National Coming Out Day is an annual day of celebration for those that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. Coming out – whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or allied – STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other.
Growing up, for as long as I can remember, I never really fitted in to society’s forced mold of what a woman was. I was different. I thought differently. I dressed differently. I had a different perspective on what I believed to be true beauty. I knew that something was unique about me at a young age in comparison to my peers. When I would hang out with my girl friends, I was never interested in the things they were. You know, boys, makeup, dresses, the latest girl gossip, etc. They would always make fun of me for not being interested in the same things that they were fascinated with. They chalked it up to me being a tomboy and that one day I’d come around and soon be interested in the same things. And hell, I did too. I often thought that I was just a little delayed and that I’d get there soon. Yeah, one day I’ll catch up to them.
Fast forward to late middle school, early high school where I was still the same Quin. I always expressed myself in androgynous clothing. I never enjoyed tight-fitted clothes. I liked to be comfortable. And it just so happened that I always drifted to the boy’s section of clothing stores. Their stuff was loose and more my style, you know? I’ve always had this sort of tomboy swag with bits of girliness mixed in. Most of my family knew this and didn’t force me to do something different. Looking back now, I’m thankful because I know my other LGTBQ friends were probably not as fortunate with that. More on that in a minute.
Once I got to high school I started to see other girls that were like me. I felt less alone and slowly began to identify since the visibility was there. I had girl friends that I thought were exceptionally beautiful. And I’m not talking about the oh yeah, that’s a pretty girl type-beautiful. I found myself thinking about girls the way my friends thought about boys. The way that they dressed, smelled, talked, the shape of their bodies. I was so insanely attracted to girls. Even though I was a tomboy, I was always drawn to very feminine girls- I guess opposites really do attract. I remember when the thoughts crossed my mind, I would quickly dismiss it. I thought I was weird or something was wrong with me for thinking that way. I remember trying so hard to be like everyone else only I didn’t get that jittery feeling about boys like all my friends did. When I’d get together with my friends and they would be talking about the popular football player, I’d try my best to chime in out of fear of them finding out about me. Would my friends no longer want to be my friend if they found this out? It was a true mind game trying to be someone that I simply wasn’t. Certain close friends found out that I liked girls and I noticed that little by little did they stop hanging out with me. One friend in particular started avoiding me at school once she found out I liked girls. It hurt because we were good friends and I was the exact same person still only she just knew a different side of me. I struggled internally and became depressed and had severe anxiety with it all. Once I started hanging out with a different crowd and saw that these people also shared similarities with me that’s when I began to feel at ease within myself.
Early high school is when I really started to explore my feelings for the same-sex and not dismiss it. I had other friends that were like me and they too had found the same-sex attractive. Me being the ever inquisitive and analytical person that I am, I would go home and do research. Wow, was I fascinated by finding other people who I connected with. I found terms/categories that identified certain groups within the LGBTQ community and I finally found myself. Although, I found a term for who I believed I was, I never really liked the idea of labeling myself. I would always tell close friends that I was just a girl who liked other girls. But just like in regular non-gay society, there is this severe need to label everyone. Some would call me a stud or butch (queer terminology) and for a while, I went with it.
During this time, my family would notice things but no one ever really said anything. I come from a single-parent West Indian background (USVI) where not everything needs intense discussion. A lot was seen but not addressed. I have four siblings where I am the baby of the family. I have two sisters and one brother. I’ve always been really close to my brother. We shared similar interests, clothes, shoes, sports- and the obvious, our attraction to women. I always felt like my big brother understood me more so than my sisters. He didn’t feel the need to ask me a bazillion questions about myself. He just accepted me. I thought my sisters believed I was weird just like everyone else. One day I came home from school and my oldest sister just flat out asked me if I was like Ellen Degeneres. I almost spat out the after school snack I was eating. I knew what she was hinting at but I played along, dancing around the vague question. I answered, “yeah, I think I’m pretty funny just like her!” She gave me a look like girl, that’s not what I meant. And I slyly bolted for my room wanting to avoid the whole uncomfortable interaction all together.
It wasn’t really until I had my first girlfriend did my family start believing I was gay. Unlike most LGBTQ people, I never truly had a coming out story. The stories you may hear or see on tv where someone sits down their entire family and reveals their true self to them. Yup, that never happened with me. I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this but I think it’s both hilarious, and well, it’s technically my coming out story. One day my then girlfriend came over to my house to chill and eat pizza (or so I thought). My mom still at this time did not think anything of one of my “friends” coming over to hang out with me while still in high school. I met this girl at work and we shared an attraction among other things and it developed into something more over some time. She came over mid-evening and we hung out and one thing led to another, no need for me to explain- we’re all adults here, ha! Mind you, I thought my Mom was in her own room sleeping the entire time. After fun was had, I escorted my girlfriend out of the house thinking I was the ultimate G. We exchanged words and corny goodbye kisses and then I walked back in the house. Just as I cracked open the door, my Mom was right there and I will never forget the look on her face you guys. Now, I’m gonna pause here. If you have a black Mom, scratch that, if you have a West Indian Mother you can feel me on this. That look though. I thought right then and there that I was gonna die. All of my future aspirations, goals of being in the WNBA, and another night with my then girlfriend was over. Long story short, my Mom basically threatened my life if I ever had the audacity to do that shit again in her house. So yeah, that was my coming out story.
