Since I’m in Spain, I’m sad that I’m missing out on coming out week in the states. More specifically, in San Francisco where the Castro street fair is held.
Last year I went to the street fair and it was really my first time being in a large LGBT+ space. Growing up in a hometown that isn’t very accepting, I didn’t realize I was bisexual until college because I didn’t think it was possible for me. I hid those feelings I had away until I was in a safe enough space to explore them. And even then, I didn’t really start talking about it until my sophomore year. It was amazing to be in an area so accepting and informational, and I had a great time with my other queer friends.
After the street fair, I posted a picture of my blue, pink, and purple eyeshadow with a public announcement of my queerness. I then followed that up with a post on my Facebook, excluding my family from seeing it. That was the first time I had told most people, besides my close friends and little brother. And it was a little scary, because as I said, my old friends grew up in that unaccepting town too, but it was also really freeing. I’ve never been scared to post about it on my Facebook since, and I’ve even got a bisexual flag sticker on my laptop for the world to see.
Well, that was a year ago. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, and yet it seems like it’s been forever. So much has changed since then. My mother now knows my sexuality. I’m way more open about it, which makes me feel a lot more comfortable around those I hang out with. I found an old message between me and my roommate from before we met in person where she asked me if I was in the LGBT+ community, to which I replied that no, I was only an ally. Boy, I was wrong. We got a good laugh over that.
Often times, I still get frustrated with the assumption that everyone is straight. In one of my classes, we were talking about describing people (in Spanish, for a review of ser vs estar). My teacher asked us ladies (as the class has only two male identifying students) how we would describe a new boyfriend to our mothers. While yes, I get it was just a simple activity, it made me more aware of my outsideness (if that’s a word) from others around me. I felt like I couldn’t say anything because one, it wasn’t really necessary, and two, I like boys too, they’re just not the only gender that I like.
LGBT+ in Spain is different than in the states. LGBT+ marriage has been legal longer, for one, and those marriages have the same exact rights as a straight couple. I talked to a worker at my school, who identifies as gay, and he told me about the culture in Spain. Here, there are those religious people who are old-fashioned, but in reality, southern Spain is pretty accepting. What’s really different is how normal it is in the culture. There aren’t big events or publicity about LGBT+ stuff. It’s hard to describe. It’s almost as if it’s as normal as being straight here, yet still different? (I’m going to stop here and think about how to phrase this more, I’ll make another blog post about it).
Overall, I look back coming out and smile. I’m glad I did it. It wasn’t necessary, but I think it made me more comfortable with myself. It gave me a drive to fight for the rights and visibility of all queer identities. I hope everyone has an amazing and safe coming out week, and if you’re coming out for the first time, I wish you luck! May it be as painless and freeing as mine was.