I’m In My 30s And I’m Finally Ready To Come Out

I’m going to jump right in and get real with y’all. It’s time to get something off my chest, because the weight of it is just too damn heavy to hold anymore. I’ve been living for over 20 years with an epic secret only a few people know.

You ready? Okay. Here goes nothin’.

My name is Lindsay Wolf, and I’m bisexual.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

I’m just going to repeat that because dayummm, that felt good to say out loud! I, Lindsay Wolf, love the dudes and the ladies.

If I’m being 100% honest – which I want to be, duh! – I should inform you that I also love everyone else too. Basically since I was a young teen, I’ve identified as someone who believes that romantic relationships transcend gender. And bisexuality has been the label that feels like the best way to describe all of that.

This is literally the first time in my entire life that I’m talking about being bisexual so openly. So, I guess you could say this is me officially coming out to you.

Congratulations. You have, in a really awesome way, become my immediate support system. Thank you for sticking around, because I have some things to say.

I’ve been crushing on girls since middle school, but I didn’t realize it was actual attraction until one of my high school besties and I were dared to kiss one night. I was about 16 at the time, and she was one of the most popular girls at our school. Her lips were soft and full, and I didn’t want to stop kissing them. Of course, I awkwardly pulled away, pretending like it wasn’t the most magical experience of my young life.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

But it sure as hell was.

I wish this was my only memory of that amazing kiss, but some A-hole at my school totally ruined it for me. As I sat in English class the next day, he randomly blurted out details of our smooch that made me realize my entire grade had been gossiping about it. The whole room started laughing, and I felt the hot sting of tears as I ran out. My English teacher made the kid follow me down the school halls and apologize to me. While I appreciate that he did, it certainly would have felt better if no one had talked to me about it ever again.

Then my little brother began noticing that I was dressing differently and in true rival sibling fashion, he started playfully ragging on me for looking like a stereotypical lesbian. It wasn’t very long before I changed my style to something else.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

At night, I felt most safe to be myself. I’d stay up until the early morning with my bedroom door locked, watching gay women kiss in movies like “If These Walls Could Talk Too,” “But I’m a Cheerleader,” and my personal favorite, “Gia.” Angelina Jolie had it goin’ on, and I was totally hooked from the first moment I saw her gorgeous face onscreen. I immediately splattered photographs all over the walls above my bed. My mom thought it was because she inspired me, and I guess you could say, she did. She inspired me to feel things I’d never felt before in ways I never thought I could.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

I had this wacky idea that when I went off to college, I’d find a willing BFF and we’d hop around gay clubs as a way of finally getting to experiment with my sexuality. At the time, I was definitely attracted to boys too, but they were easy to crush on because I was expected to like them. But girls? That was like a tucked away cookie jar I couldn’t tell anyone that I desperately wanted to reach into.

Just three months into my freshman year, something unexpected happened. I fell in love with the man who would become my first husband. And that’s when shit got really messy. Because while I was very much in a long-term relationship with a college boy, that didn’t stop me from drunkenly making out with every single woman who was interested.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

This was, as you’d expect, a very confusing thing for my boyfriend to make sense of. Especially when the sloppy drunk kissing turned into semi-sexual experiences. And TBH, he started jumping in at a certain point, even if he didn’t fully understand why I was doing what I was doing. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em, amiright? Through it all, he supported me as I wildly danced in the chaos of figuring out exactly how to be the most authentic version of myself possible.

Unfortunately, being authentic also came at a painful cost. One college summer, I dyed my hair red, chopped it all off, and after years of disordered eating, happily gained a little bit of weight. I came home, super confident and so ready to tell my younger teenage siblings that I was bisexual. But as I was in the middle of officially coming out to them in our family’s kitchen, my mom quickly barged in. Terrible words about my sexuality were flung at me. Shame-inducing statements about my appearance were made. And there was a whole lot of yelling.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

That’s the day I moved out of my childhood home and began living with my dad. That’s also the day I stopped talking about being attracted to women. The radical phase of sliding lips with the ladies had ended, and before I knew it, I was married to my college sweetheart.

And then four years later, we got divorced.

Heartbreak is a bitch, as most of you know. But the end of my marriage also felt like a liberating beginning, as I could finally open myself up to the possibility of dating both men and women. I wish I could say that I did just that. But I didn’t. I lost all confidence and got scared as hell when a few of the ladies I was flirting with on a dating app wanted to actually meet in person. I had never given myself the chance to tangibly show up in this way before, and now that the moment was upon me, I was fucking terrified to seize it.

Again, I eventually fell in love with and married a man who is now my ultimate life partner. We have two adorable young kids of our own, and I’m also the stepmom to his 13-year-old daughter. Once I met my husband Matt, I thought I’d need to stuff my true sexuality as deep down inside of me as humanly possible. Which makes sense, since most of my past experiences had taught me that who I really was didn’t jibe with the Lindsay everyone else expected me to be.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

But when a young family member in my life began vulnerably questioning their own sexual identity, I knew I had to get honest with Matt and myself.

It took several long talks, and by the end of them, I felt closer to Matt than ever. Not only did he accept my bisexuality, but he’s totally cool with me openly crushing on the same female celebrities as him. As of right now, it’s Lizzo, Scarlett Johansson, and Tess Holliday.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

My name is Lindsay Wolf, and I am — finally! — an out and proud bisexual woman.

If you’re reading this and you have yet to come out as however you identify, I want you to know that I’ve been there. It’s so damn hard to own who you truly are, especially when the world around you is feeding you the lie that it’s not okay to be yourself. And it’s even more challenging to allow yourself to be fully seen by others, regardless of what they may think about you. But after surviving the hardest mental health year of my whole life, I’ve realized that I don’t want to spend another minute pretending to be someone I’m not.

I’m ready to be exactly who I am. And who I am is absolutely wonderful.

The post I’m In My 30s And I’m Finally Ready To Come Out appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I Am Bisexual But You Probably Don’t Know

I am bisexual, but you probably have no idea.

Part of me, because of my heteronormative lifestyle, doesn’t even feel as if I have the right to claim it. I’ve never been harassed, and probably never will be. I never had to fight for my basic civil rights: I got married without a problem. No one has ever yelled at me for kissing my significant other in public or expressed distress over my choice of a partner. I’ve never had to come out to my mom. I didn’t earn it, somehow, so I feel as if I don’t have the right to the LGBTQIA umbrella. But it’s right there: that third letter. The B. I’m the B sandwiched in the middle there, but the one you don’t see. I’m the privileged one who realized her bisexuality late in life, and who had already made all the choices concurrent with life in a heteronormative society before she had the chance to realize it was even a choice.

