‘The Gay Awakening’: It’s Different for Everyone

There wasn’t one clear moment when I knew I was gay. It was like a twisty road with lots of pit stops, questions and confusion. I always knew I liked girls, but for the longest time, I didn’t know exactly what that meant. In fact, I didn’t even know “lesbian” was the word I was looking for until about seventh grade. Coming to terms with your sexuality isn’t always the easiest or clearest thing. Some people just know instantly while others take time trying to figure it out. Before many people come out, they have what’s commonly called “The Gay Awakening,” which is a fancy way of saying that you had an epiphany about your sexuality. 

“The Gay Awakening” can come in many different forms and doesn’t look the same for everyone, kind of like snowflakes! For me, my big Gay Awakening came in phases. I knew I liked several girls in a “more than friends” way and there was a multitude of female celebrities I had huge crushes on (like Sam from Danny Phantom, Hayley Kiyoko in Lemonade Mouth, and Jo from Big Time Rush), but I didn’t know what to do about it especially since I was so young. I always knew that girls dated boys and was never exposed to anything else, so I let my little girl crushes go without thinking any further about it. Then, over the summer of 2015, I found Hayley Kiyoko’s music video for a song called “Girls Like Girls” on YouTube. It was like the stars had aligned and I found myself having an epiphany just sitting at my desk watching a video where two girls embrace their love for each other. It was probably the first time I watched two women kiss and fully understood what that meant. From that moment forward, I began referring to myself as a lesbian. For the longest time before that, I never labeled my sexuality. In middle school, I knew I wasn’t straight but didn’t know anything more than that.

Courtesy: Divin

Another huge helping factor that has shaped my and many others’ coming out experience is queer/sapphic relationships in TV and movies. While it’s taken a long time to get any sort of decent representation, we’ve come a long way and shows right now like One Day at a Time and Atypical show sapphic relationships and their experience with being LGBTQ+ in a wholesome way that is much more gentle than the hyper-sexualized and dramatic relationships we often see in movies such as Blue is the Warmest Color. Overly sexualized films portraying queer women or people, in general, are harmful to the view others have of us and also negatively affect the way we see ourselves. I remember watching Blue is the Warmest Color at a very impressionable time in my coming out experience and wondered if this was all it meant to be a lesbian. The scenes were so graphic and harsh that it was unrealistic and shed a very poor light on what being in a relationship with a woman is actually like. But when I saw the softness of the relationship that blossomed between two high school girls in Atypical, it reminded me how beautiful our love for each other is. In Atypical, two teenage girls are exploring their sexuality with each other and coming to terms with the fact that they’re both bisexual, which is a storyline that can help many LGBTQ+ viewers who may be struggling with the same thing.

Courtesy: Giphy

“The Gay Awakening” is not the same for everyone, but the overall message remains universal: coming out is a process and you don’t have to do it unless you want to. No one and nothing should pressure you into being vulnerable about that unless you feel safe and comfortable doing so. Whether you’re in or out of the closet, you are loved and valued unconditionally.

Courtesy: Amanda Macchiarola

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