Technically speaking, I have been out of the closet for 12 years, but the more that I think about it, the more I realise that I haven’t really been out at all. It’s like I came out and announced my sexuality. Played on the outside for a bit and then went straight back in again and stayed there until yesterday.
The way I dress and wear my hair is so far from the lesbian stereotype as I could get it. I shaved off half of my hair in April, with so much fear about it taking away my femininity. I wanted my hair shaved since I was 10 years old, but didn’t have the confidence to do it. Deep down at my core, my inner child is a tom boy, who wants to wear baggy boys clothes and climb trees and get dirty – so why do I resist it so much?
Society has an expectation – or let me be more specific – I have an expectation, built on old, unaltered, outdated ideas of society’s expectations, based on what I have grown up with. That a woman should look a certain way and marry a man, have a home with a white picket fence and 2.5 children hahaha – bloody hell. I could think of nothing worse, so why am I trying to conform to such an old fashioned norm? Fear of being excluded and like I found out in therapy the other day, my driving reason – fear of being rejected for who I am and then fear of being abandoned. My father and my sister left me and then the only family I had left rejected me or rather the part of me that I have no control over.
Instead of staying out of the closet and facing the rejection of my family. I went back in and though I dated women, they were generally heterosexual and unavailable and bound to leave me anyway. I was not openly gay. The people who knew I was gay, were the people who had gotten to know me over a period of time long enough to see one of these affairs play out. If I spoke about my partner and the person just assumed it was a “him”, I did absolutely nothing to correct them. I was desperate for your love and your approval and petrified of you leaving me, so I hid away behind a facade of whatever I thought, you thought, was palatable.
It’s pretty sad when I think about it and a really lonely existence of never letting people in. Never showing anyone the real me. Rejecting myself first and tucking her away into a dark closet, so that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to reject me. I always thought of myself as very brave, but this behaviour has been far from courageous and has kept my isolated in my hider ego state for too long.
Yesterday marks the turning point for me, although the build up to it has been happening for a number of weeks now. I have been actively taking steps to integrate myself into the LGBTIQ community, little by little, to put an end to the rejection of it and inevitably putting an end to the rejection of myself. I have been to a few LGBTIQ meetings and I did the MQFF (Melbourne Queer Film Festival) – I attempted to go to 2 gay/lesbian nights out, but the gang cancelled. I showed willingness, which sometimes is all that you need. I have been asked to guest speak at a 12 step convention at the LGBTIQ meeting and for another 12 step fellowship, I was program coordinated for their convention, so I helped facilitate the creation of an LGBTIQ specific meeting, which I am quite happy about.
It feels like I am finding my voice. I am beginning to comprehend pride and feel passionately about advocating for the community, even if it is on a small scale. It means so much to me. At university we were assigned the task of creating a group presentation – Excited to learn more I suggested we look into marriage equality as it has not be passed in Australia yet. Making gays second class citizens and denying us our human right. “The right of adults to enter into consensual marriage is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 16).”
The presentation went down like a house on fire and I watched my fellow students get involved on a level that I had never seen before. It was a group of 7 of us and the girl who normally used to only show up 5 minutes before the final presentation, with her contribution, was present from the beginning and though she could not relate to being ostracised for her sexual preference, she could relate to being excluded for her Christian faith in a Muslim community and was answering class questions, trying to give our classmates perspective. The girl who is normally too shy to do anything but read her information off of a piece of paper, was bringing real life experience to the table and sharing about her cousin’s sexuality and how beautiful the experience was of getting the acceptance of the family. It brought out her sense of humour, “Being gay is not an illness! You can’t just call in sick to school one day and say, sorry I have come down with gay” hahaha – I loved it!
The topic had ears pricked and the whole class got involved in quite a heated debate, where I was given the opportunity to answer a question, using my own experience. With my heart thumping hard in my chest, in front of the whole class, I answered, “Well, I am gay…” and I shared my experience. I came out of hiding and I feel like it was an even bigger moment for me, than my first closet exit. I got vulnerable standing up in front of the whole class. The lecturer gave me a hug, another girl opened up about being pansexual and an authenticity was born and flowed freely through the conversations thereafter. It was beautiful and a day I will probably remember for the rest of my life. The truth will set me free.