#ComingOutStories 4: An extended coming out

“Coming Out”, in the sense of making a grand announcement about my life feels distant to me now. I remember calling each of my close friends, about 10 years ago, to tell them I was crushing on a girl from school. Group chats didn’t exist then. It was not nerve-racking for me. Each of my friends told me to pursue it with everything I had. I lived in a lucky bubble. With my parents and siblings, it was different. My parents know but they do not accept it. Even though they are not thrilled about it, they are learning to live with it, but this is happening in a way that I do not like.

I think there are also different levels of “Coming Out”. I soon learned that even though my parents were theoretically OK with my being queer in the sense that they knew and were not threatening to disown me or place me in conversion therapy, they were not OK with it in the practical. In this sense, I cannot share news of a new relationship or a breakup in the same way that my sisters who are straight can. I still struggle with feeling that I have to compensate them for my queerness, so I better not burden them with events of my love-life, good or bad.

My partner does not get to have Skype dates with my mom nor does she receive hand-made gifts from her. In no sense is she regarded as my significant other by my parents. She only remains referred to as “my friend”, even though they know that she is way more than that. They do their best to avoid acknowledging this love. While one of my sisters is fantastic and accepts my partner in her full capacity in my life, my other sister has never asked me how my relationship is going or how my partner is. She has never asked me about any girlfriend and there have been many opportunities, trust me.

This may change over time but from what I hear from friends who are in similar situations to me, that this for them is one of the hardest parts of being in a queer relationship. Reconciling this cold acceptance from family with expectations of full acceptance –slight feelings of having failed them with gratitude that they rendered any acceptance at all – simply knowing that you deserve so much better and that they need to do better.

Some people have the energy, and put in the effort to thaw this coldness, reasserting their relationships and the importance of their significant others. Making others see that we are just as happy as hetero couples, or even happier. That we are just as normal. To carry on with this ‘extended coming out’. I don’t think it’s a fair burden on us.

Ifeatu
Nigeria

#ComingOutStories 3: We are all humans, sexuality does not count

My coming out story is one of the thing that gives me joy, though it was not as easy as it may sound.

I found out who I was at the age of six; that was the first time I had a crush on a beautiful women.. Funny as it may sound.

I grew up doing things like men, my parents never showed concern because they felt it is only like that because I grew up with twenty siblings, who were all males. They never took notice of me being different. My mother always bought me same clothes as my brothers, and her reason was that she did not have time to shop in a different shop for a girl since I am still a young child, and my clothes do not matter.

At eleven I had my first sex encounter with a girl and that made me finally discover myself. My elder brother found out at early stage but then he felt it was just a child play he said “you will surely stop this shit when you grow up,” but that never happened.

I was in my third year in school when I was caught by my mum having sex with a woman in my room, she was shocked; she cried that was all she could do at that moment. She called me for a discussion and did everything a mother could do. She never hated me rather she loved me more, she saw me as a special child and her comment was “I know this is what makes you happy and who you are, I will not stop you but keep praying to God to have His way”.

Fast forward to my graduation, I came out to everyone.The shock was high, the tension was big but I was ready to handle it…..I was ready to face the consequences.

My brothers, they all withdrew, but my Mum never did, she was my back-bone, and she gave me reasons to live. All support was taken away from me, I became the prodigal daughter, the black-sheep of the family, but I stayed true to myself.

Years went by I became someone they never thought I would be, I became an advocate for the sexual minorities, today everyone in my home wants to be closer to me… No one treats me like an outcast anymore. They boldly said to me “Be yourself and be who you are but do not paint it to our faces”.

To the ones who want to come out, I want you to understand that it is never easy coming out, neither is it hard but then there are questions you need to ask yourself.

Are you ready?

People will fail you….family will reject you….are you strong enough both physically, mentally and emotionally? Make sure you are independent before taking any step. Be true to yourself and be steadfast.

We are all humans, sexuality does not count…

#ComingOutStories 2: Lollitah and self acceptance

I am Lollitah…

Having been brought up in a strict Christian background I have always refuted me being Queer to my parents, my peers and even to myself…

But I recall one day, an acquaintance of mine told my folks, and for some reasons my refuting fell on deaf ears. My folks pinned me down by curfews and punishments, until I gave up somehow, and in tears and fear I told them.

It took me a lot of courage, but I must say, I felt like a big load had been taken off my shoulders, as I had finally accepted myself by saying it out loud… I faced a lot of rejection,mockery, betrayal (but that’s a story for another day).

Yet, I have never regretted coming out, because it really did help me value me and finally say yes to my sexual orientation not worrying about judgements in the house.

Ever since then, I have also been able to come out to five straight friends; some are supportive, others are homophobic, but either way, I am finally happy to be myself and to learn that it all starts with self acceptance…

Lollitah
Kenya

 

#ComingOutStories 1: “Some call it coming out, I call it self-affirmation”

“He looks good, she isn’t bad either” … The little straight nose, red smiling lips, wide gleaming eyes, straight hair; expressions of awe, mischief, startled… Like the slipping sands in one’s hand, memories of childhood fade with the passing time. Yet, looking back, trying to catch-up on those sweet-sour memories, the little parts of one’s existence and identity; brings in new meanings each passing day. Those are the flashbacks of a queer person, remembering the pre-schooling moments; where sexuality, queerness, definitions of sexual orientation were still much alien; yet the sexual, physical and psychological needs and desires being ever so oozing. Who could have ever imagined sexuality being so carefree, affirmative and strong at such age? Perhaps Freud; Freud Sigmund if you are still reflecting, with plausible explanations of what he would best describe as the “Id”.

Growing up with the “Id”, the pre-pubescent years, the eyes dangling between the most popular and smart girl in class to the next seater male classmate; then moving to an all-male high-school and taking cognisance of your obviously visible “un-manly” differences to others and your secret same-sex crushes and in one’s idea, “lovers”; showing emotions of appreciation and love despite the abuses, humiliations, mockery for being different; for being queer – even from your heartthrobs and eye candies. They knew you were Queer, Gay, Fag, Pansy; without you ever understanding their hate towards your true feelings and desires. Life had its share of sadism for someone who did not quite know who they were except being the madly-in-love-fools.

As life goes, I come to realise my identities, accept myself and accept that Queerness which makes me so special yet so vulnerable at times. Some would call the acceptance as Coming Out. I would call it simply an expression of self-acceptance, self-love, self-affirmation; because my story is no shame; because my past shapes my reality and because bringing forth the strength and courage to be myself enables me to command respect and move forward in life overcoming the hate and spreading the tolerance, acceptance and love.

T.E.
Mauritius