I’m late, I know! But there were so many things happening in June that I, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to finish this, but it’s such an important topic and I wanted to write about it!
I’m Dominee (she/her), I’m married to a super cool chick, and I identify as pansexual – which means I find all types of people attractive and it’s not based on gender.
I knew when I was 10 or 11 that I liked girls. And it felt like such a scary thing to know about yourself because what do you do with that kind of information? At first, I thought that it was normal, that all girls liked girls but it was something that didn’t matter because we had to like boys too. And then I learned it wasn’t okay.
I came out to my mom when I was 15 and she told me that it was gross and selfish and to at least pick one gender or the other but do not be bisexual.
So I put myself firmly back in the closet (outwardly).
And there was a huge part of me that wanted to stay there. After all, I liked boys too so it couldn’t be that much of a sacrifice to just ignore the girl part of attraction, right?
Oh no. Oh no no no. And that became more and more obvious the older I got. Yes, I found men attractive, but I was much more attracted to women and people who were gender fluid. Eventually, I came to a place where I couldn’t hide anymore.
No matter what your sexual orientation, being authentic, even if it’s just to yourself, is so important.
But it’s hard. You’re different and oftentimes you feel left out or scared. I’m 34 and when my wife and I are in public, I still covertly look around just to gauge whether any kind of PDA like holding hands is safe.
I wanted to share some self-care ideas – especially if you’re just coming to terms with your sexuality.
Follow people you can look up to.
They make us feel braver. When the internet really started to connect me to other people it was so incredibly cool to see that there were other people living the LGBTQIA+ life as themselves. Here are some to start with.
Know that your outness doesn’t define your queerness.
You don’t have to be out of the closet to be what you identify as. You don’t have to have had a certain type of relationship or look to identify a certain way.
Those things don’t make your identity valid.
Come out when it’s safe for you to do so.
And with the people who make you feel comfortable to do it. We all feel pressure to come out but coming out is hard and you don’t have to do it until you’re ready. Make sure you’ve got a strong support system and then do it when you’re ready.
Find your support system.
Find allies that will listen to you without judgment and who will allow you to be fully yourself. Create online groups or spaces with like-minded people. Create your own circle of amazing people that you can call your own.
You’re allowed to have boundaries and you’re allowed to enforce them.
Educate yourself on our history.
We come from a long line of kickass brave people. There have been members of the LGBTQIA+ community for as long as there have been people, we just didn’t have a word for it. Read about them and thank them for paving the way for us. You can read about them here and here. Then carry on their work and go out and vote!
Find inspiration in Media.
I remember the first gay character I ever saw on TV. Bianca Montgomery on the soap opera, All My Children. I absolutely idolized her so much because for the first time in my life, I felt seen and heard. It was amazing. It made me feel *normal*.
I remember the first book I read with a gay character (Empress of the World by Sara Ryan). I remember the first movie (Show Me Love). Those resources were few and far between in the late 90s early 00s but I treasured them like they were something so special. I finally felt normal. I finally had relationships to gush over like every other teenager.
It was like magic.
My personal favorites: One Day at a Time (Elena is a lesbian in love with Syd who is non-binary). Love, Victor (A cute teen drama with a gay Latino main character). 911 Lonestar (trans and gay main characters).
And if all else fails – read fanfic. There’s almost a 100% probability that someone has written an LGBTQIA friendly story with your favorite characters from tv shows and movies.
Know that it’s okay to be yourself.
You’ll probably spend a significant amount of time hiding who you are or “toning it down”. Find ways that you can still express yourself. Create art, write stories, wear socks that make you happy, decorate your room, or your home in a way that feels “you”.
Take your mental health seriously.
People in the LGBTQIA community are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. If you’re struggling, know that there are resources out there that will help like The Trevor Project, the LGBT National Help Center, and Itgetsbetter.org