Happy Pride! This month’s issue centered on submissions we’ve received from the community where some of you have come forward with your own coming out stories. A huge thank you to everyone who submitted.
Girls are pretty, am gay, want cuddle
I thought this would be longer but as I think about it, I don’t have much more to say other than that the mainstream queer rights movement has an issue with exclusion and outright discrimination against many things that aren’t gay or bisexual and needs a major injection of intersectionality and leftism.
I want to share this story to remind people that they should accept, embrace, and enjoy who they are in life. I am gay, and until recently, I was in question. I knew from the age of 12, that I was bisexual, and I was sure of it. But, until recently, I did not realize that I was gay, and society allowed me to be bisexual, but not gay. At age 12, I knew I liked men, but up until a few months ago, I was in question about my sexuality towards women, and I don't blame society, but I know that they are at fault. When I came out as bisexual, I felt that society was more comfortable with it, because it meant I still liked women, when in fact I know today, I don't. See, in today's society, people are getting more comfortable with gay marriage, but unfortunately, if you don't say you are gay or bi, people assume you're straight. That's what I hate about society's attitude towards the idea of being LGBTQIA+. It's not that society will hate on you, it's that society assumes that you are straight.
So, me coming out as bisexual, made me feel that society could still look at me as liking women. But, it was a big lie that I told myself. At school, I would tell some people I was bisexual, and some people I was straight depending on how comfortable I felt with them. A lot of people in the LGBTQIA+ community feel more comfortable coming out to the people they are closest to, I am not. I feel more comfortable telling people that I am not as close to. My mom and my American grandparents, the people I am closest to, have no idea I am gay. My godfather, who is one of the most compassionate people I know, is gay, and I don't have the courage to tell him yet. The one person I told that I was gay, was my cousin. My cousin and I have a very interesting relationship. We are very close in age, but whenever we saw each other on vacations, we would fight and make up constantly. He and I have always been close, but not close enough to be like best friends. It was a love hate relationship. But in the past year, he and I have gotten much closer and have learned to be great friends. This Christmas, I saw him and we just got much closer. A few weeks after we saw each other, I had the courage to tell him something. It was very hard, but I came out as gay to him.
He was the first person I came out to, and I thought for some unknown reason that he would laugh at me or make fun of me. I don't know why but that's what I thought he would do. When I told him, he told me he was touched that I would talk to him about it. When I asked if he saw me differently, he told me that of course not, and that he loves me just as much. I bawled my eyes out to him because I finally felt comfortable with talking to someone who can accept me. I have not told my American grandparents yet, the people I feel the closest with, because I am not ready. When I tell them, I know I will be accepted, but I want to feel ready first. My message to people who have a hard time coming out of the closet, is to do it when you are ready. Do it at your own pace. Thank you for listening to my story.
Happy Pride Month to the DSA. Last year for the Pride Edition of the old Solidarity newspaper, I shared my coming out story. In the year since, I’ve been making new discoveries about myself and I want to share that, especially since it’s an aspect of attraction that not many people think about.
To start off, hello. I am Student Loan Debt. I'm a cisgender gay man, he/him pronouns, and I am currently 20 years old. Romantically, I identify as on the Aromantic Spectrum, leaning towards Demiromantic.
In case people don’t know, I am going to explain what this means. Attraction to people is not just who you desire to be with, but also if you desire to be with someone. Yes there are homosexual people, heterosexual, bisexual people, pansexual people, and many others. However, that’s just one aspect of sexuality. Those who regularly experience sexual attraction are considered “Allosexual”. Those who don’t regularly experience sexual attraction are considered to be “Gray-Asexual”. This includes many forms like Asexuality (has little to no sexual attraction), Demisexuality (has little to no sexual attraction to people unless a close connection is formed first), Quiosexuality (doesn’t understand experiences or concepts of sexuality), Lithosexuality (experience sexual attraction but is uncomfortable receiving it), and many others. And these are not inherently independent, they can be combined with others. Someone can be Demisexual and Pansexual because it doesn’t describe what gender they like but rather how they experience sexual attraction.
