So this past two weeks or so I've been having very real and frank conversations with lots of people. Most of these were with my roommates and close friends, but I'm slowly branching out to family. That may seem kinda backwards for some people, or so I've been told before. Many a councilor and church leader who I've discussed my sexuality and depression with have asked if I have a support group of sorts. Not like a group that meets every week called 'Lesbians Anonymous' or something, but people I talk to and that know the situation I'm in. When I would say yes, it was always followed with the apparently unsatisfactory answer of the names of my close friends. Every one of them, without fail, said that that wasn't good enough...I needed to tell my family. This always made me scared and angry and all sorts of other things. "Don't you understand? I can't tell my family". The idea was so scary to me. Family would always be there, which is why they make a much stronger support, but it's also why I didn't want them to know. If they reacted badly and didn't care to understand then that would be the relationship I would be stuck with for the rest of my life. I interacted with my friends on a more regular basis, especially since coming to college and having them as roommates and such. In my mind it seemed like the people who I was around more would be the better choice to tell.
It's taken me years to understand this was not the right idea. I would even go so far as to say it didn't really click until this last weekend. I understand now that since high school I've been trying to find someone that could be my support. Someone who would be there to lean on no matter what, and knew everything I was going through...and would be a constant in my life. I could never understand why I couldn't find someone who could be that for me. I really tried. I stretched myself to the breaking point, and others as well, trying to make them into something they couldn't be. I wanted consistency and unconditional love that wasn't their job to provide. I needed my family.
Slowly I told them, starting with my brothers. I got more understanding than I ever thought I would get from them (on this particular issue). I felt so much closer to them over this one thing, because I had shut myself off from them before. We don't really talk about my being gay, but I don't feel like I have to hide myself from them anymore. They can be a part of ALL of my life now. My parents are a little different story. They've really known since about my freshman year in college, but I never actually said anything and came out until this last Christmas. We never talk about it. It feels like this topic is no longer on the table. It feels almost just as bad as not telling them was. I feel cut off, and hidden. It makes me feel like it's still a part of me that I'm supposed to be ashamed of. And I know that I shouldn't expect instant understanding. I didn't even have that for myself when I came out to myself. It's taken me seven years to get to where I am today, being truly okay with myself and loving me for it.
This weekend I had a small wake up call from a good friend of mine. She reminded me that while friends are great to have, and coming out to random strangers is fun and a bit relieving, it's really the important people in my life who I should be talking to. I'm not saying that friends can't be good support or important people (but probably not the strangers at Walmart). I really don't know how I could have gotten through a lot of life without my friends. I'm just saying that I realized that I need my family. I need them to be my support. I need them to know, even if they don't quite understand. These people are the most important people in my life and I want them to know who I am and what I go through. Being lesbian is a reality of my life that is always going to be there, as will my religion (Mormon), experiences, and my family. I will always have these parts of me because they shape who I am.
I am generally a big believer of talking about things. I would always rather talk with you and be offended than continue to live in silence. Having kept this part of me a secret for so long I can tell you that in takes a huge amount of energy and strength not to talk about it. It weighs you down everyday that it goes unsaid. I know I've waited a long time for other people to want to talk about it, but I think I need to step up and be the one that starts it. Don't take them for granted. Let the important people in. They may need it as much as you do.