Personal Column: Girl reveals inner self

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Personal Column: Girl reveals inner self

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Years of hints about my sexuality, of jokes about the rainbow paintings in my closet, of rants about the inherent heteronormativity of our society that have gone unnoticed or ignored by the people surrounding me demonstrate to me my unimportance. Or rather, the unimportance of a significant portion of my identity.

I am not blameless in this ignorance. I have certainly kept secret from my parents my love for my own sex, if only because I am afraid of the speculation that will occur about every one of my friendships when I tell them. This is why I keep it hidden.

I have spent large amounts of my own free time fantasizing about a world in which it would not matter to my extended family that I am an untouchable, a freak of nature, a monstrosity in the eyes of God. I have had dreams in which I came to dinner with a girlfriend without a single look of shock or horror on a relative’s face.

But that is not reality. The reality is that, in accordance to the rules of a Southern family, one hides what is different about herself so as not to be impolite. The reality is that if I were to show the ugly head of my fatal attraction to more than just the opposite sex, I would be ridiculed for forcing my gay agenda down the throats of unwilling friends and family members. This is why I keep it hidden.

I used to get angry when I heard snide remarks slip from the mouths of ignorant relatives at Thanksgiving dinner. I used to have a mind to correct the internalized sexism of the women or to shut down the homophobia and racism that both sides of my extended family has been taught since a young age.

But I have long since come to terms with the fact that I have a conservative Republican bloodline. If I left them know who I really am – a liberal, gay-loving SJW – they would never again view me the same way. This is not slander against them; it’s the truth. I cannot be true to myself if I want to truly fit in with my relatives. This is why I keep it hidden.

Nine years of attending a private Lutheran school taught me that I am a sinner. There is no way around that. My sins are surely manifold, but the urge to be anything but heterosexual is certainly one of them. The phrase “the Devil waves a rainbow flag” is logged in my brain under elementary school memories. It’s a recollection to which I have always responded, ‘I am right there with you, Satan.’

My own Catholic and Baptist family is no different from my old school, if maybe slightly more lenient on the topic of Lucifer. While I try to avoid conversations about the fiery depths of eternal damnation, I know my family does play into the Christian belief system. This is why I keep it hidden.

To be fair, I’m not entirely closeted. At school, pretty much everyone that I am friends with knows that I lean towards pansexuality, meaning I can be attracted to any gender – if you can put a label on something as enormously fluid as sexuality.

Even at school, though, I’ve experienced judgmental remarks and painful, side-eyed glances from religious fanatics and homophobes alike. I have thankfully been lucky enough to find a group of friends that does not care about whether or not I like girls, but I know that it would have been just as likely for me to have made closed-minded friends and been subjected to fear of being found out at school just as I am at home. This is why I keep it hidden.

I am entirely aware that at some point I am obligated to at least allow my parents the knowledge that I may very well come home one day completely in love with a girl. I realize that keeping them in the dark about such an important matter is only going to get harder with time.

But I also know that once I tell them, it’s over. I believe my mother and father wouldn’t have a problem with who I am, but I also highly doubt that they would be able to keep such a gigantic secret from my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s not that I doubt their ability to lie (they did convince me that the tooth fairy was real, after all.) It’s just that if it’s hard for one person to keep something from a group of people, it’s even harder for three people to keep said secret. This is why I keep it hidden.

Despite all of my reasons not to let anyone know that I am in fact a member of the LGBT+ community, I am fed up with hiding from my family such a weighty characteristic. Every time I conveniently allow my parents believe that I am only romantically interested in males, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach.

16 years is far too long to keep such a key piece of me from my loved ones. I know that I may never be seen the same way again. But I also know that being pansexual does not in any affect who I am.

This is why I can’t keep it hidden.

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