have made new friends. Many of my old ones have stuck by me, and funnily enough they ended up being gay too! A couple friends who appeared to temporarily leave have also returned and apologized.

I have had a few jobs since.  I have settled into a long term career that may last awhile till I can think of something I may wish to pursue after furthering my education.

I have had several same sex relationships in the five years I’ve been out. I have had long and short ones. I learned how to be a better partner. I continue to learn how to communicate more effectively instead of shutting down or running away as those are my default settings it seems. My girlfriend seems to be an expert at communication even though she assures me it’s taken her a long time to get where she is now. I believe she is my soulmate and I want to marry her some day.

I’ve become involved in the gay community. I attend local events, and Pride every year. I feel so great every pride being able to live freely from discrimination or the thought of it for a day/week/weekend.

Life has definitely changed in 5 years. Some of it was an uphill battle. But I didn’t stop working at it.  I’m grateful to those people who stuck by me through the years. But now I can say it does get better. It did get better.  Life is better now.

5 Things I wish I knew before I came out

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Lately, I’ve been on a roll with lists. I’ve been typing them on my blog, I’ve been writing more lists on my refrigerator… hell, who doesn’t need lists? If you’re as forgetful as me at times, then you definitely need lists, whether you plan on blogging about the contents in said list or not.

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They are in no particular order.

5. I wish I knew of successful gay people in real life. 
Sure I had heard of Ellen DeGeneres. She was one of my favourite celebrities I had looked into when exploring my sexuality and when I was realizing I wasn’t exactly a Kinsey 2, 3, or 4… But when it came to people I knew in my every day life (ie: not celebrities), I found it difficult to know many successful gay people. I worried that being gay was a sentence that would make me lead a life of being unsuccessful and discriminated against. I was happily wrong. 

4. Women are not necessarily easier to date than men
I wouldn’t change it for the world. They are not necessarily easier to date. Sure they don’t generally burp, fart, or make rude disgusting sounds like some men do, but I think every sex has its own set of pros and cons. As does every person because people are complex creatures, we can’t all be neatly tucked into boxes.

Because I hadn’t dated women in high school, I was a bit later in the game in learning how to date women, what was expected and what it meant to be a part of the LGBT community, in a larger heteronormative type society.

But if there had been a guide book on how to date women? I would have been all over that mess like a lesbian viewing the Lword. Oops. That was me.

3. That I would learn so much about myself
I honestly believe I have become a better human being since realizing I was gay, and being my most honest and authentic self. I think we all ultimately choose whether to be a good or bad person. Despite the things that happen to use, we ultimately choose how to live our lives. I have learned so much about myself. Facing discrimination from family, work, strangers and society has taught me that I have to live life for me. The alternatives aren’t worth exhausting my time, energy and emotions with. My self worth is stronger because of some of the things I’ve faced because I know that I am living for me, not anyone else. I deserve to be happy, just like anyone else. And I think more before my actions now than I did in the past because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of hate, ignorance and bigotry.

2. People may dislike you simply for living authentically
And that’s ok. If they are not harassing you (verbally or otherwise), then leave it at that. If you wish to educate them as I have for a few people, then that’s great. Education and information can banish ignorance and bigotry. If it does not then the issue is out of your control and you have to leave it at that. People will believe what they want to in the end. They will like you or dislike you for any number of reasons. I have become accustomed to hearing things within ear shot, having glares thrown my way or people unsure of how to take me at times. I just had to become accustomed to it. There are some days when I still feel the brunt of ignorance, but I have to remind myself of how happy I am and how the closet door will only hide my clothes from now on.

1. I wish I had known that “It does get better”. 
I had grown up in a very traditional family, living in a small town with no real media access to different groups or world issues. When I was piecing my identity and sexual orientation together, I tried to keep things on the down low, and only tell very close friends things that I thought about and was experiencing. I was fortunate to have some friends that did not judge me from the beginning. This helped in knowing that some people would stick by my side unconditionally.

I believe that having supportive people around you while you’re discovering and realizing that you are gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans etc is essential. It is necessary. The world is a scary place without community and friendship. Once I started living an authentic life,  I could begin to start new jobs, make new friendships and date women and just be me. Being me was the best feeling in the world because I could look in the mirror and smile knowing I wasn’t hiding from myself or anyone else.