And we never spoke about that encounter again. Crazy, right? I know.
So many things were left unsaid. I felt like an ass because before that, I don’t think I ever disappointed my Mom. I was a straight A student. I was getting accepted into colleges with scholarships left and right. I had a little part time job and was being promoted to be being a supervisor all at the age of 17. And now I messed up our awesome mother/daughter relationship by not only disrespecting her house but now she knows I’m gay! Again, we still didn’t speak about the fact that she caught me with a girl. It was this lingering conversation that I just knew was impending. My Mother grew up with a very strict, bible-belt, Mother of her own. She told me various terrible stories about her own upbringing and how she vowed to never raise her own kids that way. She always allowed my siblings and I to live life and enjoy our youth within reason. But growing up, I can’t really say that I came from an immediate family where being gay was not accepted or tolerated. We knew of other people being gay but never had anything very religious or bad to say. It was like, ok well, that’s them. But now that my Mom knows she has a daughter that is gay- will this change things? Because you know, things are all good until it hits home, right?
Over the next couple of years, certain things remained the same. I went off to college while in a long-term committed relationship. While in that relationship, things would happen that would cause my Mom to say some homophobic things that began to alienate us. If my ex and I would have trouble or an argument, my family would tell me it’s because we’re both women. Ignorant statements such as these would make me angry and I began distancing myself from family. This was hard because my Mom and I are so close. My other sister met her now husband and they were seemingly riding off into the heterosexual sunset. I struggled hard with things in my own relationship. If my relationship wasn’t doing well, I’d compare it to my sisters or other relationships of people who happened to be straight. And then I too began alluding to the fact that things were happening because I was in a relationship that wasn’t “right” or “natural.” What made it even worse was the fact that I didn’t have as many LGBTQ friends in college as I did in high school. I was pretty much surrounded by straight people and had no like-minded visibility. Having that representation and visibility is so important, without it, it can surely drive someone mad. I was never a super religious person but I was always very spiritual. I went to church with my ex but we always had to be very cognizant of our behavior with one another. I would hide my sexuality from certain people at college or work for fear of not being accepted. Throughout the years there were family get togethers and events that always seemed to be more stressful than joyous. Would we go to the event together, would we not? Was the other one even invited to begin with? I was in a personal hell all over again it seemed. And then when my ex cheated on me with a man, I was driven into a deeper hell filled with so many questions. With so much going on, I internalized everything and did my best to press on and move forward.
I started trying to slowly immerse myself into the LGBTQ scene all over again. Meeting other people that were out and proud was like a breath of fresh air. I wondered, why couldn’t I too be out and proud so confidently? I met people that were so comfortable being themselves and basically gave zero f*cks if anyone else had an issue with their life. I deeply admire people like that. I realized what was holding me back was this annoying compulsion to please everyone but myself. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve sacrificed my own happiness for others. Or how many times I’ve hidden my truth to appease other people. How many times I would be afraid to lose friends because of my sexuality. For years, I battled internally with myself and for what? I was drowning in a sea of people-pleasing everyone but me. It’s hard enough to be a black woman in this world as it is. But that’s a whole different post for a different day. I was my own worst enemy at times. I’d constantly overthink everything instead of just living my life. Oh, and the judgment. Once so and so finds out about me, what would they think of me? Could a lesbian really have a girl as a friend and it really be platonic? Would all my friends think that I was attracted to them? But seriously though, why do all straight women think you’re attracted to them once they know you’re gay? Like, you do know I have a type too, right? Why do men think I’m queer because I haven’t been with a man before? And no, one night with you won’t turn me straight. Yes, I love God. Oh, and if I had a dollar for every time someone told me that I was going to hell, I’d be a rich b*tch. You don’t want to have to explain what love is to your child? Do I not deserve to love who I love and it be recognized under the law? No, it’s not a phase that I’m experiencing. My love for the same sex is not any different than who you love. Stop trying to box me in and make me conform to your heteronormativity. I am who I am and I will most certainly love who I love.
