Out + Proud: Nazareth’s story

Emily Afre/PantherNOW

Nazareth Izada/Contributing Writer

When I was asked to write this, a close friend of mine had told me to write my coming out story. I was being asked to give a single, defining coming out story, but really you come out countless times as a gay person.

You never entirely stop coming out. Your sexual orientation continues to come up in your family life, when you meet new friends, when you enter a new job, etc.

For me, as it is with many LGBTQ  people, there was not  a defining coming out experience, but there were a few moments that have undeniably and fundamentally changed me.

A moment that I overlooked for a long time is the moment in which I came out to myself. I spent the first few years of my life not having a word to describe who I was or what I was feeling.

I remember thinking as a kid that I needed to be a boy to like girls. I couldn’t even comprehend that it was possible for girls to like girls.

I probably first found the word “lesbian” when I was 9 or 10, and I probably found it somewhere online. I was curious, but in deep denial. I spent middle school saying I was just an ally and that I was not gay at all.

I got called a lesbian anyway. As a gay person, you are usually called gay before you even fully accept that’s what you are.

I fully came out to myself midway through high school when I met the girl that would become my first real girlfriend. She was smart, funny and really pretty. I had never felt that way about a guy. I knew, and had always known, that I never could.

I can’t pinpoint an exact day, but the moment I realized loving women is beautiful and amazing is the moment I came out to myself. Finally having a word to describe what I had been that entire time was liberating.

I came out to my mother a few years later — it had always been my biggest fear. We had had a lot of uncomfortable conversations over the years where she would ask why I didn’t like any guys at school.

It was during my sophomore year here at FIU that I finally decided it was time. I was 19 and I felt like it was time to start my life, but I couldn’t do that carrying a secret.

It was a Saturday in August of that year that I texted her while she was at work. I said we needed to talk. She said to just tell her over the phone. I called her and after a long pause, I just told her I was gay. I didn’t feel a need to excuse it or skirt around the obvious.

She said she knew but that it was still a disappointment. She told me to never tell anyone in my family. She said this was all a side-effect of my depression and I was going through a phase.

I left home crying and drove to my best friend’s house, where her mom hugged me and let me stay the night. I didn’t go home for about three days after that.

I spent those days mostly just hanging out with friends, most of them part of the LGBT community, just distracting myself or asking how they had all dealt with this.

When I finally did go home, my mother didn’t speak to me for about two weeks. When she did decide to speak to me again, she never brought it up.

To this day, it’s something we don’t speak about. It’s always going to be painful for me to know I wasn’t who my mother wanted or expected.

What I learned is that as a lesbian, most of the world isn’t going to accept you. Most of the world won’t know how to deal with you.

Even now, years after I’ve come out, I have straight friends who avoid the subject because they just don’t know what to make of it. There’s always going to be a sense of separation between you and the rest of the world.

You’re different – you’re a girl who loves girls, and that’s something the world doesn’t quite understand fully yet.

The upside to all of that is that you become stronger and grow because of it. You spend so much time policing your own behavior that you become great at reading people, which makes you more intuitive and empathetic to the girls and women in your life. You also get to be part of the gorgeous, vibrant family that is the LGBT community.

However, being a lesbian is a gift in and of itself. Like I mentioned earlier, loving who you want to love is beautiful. Love is never something to be ashamed of. Being a girl that loves girls is beautiful, sacred and natural.

You might face all the rejection in the world, but each time you come out you reveal and relish in your truth even more.

When people say it gets better, they don’t necessarily mean the world will stop being ignorant and hateful. What they mean is that there will come a time where you’ll be surrounded by people who don’t hate you or avoid you – but celebrate you and your truth. Coming out never stops being scary, but to be able to stop living like an apology is worth every ounce of struggle in the world.

Being gay is a blessing and it’s your truth. There’s no greater gift you can give to yourself and to the universe than to live the life you were meant to live.

Out + Proud is the LGBTQ column to raise awareness in the FIU community with stories of bravery, compassion, and love.

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