I’m a passing bisexual. I hear about how bisexuality is made up, it’s about people looking for attention, it’s about uncertainty or an overactive sex drive. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m not bisexual for any of those reasons. I’m bisexual because I’m attracted to both men and women. Period. Sometimes I say something. Usually I don’t. I’m privileged about that too — I don’t have to tell you — because I live a different lifestyle than many bisexual women. I, unlike so many other, have a choice.

But that choice doesn’t take away who I am.

I didn’t come to the realization until my mid-thirties, when I started reading and writing girl/girl erotica. And all of a sudden it clicked: all those “girl crushes,” the times I thought it was “just a phase” or “just that girl” or “some weird feeling.” I liked girls as well as guys. I like girls a hell of a lot, in fact. Enough that I’d like to explore that option, given the chance (which I won’t have, for a variety of reasons).

But you don’t see me. To everyone outside the LGBTQIA community, I’m not “in” the community.

I’m a cis woman married to a cis guy, with three kids. I drive a minivan. We have 2.5 dogs (I suspect one is part raccoon), live in a house in the suburbs, and go hiking on the weekends. You see us looking sporty in our Patagonia and traipsing up mountains with our little moppets. We watch football. We like Halloween.

No one sees me. My bisexual identity is erased in the heteronormity of my life. No one imagines the soccer mom thinks other soccer moms might be hot.

Most women are aware of their sexuality at a young age, and many or most who identify as gay or bisexual go on to have same-sex relationships. But according to Science Alert a large, long-term study found that “sexual identity and attraction undergo extensive and often subtle changes throughout a person’s life, continuing long past adolescence and into adulthood, with women showing slightly more fluidity than men.”

So yes: you can discover that you’re bisexual when you’re in your mid-to-late thirties. In fact, I know a large community of women online who also discovered their sexuality later in life. We talk sometimes about the isolation we feel.

This erasure even happens at the holiest of holies: the Pride Parade. Even though I was wearing a rainbow shirt that read, “Becoming Me Was The Greatest Creative Project of My Life,” I had kids and husband in tow, so people probably assumed I was an ally, not LGBTQIA myself. I get it. I would have made the same assumption.

But it’s still part of who I am. I had to come out to my husband. That was bad enough. He sort of — okay totally — flipped out, and I still don’t think he really believes me. When you find out about a new part of yourself, when your journey of self-discovery actually yields results, you want to shout it from the rooftops. You want to tell people: guess what I found out. You want to wear the flag and buy the T-shirt.

If I put a bisexual flag on my minivan, my in-laws will lose their goddamn minds.

If I tell my kids I’m bisexual, and they tell my in-laws I’m bisexual, my in-laws will lose their goddamn minds.

So we talk about the term a lot, often through the lens of David Bowie. I tell my kids they can grow up and like girls or boys or both or neither. “I could marry a girl,” I said casually once. “But I married daddy.” They accepted this without question. I didn’t use the term. But the point came across. And for a second, even if it was only my kids, someone saw me.

I was grateful.

The post I Am Bisexual But You Probably Don’t Know appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I Used To Beg God To Help Me To ‘Not Be Gay’

Twenty years ago, when I came out, it was unbearably hard. I am from the deep South. Anyone who dares to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It’s not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences, these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up with. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with, “… and God, please don’t let me have nightmares, and please don’t let me be gay.” I cried myself to sleep many nights.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

My dad would often call me a sissy and say, “Don’t act like a queer,” because I didn’t want to get dirty like my brother. As I grew up, I didn’t really like to go to my dad’s anymore because of his verbal abuse.

Growing up, I remember thinking it took a really strong person to embrace their true selves and to have enough pride to show it off for everyone to see. This was their life and they had the right to live it how they wanted, regardless of what the rest of society thought. I secretly admired that so much. I still remember hearing snide remarks about interracial couples holding hands in the mall. I remember thinking how incredibly bold those couples were to not be intimidated by anyone. It took a special kind of bravery to place their affection on public display; if only I could be like that one day.

Indeed, my time would come to rise up and embrace who I truly was. Defying social norms is risky business, and all I could think about was being shunned by my family, church and friends. As it would turn out, those fears came to fruition and happened, and it shattered me. People turned their backs. They said awful and hurtful things. Many people I went to school and church with blocked me from Facebook. That hurt just as much as much as mean comments.

Even some of my closest friends did this. But do you know what? Today I have grown to understand I didn’t need those people in my life.

Unconditional love isn’t something you reward someone with. It’s something you give regardless of any outcome or expectation. If someone doesn’t give you their unconditional love and respect, then that person isn’t worthy of being in your inner circle. THAT TOOK ME YEARS TO LEARN. There are many other people out there waiting to get to know you and give you what you deserve. You just may have not met them yet. When you do, you’ll know it.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

When I realized I was gay after I graduated, I confided in a friend named Lauren. Lauren was absolutely hilarious, and she looked like Ana Gasteyer from Saturday Night Live. I loved to be around her. I was so scared when I came out to her that I was shaking. Her reaction was just … matter of fact. “It’s no big deal,” she said. And I loved that!

As it turned out, we lost contact and I moved to New Orleans. Many, many years later my husband, Douglas, was showing me around his hometown in Jackson, Mississippi, about two hours from where I grew up. He took me to his childhood best friend’s house and knocked on the door. And who should open it? It was Lauren! I almost fainted! They were best friends! It must have been fate.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

Looking at society today, I cannot imagine what it is like growing up with social media platforms all around you. I still have trouble understanding how people can be so hateful as they hide behind their computer screen. After I came out, I thought it was difficult hearing other people’s opinions about my personal life. ​With today’s social media, hateful people are able to stand on their soap boxes and lash out in a wide range of social groups and contexts. I remind myself daily those people will always be there and I shouldn’t take offense to what they say. I knew trolls were around, but I didn’t know how prevalent they were until my writings started circulating around different websites on social media.

In the beginning, I felt like I needed to write about my journey. Metaphorically speaking, I like to look at my writings like I am straying from the main road to leave a trail for others who may need hope. Helping to light a way for other LGBTQ people in our community is crucial in today’s society. I feel like it’s a personal calling and I passionately follow it, and I’m sure many of you do the same. People need to see that living our best and truest lives opens doors to so many beautiful opportunities. Young people who are questioning their sexuality need to see the beauty of what can happen when a person comes out and chooses to live their true self, boldly, proudly and unapologetically

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

Unfortunately, my writing leaves my work vulnerable to anyone who disagrees with my life. Although it’s exciting to have the exposure, it definitely isn’t without its share of disappointment. Hateful comments and messages from strangers still hurt. Having a large audience, I knew there would be people chiming in about my articles. And they did, and do. Some say, “You are going to hell.” Some say, “You are an abomination.” But the most hurtful comments come from people who lash out about my daughters.

