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“Are you sure you’re gay?” “Maybe you just haven’t found the right man yet?” “You’re still young, things might change!” These are all the ignorant comments you’ll hear when you’re fresh out of the closet. I say “ignorant,” because even though most of these individuals mean well, it comes off as extremely invalidating and unsupportive. We all know what a stereotypical lesbian should look like: Short hair, boy's clothes, and an overall masculine appearance. What happens when you don't fit that mold? In fact, you appear to be the exact opposite. That's where lesbians such as I fall into this awkward grey area on the spectrum, which nobody really talks about. As some gays like to call it, "fem invisibility." We're invisibly gay to the straight community, along with the gay community as well. Sometimes I like to joke with friends and say that I'm going to get "homo" tattooed on my forehead. It would make for one hell of a drunk tattoo. The Hangover ain't got nothin on me!
First and foremost, I would just like to say that internalized homophobia is an absolute bitch, and unfortunately it has taken far too many lives. Now, just imagine that one side of your family is extremely religious. You go to a Christian private school where the majority of the student body is homophobic, you write an essay in grade 10 english class on LGBTQ+ rights, and your teacher gives you a poor grade because of the topic. It can be really hard being a closeted young gay. Fortunately for my mental sanity, I didn’t know during this time of my life that I was gay. This terrifying realization came after I switched to a public school in grade 11.
Grade 11 drama class, where all of the gay kids can mingle together. I remember meeting this girl—let's call her Karin. We became very close friends. She identified as pansexual at the time, but liked to identify with different labels every now and then. She would hold my hand constantly, cuddled and spooned me on her couch while watching Netflix, and called me cute nicknames. Looking back on it, I realize how fucking gay we were for each other, and yet, I thought nothing of it. "Friends do these things all the time, it's platonic and normal." This is what I told myself for about three months. I was in complete denial. Finally, I mustered up the courage and confronted her on it. "Why are you so jealous I'm hanging out with other people? What's wrong with you? Do you like me?" "Are you insane? Why would I ever go for my straight friend?" It was that argument that unfortunately ended our friendship. Karin graduated that year and I never saw her again. I may not have known it at the time, but this was a huge turning point in coming to terms with my sexuality.
After I graduated high school, things seemed to get a lot easier. My dating life became more comfortable, I traveled throughout Europe, and met some very interesting people along the way. Things started to fall into place; they're still falling into place day by day. I would be lying if I said that I am at a point in my life where I am comfortable in my own skin, but I am also content with the fact that this is something we all struggle with. If it helps anyone who is in this same position, all I can say is things do get better. I know this is probably the most cliché advice that I can give out, but it's true. Only time will heal, and you just have to be patient with yourself. With this, you will be able to find the strength and confidence to live as your true authentic self. After all, life is too short to have someone tell you who to love.