feelie_cctv_footage (J)

It has been a little over six years since I came out and it has had a profound impact on my life... I grew up in a liberal, very loving and open family of predominantly creative types and even within an accepting environment like that I found it incredibly difficult to come out as gay... I was always in my head playing out every social situation as I never felt comfortable around people, which was in large part due to a very low sense of self worth brought on by a denial of my sexuality and a mentality that I was un-loveable. I was cripplingly shy, awkward and quiet at times, and I was constantly conscious of that and hated it, but didn't know how to get past it. I accepted it as part of me.

My sense of worth was in large part due to the fact that we live in a heteronormative society and defining oneself as something different then that was a heavy burden to bear because it makes you into the other... I didn't want it to be a big deal, I didn't want to label myself as gay because I felt like I should recede and not give people a way to pay attention to me. I just wanted to exist in the background.

It wasn't until I started connecting with queer people online, particularly my future husband Ryan, that my life made a seismic shift. Not only did I get to experience intimacy with another person (both physically and emotionally) but I opened up in a way that I couldn't before and felt a love wholly reciprocated... a love that I never once second-guessed if it was real or if it was fleeting. Ryan also threw so much queer culture at me that I was so ignorantly unaware of and it made me just so proud and joyful and liberated to be involved in this beautiful community.

I began to feel much more comfortable with myself, which in turn allowed me connect with friends and people in a way that I hadn't before. I started to connect with people as opposed to always trying to distance myself. Slowly the shell I was forever wearing began to break away and I was just there, in the moment, and okay with it.

I write this post to share my experience of how coming out has affected me in an effort to add to the symphony of voices that are making the world a safer space for queer people to exist. Coming out is not an easy thing to do even if you are in the best possible environment to do so. It's a weight that's difficult to carry and is hard to get past, but so many positive things happen when you do. There are people out there who will love you for who you are. Love permeates. Let it permeate through you too �