As for me, I am allosexual. I regularly experience sexual attraction. However, I don’t regularly experience romantic attraction.
Romantic Attraction and Sexual Attraction are two different things. Sexual Attraction is who you want to have sexual contact with where as Romantic Attraction is who you want to have a romantic relationship with. The same terms as above apply here. People can be homoromantic, heteroromantic, panromantic, etc. People can also not regularly experience romantic attraction and be “Gray-Aromantic”. Some people are Aromantic (has little to no romantic attraction), Demiromantic (has little to no romantic attraction to people unless a close connection is formed first), and many others. These can be combined as well like with demiromantic biromantic because it doesn’t describe what gender they want to date but rather how they experience romantic attraction.
Now for me, I say I am demiromantic homoromantic. I feel that I could only genuinely develop romantic feelings (more than imitate romantic feelings) for another guy after a long and already intimate relationship (to clarify, that isn't me having "standards", but that being a base level requirement before feelings can possibly develop, not just choosing to make that be needed)
Elementary School to Early High School
Romance has always been a weird thing. As most of us do, we live in a society grow up in a culture surrounded by romance; Valentines Day, dates, an obsession with marriage, deals for couples, literally every TV and Movie producer thinking that a guy and girl making eye contact means they have to fall in love, etc. I'm not sure if everyone really knows what romance is and instead knows that Romance™ is. They know what is expected, they know the rituals, they know the thousands of stories that can't get enough of it. I think that is what my life has been for a while, of not actually experiencing romantic attraction but instead experiencing Romantic Attraction™.
I had a girlfriend in middle school. We dated for literally a week. She approached me and asked me out, I agreed, we walked around outside holding hands for a week, then we broke up. This relationship was not anything substantial in the slightest. I didn't feel anything before, during, or after, and I feel she only did this as a joke. Why did I agree if I didn't like her? Cause you're supposed to date. Middle School is when everyone goes from making fun of couples to "It's still fun to make fun of them, but being in a relationship is what cool people do". I and many people my age grew up with kid shows like Drake and Josh where one of the protagonists was known as a cool guy who dates lots of girls. That's just what you're supposed to start doing in Middle School. You're supposed to date and start liking people. I even made up a girlfriend once, although that was more to prank my friends than to actually convince them that I was dating (further showing the disconnect).
I did end up liking people eventually and that is how I found out I was gay. For that story, you can read last year's articles. However, I didn't really develop romantic feelings. Honestly I'm trying to explain what I lacked but find it hard because I don't really know what I was supposed to have. I didn't have any obsession or strong desire or anything to get a boyfriend, to kiss people, to go on dates, etc. If I ever did, it wasn't because I wanted romance, but wanted Romance™. I wanted to be part of a ritual that seemed fun even if I didn't really understand it. And that is what happened.
I found out I was gay in the summer before 10th grade and boy did I have attractions. Now, I feel these attractions were not romantic in any way. There was definitely sexual attraction to other guys. There was also platonic attraction to other guys (a desire to be in an emotional relationship with others, like wanting to be friends with them) and definitely also aesthetic attraction (admiring the way a person looks. You can admire the way they look without wanting to date them or have sex with them, like how one can admire a sunset without becoming sexually aroused) where I would just look at cute guys across the room and not pay attention to the teacher, although I don't think I ever had a romantic attraction to them. I would say that I may have only ever actually dated once and boy...what a story this is.
First Romantic Relationship
At the end of 10th grade, there was a guy I heard about who was rumored to be gay. Now me, being the innocent smol bean that I was back then, immediately started thinking "Oh boy, and I can date him? I don't know anything about him but he's gay and I am still discovering my sexuality so let's go!". As you can already see, I didn't want to date him as the person he was, but as the sexual orientation that he was. Only other gay guy I knew was already dating someone so that was out of the picture, leaving this new guy for me to be excited about.