They say, “Those poor girls,” and “Gays shouldn’t be able to have children.” How dare they come for my girls. We give our daughters the best life in the world. We raise them in a house of God. We pray before every meal and we love them unconditionally. For anyone to say they shouldn’t have been put in our life is simply hateful.

It reminds me that mean people are still out there. It also helped me realize I needed to grow a thicker skin. Yes, I am living my best life and I am damn proud of it. Why should some hateful and repressive comment hinder my growth? Why should I give trolls the power to tear me down? I don’t even know them. Who cares what they think? What I do know is that I am a good father, husband, friend, son, and brother. I AM good enough. That is ALL that matters.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

But I am also a sensitive person, almost to a fault. I always have been. In school, when someone would call me a faggot, queer or something mean, I remember thinking about it at night when I went to bed. I would lay there and wonder, “Why would they call me that? What did I do to them?”

Later on, when classmates would block me after I came out, I would dwell on it. I have known them for 20 years. How can they just slam the door on me? That is how it felt to me.

Now, I don’t really worry about that too much. I am learning to deal with reading negativity online from my articles. I am learning to not even read them. That is a good place to start.

In life, I have found people are mean for different reasons. I don’t know why, nor do I need to know. They just are. Were they not loved enough? Who knows? The bottom line is, I must move on. For some reason, that person is struggling to find their compassion and kindness. They lash out because anger and confusion are their default emotions when they do not understand something, and I need to remember to not take that personally. In fact, that’s the solution–I shouldn’t take it personally. All I have to do is be the better man and turn around without retaliation. I wouldn’t be able to change them with anything I said anyway. It would be futile. I choose to not give them what they want. You can do this, too.

National Coming Out Day is important because it allows people who are questioning their sexuality to see the support from so many people all around the world. It gives them the chance to see it really does get better. And y’all, it gets so much better. Trust me. When you go to sleep at night, do you try to pray the gay away like I did? You may even cry yourself to sleep. It’s okay to cry, just don’t give up. Keep moving. Just keep swimming. Life WILL get better.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

If you’re a teenager, you will find it can be very hard sometimes. It isn’t always going to be that way. Although it may feel like nothing will ever change, trust me, it will. Have faith. Your life means something, and you matter. Find your people. Find the ones who lift you up and embrace your quirkiness. Find the friends who love you for who you truly are, inside and out. Find the places that make you thrive. Find your passions. Paint. Garden. Cook. Work out. Laugh. Be kind to one another. Kindness is everything. Remember that your kindness today can be someone else’s strength tomorrow. Life is beautiful. And it truly gets better. Just push forward, fight, and I promise, you will see that.

LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.

LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.

Of all the suicide attempts made by youth, LGBTQ youth suicide attempts were almost five times as likely to require medical treatment than those of heterosexual youth.

Suicide attempts by LGBTQ youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.

Our support for LGBTQ and questioning youth is vital. All it takes is one person to be the support system someone needs. Let’s all be that person for someone who is struggling.

The post I Used To Beg God To Help Me To ‘Not Be Gay’ appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I’m Afraid To Come Out As Bisexual Because Of My Mentally Unstable Mother

I splattered posters of her all over my bedroom walls. In fact, I had so many photos of her that the space above my bed looked like a shrine. I lied and told my overbearing mom it was because she inspired me as an actress. But the truth was that Angelina Jolie was a hottie with a body, and I was crushing HARD.

As a teen, I’d lock my bedroom door at and sneakily see if my late-night favorites were playing on HBO. I had three I would watch religiously. “Gia” was always on repeat after 10 p.m., so that was a weekly delight for me. “If These Walls Could Talk Two” had some of the best lesbian love scenes, and I was hooked on it. And at midnight, the show “Real Sex” taught me about a subject no one at home felt comfortable discussing.

When I kissed Rebecca Mayfield in high school on a dare, I pretended it was just a silly game. But deep down, it was  magical. Her lips were soft and full, and she was drop dead gorgeous. I daydreamed about the day when I could openly experiment with girls, just to see if my fantasies could be made real. But instead of saying “yes” to more dares, I spent the vast majority of my high school years having the most awkward time with the male species. It was easier to royally fail at dating teenage boys than it was to admit that I had crushes on girls too.

Then I went to college, and it got even more complicated.

I had decided that when I moved to New York for school, I’d find a new BFF, and we’d totally hit up gay clubs together. But three months into freshman year, I met the guy who would ultimately become my first husband. Ben was the sweetest boy, and we were both theater nerds, so it was easy to date him while also secretly (or not so secretly) enjoying the ladies. We’d go to fundraising parties for plays our friends were doing, or out to bars with fake ID’s. I’d get super drunk, and it would inevitably happen. I’d find several women I thought were pretty and ferociously make out with them like it was the last night on Earth.

Ben tried to stay supportive of something he knew was bigger than us. He saw that he wasn’t enough for me in college, and that I needed the sexual identity exploration I couldn’t easily have while we were together. So he played along, until the amount of college girls I kissed grew to overwhelming numbers.

I dyed my hair red, cut it short, and went home to visit my family. I had also gained the average 15 pounds most college students do while away at school. After years of yo-yo dieting to stay impossibly skinny and keeping my hair long and blonde (the way my control freak of a mother preferred), it felt refreshing AF to physically transform into something else. I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other end of that temporary confidence.

The truth is, I grew up in a house where I was verbally, physically, and mentally abused. According to every single therapist I’ve seen, along with every psychologist my siblings have talked to, my mom has undiagnosed, untreated borderline personality disorder. She was unbearably controlling of me growing up in just about every aspect of life, and co-existing with her led to a constant state of inner panic and shame.

Coming home with short, dyed hair and a little extra weight gain was a much bigger deal than I first thought. But there were so many moments when my mom wasn’t abusing me, and it always made me think I could have emotional intimacy with her that didn’t come at a cost. Every single time, I was proven wrong when she’d fling the details of our heart-to-hearts in my face as she’d rage at me, call me names, and do violent things like hit me or kick my bedroom door down. The day I came home from college was no different.

I remember sitting with my little brother and sister that weekend and talking at our kitchen table. The conversation started out playfully enough, but then the topic turned towards sexual preference. Both of my siblings were teenagers who had gay schoolmates, but I think knowing that their own sister played for both teams was a littler harder to accept. So the talk was a bit choppy to navigate at first.

