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Everyone has their own story. Each individual in the LGBT+ community comes out in a different way, and for some it is much easier than others. Some people have known who they are their whole life, while others struggled through confusion and the act trying to accept themselves.
I was 13 the first time that I ever admitted to anyone that I was confused. I sat on a mattress in the room of my best friend, terrified of telling her, but knowing that I needed someone to talk to. She sat beside me, constantly asking what was wrong and promising not to judge me for whatever it was. I reluctantly told her about my confusing feelings, and she wrapped her arms around me in attempt to assure me that everything was going to be okay.
After that night I had admitted to my closest friends that I didn't think I was straight, but I never put a label on myself. I didn't want to be gay, but I knew for sure that I was into girls. Putting myself in a box seemed so permanent, and I was so afraid to truly embrace this part of me. I went on for years with this mindset.
My sophomore year of high school I met a girl that changed my life.
I had fallen head over heels for my best friend, the only person I trusted in this world. We went on for months in a flirty friendship, to the point where we genuinely discussed our attraction to each other. I emailed her a strongly worded letter about the romantic feelings that I had for her, and even though it wasn't reciprocated we remained close.
One night we lay cuddling on my couch listening to Christmas music. My parents had gone out so it was just the two of us, and we grappled with the idea of giving into our attraction and kiss. She had never kissed a girl before, and I had never kissed anyone at all. We laid nervously with our bodies intertwined when her father arrived to pick her up. We ran up the stairs, my body trembling, and into my room so she could grab her things. Our nervous energy must have struck a nerve, as a picture frame toppled off of my bureau and shattered onto the ground. She ran out of my house since she had kept her father waiting for nearly 20 minutes. As I heard the door close I let tears rush down my face and stared down at the broken glass.
As I stared down at the broken glass I felt as if it accurately represented how I was feeling. I was completely shattered on the inside. I had decided that I didn't want to be gay. I couldn't be. I didn't want to hurt like this ever again, I never wanted to fall for someone that couldn't love me back. I spent that night cursing at myself for not initiating a kiss, but also for falling in love with her.
From that day on I barley came out to people. I only told a few people throughout my struggle with this friend, but there was one person in particular that I was most afraid to tell. Jess had been my friend for my whole life, and while part of me knew she was going to be accepting, I was still petrified that I'd lose her as a friend.
After having my heart broken by someone who was unable to love me back, I couldn't face loosing another friend.
Over time I built up the strength to come out to Jess as bisexual, and instantly knew that she was someone I could truly trust. Later that night I was presented with a quote, "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." I finally felt like I was able to breathe, and knew that I had someone to go to when things felt dark. To this day I still go back to this quote as I grapple with letting my friends in, and have realized the true significance of these words.
Throughout that next year I struggled to get over my romantic feeling for my friend. Even with all the lies and betrayal, I still found myself worshiping her and melting into her embrace. We'd walk to class hand in hand daily, and we very physically affectionate despite her proclamation of being straight. Over time I learned that I couldn't allow myself to be lead on and treated poorly, so I distanced myself. This was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and wasn't sure I was going to be able to get through it.
I never had many friends in high school, but I was lucky to be able to keep Jess as a friend to this day. I pushed away all of my friends when I fell for "her" and was lucky that Jess was able to forgive me for treating her poorly. She has helped me embrace myself in so many ways since then, and has never judged me for being confused with my sexuality. She has truly been a rock for me these last few years, and for that I am grateful beyond words.
As I began my time in college, fresh out of an almost year-long relationship, I forced myself back in the closet. I came out to one of my friends, my roommate at the time, but other than that I kept my sexuality to myself. I figured that college was a new world, and maybe I'd be able to fall in love with a guy and push away any feelings I had for girls.
I had spent some time hooking up with a guy who happened to be one of my best friends, and was disappointed that my attraction for girls was still coming to the forefront of my brain. I went on dates with guys, and while it was fun at times, nothing measured up to that true crush feeling I had back in high school.
My thoughts were jumbled constantly and all I wanted was to be straight. I figured it would be so much easier. I didn't want to face being hurt like I had been in the past and figured that if I could be with a guy, I wouldn't have to be. But what I didn't consider was that if I pushed so hard to be straight I'd never be happy, and I'd never truly fall in love.
Throughout my first fall semester of college I decided that I couldn't keep living a lie, and began to accept myself. By March of 2018, I began to embrace my sexuality and come out as a lesbian. Coming out was terrifying, but there was no better feeling then finally being able to be honest with myself and the people around me.
While I still struggle with accepting my sexual identity at times, I have made so much progress and have been embracing it to the best of my ability. I even decided to get an equal love tattoo as a reminder to stay true to myself, and that love is love no matter who it is with.
I look forward to the day where I can help someone who has gone through a similar struggle as myself, and help them on their own path to self discovery. Everyone should have the right to love whoever they love, and I hope one day that all this love truly takes over the hate in our world.