So I originally came out to my family when I was in high school, and then again about a year after I finished collage. Lucky for me, my family is awesome, so my coming out experience was both positive and unremarkable.
There were some questions surrounding the new terms I was introducing to them. What does “panromantic” mean? What does “nonbinary” mean? What does “demisexual” mean? For those who aren’t already familiar, here’s a brief overview:
Panromantic: someone who experiences romantic attraction towards other people regardless of gender identity or expression, and/or in my case, experiences attraction towards all genders.
Nonbinary: someone who’s gender identity lies outside of the “binary” (man/woman) identities we are often most familiar with. Nonbinary is an umbrella term encompassing many, many identities. I’m still figuring out where I fall under this umbrella.
Demisexual: an identity on the asexual spectrum, someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction until they’ve formed an emotional connection to the other person (and sometimes not even then.)
*A quick note: none of these overviews express the true nuance of the aforementioned identities, and each experience is extremely personal. I am only speaking from the perspective of my own experiences and identity.
So all-in-all, coming out was a breeze. Sidenote: personally, I’m of the mind that coming out shouldn’t even be an expectation, especially since it isn’t expected of straight, cisgender individuals, and that we need to do away with the societal impression that straight and cis are the “defaults,” but I digress.
Actually, the most interesting (or entertaining) part of my story, I think, is how long it took me to figure things out. I thought I was straight through almost all of high school, I thought I was allosexual until a few months after collage, and I thought I was cis until about a year after collage.
I attribute this mostly to lack of awareness, on my part, of these various identities. Eventually, through my own research, and exposure to other people in the LGBTQ+ community, I came to realize that I identified with these terms and the experiences that go along with them. I had always felt out of place among my peers, I never really cared about sex or gender, and I didn’t experience attraction the same way a lot of my friends appeared to. Among other things. To be honest, I’m still figuring it out, but I’m a far cry from where I started.
In addition to learning about my own identity, I took some time to learn about the LGBTQ+ community. I had always been intimidated and overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge that exists, and that seemed so inaccessible at the time. Be it pop culture, history, or current events, I had no clue where to start. It took me years to build up the nerve to do my own research and delve into the internet wormholes where the history of minorities is waiting to be excavated.
*Another sidenote: I believe passionately that this kind of information should be widely accessible and taught in schools. Especially for LGBTQ+ youth.
Well as it turns out, I enjoy researching. In fact, now I would advise anyone who’s interested to do their own research on the LGBTQ+ community, and to ask for help from members of the community. There’s a ton of information out there, you just need to know where to look. And if you’re feeling intimidated (like I was) just remember that nearly everyone was where you are now. No one starts with a full head of knowledge, and we’re all learning all the time.
Lastly, if you’re interested in some LGBTQ+ resources, feel free to reach out and I’ll be happy to help!
TL;DR: Some of my story as an LGBTQ+ individual including my experience with coming out, figuring things out, and learning more about the LGBTQ+ community!