As I was beating around the bush (pun intended) with answers to their questions, my 15-year old sister point blank asked me if I was attracted to women. I floundered a bit and said something about how I definitely found them to be beautiful, but that I wasn’t entirely sure if I was into them. My mom was predictably eavesdropping and came in, verbal guns a’ blazing.

electravk/Getty

I’ll never forget what happened next. We got into the usual all-out screaming match my mother had taught me how to engage in from a young age. She viciously described my appearance as “butch.” She said she didn’t know who I was anymore. She accused me of “gaining 50 pounds.” She called me by my dad’s name, which was never a compliment. And she told me she would not allow me to negatively influence her two younger kids with my inappropriate lifestyle.

I moved out of my mom’s house that day and in with my dad. My sister tried to defend me as my mom raged at my siblings, and she was kicked out too. Our belongings were sloppily thrown into giant black trash bags and strewn across the front lawn for our immediate pick up. And my mom kept the door locked every time we tried to visit.

After that moment, my behavior became more reckless. It was as if I hoped deep down that someone would stop me and directly ask if I was bisexual. Or maybe I was hoping Ben would catch me in the act and fight for me to focus only on him. Either way, my mom’s words and actions tipped me over an edge that led to my rebellion.

At a Halloween party during my junior year, I tried tequila for the first time, and it was safe to say that all bets were off. Ben’s theater friend, Sadie, was hosting, and in the middle of playing a stupid board game, she tipsily proclaimed to everyone that she was going to take a shower. I was secretly jonesing to join her, but I blame the alcohol for actively motivating me to follow Sadie. Liquid courage, amiright?

I drunkenly stumbled into the bathroom and proceeded to have my first semi-sexual experience with a woman behind that shower curtain. We enjoyed each other’s bodies and kissed like schoolgirls learning how to do it for the first time. It was glorious.

Except that I was still dating my long-term boyfriend. Ben couldn’t keep in his anger and hurt anymore, but because he was around me every single time I had my moments with the ladies, he couldn’t justify that what I was doing was cheating. So, he channeled his upset and started kissing girls at parties too. It’s no wonder we ultimately divorced.

I was in my early 30s when Ben and I ended our 11-year relationship. And the nine months I spent single were filled with a lot of firsts. But, despite the years of secrecy that built up to this moment of exhilarating freedom, I was too scared to do what I had always thought I wanted. Sure, I selected both “men” and “women” on my dating apps and even found myself flirting online with one particularly adorable gal. But I was too scared of taking the plunge and meeting her in person.

From my teen years on, I’ve struggled to admit to myself and others that I’m as attracted to women as I am to men. Because of my mentally unstable mother, I’m simply too afraid to come out as bisexual.  And even though she’s still a small part of my life, our relationship is rife with boundaries I needed to make to survive.

With my mom these days, I know not to reveal too much, get too close, or see her too often. The closest thing she’s ever done to work on herself and heal our past was walking out of our first family therapy session when I was a teen. So I’ve given up on hoping she’ll ever change. And, sadly, even though I’ve worked on myself a ton and see a counselor regularly, I still don’t feel safe enough to openly embrace my true sexual identity. It feels as if my mom will always be lurking behind me no matter how many miles separate us, ready to criticize or punish me for existing as I want to.

I’m now happily married to a guy who has helped me come to terms with my identity. He too struggled during his youth to openly allow himself to experiment with the same gender. Through our vulnerable talks together, we’ve realized that sexuality is beautifully fluid and deserves celebration, not judgment and ridicule.

I still haven’t officially come out to anyone except a close few, and I don’t know if I ever will. My mom terrified me into a deafening silence in this department.  But finding someone to heal my broken past with has definitely made it so much easier to be myself. And that’s a hopeful start.

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Getting Sober Didn’t Make Me A Better Parent

When I finally admitted to myself that I had a drinking problem, I was able to consider what I wanted to do about it. For a couple of years, I kept drinking. It was easier to not deal with a drinking problem by drinking. It wasn’t until I admitted that I am an alcoholic that I had to make another decision: Do I keep drinking and continue my pattern of slowing down for a day or two at a time to pretend I have control, or do I stop?

When I made the choice to stop, it was not for me; it was for my kids. At the height of my drinking, I hated myself too much to give myself the kindness or grace of doing anything that put me front and center. If I was the only one to consider, I would have drank myself to death. But I had enough strength left in me to know I did not want my kids to witness that.

I quit drinking so I could be a sober parent. But getting sober did not make me better parent, at least it hasn’t yet.

I was a high-functioning alcoholic who, even with booze, could not escape my need for perfection. Guilt and shame played roles in my quest for perfect appearances too. My writing career, health, and emotional growth suffered, but on the surface I was a great parent. As long as I had my alcohol, that is. Gin was a great companion for hours on the floor with babies and toddlers. Time to feed the babies? I can do that. Let me get a beer. Time to hang out and read stories? Do puzzles, make art, build with blocks or Legos? Play, make a mess, or do anything that requires supervision? Sign me up, but let me make a drink first.

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"Being a parent is a literal turbulence. One minute you are the smartest, most patient and loving parent that ever parented and the next you are standing in a puddle of pee while holding what you think is a chewed granola bar and being asked to explain why dogs lick their butts. Add exhaustion, financial stress, work deadlines, and ongoing flashbacks or waves of PTSD symptoms from past trauma and you have the ultimate test of sobriety. It’s okay to admit parenting while sober is hard. It’s really hard." My latest for @thetemper. Link in my bio. (P.S. I made them do a mini crossfit workout with me because they were being assholes and I needed to move. We were all happier after.) #queeraf #soberaf #yogaaf #nonbinary #lgbtq #advocate #educate #enby #transawareness #translivesmatter #parenting #gayparenting #nonbinaryparent #kids #sobriety #addiction #recoverymonth

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I didn’t only use the idea that “kids are hard, so let me get a drink” notion that is the root problem in mommy wine culture; my thinking was also “playing with my kids or spending time with them means I get to drink.” Alcohol stunted the healing and discovery I needed to do, but it also slowed me down to make it look like I was an engaged parent. It was also a great way to stay engaged at the park or a playdate too. Hidden alcohol in a travel mug was motivation and the companion I wanted to have when I was a stay at home parent navigating the playgroup, library, music time scene. Accepting invitations from parents who were happy to have mimosas through lunch time was a great excuse to get the kids together.

If I had a drink in hand, I was present.

Except, I wasn’t really present. Not like I thought I was at the time. Even though I was physically present, I was mentally somewhere else. I was happy to use alcohol to avoid myself and the impact other people had on me, specifically the impressions my children made on me. As long as there was a wall of protection and distraction between the reasons I drank and my role as a parent, then I was able to maintain the façade.

