I came out to my dad in October of my freshman year of college. We were tailgating for a football game, and I asked him to take a walk with me to the student commons. We sat down inside the student commons and just started talking—about my classes, the transition to college and how bad the football team played. I knew what I wanted to talk to him about.
“Speaking of things changing,” I said, “there’s something that’s changed with me. I’m dating someone new.” I paused because I saw my hallmates walking by and I felt myself getting choked up. I waited for them to pass. “Her name is Abby.”
Tears began to flood out of my eyes and were pooling in the bottom rims of my glasses. I felt so exposed and vulnerable. My body shook in my chair.
My dad took my hand on the table. “I don’t care who you’re with. If it works for you, it works for me.”
I started to ugly cry. Like, really ugly cry.
He continued, “I would like to thank you for being brave and telling me. I can’t imagine how scary that must’ve been. I love you.”
I always had a hunch that I liked girls too, but growing up in a tight-knit, private school community, I never really had the chance to explore that side of my sexuality. I dated exclusively guys throughout high school. Once I got to William & Mary, I found incredible support from the LGBTQ+ community, and this encouraged me to figure things out.
I’m the kind of person who hates surprises, and not knowing where I landed on the Kinsey scale really bothered me. I needed to learn more about myself. I started dating a girl for the first time ever. And it scared me and thrilled me and fulfilled me. She had big, brown, curly hair and radiated sunshine, always. Ultimately, that relationship came and went. Now, I’ve clarified something about myself that I don’t think I would have otherwise figured out. I now had the words to describe my feelings, and that somehow made it seem more concrete for something that feels so abstract.
I’ve lived with my dad for six years and we’re pretty close, so not everyone reacted the same way he did. Some made it about themselves; others were completely silent. I hated the silence; it felt like they didn’t care enough to offer words of support to me. But eventually, those folks came around too.
I’m a member of a well-supported, relatively safe LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t quite know what to do once I came out. Then I bought a bisexual pride flag and rainbow lights for my dorm room and a pride pin for my backpack. I cut my hair to the classic length of the “bisexual bob.” I’ve embraced the fact that I can’t sit in chairs properly. I wear a lot of striped shirts tucked into tailored pants. I’ve become totally comfortable in my sexuality and in my identity, and I feel so incredibly free.
I know not everyone has the opportunity to be a part of a community that outspoken and welcoming, and I understand not everyone can safely come out or explore parts of their identity. Everyone also might have different ways of coming out to themselves or others (Leaving the Closet in College, Coming Out Again… and Again, Coming Back and Coming Out) . If you’re comfortable and safe, do it. If you have the words, use them. Find your freedom.