23 Years In, 1st Year Out
June 30, 2020
Last year on October 3rd, I had just finished writing a Facebook post that I had never been more scared to press the “post” button on. Up until that point, my sexuality and who knew about it was something I could control. However, I knew posting this status update would change that forever and it would mean me coming out as bisexual to all of my friends, my extended family, and even some coworkers.
Growing up in a traditional Mexican household, I quickly learned to keep this part of myself hidden in order to get by. Every week, I remember going to church and being told that who I am is immoral and wrong. One Sunday in particular, I recall the priest going on an anti-LGBTQ rant and I felt as if he was God himself scolding me. Along with the shame, I experienced immense fear growing up that somehow my secret would get out and that people would treat me differently as a result. I was compelled to exceed in everything I did thinking that even if my secret got out, then maybe my success could give people a reason to accept me. The number of lies my mind told me growing up to stop myself from coming out of the closet are too many to count. It felt as if this secret made me want to be invisible and the biggest deal all at the same time.
Finally, I found myself at this moment with this Facebook post ready to go and, after three deep breaths, I pressed “post” and tried not to pick up my phone for an hour…until my anxiety got to be too much and I picked my phone up after only thirty minutes to see what the reaction was.
And it couldn’t have been better. I was expecting Bible verses from religious relatives but they instead apologized for making me feel like I couldn’t be myself. I was ready for people from high school to come at me with names, but they instead came at me with support and heart emojis. The amount of support I received that day and in the weeks to come dispelled all the lies I told myself for years. Even though I was already 23, in that moment I felt like my actual life had finally begun.
To anyone who is still trying to navigate this path themselves, the one thing I want you to understand is that this is your journey and only YOU get to decide how it happens. You decide who gets to know and when. You decide how they know. You decide at what pace you walk down the path. Let nobody tell you any differently. And when you do get to the point where you’re ready to come out fully, understand that coming out doesn’t mean you’re broken. Rather, it means you’re accepting yourself just the way you are and that no mistakes were made.
I may have spent the first 23 years of my life in the closet but I couldn’t be happier to finally be in my first year out of it.