Summer before 11th grade and I am on Facebook. He makes a post, I leave a comment that sounds concerning (thought it actually wasn't. It just wasn't phrased right). He slides into my DMs to ask about that and we start talking. Quickly was the FB comment discussion dropped when he started asking about me. He asked if I was gay. My mind was wild right then, thinking "Oh my god, am I about to get a boyfriend?" I said yes, he said he is too, and soon after we agreed to date each other. We had our first date the following day at a Cracker Barrel (I'm sorry, that's just what happened). It was nice, although I was super nervous since I was still closeted and now I'm eating with this guy together in a public restaurant.
After, we walked over to a now bankrupt department store called Kmart and I guess we went shopping, maybe? Idk. In the clothing racks he got close to me and I didn't know what was happening. I asked and then he leaned in and kissed me. That was my first kiss. I was completely taken off guard and just kind of sat there since I didn't know what to do. When he pulled back, I realized that we were kissing so I allowed another so that we could actually kiss. Later we went to the bathroom and had a make-out session.
I felt nothing. I didn't understand the appeal, I wasn't into it (although I wasn't uncomfortable enough to want to stop), and during the make-out session I was actually thinking of other things besides what was happening cause it felt really weird and I just wasn't into it. We had about 2 more physical encounters, one where we cuddled at his house and another where we had dinner at a local sushi restaurant. During the time we were together he talked a lot about sex and talked about what our first time might be like. Like he was really wanting to have a sexual relationship. Two weeks into dating, we broke up. Looking back, I think it was because he wanted sex and I just didn't want that then, implying that this was just a fling for him.
I was not romantically attracted to this guy. Looking back, I think I was only Romantically Attracted™. I didn't want to date him, I wanted to date. I didn't want him as my boyfriend, I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted to be part of the larger culture where I could say that I was dating and maybe feel that excitement. Modern culture lured me in and I was not that impressed. And yes, I did a LOT of cringy things as result of this influence.
Lack of Attraction and Questioning
After, I didn't really have an interest in dating. There were more guys I was attracted to, although I think it was more sexual, aesthetic, and platonic than romantic. Some of my attractions were friends and some were acquaintances. It is the friends that I still think about today, which I feel may play into me thinking that I am Demiromantic and not Aromantic. All the guys I wanted to be with, however, were straight (the forbidden fruit) so I couldn't get with them.
Senior year had the usual Straight™ American rituals like the Homecoming Dance and Prom. I didn't want to take a date to these. This could have been because I just didn't have an interest in dating or because I grew up in a conservative area and didn't want to (1) out myself as gay to the school and risk being bullied and harassed (2) want the news to get back to my dad's side of the family who lived in my area and oooooh boy do I hate them. After high school, I continually didn't desire to date. I didn't really think much of it, assuming something like "I'm fine right now. I'm not really looking to date anyone. Probably later, but for now I'm just me".
February of 2019, in my online health class there was a discussion board. One of the questions to answer was "1. Have you ever consciously and deliberately set out to change a behavior?"
I answered "I did consciously chose to change my behavior of calling people, by default, gendered pronouns and switched to calling people 'they', which has become an unconscious action now."
Soon after, I got a Facebook message from someone in my class that I knew a little about in high school in relation to that post, asking if I was gay (apparently they were looking for some benefits, if you know what I mean) and it threw me back all the way to when I was 15 and encountered the exact same thing in Facebook Messenger with this exact same situation with the guy I talked about earlier (who is rumored to have slept with the guy who messaged me that night). I panicked when I saw what they were looking for. Learning a lot about patience from that failed summer high school romance, I declined.
That got me thinking about where I am romantically. I knew that demiromantic was a thing and started wondering if I might be that. I asked my college's Gay-Straight Alliance about this. I got some answers, although it was not very helpful. About a month later I got a job at a factory and was trained by this hot guy. Friends suggested that I had a crush on him but I didn't really know what a crush is (I still don't fully understand it). There were multiple cute guys there and one where I really started to wonder where I was. I was not sexually attracted to him but damn was he cute and I just couldn't stop looking at him when he was around. I didn't know if this was a crush or not. I assumed that it was and that I wasn't demiromantic but I wasn't solid with that.
