Let the conversation begin.
Heartfelt thanks to our guest author, Patricia Hanson, for sharing with us her truly inspiring story about coming out as a lesbian after 20 years of battling against the “straight agenda.” She now is out, living her life with pride and we couldn’t be more proud.
The Hardest Part - Coming Out to Yourself
The first person you come out to is yourself. This is the hardest part. It’s so hard that some people don’t do it until they’re married to a person of the wrong gender for years, with kids. Most people don’t understand how hard it really is. Others cannot truly accept you until you accept yourself. For me, it took twenty years. Twenty years for me to utter the phrase “I’m a lesbian” without wanting to burst into tears. Twenty years where I was not my true authentic self.
Some people say being gay is a choice. I never wanted to be a lesbian, but the day I finally came to terms with it was the most freeing day of my life. I tried so hard for so long to fit into what society expected of me and it was beyond tiring. I was afraid of not being normal, but since coming out, this is the first time that I have actually felt normal.
The Straight Agenda
“You just haven’t met the right guy,” is what guys usually tell me when I tell them I’m a lesbian. I just turn around, use the phrase on them, and that usually ends the conversation. I think the patriarchy loses power for every lesbian that there is.
I think lesbianism is so offensive to some because we are women who do not need men for sexual or romantic satisfaction. I also believe some find gay men offensive because these men would rather “submit” to one another than to have a woman submit to them. Society expects men to be dominate, hence it seems unmanly to submit to another man. We seems we live in this binary world wherein someone always has to be the weaker one in a relationship, and that someone is more often than not expected to be the woman.
I also believe homophobia is rooted in sexism. Who is the guy in a lesbian relationship? Neither of us, that’s the point. People tend to equate dominance with masculinity.
Growing Up Feeling Different But Not Knowing Why
I grew up in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I grew up being told that being gay meant that God would destroy me one day. My mom always said “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”.
Outside of my family’s religion, society also taught me that being gay was unnatural. Once when I was in elementary school a love song came on. The girl sitting next to me sang replacing the pronoun she with he. This is just one of the many examples where I was shown that being gay was not okay.
Whenever I turned on the TV or went to the movies, straight couples were everywhere. I grew up in a world where gay people were like Lord Voldemort -- this evil thing that existed that no one talked about and no one wanted to see. Because of this, I went years knowing I was different, but I could not explain how.
In high school, I was a cheerleader and expected to date a football or basketball player. I remember hearing the other girls talk about being so in love, enjoying kissing and sex with boys. I wanted to be cool and have stories to tell so I tried it, but I never felt the things the other girls talked about. It all just felt off. I would always tell myself “he’s just not the right guy.”
It wasn’t until college that I realized they just weren’t the right gender.
The Myth About Gay People
There’s this myth that gay people want everyone to be gay, or that all we talk about is our sexuality. Straight people don’t seem to realize that all they talk about is being straight.
I once had a conversation with a coworker where she was talking about her boyfriend, so in response I told her about my girlfriend at the time. After the conversation, she told everyone at work that all I did was talk about how gay I was.
Straight people talk about the opposite sex all the time.
Living Life as a Lesbian
Once you find who you truly are, no one can take that from you. I will not accept friends, jobs or even academic institutions where my sexuality is an issue. If my coworkers and classmates can speak freely about their significant others, I should be able to speak about mine. Environments where this is an issue are not environments where I need to be.
One day when I find the girl of my dreams, my mother and other family members will not be there to share my wedding day with me. If my family cannot support me because I marry a woman instead of a man, who is really in the wrong?
I have watched documentaries where people have committed murders and their parents have stood by their side. If my own family disowns me for liking girls that is on them. My grandparents recently told me that they will always love me, but they will not always love my lifestyle. I am still trying to understand what lifestyle they are referring to. To me, being a lesbian is not a lifestyle. It is simply part of who I am.
Living Life with Pride
I don’t feel weird or wrong when I’m doing anything with a girl. I have only ever felt that way with guys. I don’t feel weird or wrong saying “my girlfriend.” I have embraced who I am and it all feels so right. I don’t think God hates me. I think the only thing he hates is that I was so unhappy for so long.
I have pride because I am finally happy. I have pride because the first time I kissed a girl, I realized why people write love songs. I have pride because embracing who I am has only made me stronger. I have pride and live loud and proud because I hope that I can encourage people who were like me to embrace who they are.
If I wasn’t a lesbian, people would dislike me because I am black. If I wasn’t black, I would still be oppressed because I am a woman. Regardless of how I identify, someone is always going to be unhappy about it.
Support for LGBQTA+ Community
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out. You are not alone.