Some people understand their sexuality/gender when they’re young and in elementary. Others realize it when they are in middle school, and they fall for some attractive person, and it hits them. This was not the case for me. Some would say I was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of realizing my gayness, despite all the obvious warning signs.
I was raised by a single mom in eastern Oregon. When I was younger, I would attend church and occasionally activity days. The only times I ever really missed church or church related activities were for sports, mostly football at the time. As a young child at elementary age, I always had short hair and dressed like a boy. At this time, I would have sworn that I was just a boy trapped in a girl’s body.
Later on, when I hit middle school and moved to Utah, I started to notice that all of my friends had started to develop crushes and all of that tween chaos. Boys, however, never caught my attention. All the other girls my age were so excited to date and get into relationships, but that was the last thing I wanted. Dating and getting a boyfriend was never appealing to me, and I didn’t mind sharing that. One of my friends even made the comment that I’ll either end up as a single cat lady, or a lesbian. She was right.
It wasn’t until I was a 15-year-old sophomore that I got my first crush, or at least recognized it. My best friend, who I had exposed more about my life to than anyone, suddenly made my heart race. Unfortunately, I had also promised her that when I finally got a crush, she would be the first to know.
From age 15 to my now current age of 16, I have recognized my gayness, struggled with hiding my feelings, and eventually, coming out.
Having been raised LDS and with my Aunt’s experience coming out, I was scared to come out to anyone. I have never cared much about what others think of me, but I also felt like I could potentially be in trouble. The fear of being kicked out kept me bound, but hiding it was tearing me apart from the inside.
It wasn’t until a fast and testimony meeting when I finally got the courage to tell my mom. A lady in my ward had come out to the ward over the pulpit, and I approached her after sacrament meeting. We talked later that day, and that helped me work through my fears and I ended up coming out to my mom that same night. Until that Sunday, the only person I had talked to was my aunt.
During this time, I struggled with my faith. I wasn’t sure where I fit into the plan and got to a low point.
The struggle of finding out where I fit is still going.
Honestly. I’m not sure where I’ll be a year from now when it comes to religion. However, at the time, I was still very faithful to the church, and my bishop was the fourth person I told. My experience telling him was very positive. He was supportive and made sure that I understood that there is nothing wrong with being gay and having relationships.
The rest of the school year I spent slowly coming out to a few of my friends (and listening to Tegan and Sara religiously). On the last day of school, I came out completely to everyone. A couple of my friends also came out to me as well. Overall, it was a good experience. Though I was not expecting a couple of my friends to attempt setting me up on my first date.
Since I turned 16, I have been openly out to everyone about being a lesbian. I’m out at church, school, home, and everywhere else. I have been going to Encircle almost every Wednesday and have started going to Rainbow Mutual recently. Dating and relationships have also become a thing in my life.
I’m very comfortable with identifying as gay/lesbian. Despite my knowledge of my sexuality, I’m still unsure about my gender. Like I said previously, I’m very androgynous and wear pretty much only men’s clothing. Being referred to as a male is not uncommon nor uncomfortable for me. Honestly-- if I had a dollar for every time I have been asked my gender or been referred to as a male, I would be a millionaire. I still identify as my assigned female gender because that is also comfortable for me. The journey of figuring out my gender will take me a little more time.
My biggest advice for anyone is to just be you. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident. Hold onto who you know you are and what you know is true about you. If you do that, then everything will fall into place eventually.
Also know you don’t have to put yourself in a box. I’m gay. I’m also unsure about my gender. Both are valid. You don’t have to understand everything all at once.
Just be you.
From a 16-year-old lesbian in Provo, I wish you luck and, even more, the confidence to be you! Know you are not alone.