Recently, I publicly shared my coming out story. Coming out has been a gradual process for me. Since I’m not dating any girls yet, it hasn’t been a huge issue that I felt like everyone needed to know about. For the most part, I told people about it when the subject came up organically.
This summer, I came out to my little brother and sister.
I bought the Sims 3 Island Paradise Expansion Pack (which is really fun, and you get to play as a mermaid — how awesome is that?!) and started creating a Sim with my little siblings, Seth (9) and Noelle (7). First, we made a girl (and cleverly named her Mariana Strench). I typically pair my Sims with a spouse so I can eventually create a family, so I asked Seth and Noelle if we should make a boy or another girl to be her romantic partner.
“Boy,” they both said in unison.
When I asked them why, they had different answers. Seth told me he just wanted a boy Sim because he likes boys (in a platonic way, as far as I’m concerned, because he’s a little macho-man), and Noelle told me she “just doesn’t want Mariana to be with a girl.”
I tried not to take offense at this. I mean, she’s just a little girl and she doesn’t know that many queer women firsthand. I told her that it’s okay for girls to like girls. Then, I took a deep breath, and decided I needed to tell them. “You know, I like girls too. I like girls and boys.”
The pair looked at me, startled. I always used to bring my boyfriends around them, so this probably came as a shock.
Noelle asked modestly, “wait, you like-like girls?” When I told her yes, I could tell she was really thinking about it. After a few seconds, they both seemed pretty indifferent about it, which was fine with me. We ended up creating a boy Sim to pair with Mariana (Ocean Zeleven) because Noelle said she knew there was nothing wrong with girls liking girls but added, “I just don’t want her to be gay.”
This kind of hurt me, and in retrospect, maybe I should’ve made a girl partner for Mariana anyway just to prove that it’s okay. It was almost embarrassing and definitely scary to come out to my little siblings, because I love them so much and was afraid of rejection, even though my fear wasn’t all that rational.
It’s important for children to know at an early age that being queer is normal. Seeing someone they love and respect be honest about their orientation is a huge thing. I have several queer relatives, so it was always fairly normal for me, but they’re distant relatives, so I didn’t see them often while I grew up. I needed to tell Seth and Noelle so they know that it’s okay, and if they grow up and discover that they’re queer too, they’ll know they have me to talk to, and that their family will accept them no matter what.
Coming out is scary. The fear of rejection is overwhelming. But our younger relatives need us to be the role models we may or may not have had, so that they can have the strength to love and be honest with themselves too. As difficult as it may be, I urge everyone else to find the strength to do the same with your younger, impressionable relatives (if you haven’t already). A few minutes of discomfort for you may mean a lifetime of self-confidence and self-love for your younger loved ones, so try taking a chance. I realize that I have the privilege of coming from a family that isn’t homophobic and is incredibly accepting, but I hope this helps anyone else who may be in a similar situation.