I have more heterosexual friends than I do LGBTQ friends although I’m working on balancing out that ratio he he. But I will say my straight friends are so extremely supportive of me and my lifestyle and take steps to actively support equality. I’ve met people over the years that have come from homes where their sexuality is not tolerated and they are shamed for being who they are whether that be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual. There are numerous unfortunate stories out there involving violence that stems from hate crimes on these very same people that are living their truth. I will not stand for or sit beside people who are not reverent and accepting of everyone. I will not hide who I am to make you comfortable in my presence. Why are you so concerned with who I take to bed? Are you mad you didn’t get an invite? I no longer coward and hide who I am out of fear of what someone else thinks. If you don’t like it or make pre-conceived notions about me or my life, your loss, not mine. You can exit stage left- thank you kindly. Stay out of my lane and worry about yours. Oh, and please miss me with the religious banter- that is between my God and me. Believe me when I when I tell you that saying these very things boldly took a lot of time.
Before identifying with being queer, I’ve always believed love is love. I celebrate and encourage others to also celebrate all forms of love and self-expression. Everyone in this world deserves to love who they love without fear, judgment, hate, or violence. I’ve had several deep talks with my Mom about my sexuality and comments that she used to make. She admitted that she foolishly made such comments because she was ignorant about same-sex relationships. When I was going through things in my past, she told me she said those things because of the hurt and pain that I was dealing with at the time. Although the homophobic comments hurt, I was able to understand that those very comments stemmed from pure ignorance. How many times do we say foolish and hurtful things because we aren’t aware or take time to understand someone else? We jump to conclusions about someone else’s life without fully understanding what really may be going on. Please take time to understand one another and offer support when you see that someone may need it. Don’t be quick to judge or shame someone else because their life may be different from yours. The beauty about everyone is that we’re all diverse and that ought to be celebrated instead of trying to fit everyone into this mold.
The hands in the picture above belong to my number one supporter in life, my Mom.
Things haven’t always been easy with her but we have come a long way and she supports me and my life more than anyone. A few months ago we were hanging out and started watching this show that came on tv. This parent was talking about how he was going to send his kid to a camp that turns your gay kids straight. You know, a place that prays away the gay from someone, I guess. My Mom turned and looked at me in disgust and said, “I can’t believe someone would do that to their own child. He just needs to love his kid.” At that moment, I could’ve shed a million tears. It felt good to know that I taught her something and that more importantly; she loved me whole-heartedly. When I told her that I was writing this post she thought it was amazing and talked about how I could possibly help someone else come out. We have this terribly funny inside joke between us where at random times I’ll tell her that I’m not gay anymore. And without fail, each time, she laughs and says something even funnier than that because apparently the thought of me with a man makes her giggle.
I’m not going to lie and sugar coat anything; coming out to family and friends is incredibly scary. Unless you’re made of steel, then it’s easy. You worry about how others will treat you, the judgment, the shame, the religious backlash, and so much more. You may face isolation and ridicule from the very people you care a lot about. If you’re a part of the LGBTQ community, I hope this post resonates with you and encourages you to live your truth and be your most authentic self. Choosing to come out is a personal choice and should be done only when you feel ready. There is only one YOU and we have one life to live. You deserve to live your life being happy and loving whoever you love proudly . If you struggle with something, I’d love to lend an ear and be there for you. Please feel free to reach out to me in any way. For allies/supporters, your love is also much needed. If you know someone that is LGBTQ, please offer support and love on them. Let someone know they’re loved by you and supported no matter what- trust me, that small act of kindness means a lot and can often times be a saving grace to someone in need. For those who have trouble with understanding the LGBTQ community, please gain knowledge and just have basic respect for one another. You don’t have to welcome someone with open arms to show respect. We learn from when we’re little, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Harsh comments or words have more power to them than you know.
As an incredibly private person, I was reluctant to share as much personal information as I have already done on my blog. When I think about the things that have helped me become the person that I am today it is because of people that were brave enough to share their story. Each time I open up and share bits of my life, I’m inundated with messages/comments from people of all walks of life. And it truly makes me so happy inside. I honestly cringe thinking about how much I’ve shared in this post but if it helps someone else out or opens someone’s mind, then my job is done. There is power in sharing a story. Any story. Each time someone opens up or comes out, it makes it easier for the next person. They feel less alone. Less depressed. Less anxious. And the suffering in silence ceases little by little.
I know this because that was me ♥︎
- I used *this* cinnamon bun pull-apart pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup rainbow sprinkles
- For the frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Coat pan with non-stick spray or butter.
- In a large bowl or mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt together.
- Add egg whites, one at a time, until lightly fluffy.
- Add vanilla and buttermilk and beat to combine.
- Add baking powder and cornstarch and beat well to combine.
- Slowly add flour and mix just until flour disappears.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in sprinkles.
- Spread batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let cake cool in pan, about 10-15 minutes.
- Place a plate or platter over top of pan and flip so cake releases.
- For the frosting
- In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally, until smooth and creamy; about 2-3 minutes.
- Add vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until frosting is thick or reaches desired consistency.
- Spread or pipe frosting onto cake and enjoy!