My Coming Out Experience

Going to parties and kissing my female friends while still maintaining that I was extremely heterosexual wasn’t something out of the ordinary for me my junior year of high school. One of my good friends had come out as bi earlier that school year, and of course we all supported her. One of my best friends, Jane, came out as bi as well to just a few of us a little later in the year, and we gave her the exact same support and kept her secret. 

I don’t know what I was thinking on Valentine’s Day junior year when I had four of my super close friends, one being Jane, over my house to have a girls night and watch Magic Mike together in all our singleness. I joked early in the night that I was going to make out with Jane that night. Well, it didn’t end up being a joke.

The next week after this night, which happened to be February break, I felt completely embarrassed for the way I had acted. I apologized to Jane the morning after and she said it was completely fine and told me I had nothing to be embarrassed about. We didn’t hang out or talk that entire week of break, but when we got back to school, everything was completely normal and we went back to our usual shenanigans as best friends. I still insisted that I was completely straight; girls kissing girls is just a fun thing and everybody has the experience at one point or another. I could never actually have feelings for another girl.

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I don’t remember when the anxiety and panic attacks started. I think it was probably around late March/early April. Realizing my feelings for Jane were more than just loving her as a friend was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever had to come to terms with. Realizing that my feelings I used to have for a friend from grammar school were more than just friend feelings was also an extremely hard reality to face. There was no way I could like girls like that. I was the straight ally, never the one to actually be apart of the community. Junior year of high school is hard enough without being forced to find out this huge part of yourself and just feeling so alone. I know I wasn’t alone, but I couldn’t stop feeling like it. Everything I had ever thought about myself and who I was had just been thrown completely out the window. I had come so far from all the insecurities I held about myself in middle school and my freshman and sophomore years of high school, but I now felt the most insecure I’d ever felt. 

There were a few key things that helped me in realizing that this is who I was and that it was okay. One of my favorite teachers gave us an assignment: to write a letter to our future selves, and in helping us figure out what to say, she read us a letter that she had written to her past self. In the letter, she said something along the lines of, “...and whoever you end up with, no matter who he or she is…”. I remember how excited I got when I caught that. Someone who I admired and looked up to so much was just like me. It was so comforting to know this, and I felt so much better about everything. She was one of two teachers, that I know of, at my high school who were part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am so thankful to have had these two teachers make such an impact on my life. If either of them are reading this, I just want to say thank you for being unapologetically you, and in turn making me feel like I can be unapologetically me.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Pericak

The very first time I came out to someone was while crying in one of my best friends’ lap after junior prom in late April. I told her my feelings for Jane and she just held me and listened to me and promised not to tell anyone. She is still one of my best friends to this day.

After that, I came out to my other bi friend who wasn’t Jane and she was obviously extremely happy for me and not super surprised either. After that, I came out to my close middle school friends, and then Jane, and then the rest of my high school group of friends. I remember a few people responded, “I know,” and it was honestly the most relieving thing to hear. The next step was to let my family know. And I was absolutely terrified. 

I have two older siblings, my sister who is in her mid 20's and my brother who is in his early 20's; both of them are significantly older than me. My mom and dad are married, currently going 30 years strong (woohoo!). My brother was the easiest. His fiancée is bi, so I knew he’d obviously be fine with it. I told him when he was driving us home from somewhere, and as mentioned, he was completely fine with it. One down, three to go. My sister was next. I was pretty nervous about this one. I love my sister so much, but we definitely do not share the same views on certain things. It was mid to late May at this point, and I was over at Jane’s house one night. We decided that I was calling my sister right then and there and telling her I was bi. My heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest as I pressed call. Part of me was really hoping she just wouldn’t pick up and I could put it off more. But she did pick up. I grabbed Jane’s hand as soon as I heard her say “Hey, Katie!” I told her I had to tell her something, and then the tears just came. “I’m, um, I’m bisexual.” I expected a long pause followed by a heartbreaking response. What I got was the complete opposite. “Okay!,” she said, in a kind of chuckling tone. I honestly couldn’t believe it. “Katie, I love you so much and any conflicting views we have is never going to change that.” I was filled with so much relief and happiness. I was shocked, but I just felt so thankful for the response I got. This night still stands as one of my favorite nights I’ve had so far in my life. 

My parents were now the only ones left. I knew they’d be completely fine with it; my parents are honestly the most supportive people I have in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful for them. I don’t why I hadn’t told them yet. The only reason I can think of is the plain fact that I just wasn’t ready. I knew I would tell them at some point during the summer. Little did I know that this huge and important moment in my life was going to be ripped away from me soon. 

I found Twitter to be an amazing way of showing my bi pride. In early June, there was a hashtag that was trending, #GaysBreakTheInternet. Anyone who was part of the LGBTQ+ community was tweeting this hashtag along with selfies. My bi friends and I all participated and it just felt so incredible to be shown so much support and love from all these strangers who each had something in common. 

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June 13th, 2016 was the day I felt as if my whole world had just fallen apart. I received a call from my sister that one of my family members had looked at my Twitter and seen my tweet. They apparently called another family member who could potentially tell my dad. My sister informed me that she didn’t think this would happen, but she was just letting me know so I wouldn’t be out of the loop. I went upstairs to my room and began to have a minor panic attack. All I could do was hope that this person would know not to call my dad. They couldn’t, they just couldn’t. I don’t know how many minutes passed, maybe about ten to fifteen, but eventually, my dad knocked on my door and came into my room. I knew he knew just by the look on his face. I broke down, sobbing. This thing that was so important to me that was supposed to be my thing to tell was taken from me, and there was no way for me to get it back. My dad asked me why I put it on the Internet if I hadn’t even told him or Mom yet, or why I told my brother and sister and friends without telling them. I could barely get any words out because I was crying so much. After calming down a bit, I then attempted to explain to him that online there is a community for this to support each other and I was going to tell him and Mom, I just wasn’t ready yet. I figured I might as well tell my mom at this point. My dad and I walked downstairs together and I broke down into tears again as I told my mom I was bisexual. She hugged me and told me it was okay and she would always love me, no matter what. After this, my best friends from middle school picked me up and we all went to get food. I just needed to be out of my house for a bit. Now my whole family knew, so I didn’t actually have anything to worry about anymore, right?

I recently saw Love, Simon a few weeks ago (minor spoilers ahead!). In the movie, Simon gets outed to his entire school. The scene made me sob, and it brought me back to the end of my junior year when I experienced that same feeling. “I’m supposed to be the one that decides when, and where, and who knows. That’s supposed to be my thing!” I knew exactly what he meant, and everything about that time in my life of coming out just flooded back to my brain. Most people say they wouldn’t change even the most awful parts of their coming out experiences because it made them into who they are today. I disagree. If I could go back and change the way some things were done, I would take that chance in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t wish the awful feelings I felt at this point in my life on anyone.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Pericak

Since my junior year of high school, I have grown so much in every single way. I’ve come to love myself more for every aspect of who I am. I’ve become a way better person in realizing that feelings of hate and bitterness just aren’t worth holding onto. I am so proud of who I am, in terms of my sexuality and everything else about myself. I’ve always had trouble becoming content with the fact that there are just some things I cannot control. I think I’m becoming better at it, but I definitely still struggle. I am so beyond happy with how far I’ve come since my junior year of high school. Things have gotten so much better, and time really does heal. To anyone reading this who is struggling with their sexuality, just remember: you are valid, you are loved, and you deserve to be happy. You will come out of this stronger than ever before. You are magnificent.