By Camila Karalyte
There’s a positive movement with societies across the globe becoming more accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals. Studies show that the age of ‘coming out’ has declined over the years: in 1991 the average age was reported to be 25 but in 2010 that had dropped to 16. The current progression is encouraging and still continues to grow. However, there are still many of the community that live in fear of expressing themselves and from living the lifestyle they want.
Luckily, I never had to hide my sexuality from my peers. Whether I dated a girl or guy, I never felt ashamed and was as comfortable as can be. I don’t like to put labels on my sexuality though, but it’s sometimes easier for others to understand.
Maybe I’m bisexual, maybe I’m pansexual- who honestly cares?
My first long-term relationship was with a girl for 4 years, when I was 14. It was a sweet, wholesome relationship. We were both out at school shortly after getting together, and most people supported us, or didn’t care. Her family were supportive and accepting, which made me feel at ease. I had to struggle with my own parents, however.
With lesbian relationships, it’s easy to disguise it as a close friendship in front of disapproving people. That’s what I did, hid that side of me from my parents. Hiding the relationship was simple, but it took a toll on me. I hated keeping her a secret, but I couldn’t risk rejection by my family if they were to find out.
Fast-forward to University, when I was somewhat independent, I had planned to email my parents explaining I was in a relationship with a girl. However, I ended up dating a guy a few months later. Therefore, I no longer needed to announce my previous gay relationship to my parents. Funnily though, when I told my parents over dinner that I was seeing a boy, my dad laughed. ‘I thought you were a lesbian’.
I guess they had an inkling all along.
I sit writing this article, 23 years old, with my girlfriend working opposite me in my new flat. I am genuinely happy with life, yet I still hide this part from my parents. They have no idea that I’m in a relationship, even less of a clue that I’m with a woman. I’ve regressed back to being my teenaged self, anxious whenever my dad rings me, scared he’ll drop by unannounced.
I thought being financially independent and out of the family home would make coming out an easy task. However, as a daddy’s girl and the youngest of 3 siblings, I felt I couldn’t disappoint by going against their expectations. My relationship with my parents, has eased since moving out, so I thought it would be fine to come out. However, their culture and upbringing are discriminative, with any deviance from the traditional, patriarchal lifestyle a huge no-no. My dad, mostly, forced the belief during my childhood that my husband should be white, Christian, and come from a traditional home/family. God forbid he was anything but. This led to my fear of having crushes, or even friends, who were racially or culturally diverse due to his views.
For the most part, I’m at peace. My life is pleasant and comfortable, but I still have that nagging feeling inside me, pushing me to tell my parents. I know they’ll love me regardless, even if they take a while to meditate on it. Reality is, I have to do what is going to make me happy and not focus on their feelings. It most likely isn’t half as bad as I’m imagining things will be, and I know it will be such a relief to just get it out into the open.