Tag Archives: Risk

#4: On coming out and being a lesbian in today’s society (In Utah)

Coming out

I first posted this on a different blog in April of 2014. The server for that blog went down and I only recently was able to regain access to the files. I wanted people to be able to gain something from my writing—if possible—so I am reposting it here.  (With a few alterations.)

Coming out is a lifelong process. Once you come out originally, you have to continue to come out again and again: to your family, peers, classmates, new friends, old friends from long ago that you have come across again… The list goes on. And you have to decide if it’s the correct decision to come out or not to your co-workers and at any new job. Do you test the waters with one or two people? Do you keep it all to yourself? Or do you come out to everyone as fast as possible? Honestly, this can depend on where you live and where you work.

It is hard to determine if you will be safe, in your job security and from personal attacks if you do come out.  Will your employers find a way to get rid of you? Will you be attacked on a daily basis? Sometimes taking that risk is worth having at least one person that you can trust at work… and sometimes it is not.

I, personally, find it hard to even establish my sexuality with the current community in which I am living. I look like a straight girl. Guys hit on me and when I tell them I am a lesbian they accuse me of lying. WHY WOULD I LIE ABOUT THAT? (Even now, almost a year after writing this post, even now when marriage is LEGAL in Utah, It is hard to “prove” that I am gay.)

There is so much damn stigma associated with being gay/lesbian/trans etc. Do you think if I could choose that I would have CHOSEN to be a lesbian? My life would be so much easier if I could just CHOOSE. But I can’t. It is biologically impossible for me to change who I am attracted to: I know, I tried. Nothing worked. I was so unhappy with my lift and how “messed up” I must be. Knowing and accepting who I really am helped me to find some happiness in my life.

I am not a lesbian because my father was absent or because something shitty happened in my life. I am not a lesbian because I was raped when I had just turned 18. I have been attracted to females since I was THREE YEARS OLD. I got the biggest crush on another little girl at day care. I fell in-love with my best friend in third grade (my heart shattered when she moved away and I didn’t know why) and another best friend in sixth grade.

It took me until the end of high school to realize that what I had been feeling was attraction to women. I spent a lot of my life trying to understand why boys weren’t that attractive. I would tell people “there’s just no one hot at my school.” while I “admired” the women. I would ignore the shirtless men in movies and on television while enjoying the movies about bad-ass women. I pretended to have crushes on boys that I really didn’t like, just so that my friends would leave me alone… I have been a lesbian my entire life.

My mother figured it out when I was five. I came home from kindergarten and she asked me “were there any cute boys at school?” I answered plainly “No.” so she asked me “were there any cute girls?” to which I turned red and said in embarrassment “MOM!” From this it seems, my mom knew. But it still took me a long time. She decided it was best for me to figure it all out on my own.

Coming out to my mom was the easiest person to come out to, even though it was still very hard. I called her up on the phone while walking across my college campus in the spring (I was attending an all woman’s private University for a while.) and told her as calmly as I could. “Mom, penis’s are gross.” My mom almost pee’d herself laughing at me. My response was “I love you, knew you were gay already hon. I am proud of you and so glad that you have finally gotten to the point where you accept it in yourself and could tell me.”

Coming out to my father was much harder. “Dad, I think I’m gay.” His response? “Honey, I love you, but I feel that if you keep heading in the direction that you are going, you are going to pass up the perfect man.”

-.- Dad, just in case you read this: My perfect man… is a Woman.

I came out to my friends one by one. I lost a few but grew closer to others.

The hardest experience I had while coming out, was to my Aunt. She was someone that I really looked up to. I did not know how to tell her without her cutting me out of her life. I was terrified.

I pulled her into my grandparents front living room. We were alone and no one would over hear. I started slowly “Aunt Jenn, there is something that I need to tell you…” And I burst into tears. Her face showed immediate concern. I tried to take a couple deep breaths and just ended up crying harder. Jenn took me into her arms and rocked me as I let my stress out on her shoulder.

It took several minutes for me to calm down to the point where I could finally tell her what was on my mind. “Aunt Jenn. I’m gay.”

She pulled me back into her arms and held me tight. And then told me that she and my mom (her sister-in-law) had discussed the possibility when I was five. -.- Geez Mom, thanks for letting me know who already knew!

So I came out to—almost—everyone when I was 18, and have continued to come out again and again. I came out to my critical literature class today (April 2014) while doing a presentation on Lesbian, Gay, and Queer theory in class. So many people seemed shocked. Yes, I look like any other woman, I act like any other woman, I am just another woman. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!

I am a lesbian. That does not define who I am. I want to get married and have a family, just like anybody else. It is not something that should be stigmatized and I should not have to come out so much, just to correct assumptions about my life.

**Continued thought.**

So when I share my “Coming out story”, it is never just an “I came out and that was it.” It is an “I came out and I will keep coming out for as long as it takes, again and again until people understand that I am aloud to be different and they shouldn’t make assumptions or judge me about who or what I am.”

