I remember the first queer relationship I was ever closely exposed to in childhood.
It was a coworker of my mom’s turned mentor of mine during elementary school, and I spent a lot of time with this woman- and eventually her wife. They shared a powerful, fierce, dependable love. Eventually, five beautiful children came out of that love, and they continue to bask in each other’s love and raise their children in harmony to this day. Nothing about their relationship was ever confusing or hard to understand for me, and I don’t remember asking about why/how their relationship came to be, whether to them or to my mom. No questions were necessary, It just made sense.
I remember feeling the same way when I realized I was pansexual. My first kiss had been with a woman. My first sexual experience had been with a woman. My first crush had been on a woman (shoutout Hellen Parr the mom from The Incredibles LOL). Somehow it was after all this happened that I came to the conclusion that I might not be exactly, well- straight. It didn’t surprise me or take me off guard, it just felt natural. I often think back to the first lesbian relationship I witnessed, and think “wow, what a positive impact this exposure at a young age had on me”. And it did.
It makes me so angry when the political agenda is pushed of kids being “turned gay” by being exposed to relationships between anyone but a man or a woman in childhood. If that were true- with how many more heterosexual relationships I was exposed to, I surely would’ve ended up straight, right? Anyways, I give thanks often for this early exposure to a healthy, happy lesbian relationship. Because when I finally realized I liked folks who weren’t men, it didn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary, it just felt like me.
When I finally I came out for the first time at age 11, I was on a beach in New England with my brother Alder. I had thought about telling him for a long time, and finally mustered up the courage to do it. I was met with such love and acceptance, and it was truly the biggest privilege to be met with that level of understanding the first time I shared that part of me with someone.
It’s not as if I expected to receive strong backlash from anyone (especially the people who love me most), but I did expect a lack of understanding of what I was sharing. Instead, folks saw me how I saw myself when I came out… It just made sense to them. I ended up slowly coming out to everyone else in my life over the following 4 years. First my friends, then my mom, then my other brother and his girlfriend (now wife), then my aunts, then my father- who I was most nervous to come out to considering his catholic upbringing. I was so privileged to be met with the same understanding from all of them, and coming out to my brother Alder truly set the tone for my public coming out experience.
After much consideration and a lot of conversation behind closed doors, I decided to come out online last year. Everyone in (and outside) of my business community met me with such love, even members of my extended family or older friends from my past who were learning of this part of me for the first time online. It’s not like I would’ve taken any criticism about this hard (especially from people I’m not close with), but I can’t explain in words how amazing it felt to receive this kind of response from literally EVERYONE I came out to.
It feels so good to be fully out after separating (and at points straight hiding) this part of myself for the last decade. This month is a beautiful time, and a time to celebrate how far we’ve come.
With that being said, I also want Pride Month to be for others as it is for me- a reminder.
A reminder of the privileges we hold to be able to celebrate at all.
A reminder of all the places in the world where being queer is still a crime.
A reminder of all the additional barriers queer folks have to break through just to live and love publicly.
A reminder of all the queer folks struggling to access the physical and mental healthcare they need.
A reminder of all the lives lost to violence in the queer community.
I could go on, but need I?
I want everyone to hold the awareness and be contributing to conversations around and taking action on these issues all 12 months out of the year, not just one.
As I spend the rest of my life being a queer woman, I’ll spend the rest of my life thinking about and taking action on these issues, as well as amplifying the voices of queer folks who hold less privilege than me.
I strongly encourage you to do the same.