Ten years ago (as of next month), at the age of 27, I started coming out. It’s hard trying to move forward and grow when so much of your life has been spent denying yourself happiness. While it’s always good to finally break free from toxic patterns, to prioritize your needs, wants, desires, and wellness for the first real time in your life, doing so can be really challenging and emotional once you realize how long you’ve been kept from it.
It can feel an awful lot like you’ve missed out on living and growing up like everyone else did.
Meanwhile my friends and classmates had years of dating the people they were attracted to, getting engaged, moving in with partners, marrying the person they loved, and were now settling into careers, having kids, you know, all the stuff that’s you’re expected to do. All the stuff that we’re told is living. That’s it right there. But I wasn’t doing any of that. I wasn’t dating who I was attracted to. I wasn’t falling in love, building a home, or pursuing goals. I was too busy drinking, chain smoking, isolating myself into video games, and generally doing anything and everything I possibly could to not acknowledge my queerness.
I didn’t want to be queer! Almost everything around me while growing up framed being gay as a bad thing. Gay, in general, meant bad, lame, boring, annoying, subpar, weak, etc. Can’t hang out with friends because you have too much homework? Fuck, that’s gay. Get grounded? Ugh, so gay. Parents won’t let you go to the concert you really want to? God, they’re so gay! Kid in class who’s bad at sports? Must be gay. Survivor Season 200? Gay. New Coldplay album? Gay. This year’s Call of Duty not being as good as last year’s? So. Fucking, Gay.
So, I stayed in a closet for a very, very long time. All despite the fact that deep down I knew I wasn’t cishet from the moment I kissed my childhood best friend and pretended to “be the girl” so that it was okay, and totally straight. It’s too bad that after there was nothing around me to affirm those experiences as being positive. I didn’t really see any examples of happy queer people just being themselves anywhere while growing up. In fact, the first time I ever knowingly saw a trans queer person was in Crocodile Dundee when Paul Hogan humiliated a trans woman in a bar for a cheap laugh.
It honestly didn’t even seem possible to exist as a queer person in any way that looked like you were living a life. Queer people were always unknowable to me. Rather than face the ridicule of my classmates, or see myself as the butt of all the jokes in film and television, or deal with my queerphobic family and relatives, I just… didn’t really exist for most of my childhood, all of my teens, and my early adulthood.
And that makes me pretty fucking sad, if I’m being honest here. While I’m really glad that I’m out now, living as my authentic self, being adorable and awesomely queer as fuck, there’s a part of me that gets a little wistful when I see all these younger trans queers in school, at work, hanging out together at events. Not because they exist or anything like that! I’m thrilled that they’re all here and thriving, accepting themselves and finding community, connection, and fulfillment. I’m so happy more trans queers are feeling safer and more comfortable being out with their friends, more in their community, and online.
I just wish that I did too when I was their age.
There’s a lot I wish I had done at that age.
Like… be a femboy! I never got to be one. And I was SO twinky, I would have made the perfect femboy!
I can hear you now: but Nillin, you can still be a femboy! And yeah, okay, sure, thanks but that doesn’t actually help. You’re right, I can still be a femboy on my own terms but it’ll be in my 37-year-old body, and no, it’s not the same thing.
There’s just so much that I didn’t get to be while growing up. I didn’t get to be myself. I didn’t get to grow authentically, to safely explore my emotions and attractions, or have my feelings and experiences affirmed. I didn’t get to experience young queer love. I didn’t get to go to my prom dressed how I wanted. I didn’t get to go to the gay bar with all my trans queer friends. I didn’t even go to pride until I was 28 or 29.
I’m still grieving all that. I lament what my first 30 years could have been.
If you’re a trans queer who feels similarly, I want you to know that’s okay. You have every right to be sad, mad, or feel whatever you need to feel, about any of the time you lost to closets, a lack of acceptance, a fear for your safety or wellness, or all the social norms and expectations that trap us. Your feelings are valid. I hope that you can make peace with that the best you can and find happiness and fulfillment in your life now, wherever you may be.