In order to stay well, I miss bedtimes so I can get to AA meetings. I tell my kids I can’t play a game until I get in a good workout. I am less patient and snap at them more.

I wasn’t dealing with PTSD from years of childhood sexual abuse that was triggered by my young children. This was no fault of theirs, but changing diapers, giving baths, and watching them grow into the toddler age I was when my abuse started hit me in ways I never anticipated.

I wasn’t trying to understand why I was so uncomfortable in my body. I was avoiding the growing need to numb myself with alcohol in order to get through the day living in a body that doesn’t feel home to my identity. Examining that would have meant admitting the female gender I was assigned at birth was not right. And if being a female, a woman, is not right, then what am I?

But when I stopped drinking, I couldn’t fake it anymore. I had to admit I am transgender. I had to find ways to live authentically. I had to find ways to heal from very old wounds. When I stopped drinking for my kids, I had to start living for me and that looks selfish at times.

I quit drinking so I could be a sober parent. But getting sober did not make me better parent, at least it hasn’t yet.

In order to stay well, I miss bedtimes so I can get to AA meetings. I tell my kids I can’t play a game until I get in a good workout. I am less patient and snap at them more. I know I am coming off as harder and less nurturing than I used to be. I apologize for my sharp tone and tell them I am working through tough stuff. I love them. They know this, but they also sense this love is coming from a new place.

It is coming from a safer and more mindful place, even if the edges are sharp. This is to be expected, though, because I am no longer numb. I am no longer avoiding feelings. I am in the thick of healing from past traumas and discovering who I am while being in the thick of parenting three small children. I am raw and on edge and doing my best to become the parent I know I can be.

I will give myself the grace to say I am still a good parent. I know the benefits of sober parenting, but the real payoff will be in a year or two or more when I have had time to practice being a person in recovery. I am discovering the strength I have in myself. I am learning how to be uncomfortable. I am learning how to be present without a vice to get me there. I am cultivating in myself what I want to grow in my children.

My kids will remember a sober parent. I want them to also see and remember a parent who loved them enough to learn to love myself.

The post Getting Sober Didn’t Make Me A Better Parent appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Getting A Same-Sex Divorce Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Value Same-Sex Marriage

I am getting a divorce. I never thought I would say that. But as a queer person, I didn’t think I would be ever be able to say I was getting married either. When I was in college, I knew of some employers that extended benefits to domestic partners; but the idea of same-sex couples getting automatic access to health insurance, retirement accounts, and death benefits of the person they loved in the same way heterosexual, cisgender couples did was just not imaginable. It has been 4 years since same-sex marriage was made legal in all 50 states, but depending on an employer’s policy or individuals’ religious beliefs, benefits to LGBTQ folks are still not guaranteed.

In 2001, Vermont was the first state to offer civil unions. Vermont was my first home out of college and and it was here that I had my civil union ceremony; a handful of states later passed same-sex marriage within their own borders and those rights extended to other states with same-sex marriage laws. Vermont was one of those states and, in 2010, when my ex-partner was pregnant with our first child, we signed marriage paperwork too.

The legal protections for gay couples and their biological, non-biological, and adopted children have varied across the country in very confusing ways, were non-existent in some places, and even now are shaky at best.

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I am 40 years old and knew I was queer from a very early age. I was assigned female at birth and identified as a female for most of my life, so when I felt my first flicker of affection for another female when I was in elementary school, I knew my heart loved differently. I also knew different was wrong. I was closeted until the late-’90s, didn’t have a good coming out experience, and have struggled with bigotry and rejection for over 20 years. There have certainly been victories along the way, but since coming out as transgender, I am seeing more and more losses.

When Trump was elected, I was certain that it wouldn’t be long before the Supreme Court would reverse the 2015 ruling in the civil rights case of Obergefell v. Hodges which granted same-sex couples the right to get married in all of the United States. While this hasn’t happened yet, rights and basic human decency are continually being stripped from LGBTQIA+ folks in the workplace, health care settings, and in places of business.

Before legally able to do so, same-sex couples made commitments to one another in front of friends, chosen family, and sometimes family members who accepted their gay relative or child instead of rejecting them. Those lucky enough to witness love that didn’t require paperwork to prove its worth would create circles of support to strengthen the union. Kids have been a part of the mix too—it never took a court order for queer couples to be married with children.

We never wanted permission to marry; we only wanted protection within that marriage.

Many people (i.e. bigots) argued that same-sex marriage would ruin the sanctity of marriage. The perpetuated myth is that gay couples are all whips, chains, and kinky sex with no respect for love, marriage, or family values. Marriage, after all, is between a man and a woman. Marriage is meant for procreation. And what about the children!? Children need both a mother and a father. Clearly same-sex marriage erodes the idea of fidelity in straight marriages. Women need a man to protect them, and men need women to domesticate them.

Who’s going to break it to them that none of these things are true? Not it!

Even most recently, an Ohio politician blamed mass shootings on “homosexual marriage” because, according to her, that has led to the breakdown of the traditional American family. Who is going to tell her that “traditional” American families created the mass shooters? The gay agenda includes brunch, not murdering innocent folks because of racist, xenophobic, and homophobic beliefs.

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Just like same-sex marriages don’t take away from the “sanctity of straight marriage,” queer couples who divorce don’t take for granted our ability to get married in the first place.

Getting a divorce doesn’t mean I am trashing the rights I shouldn’t have had to fight for, nor does it mean I don’t value marriage. I didn’t get married to make a statement nor did I get married thinking my relationship would end in divorce. Like many couples, my relationship worked until it didn’t. Yet, there seems to be stigma around queer divorce, as if I should take my marriage more seriously because I should have been so thankful to finally have been given equal rights.

If you wanted to get married so badly, how could you just spit on it and throw it away? Because I didn’t. I and other LGBTQ folks should not be forced to stay in a marriage that isn’t working in order to preserve another queer couple’s ability to get married because of the ignorant opinions of some straight, cisgender folks. My ex and I did the brave and responsible act of showing our kids what it looks like to adjust relationships in a respectful way that ultimately benefits our family.

You don’t deserve marriage! Everyone has the right to marry who they love. I had the right to get married and I have the right to get divorced. I also have the right to get married again.

With the rise of LGBTQ families, the image of the traditional American family is changing. Queer people are getting married, having kids, and, yes, getting divorced. None of these are privileges I take for granted. The right to happiness, whether it’s the beginning or a beginning to an end, is something we all deserve.