Another celebrity comes out as LGBT in a moving speech

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Another celebrity comes out as being part of the LGBT spectrum. In a moving speech that speaks of how insidiously our society strangles us with ideals, and that the media and society attempts to box and categorize us into how we should be as people, Ellen Page comes out as being gay.

(PhotoCredit: DailyMail)

I have been following the young actress since her early days in film. Although I try not to focus on celebrity gossip too much, I did find it interesting that she insisted on keeping her life private through dodging questions and not fully answering questions about her private life in interviews. But then again we all have a right to keep our private life private so who are we to judge? For those of you who are reading who may identify with the LGBT spectrum, you will likely understand why someone chooses to remain in the closet for reasons not understood by those who tend to identify as heterosexual.

For those of you who don’t understand, I would like to explain it. Imagine putting pieces together of yourself, your likes and dislikes that you realize make you different from others. Now imagine that you don’t fit the mould on what society says, that you should get your opposite sex partner (girlfriend or boyfriend), raise a family, have grand kids, grow old together. But… you find yourself attracted to your best friend of the same sex. It’s not because you choose it. It is the same type of bond that your friends seem to be having with their partners of the opposite sex. They just want to hold one another, kiss, grow, learn, laugh and love together. And you do too, but you’re just different. You might try denying it, but that makes it worse. It can bring on depression, unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to cover up the fact that you think you’re flawed and society says that people like you are disgusting and invalid. How low would you feel if you faced that every day?

Coming out takes courage. Some of us have the luxury of living in countries where we don’t have laws condemning us to a life of abuse by society, family, friends, strangers, and imprisonment. Some of us don’t and I feel saddened knowing this is a reality for some people out there. For some of us, even though the laws are on our side, the people in our lives aren’t and we are disowned, threatened, and harassed, even today in first world countries. And I believe that until we are all equal we should attempt to make this world a better place for those who are not considered equal.

I will leave it at that. Ellen Page’s speech is worth the read (or watch). Human Rights are everyone’s priority (or should be). What courage. I hope things just keep getting better for her. The video of her speech gave me shivers and caused tears to flow. I hope you enjoy it.

Ellen’s speech is on You Tube.
Other References:
Just Jared: http://www.justjared.com/2014/02/14/ellen-page-comes-out-as-gay-read-her-speech-here/
CTV (Full text of speech)http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/ellen-page-comes-out-as-gay-maybe-i-can-make-a-difference-1.1687811

Let Me be Straight With You: “This is my friend. She’s gay.”

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Sometimes I shake my head.

How many times have I heard this in the past? Some people have no tact. Some people think that somehow everyone must know my orientation when I am introduced to them by one of my friends. In the past I have had to pull aside my friends and tell them, “Look, I appreciate that you accept me for me. But please do not introduce me as your gay friend. I am a person. I am (insert name here). That’s it. If it’s my wish to tell people that I am gay, then I will tell them.”

Tell the world that I like chicks. Please.

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(PhotoCredit: troll)

I had this chat with another friend the other day. I do not encounter this situation as often anymore; Now that I’m getting a bit older people seem to have some sort of tact and at least do not discuss this in front of me when they discuss me to their friends.

It’s not that I’m closeted. In fact, I’m not. I’m out. I’m not ashamed of being gay anymore. I’m open and people that know me, know that I’m gay. Granted, I’m not “Ellen open” because let’s face it, I’m pretty sure the whole world knows at this point. That’s what happens when you’re a celebrity and it’s broadcast around the globe.

Straight people don’t introduce their friends like this: “This is my friend Bob, and he has sex with women.” That’s basically what you’re doing when you introduce me as your gay friend. Why can’t I just be your friend? And add the full period stop, and cut.

My sexual orientation is not the most interesting news of the day or your day. It is not news to be broadcast. I am not your pet. I am not your play thing or your five o’clock news. In fact, after several years of living life as an open lesbian, I have learned that in a world that still sees heterosexuality as the norm that I will have to come out as being gay for the rest of my life because it is news to people. For me it is a reality. It is a price I pay for living honestly. It is worth it in the end because I will be true to myself. But I don’t disclose my sexual orientation to everyone I meet because I don’t see it as necessary and sometimes I just don’t see you as being worth the effort (not everyone is pleasant to people who identify as having a sexual orientation other than heterosexuality). I just want to be able to come out on my own, on my own terms rather than people immediately thinking of how I have sex before they get to know me as a person. My sexual orientation is only part of my identity as a person. I am me.

Image(PhotoCredit: Rlv ZCache)