Growing up, I never thought I was gay. As a child, surrounded by the stories of Disney princesses and The Notebook, I developed romantic tunnel vision, seeing the only path to happiness as one that ended like the stories I so happily devoured. My avid imagination spurred my fantasies into intricate tales of me and my prince, happily together in a stone cottage overlooking the sea, surrounded by our prodigious ginger children. My naturally introverted nature strengthened my dependency on these fairy tales. I believed everything that wasn’t falling into place now, would when I was older.
I was fourteen when I met Rachel. What I felt for her would take almost two years to say out loud. During this time, I learned first hand the difficulties, and misconceptions, of coming out to myself and to others. There is not one way to accept yourself, as there is not one way to fall in love, or to be happy, or to pick your favorite color. This is the most frustrating advice, as it seems like an overgeneralized, detached statement about a very personal experience. Often times it’s misinterpreted to mean you will have to face your journey alone.
But it is neither of these things. Although you will have to make a personal journey, you do not have to go about it by yourself. In fact, it’s often very helpful and comforting to have an ally during that time. It can be a close friend or family member, with whom you feel safe with and encouraged by. Finding a support group or club can also be helpful to find people who personally understand what you’re going through. If none of these options are available, turn to your computer. The internet has allowed for the creation of hundreds of online communities and support systems. Organizations such as The Trevor Project also provide assistance through internet chat and other resources.
It may seem like a very scary thing to externalize what you are feeling when you are questioning. By saying, “I might be queer,” you are not labeling yourself as LGBTQ, and vice versa. If you talk about what you are experiencing, you may be able to better understand yourself. Know that coming out to yourself is going to most likely be strange, emotional, and in no way perfect. There is no rational way of going about it. Love is possibly the most irrational element of human nature, and knowing who you love corresponds with that. It is easiest to go about sexuality with an open mind. Love and hate do not mix well together, and trying to find your orientation while surrounded by negative thoughts can be very difficult.
In the end, coming out will be what it will be. There’s days when I wake up and wish that I wasn’t gay. But when those times happen? I make myself look back at how unhappy I was before I came out, and then I continue to enjoy the simple beauty of being able to be myself.
A couple days ago, the girl I am dating gave me a book. It’s a modern version of Cinderella, where a girl falls in love with a female warrior. Maybe I couldn’t get my prince, but I found there’s lots of other fairy tales I can create for myself.
…And so can you.