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LGBTQ Asylum Seekers Face A Special Kind of Hell

There is a lot to know about the current immigration issues—none of which are easy to understand—but many of the conversations focus on families being separated. We see photos of children being taken from their caregivers. We hear about the awful conditions in detention centers. We see parents and children dying just to try to make it to the U.S. southern border, where, if they had made it, they would have been treated like animals. We can’t look away from these stories. We can’t forget the LGBTQ asylum seekers either. Members of the LGBTQ community need our attention too.

Allegra Love, an attorney and the Executive Director at Santa Fe Dreamers Project, works with transgender women crossing the U.S. southern border to help them seek and apply for asylum from the persecution they experience in Central American countries. Love told Scary Mommy that in Honduras, three transgender women have been murdered in the last week alone. LGBTQ people living in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala face unimaginable levels of discrimination, violence, and death. They flee their homes with the hope of finding protection in the United States. Unfortunately, even if they make it across the border, LGBTQ asylum seekers are still at risk for assault and death. Transgender women are some of the most vulnerable detainees.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, confirms what hundreds of transgender women have been telling Love since reaching the American border: “People are facing vicious discrimination in Central America due to their gender identities, and have absolutely nowhere to run for safety.”

Part of Love’s job with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project is to ensure immigrants arrive safely at the border; workers meet up with caravans and advise transgender women and gay men on their rights to seek asylum in the U.S. based on their gender identity.

Asserting their identity is supposed to afford them specific protections under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) rules, but when your gender identity is the reason your life is at risk, it’s hard to trust that declaring it to a foreign entity will provide different results. However, without the immediate self-advocacy, there is little chance a transgender woman or gay man will escape harassment and assault. Even with self-advocacy, LGBTQ asylum seekers are being treated horribly.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that 20% of the verified sexual abuse cases occurring in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) involve a transgender detainee. Assaults are perpetrated by both peer detainees and detention officers. Sadly, while some transgender women will be moved to appropriate “trans pods” for protection from this abuse, all transgender women start their stay in detention centers in cells segregated by sex and not gender. This means transgender women are sharing cells with cisgender men.

“Transgender women are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees,” reports the American Psychological Association. Yet, when they complain or report this abuse, they are placed in solitary confinement as a way to protect them. This segregation, however, perpetuates existing depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. It forces a transgender person to choose between abuse and solitary confinement. Neither physical nor mental health concerns of transgender asylum seekers are being taken care of.

The Nation reported that gay men were made to perform sexual favors to get food. Transgender women were told to walk “like men,” forced to shower in front of cisgender men, and were verbally and physically assaulted. And sometimes transgender asylum seekers are killed. Johana (Joa) Medina Leon and Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez both died in ICE custody in New Mexico recently. Both were transgender women and both died as a result of lack of proper medical care. The autopsy of Rodriguez revealed she had been beaten before death and had wounds indicative of handcuff injuries.

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The United Nations and ICE have standards of care in place for LGBTQ folks, but ICE isn’t following them. The United Nations characterizes solitary confinement as a form of torture, and a report issued in March 2019 by attorneys for the ACLU of New Mexico, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center noted the dangerous and dehumanizing treatment of LGBTQ immigrants at the Otero County Processing Center. Transgender women and gay men are being refused medical care, are being raped, and are being forced to choose to continue being physical violated or sent to solitary confinement for “safety.” This treatment goes against U.S. policies to protect LGBTQ folks.

A letter from the ACLU-NM, Las Americas, Santa Fe Dreamers Project reminds those in charge at Otero of their violations: “The 2015 ICE Memorandum on the Care of Detained Transgender People explicitly states that ICE Field Office Directors (“FODs”) should ‘consider whether the use of detention resources is warranted for a given individual and shall consider, on a case by case basis, all relevant factors in this determination, including whether an individual identifies as transgender…Discrimination or harassment of any kind based on a detainee’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is strictly prohibited.’ Discrimination against a person based on their gender identity or sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause.”

Yet we have women like Luz who experience the terror of being hunted and shot in Honduras for being transgender only to arrive in America to endure more attacks.

But there is hope. Even in a climate not always friendly nor free of discrimination for LGBTQ citizens, the United States is still a safer place to be queer than Central America. But queer asylum seekers, specifically transgender women, are not free to be themselves until they are free from detention centers, other detainees, and ICE. Love said there are three ways for this to happen: (1) A judge can grant bond; (2) ICE can release an asylum seeker through parole while they wait for their asylum hearing (which they continue to deny); or (3) a detainee can win their appeal for asylum.

The Sante Fe Dreamers Project has served over 200 transgender women, including working tirelessly to free the over 80 transgender women being imprisoned in Cibola County Correctional Center in the last year. But they need our help. One way to do this is by financially supporting the ground-level organizations working around the clock to be sure legal services are provided to these vulnerable, at-risk women.

Some of the amazing organizations gratefully accepting donations are: Santa Fe Dreams Project; RAICES (The Refugee And Immigrant Center For Education And Legal Services); Transgender Law Center; and Al Otro Lado. Advocacy groups which could use financial assistance include: Translatina Coalition; Trans Queer Pueblo, and Familia (Trans Queer Liberation Movement).

One of the most selfless acts you could do is to become a sponsor for a trans asylum seeker. When asylum seekers cross the border, they often come with family. This is often not the case for LGBTQ immigrants. Queer and transgender folks often flee their country because their family has rejected them or because they are rejected by society in a way their family is not. LGBTQ asylum seekers may lack community, and you could provide a transgender asylum seeker with a sense of support and family while they seek political asylum.

Elyssa Fahndrich/Unsplash

Santa Fe Dreamers prioritizes sponsors in the Bay Area, Sacramento, LA, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Boston, and New York, yet encourages people from all over the US to reach out. They currently have at least 30 women awaiting placement. Showing Up For Social Justice and the Asylum-Seekers Sponsorship Project are other organizations that facilitate sponsorship of migrant LGBTQ individuals and families.

Luz, a transgender immigrant, reminds us that everyone deserves to live a life free from fear and violence. “I had already been imprisoned [in Honduras] and didn’t want to experience another situation like what I had been through.”

If you would like more information about becoming a sponsor, contact a trained volunteer to have an obligation-free conversation.

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If Your Support Of The LGBTQ+ Community Is Conditional, It Isn’t Really Support

Supporting people doesn’t mean that you have to live your life the way they live theirs. If you support the LGBTQ+ community, you’re saying you believe in their right to live. That’s literally all it is. To say that you support LGBTQ+ people and then add “but” means that you don’t support us. Support can’t be conditional when it comes to the existence of other people.