The month of May of this year I was continually questioning where I lay romantically and I once again asked by college's GSA. I got a reply from someone who is asexual and has a considerable grasp on the idea. They invited me to a discord server called The Asexual and Aromantic Spectrum Discord (click the link to join) that is for, as the name says, Asexual and Aromantic peoples. I got to talk with aromantic people on there about my attractions and they helped me realize that I am probably not an Alloromantic. Likely I am somewhere on the Aromantic spectrum although I feel that I am Demiromantic.
And that is the update on my attractions. Hopefully someone can find use in this. People don't often differentiate romantic and sexual feelings and many people don't know about the Asexual and Aromantic spectrum. Some people do know about them and then choose to dismiss it and that is where I want to finish.
Those on the Asexual Spectrum are valid. Those on the Aromantic Spectrum are valid. Both of them are queer. Some people don't think they are and it's really messed up. So many people exclude them from queer spaces and the overall queer movement because they don't think that they are queer. The usual argument I see is "They don't face systemic oppression. Homophobia and Transphobia affect gay people, trans people, bi people, and so many others. Asexuals/Aromantics are not systemically oppressed", which is just wrong.
Asexuals and Aromantics face hardships just like the rest of the queer community. There is erasure of the identity, dismissal of the identity, people are attacked and harassed for it. Asexuals and Aromantics were and still are rejected by heteronormative society just like gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, and many many other people, and that makes them queer. Queerness is not just limited to not being CisHet, but to also not being Allosexual and Alloromantic. Queerness is to not fall into what heteronormative society deems right, to challenge heteronormative assumptions. They expect you to be straight but you might not be, and that makes you queer. They expect you to be cisgender but you might not be, and that makes you queer. They also expect you to have sexual and romantic attractions regularly but you might not, and that sure as hell makes you queer.
Don't erase us from the queer community. Society already does that, so why do you have to?
Thank you for reading.
~Student Loan Debt
I came out as transgender male in 2017. My mom was the first person I told. I remember a few months before I told her, we were driving to the grocery store and she asked me, "are you a boy?" At the time I said no. It wasn't because I didn't feel the truth in her question, it was because I was scared of what that would mean. I didn't want to change. I just wanted to be me.
A fews months after my mom asked me that, in August, the two of us flew to Europe with an all-girls organization. I tend to avoid talking about this, despite it being what most would consider a "once in a lifetime trip". I spent two weeks surrounded by girls and women, two weeks of being a tourist from an all-girls organization, two weeks being defined as a girl. The entire time I felt like a stranger. I had my mom with me and a friend that I grew up with, yet I couldn't help but feel that I wasn't supposed to be there. I didn't feel right.
Earlier that summer, in July, I had cut my hair. It went from to my waist to above my chin. I don't know what made me want to cut it, but afterwards I couldn't stop staring at myself in the mirror. When I got back from Europe in late August, I went to my first Pride Parade. It was overwhelming. I felt lost. I cannot say that I said a single word for the few hours I was there. Even though I was supposed to be at a celebration, what I was celebrating about myself didn't feel right. It didn't feel right being a gay female.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I was back in the car with my mom. This time, there weren't any questions. I told her I was transgender and I wanted to change my pronouns. I remember crying. I feared that my mom would tell me that I couldn't transition. That I couldn't be me. Because that's what it became at that point. I hadn't exactly found who I wanted to be, but I knew how I wanted to grow up. Rather, I knew how I needed to change in order to be content with myself. At first, I thought transitioning would instantly make me happier. That's a story for another time, but needless to say that that wasn't how it played out.
Shortly after I came out to my mom, I told my dad and my sister. My sister didn't seem to care much. She made a few jokes in poor taste, but then again, she has never had a good sense of humor. My dad, on the other hand, didn't understand. It wasn't until someone told him that "you can either have a dead daughter, or a living son, and the difference will be in how you treat your kid" that he changed how he acted towards my transition.
