Senior Coordinator, Social Engagement, Marketing
I was about 14 when I first realised that I like girls. The only person I told was my twin sister, Rosie. We’ve always been so close and she was super supportive then and has been ever since.
At the time, I just didn’t feel ready to tell anyone else, and it did make me feel a bit of an outsider, like I didn’t really belong. It felt overwhelming. When you’re young, sometimes it feels like it’s never going to get to a point where you’re comfortable.
I had my first girlfriend when I was 17, and only my sister and a couple of close friends knew about us. While her family knew and were great, I still hid it from mine.
Even though my parents have always been heavily left-leaning and progressive, I was still a little nervous. The usual thoughts: that they were going to be devastated that I wouldn’t give them grandchildren, that they’d look at me differently, etc.
But it came to a point when I just didn’t want to sneak around anymore.
One day, Rose and I were babysitting three doors down from our house. I wrote my parents a letter, walked home and put it on the coffee table in front of them, and went straight back to where we were babysitting. After that, my dad texted me, to the effect that I was still their daughter and they still loved me.
But when I went home, my mum was crying – I think she felt that if I wasn’t in a heterosexual relationship, that life would be harder for me, and she just didn’t want life to be harder for me, you know?
I know that they wondered if it was perhaps a phase, and for a few years after that, we just didn’t talk about it. Even though it was out in the open now, it obviously didn’t feel equitable – how we talked about me and my relationship, and how we talked about my sister and her boyfriend.
Despite it being a far cry from my family dramatically disowning me, it still felt like rejection, and it was only in my mid-20s that I was really able to process that feeling and let them know how it had impacted me. Time and cultural change helped them to process it as well: my mum going to work and talking to colleagues who had gay children, finding out that other people were sharing this experience.
They’re fine now, they love my fiancée Bec, and they’re extremely supportive of us.
Because many people feel a need to put other people in boxes, to draw associations and make assumptions – coming out is something you never really stop doing. There’s often an expectation that if you’re not heterosexual, you need to keep explaining yourself, and that gets very tedious.
When I look back at my coming out experiences, the things people ask you can be appalling. I don’t mind if people ask thoughtful questions, but certainly not about things like intimate details with my partner. That’s just not ok.
And I am not a spokesperson for gay people, so no one should assume I speak for them all. People are complex, our lived experiences can be so diverse. When we try to shove people into little boxes anyway, we miss out on a person’s many wonderful complexities and nuances.
It’s 2019, and I think that even when there’s no malice intended, people also shouldn’t have to be on the receiving end of ignorance. Putting a little thought in goes a long way. If you have to think to yourself “is it ok to ask this?” to satisfy some curiosity you have about the LGBTIQA+ community, I’d recommend just not asking it.
If you asked me what coming out would look like in an ideal world, I’d just say that I’d like to not have to explain myself or my sexuality. Just like my sister will never have to explain hers.
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