To go into more of the critical theory and philosophy of our current society I am going to share a few definitions with you—Within the text—so that you can better understand some of the things I am about to go into. All definitions, unless otherwise stated are according to Critical Theory Today, A User-Friendly Guide by Lois Tyson Second Edition.

Living in Utah causes some interesting issues in the gay community; especially when you live in Utah Valley (aka Mormon Ville). Now, I am not saying that Mormons are bad people—I know some very accepting and loving people that are LDS that are fully accepting of who I am—however there are many people that like to selectively chose their hate and judgmentß this is what I am against. Many Mormons are Heterocentric, they hold the assumption, often unconsciously, that heterosexuality is the universal norm by which everyone’s experience can be understood. (Making the lesbian, gay, and queer experience practically invisible to the general public.) Or basically, they believe that everyone is essentially heterosexual (attracted to the opposite gender.)

Because of the Heterocentric views and teachings of the church—and its followers—the youth grow up in a compulsory heterosexual manner—a weight placed on the youth to be heterosexual, that heterosexuality is the only “correct” way of living. Many of these youth grow into adults that still believe this life-long lie, those that do have homosexual attraction end up with severe cases of internalized homophobia—self-hatred of a homosexual of ones’ own self and similar people. Generally caused by adolescent development in homophobic societies that use religious views as an excuse to belittle or abuse homosexuals.

Utah has a very high rate of homophobia, or A pathological dread of same-sex love—also used to describe anyone who is against homosexual relations with an obsessive view. This homophobia doesn’t just lie in the churches, it is perpetuated in homes where parents teach their children that being different in this way is wrong, in schools—my brother was actually taught in his health class that homosexuality was wrong because they could not procreate. I had a long conversation with him about the different ways that homosexuals could have a family and why those ways weren’t wrong.—, in social groups: in the closet? Well what if your best friends just criticized another homosexual in your community? Now you feel like you need to keep living a lie, like you are wrong in your attraction… This is wrong.

All of this behavior has laid the path for the overwhelming heterosexism in Utah—The institutionalized discrimination against homosexuals and the privileging of heterosexuality that accompanies it. Being a “Right-To-Work” state makes it so that I can be discriminated against at any job that I may acquire. If my employer discovers that I am a lesbian and doesn’t like that, I can get fired and be given NO reason. This is a heterosexist discrimination of the homosexual.

Many of these people are Constructivists. They believe that being homosexual is a response to the environment. A choice. We are products of the environment and our choices. This is a very limited and incorrect view of sexual orientation. The only way that one can “choose” whom they are attracted to(gender) is if they are actually attracted to BOTH genders—effectively bisexual—and decide to date a specific gender at a specific time.

Now, more people should believe as Essentialists: that gay people are biologically gay. They are born and live gay regardless of their environment. Now, this is important for those that believe that gay people raise gay children. As a straight couple, your child was born gay. (S)he lives a gay life and has a same-sex partner. They have children together. There is the same statistical probability of them having a gay child as any straight couple. There is no more likely hood of their children being gay than anyone else in the world. However, it IS more likely that they will be more honest and emotionally healthy in their lives because their parents are more likely to accept the differences and the sexualities of their children. To love them no matter what, without judgment.

These problems aren’t just Utah. These issues are happening all over the world. The fight for equality continues in several states in the US and we become minutely aware of Minoritizing Views (trying to understand gay and lesbian experiences by focusing on their minority status) instead of trying to further Universalizing views (trying to understand homosexual experiences by focusing on the homosexual potential in all people). This is particularly negative as the Minoritizing views lead many people to believe that we are asking for “special treatment” and “extra rights” instead of equal rights.

If more people were universalizing their views , than they could see different scenarios: “What if my child was gay? Wouldn’t I want them to be happy and be able to get married and have a family of their own?”

Now, I know that everything I have said so far has to do with critical theory and my own opinion accentuated by my education; however, being able to be a part of the gay community in Utah has helped me to strengthen my views. I have been at the first two years of Provo Pride. I have gotten to meet others in the community that live varying lives. I have gotten to feel the love and support of the people around me.

I volunteered for Provo Pride last year. I stood at a road block at one end of the park. Throughout the few hours that I was there people stopped and asked what was going on. Again and again I told passersby about pride. Many people were shocked or offended. I would suddenly be ignored or given incredulous or rude looks. But some of these people returned later out of curiosity. Several people learned just what the Utah gay community was like.

We don’t push people away or judge. We welcome with open arms and kindness. One woman commented to a committee member that she was shocked that we were so different than she imagined. We were all just normal people.

That is my whole point here. We shouldn’t be treated differently because we are all essentially the same. We are human beings. We deserve equality and to be treated equally. I should not have to argue the fact that I AM a lesbian. I should not be harassed when I go to gay night at City Limits because I’m “too sexy” to be a lesbian, “too feminine” to be gay, that I look “Too damn straight.”

I am a lesbian, and I am human. I am a strong, beautiful, smart woman that just wants to be able to be myself and not have to face the discrimination and judgment around every corner. Let me be free.

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