I came out to myself when I was 24. It was a moment when my mind was still and the truth that had played a game of hide and seek in my brain finally stopped dodging about. I breathed quietly in the empty living room of my home in Provo, UT. My children were napping. And I said out loud, I am a lesbian. I expected a thunderclap of judgement and instead I felt a profound sense of relief. I had avoided the word because I had mostly been exposed to propaganda instead of facts. I was a young mother who loved sparkly clothes, long hair, and home making. I didn't want to shave my head, I liked men as people, and I wasn't interested in wearing flannel. Who I saw in the world to represent the queer community weren't people living lives or doing things I saw myself doing.
I would later tell my girlfriend that I would never be an activist. I wonder if she ever remembers the vehemence with which I asserted my non-engagement. She was a firecracker, full of passion and righteousness, and I was afraid of being caught up in her tidal wave and being taken over.
I found a supportive community on the internet, starting with a chat board for Gay and Lesbian parents. And the people who participated lovingly and kindly helped me find my feet. I felt so lost in a world of uncertainties after years of moral and personal conviction. I owe those strangers much gratitude. They were the best of what the internet can be. They created a place for isolated people to connect and support one another.
Slowly, I changed my perspective. Having been in a straight marriage, I was keenly aware of the differences in social behavior for my straight relationship versus my newly discovered lesbian relationship. It was amazing how differently people behaved when my dinner companion was female rather than male. I realized that my desires for a more traditional feminine expression, along with my young children, meant that I was perceived and treated differently than my girlfriend and many of my friends. Daily intimacy with these differences moved me to become involved. I knew that there were people who identified as gay who didn't have my experiences, who didn't know that being tolerated wasn't enough, who accepted less because they were grateful it wasn't nothing. I knew because I knew them and saw their wonder when I assumed my relationship counted.
My story continued to grow and evolve, I don't use the word lesbian anymore, it no longer fits properly. I prefer queer. My friends and I have all moved on to new lives. And we are all still working to make the world a better place. A place where who we love and what we wear and how we style our hair is seen as the personal choice that it is.