Loren's coming out story
Coming out was one of the hardest and most liberating experiences I've ever had. I definitely wouldn't take it back and I'm glad I made the decision to "live my truth" but it doesn't mean it wasn't hard, scary and almost impossible at times.
I grew up never really understanding but knowing that I cared about my best friends a little too much. I'd always be jealous when they got boyfriends - but chalked it up to the fact that it was just because they became too busy to hang out with me.
I was the girl who hung out with all the guys and played hard to get. They considered me a prude and a player and I just blamed it on having commitment issues or not wanting to settle down. In reality, I was living a double life. I was trying desperately to show others and prove to myself that I was "normal." That I agreed that "that guy was cute too" or that i just hadn't met the right guy to make me swoon yet. In reality, I was angry and I didn't know exactly why or at least wouldn't let myself admit it. I was repressing all my feelings so deep I was either numb or angry all the time. I was hurting myself in various ways and couldn't stop because it was the only thing that actually made me feel. You'd never know that though because I was always busy with friends, laughing and joking, playing on the volleyball team, succeeding on the JROTC team, being on honor roll or showing that token "barbie smile" my friends and family said I always made.
I should share at this point, that I have an amazing family and I'm luckier than so many others who've been raised believing or being told that being gay is bad or a sin. My family was never like that. My mom was good friends with the gay next-door neighbor and my parents overall seemed like allies. My older sister is also queer and they seemed surprised but overall fine with it.
You'd think having a gay sibling would have made it easier for me but in reality it made it much harder. I was lucky enough to tag along with her when she went with her friends or attended events at the gay youth center. I still remember my first drag show. It was so awkward for me because while I was so intrigued, I just didn't didn't feel like I fit in, I didn't look like anyone else there. It didn't stop me from wanting more experiences like that though.
I was in middle school at this point.... I was a girly-looking tomboy with long, blonde hair and always caring a bit too much about how I looked. I think one of the biggest struggles for me was not seeing anyone in the queer community who looked like me. If I saw a lesbian she probably had a shaved head or short hair, wore masculine clothing or didn't wear makeup. My sister didn't quite fall into that category but was definitely more butch than femme and all her friends the same. To me, I thought there is no way I could really be like them because I didn't look like the same, act the same, I just didn't fit.
So instead of embracing my differences and trying to find my place in the community I used my appearance as a shield. I played the part of the unattainable cute girl all the way through high school. Toward the end of high school I got a job at a record store (yes when those still existed)...and became friends with an older, cooler and more "alternative" group of people if you will. One of them was a lesbian that was completely outside the small gay circle I already knew. We became very close and finally one night after a lot of liquid courage I kissed her. At that point I decided I wanted to follow down this scary path. At first we kept it a secret from the rest of the group. That is until one of them literally caught us making out in a closet....yea, can't make this stuff up. I ended up coming out to my closest friends, they just believed I was the experimenting straight girl but still loved me anyway.
We started dating but I moved out of state for college. So for the first semester I continued my very double life of dating her and telling all my new friends I was involved with a guy from back home. Once it became too difficult to keep up the fake boyfriend lie I got myself a "beard" and continued the illusion.
Fast forward to Christmas break when I went back home for Christmas....I spent as much time with my girlfriend as possible, even having sleepovers at my parents house. One morning we were sleeping and cuddling and my dad came in and saw us. We quickly tried to uncuddle but it was too late. I realized it wasn't long before my parents talked to each other and maybe it was time to comeclean.
I went to dinner with my mom and just said, "I've got something to tell you" and "I like girls." I played the "I think I'm into the soul and not the gender" card at first to ease the blow. She was fine. Worried I'd never give her grandkids but otherwise supportive.
I then told my sister and the other very close family members at Christmas when I introduced my girlfriend to them. I finally started feeling these heavy, invisible pieces of armor coming off.
I told my other friends that didn't already know and I headed back to college determined to come out to everyone else. I was on a high. I was so excited because most of the feedback was positive, even if they were skeptical of it being anything but a phase.
Once I got back, I sat each friend down one by one and I told them and overnight I lost almost all of them. I had gained quite a few friends very quickly that first semester but by that second term I only had three left. One of them a lesbian, a bi party girl and a straight guy from Philly who even offered to officiate my wedding when I found "the one." Then, I lost a few high school friends as well, they slowly stopped replying and faded away quite quickly.
Fast forward a little more and I got to a point where I started introducing myself as a lesbian. Even in my gay studies class I raised my hard as the one and only queer in the class when the teacher asked (let me tell you how awkward it felt to be the token gay in a gay class, but empowering too). I started only hanging out with people who accepted me and I didn't hide it when I met people anymore. As time and girlfriends passed by people slowly but surely stopped thinking it was a phase or an experiment.
Don't get me wrong, I still get "mislabeled" a lot because of how I look. I admit, it still bothers me sometimes but now I realize we are a powerful community full of uniqueness and differences. This is what makes us stronger, this is what makes us - well, us. I am not hiding behind a mask anymore and I feel empowered to just be myself and I'm proud of my beautiful, growing family. I am thankful for the hard times and the darkness I went through because I don't think I could truly appreciate what I have now otherwise.
Today I make a point when someone asks me about my husband or the baby's father... I proudly say my wife or the mother of my child. Not because I want to rub it into anyone's face but because I'm proud of the relationship I have and I have struggled enough that I deserve to have pride when sharing about it. I owe it to the many queer people before me who couldn't and who would have loved to gush about their loved one without discrimination.
(Want to hear me gush about Viki and our story....click here)