By the end of 2017, I had come out to my immediate - and part of my extended - family. I won't say that it was the best year, but considering all the ways it could've gone, it was just alright. I'm grateful to my friends and family for their understanding, but moreso, I'm grateful that I was able to be patient with myself. Now, coming up on my third year of being "out" as a transgender male, I feel more like me than I ever have.
Coming out was one of the hardest things I have ever done. What made it harder is that it wasn’t my choice. Having a choice on when and who you come out to is one of the most important things a gay person has, mentally I mean. In order to explain my coming out and how it wasn’t my choice, I must delve into my childhood. So that is where I will begin.
Early on I knew something was different about me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something was different. Mom and Dad fought all the time, even when we had good days they argued. As a child I always could take things about and learn about them. What makes them tick, what makes them work. Things are easy. People are harder to figure out, more complex. We lived in a rented house in an old coal and coke boom town. The Pennsylvania woods and Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts at this point, were my only escape from the constant fighting at home. In public my parents would seem happy, but it was a different story at home. I was never physically abused, although I witnessed abuse from both of my parents. My mom would get pissed off and throw things, like a cordless phone, at my dad. My dad would punch the wall. Our poor walls had to be patched several times. I’m not sure why they ever got married. The only thing
I can think of would be that shortly after they got married, they had me. I didn’t know at this time that I liked boys, but I knew I didn’t care for girls. To my very young brain, they were the same as boys, just more demanding.
By the time I was 9, I began to realize that I was different than most people, especially other kids growing up around me. Most kids my age where interested in basketball or football or some other sport. I was at home, reading books, or watching educational programming on the History, Discovery, or Science Channel. I listened to the BBC and was fascinated by British Culture. No one seemed to understand me. My friends would talk about cartoons and I would get bored. By the age of 12, I had discovered porn. I knew then that I was extremely different than everyone. I was caught by my mother several times by the browser history. She would always ask me “Are you gay?” Sheepishly, I would always lie and tell her no. She would then say something along the lines of “Well if you are, we can get you help. There is therapy for that.” I will never forget those words. They terrified me. Somehow, in my mind I saw what “Therapy” meant. I would find out years later that my childhood exaggerations were closer to the truth than people care to admit.
No one talked about being gay. Not at school, not at home. I really had no idea what being gay was, expect for the porn. Granted people in the 1990’s really didn’t care about anything, much less having heart to heart discussions with their child. My parents eventually divorced and married other people. This was of course after my father cheated on my mother for two years. The only good thing that came out of this was the women my dad was with at the time was more of a mother to me than even my own mother. We bounded. She understood me. She even covered for me several times. I consider her my true stepmother. This will become relevant later.
In middle school I met a group of friends that were like me. None of us talked about it, but we knew. We joked with each other, well, more like made fun of each other. However, none of us confirmed that we were gay. I made the mistake of doing that. I won't ever forget what happened. I had advanced from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts and there was this one guy I really liked. We had become close. He was in my group of friends and he was also in Scouts with me. Our parents were practically best friends as well. One night in eighth grade I invited him over for a sleepover. Of course, one thing led to another as one can imagine. The way he talked and knew what to do, it was like he had already done this before. I mean we were pre-teens. We couldn’t really do anything. We tried though. After it was all said and done, on the next school day, someone asked me why I was nervous.