During the month of June, I saw a comment somewhere on the internet that said, “I support the LGBT community, but why do they have to celebrate Pride?” I don’t think shock accurately describes the state I was in. If you claim to support the LGBTQ+ community and question our need to celebrate Pride, you don’t support us, period. We absolutely must celebrate Pride, because it goes so much deeper than just being proud of being apart of the community. We’re celebrating the fact that we’re still here when there are plenty of people in the world who want us dead.

Whether people choose to believe it or not, the United States isn’t kind to LGBTQ+ people. Members of our community suffer violence at the hands of cisgender, heterosexual people every single day. And that violence manifests itself in all kinds of ways, not just the obvious, dangerous way. It could be something as simple as a dirty look when you’re holding hands with your same-sex partner. Telling your bisexual friend or family member that it’s “just a phase” is another. Or refusing to acknowledge the singular “they” is a valid pronoun to use for an individual. All of these are violent microaggressions that can lead to true danger.

Alex Kingsley/Pexel

Saying you support the LGBTQ+ community and then asking why we have to live our truth out in the open is demeaning. Our entire world is designed for cis-het people. We’re just starting to see advertisements featuring gay or queer couples or individuals, and half the time, it’s a blatant attempt at tokenism instead of just a natural choice. No one is out there saying, “I support straight people, but do they have to get married?” Instead we just buy you an overpriced serving dish, choke down dry chicken, and try to avoid talking to your homophobic uncle during dessert.

We live in a world where the cis-het narrative beats us over the head until we feel inferior. Until the 1970s, being LGBTQ was considered a mental disorder. Queer people literally believed that they were fucking mentally ill for their normal biological feelings. So many of them had no choice but to squeeze themselves into the narrow box of heterosexuality or be considered “crazy.” How is that a way to live? Saying that you support the community “but” basically shoves us back into the goddamn closet. And let me tell you, it’s not a pretty place.

Never do I see LGBTQ+ people recoil in horror at the thought of a man and a woman kissing. No parent of a queer kid is worrying that they’ll see heterosexuality on their TV shows and be confused. Straight people don’t have to “come out;” the world just assumes you’re straight until you tell them otherwise. And then it’s a constant nagging of, “well can you be?” just to make everyone else comfortable. And when do we get to be comfortable? When we’re dead?

Your support should not be dictated by whether or not members of the community live their lives to your standards. We don’t exist to please cis-het people, just like you all don’t live to please us. Forcing us to try and live the way you think we should live does nothing but reduce us to second or third class citizens. It makes us feel that by merely existing, somehow we’re doing something wrong. And trust me, that’s no way for people to live. We shouldn’t have to conduct ourselves by a stranger’s arbitrary standards just to be seen as equals.

To support the LGBTQ+ community, you must have a complete sense of empathy. You may not understand our lifestyle, and that’s fine. You may say, “I could never live like that,” and again, we’re not going to try to convert you. We’re not asking you to be an equal partner, but we’re asking for you to stand beside us and behind us. You can walk a mile with us without putting on our shoes. Your support is built into the rocket that helps propel our fight for acceptance and respect forward. Supporting us is taking the time to, at the very least, try to understand the struggles we go through. To support the community is to take the time and do your homework. Be aware of not only our current state, but where we began. When you say “but,” you’re proving that you not only lack empathy, but also compassion.

If you’re choosing to be an ally (which is what you’re saying when you claim to support the LGBTQ+ community), you can’t put conditions on it. Being an ally means fully showing up for the group of people you’re choosing to support. It’s not their job to exist within the parameters of your support. And if you need to show your support with the word “but,” then trust me, we don’t want it.

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This Is The Pain Of Drifting Away From Your Longtime Bestie

We have known each other for nearly 25 years. We were inseparable in high school, fiercely loyal to one another. We called each other sisters. She’s an only child, and I have one brother. We said we had always wanted a sister and so we became each other’s.

We even went away to college together, became roommates. We studied together and looked out for each other on our many drunken nights out. We supported each other in our early careers, sharing job contacts, encouraging each other when our confidence waned.

She married and had kids before I did, and I observed her experiences with awe and longing. She seemed to get everything right on the first try. It took me a while to get pregnant, but when I did, she was there to give honest feedback. To me, she looked as though she always knew what she was doing, but she told me the truth about how hard it is to be a mother. She is an aunt to my daughters. They adore her. We visited each other regularly, even vacationed together. Our kids are honorary cousins.

But, in the last few years, something has shifted. We both have families, but mine is changing. Last year I came out as gay to my ex, and a couple of months ago I moved into a new house. My ex and I now share time with our girls. They are adjusting well though my ex husband and I still struggle to get along. We are kind to each other in front of the kids, but this has not been what I would call a low-conflict separation.

And through this, my best friend has drifted away from me. Or have I drifted away from her? When my ex told me being gay was a sin and that he would fight to get sole custody of our daughters, that he didn’t want them to be exposed to my “lifestyle,” my best friend played devil’s advocate for him, saying he was just angry, he probably didn’t mean what he was saying.

David Burch/Getty

While other friends of mine told me they would support me no matter what, that they understood I didn’t have a choice in my sexuality, that my children would be okay, my best friend worried about how my ex felt. Some of my friends who have been through divorce gave me advice based on their own experiences. They connected me to resources that could help me transition my girls from a single-home family to a two-home family in the least traumatic way possible. My best friend regularly wondered aloud how my ex was faring.

She and her husband have a rocky relationship. Last year she discovered he was having an emotional affair with a woman from work. It isn’t the first time it’s happened. She is in her own headspace and has her reasons for staying. I am there for her when she needs me and I’ll be there for no matter if she chooses to stay or go, but she and she alone can make that decision. I can’t tell her what to do.

Meanwhile, she gives me advice I didn’t ask for and don’t need or want to hear right now. I feel a thick wall building between us. It’s almost as though she feels that my ex has experienced something like what she experienced. A betrayal. As if my discovery of my sexuality is akin to having had an affair. “I get why he lashes out,” she tells me. “I have lashed out too and it’s just really hard to control yourself when you’re that hurt.”

I DIDN’T JUST DECIDE TO BE GAY, I want to scream at her. And then I wonder if she feels trapped in her own marriage and sees my leaving as something she wishes she had the courage to do. I can’t figure out why she keeps defending my ex.

