I’ve learned a lot about the closet I’ve spent my life in for the past 26-ish years. I always thought of myself as an extrovert. I have always been overtly social, the life of the party, down for anything with loads of people–until I owned who I am.
Being overtly outgoing enabled me to keep people at a distance. As long as everyone was having fun and enjoying each other, no one would ask me about me. I used to blame my family history, my rough teen years and my failed life choices as the reason for keeping others at a distance. I was completely unhappy and did an Oscar worthy performance at portraying otherwise.
The thing I was really hiding is that I was a liar. Yesterday sitting on the couch I confessed to my roommate, “I want to go out somewhere and then when I’m out, I just want to be at home on the couch.” She said it was the most introverted thing she’d ever heard me say. Funny story though, I’ve been telling this to my heart for years. I wanted to be accepted so badly that I would spend extraordinary amounts of effort projecting the person I knew people loved. They told me so all the time.
Unfortunately, this cause all the homophobia, hatred and guilt to be turned inward. Their support of who I was pretending to be, to me, was evidence that no one would support who I really am. We lie to ourselves out of fear and blame others for those lies. I’ve learned in the past few months who always saw me for me–those people are still my biggest champions and I love them greatly.
There’s a few people who saw what I was projecting or what they wanted to see…or hoped for me to be. In coming out publicly as Bisexual (and a Christian), there is an awkward space where no one knows what to say–so they say nothing. There’s been a lot of radio silence. I don’t want to have conversations about my sexuality that come from a place of judgement and concern, but I do want to have conversations.
Tomorrow I have the honour of talking with a local pastor about how LGBTQ+ Christians are falling through the cracks. This leader of the faith wants to know how the church can support us as we come out so that we don’t feel the need to leave the church. I don’t know that there is a cut and dry answer for this because it all comes down to those looks and comments we get–and the ones we don’t. The silence is deafening sometimes. I am still the Cheryl I was two months ago, I still like comic book movies, Bible studies, lattes and beach fires. I still love dinner parties, live music and sarcastic humour. I still love my friends–for some reason announcing my own elephant has produced an even bigger one that causes discomfort in others.
There’s also this glorious thing where I am comfortable with myself, with being alone, with being with others who love and support me and with being a work in progress. Though my friend circle seems to have tightened recently as others take a step back for their own personal comfort, I am finding a peace in my heart that wasn’t there before.
It’s going to take a while to clean up the damage done by years of pretending, but I’m ready for it. Freedom is a wonderful thing!