All through elementary school, I thought maybe I was just a tomboy. Just a little girl who loves the outdoors, action figures, shopping in the guys’ clothing sections, and being the husband when I played pretend house. I wanted to believe I wasn’t into girls because of the way I was raised in a Christian church.
When I was just five years old, I told my best friend on the playground that I was a lesbian. Listen, I don't know how I knew what the word lesbian meant, but I definitely understood I was into girls. After I told my “friend” I was into girls, she ran to her older sister, yelled and pointed angrily, “MaYa SaID ShE`S A LeSbiAn!” Did I mention these were the kids from my church? This was my first experience of homophobia and rejection. The older sister’s reaction was a very disgusted face toward me. I instantly registered the negativity after her reaction and denied my truth. I lied and took back what I had said. I had realized I didn’t want to tell people that I felt this way.
I tried to put it in the back of my mind, but it was the background of most of my thoughts. I couldn’t escape the truth of my feelings, because sexuality isn’t a choice. But the way you decide to accept yourself is something you have control of. Listen, please be gentle with yourself when you feel guilty about the way people could treat you and view your sexuality. You don’t deserve to feel like you brought about the negativity associated with being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Times have changed and we are only becoming stronger together through love and bravery. The more we stand together the stronger we are.
When freshman year rolled around, I started watching Orange is the New Black and that ignited a lot of questions about my sexuality. This was the start of my journey to acceptance, and it took months. Humor helped me ease into accepting myself. I watched a lot of lesbian content and eventually came to the conclusion that I had been holding myself back from something amazing. The LGBTQ+ community is filled with people facing similar struggles as you. My coming out plan was to be my real self, acting and dressing gay enough for my family to figure it out on their own and accept me. I ended up just talking to everyone individually at times when I felt I was ready and had nothing to lose.
My sophomore year came and I met a girl named Noraday. We became best friends and fell for each other before we had both understood that’s what was going on. After three years of being friends, she became my girlfriend and it’s been life changing. My parents know we are dating and are decently accepting and respectful. I am now a senior and she is junior, and we just focus on each other and ignore everyone else's opinions.
Being out has changed my life. It is so freeing not to waste your time and energy worrying about how people will view you, and it opens up so many possibilities to meet new people and make friends you can actually relate to. Always know that if you weren’t meant to feel the way you do, the feeling wouldn’t exist. Your feelings and thoughts are valued. Dig deep into yourself until you are comfortable with who you are.