The girl that I spoke to was a part of the group I was in, albeit a late addition. I thought I could trust her. I told her everything me and this other boy did. I thought she would keep it to herself. She didn’t. She told the whole group, and many others. The boy I liked denied everything. I couldn’t understand why he would. I was kind of proud that it happened. But in that instant my hopes and dreams were crushed. They boy called me a liar and threatened to tell my mother if I didn’t take it back. I couldn’t do that. So, I went back to the girl and said I made it all up. She refused to believe it. She even started to tell everyone that the boy was being mean to me and he should just admit what he did. I tried to mend the fence, but as they say, “the cattle were already loose.” From then on, he didn’t talk to me except to make fun of me. Probably because he was being bullied too. In High School, I was tortured everyday by my classmates. Lunch was the worst. Once I was in line behind the Football players, many of whom have now come out, and several of them grabbed my rear. I was too afraid to report it, but the lunch ladies saw it. They said and did nothing. They would often be the ones making fun of me. The football players would make lewd comments about how they would do things to each other and then ask me if I wanted to join them. When I would say no, they would laugh. During swim class several of them would shower, and almost every time someone would ask me to look here and one of them was slapping their rear. The group of friends from Middle School was no better. I was discovering myself and didn’t want to be labelled. They would ask everyday if I was gay, straight or bi. Everyday my answer was different. I didn’t know which answer they wanted. They would laugh every time. Most lunch periods I would eat and read a book. They would try to torture me by move my bookmark or throwing my stuff on the floor. I got really good at remembering which page I was on. Most often the teasing would come for the boy that I outed. This is what hurt the most.
I had very few sexual relations because I was afraid of the consequences. One I did have during my sophomore/junior summer vacation was at the weeklong Summer Camp. We got to texting each other and eventually one thing led to another. He was older than me and though I thought there was no way to misconstrue what I wanted for him and me, I know now that what he did to me was wrong, it was child abuse. That was on Wednesday, Parents Day. He never texted or called. He did his thing and left. That was when I decided I was a top. It's not that I didn’t like it, having done it a few times since, but I will never let anyone use me like that again. I found out sometime later they kicked him out. Speaking of Summer Camp, I remember one summer I was infatuated with the Canoeing instructor. I found out later that he was gay, and much older, and his boyfriend was the Rowing Instructor. I never saw them again, except in my dreams. I can’t remember what they look like now.
After High School, I decided to play straight to please my parents and got a girlfriend. I thought that I would be happy. I did everything straight people are supposed to do, including sex. It was the worst three years of my life. I realize now that it wasn’t fair to her. I mean two months after we were together, I had a sexual encounter with her best friend who also happened to be gay. There was a lot of booze, specifically 16 bottles of Bonze Farm Strawberry Dahari, and some strip poker involved, and another game of truth or dare. I found him very hot, but of course nothing happened because there were people there. She found me halfway through and I was a jerk and told her that she was just like everyone in High School. She knew my history. By found I mean she was drunk and wanted to cuddle with both her men; me and him. Of course, there was some inappropriate touching involved and she freaked.
The next day I mistakenly told someone in the group and they threaten to tell her themselves. I admitted it. Owned up to it. He would admit nothing. I broke that group apart too. Although I don’t know why people just don’t admit the truth. It’s a lot less painful. I put myself through three more years of breaking up and getting back together. I was unhappy to boot. She of course broke up with me because I was too stubborn to realize it was over. That is when I met my current boyfriend and have been with him ever since. It has been eight years and I’m the happiest I could ever be. When I met my boyfriend, I began spending a lot of time with him. It was then that my mother began to question me again about my sexuality. One night she asked if I was gay. My response was “Would it be so bad if I was?” She threw me out. She said that homosexuals were pedophiles and she wasn’t going to let me touch my little brother. I had to go live with my boyfriend's mother.
Since then my mother has improved. She no longer sees me as a pedophile, but she doesn’t like my boyfriend. I think she feels that he turned me gay, but the signs were always there. My father doesn’t accept me at all. He still wants to “Pray the Gay away” not matter how many times I tell him that it doesn’t work. My grandmother on my dad’s side is more accepting of me than her own child. She just says it's my choice and leave it at that. Even she doesn’t understand that it's not a choice.
My life sort of worked out in the end. As you see, none of these are scenarios where I wanted to reveal my life to people. When I did, I was either ridiculed or told there's therapy for that. I was never comfortable with who I was. Without the support of my boyfriend's family, I would not be here where I am now. I probably would still try to pretend I’m straight while having encounters on the side. I’m glad I’m not there. I’m glad I’m here, even if I had to fight for my whole life to get here.