Our differences have manifested in other smaller ways too. Her kids are enrolled in multiple extra-curricular activities, while my girls are content to read books and climb trees in their free time. I’m more than happy to let them do that, but my friend has said I should push them more. “Colleges want kids to be well-rounded,” she says in a tone I find condescending. My kids are in fucking middle school. Chill. But am I being overly sensitive? I don’t judge her for having a busy schedule and her kids having no free time even though I very much enjoy the free time I have with my girls. I think all kids deserve some free time. I think boredom is important and useful. But my friend’s way of doing things seems to work for her family, so I never comment on her busy schedule. Why does she comment on mine?

That’s another difference between us that baffles me. I don’t comment on our differences. I don’t suggest she change the way she does things to more like how I do things. Her family eats all organic, and last time she visited, when she came to my new house, she made a special trip to the store because my food wasn’t chemical-free enough for her. She asked if I “knew” what was in the icy pops I’d bought for the kids. I mean, it was a cheap treat to keep lots of kids happy for a single weekend. Who cares? Did she need to make me feel poor and like a shitty hostess?

It feels awful to say, but I have the sense she feels superior to me. She seems to think her life is picture-perfect, that there is something heroic about her determination to keep her family together, that her busyness and obsessive attention to detail make her better than me. But I can’t even be mad at her because I also feel a sense of superiority over her. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m not willing to sacrifice myself or fake it for a life that looks good in pictures only to suffer behind the scenes. I have found joy in a truth and simplicity that she seems not to know exists.

Or maybe it’s not exactly that I feel superior, it’s just that I feel it would be useless to try to explain myself. I’ve been through the ugly and have made it to the other side, and she’s still working hard to put on a show to prove to everyone how perfect and happy she is. And I guess none of that would faze me if she didn’t keep doling out unsolicited advice.

It breaks my heart that we’ve drifted away from each other like this. We called each other sisters and now we put time between our phone calls and texts. When we finally do talk, there’s a tension in our conversations.

It hurts. I wish I could have my old friend back. I wish she would have supported me better through my divorce, tried to understand my point of view rather than my ex’s. I wish she’d respect that my way of doing things isn’t and doesn’t have to be the same as hers. I wish she’d just love and support me the way I want to love and support her. I miss my friend that used to be unwaveringly loyal.

I miss her, and I hope we find our way back to each other one day.

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Coming Out As LGBTQ Isn’t ‘Trendy’

It surely would seem that suddenly there’s a wave of people coming out as part of the LGBTQ+ community. In the last few years, I’ve come out formally to my friends and family as queer. Many of my friends have also become more open about discussing the fact that they identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender. We finally feel comfortable admitting that we’ve been hiding a large part of who we are for long enough. Because more people are living their truth, it would seem that coming out as LGBTQ+ might be the “cool thing.” But as anyone who is actually out will tell you, being out isn’t trendy. It’s actually makes you very vulnerable.

As someone who has come out multiple times, it’s not an easy thing to do. Speaking your truth, out loud to other people is really scary. Especially to people who you know and love. There’s certainly a worry that people will reject you. That fear of rejection is enough to keep people unhappily in the closet for years. You’d think that as you say it out loud more, coming out would get easier, but it doesn’t. Every single time is just as scary as the time before.

Even though it’s super scary to come out, there are more safe spaces to do so. That could be why it seems like more people are doing it. Social media gives people the community they need to live their truth, even if it’s just a little bit. After coming out publicly, many of my friends revealed that they, too, were out and we all felt a little less alone.

And those safe spaces are what destigmatize the community. We’re making great strides towards true inclusion, which makes it easier for more people to be out. But those steps don’t mean that being out is trendy. It means that people are feeling more comfortable to be themselves. This is especially true with younger generations, who are already less obsessed with identifying labels. As they see the advancements we’ve made, they are more comfortable with just being who they are.

But, whether people want to believe it or not, being out isn’t trendy simply because, despite the strides, we still live in a world focused on heterosexual and cisgender. For every person who is accepting of our lifestyle, there are many others who think that we’re sick freaks. And the people who feel that way have huge platforms and power, like heads of state and religious leaders. When the people in power think you’re living some sort of twisted lifestyle, they’re going to do everything in their power to strip you of every right you have.

We’ve seen this countless times with the current administration. Pretty much since the beginning, the Trump administration has actively been trying to strip away the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. This administration flat out denied U.S. Embassy buildings from flying the Pride flag on embassy flagpoles for the month. They have recently also announced plans to implement a new policy where members of the community can be denied the right to adopt children for “religious exemptions.” This follows a similar rule through the Department of Health and Human Services where doctors can claim this same exemption to deny LGBTQ+ Americans health care services.

While the whole LGBTQ+ community is certainly under siege, none are more at risk than the transgender community. Being trans, especially a transperson of color (even more specifically a woman) is deadly in the country. And the Trump administration just keeps doing more and more to make their lives more dangerous and difficult. This includes housing discrimination, mainly focused around federal monies going towards homeless shelters. They’ve also rescinded the bathroom ordinance set by the Obama administration, which gives students protection to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. And of course, there’s the military ban.

Being out isn’t trendy when you can go out with your girlfriend and get the shit beaten out of you. The lesbian couple who openly shared the story of being attacked by a group of men for refusing to kiss aren’t an anomaly. Lesbians are often festishized by hetero csigender men. This, combined with an overwhelming sense of entitlement leads to them thinking that lesbians exist for their enjoyment, like porn come to life.

While I’ve been fortunate to not have been physically attacked, I have encountered men like this too. Ones who feel that if they see two women on a date, they have a right to insert themselves. They’ve asked inappropriate questions, crossed physical boundaries, and been generally creepy. Once, a man approached my date and me and told us that his girlfriend was interested in us. He was basically trying to proposition us to have a threesome with his girlfriend, likely while he watched. We laughed it off uncomfortably, and waited until after they had been gone for a bit to leave. It’s easy to say that we should have stuck up for ourselves more, but we were shocked and terrified.

Plus, for every person who comes out to their families and is embraced, there are several who aren’t. Being out gets kids and adults disowned from their families and kicked out of houses. Knowing that the people who should be on your side are going to shun your for who you are? That isn’t trendy, that’s fucking brave. Because those kids and adults have to literally start living their lives all over. But they’re stuck out in the middle of the ocean with no compass and no map. Being out isn’t trendy when you can end up alone.

That’s why you can’t call an influx in people not wanting to hide “trendy.” Being out isn’t trendy; it’s an act of bravery. Because there are plenty of terrible things that can happen to just because you want to be yourself. Living out and proud as a member of the LGBTQ+ community takes a lot of courage, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Living your life the way you want to, even though you know a lot of people are against you is hard. Even with the best support system, you are still vulnerable.

So if you think that people finally getting fed up with hiding themselves is a sudden “trend,” you might want to have a better understanding of the word.

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