After coming out to my family, I honestly thought I would automatically know which spheres in my life (family, friends, social, ethnic community and religious community) that would feel safe and supportive to me. In my mind, life would now be rainbows and unicorns. We’ll it didn’t exactly turn out that way.
I quickly recognized that I had this new found freedom in my life and this something that I hadn’t felt in my life. It was such a powerful feeling yet overwhelming at the same time because I didn’t know how to manage it properly.
As I continued being me, I realized that in some spheres of my life I felt like I still belonged and I felt seen, safe and supported. While in other spheres I noticed they said they were inclusive, but their structures and beliefs told another story.
As I started to open up to select individuals about my sexual orientation, I started hearing ignorant and hurtful comments such as:
- We love you, but we are having a tough time embracing your sexual orientation.
- God loves everyone, so I don’t see why your sexual orientation is an issue to your practising your religion.
- You are perceiving your sexual orientation to make you separate than the rest of the community members. You simply need to rise above this and know that you are still part of the community.
The combination of struggling to figure out where I belonged in my life along with the hurtful comments, made me feel othered and marginalized. I was on such a high after coming out and coming face to face with the reality that not all spheres of my life will be safe and supportive for me was mindboggling.
I was so confused because hiding my sexual orientation made me feel isolated and I thought that embracing my sexual orientation would be my ticket to finally finding my space of belonging in the world. Some of the spheres where I didn’t belong where spheres that were pivotal parts of my life while I was hiding my sexual orientation. I was angry, frustrated and hurt because I felt like I have a heart like everyone else, so why can’t you just see me, love me, understand me and support me?
I’m not going to lie, it took immense courage and bravery, emotional resilience, and a deep sense of love to figure out which spheres I belong to. With lot of inner reflection and support from professionals, the light bulb finally went off after 1.5 years. Slowly things started to make sense for me and realized that:
- By embracing my sexual orientation I accepted a big part of myself that I neglected for so long. This act made me feel like I was a new person. With this context, it’s natural to feel like I had to evaluate where I feel safe, seen and loved in the world.
- After going through extensive efforts to embrace my sexuality, I didn’t want to hide it anymore. I want to be part of communities that see me as a whole being and don’t want to settle for anything less. The result is that some spheres I am still a part of while others I chose to let go of. I also made a conscious effort to find new spheres of belonging. Through concerted efforts over the last 1.5 years, I’ve been successful, but it wasn’t easy.
- While I was in the closet, I was tackling my own battles on my own and felt like I was the only going through these difficulties. After coming out I met more LGBTQ2 people and realized that they are also going through similar challenges. I realized I am not alone.