I have always been different; I just didn’t know why until about two years ago. I started to discover myself through robotics and the friends I had at the time. Once I found out that I was a lesbian, I felt a sense of clarity. With this clarity, however, came the question that comes to every person who is LGBTQ+: “Should I come out?” This question comes with a lot of sub-questions. “Who all should I come out to?” “When should I come out?” “How should I come out?” There are an infinite number of answers to these questions, but your answers will have an impact on yourself and the people around you.
The first people I came out to were some of my closest friends. They had already come out themselves, so I knew that they would be accepting. Their positive reaction gave me the confidence to continue coming out to those closest to me. I even found that some of my friends already suspected that I was gay.
By this point, I had gained the confidence to come out to the most important people in my life: my parents. The overall positive reactions I had gotten from people thus far had helped me to gain courage in order to make this huge jump. Since my friends had already suspected I was a lesbian, I had just assumed my parents suspected it too. I came out to my mom after a robotics meeting. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the best time to do so, because she was already in bed and super tired. Long story short, she was very confused. Judging by her reaction, she had no idea whatsoever, and I had caught her completely off guard. Other than this, however, nothing negative had really come out of the situation, so I counted it as a success.
I had plans to come out to my dad the next day. He had been working late the day I came out to my mom, so I figured I’d tell him after school. When I got home, my mother immediately pulled me aside to talk about my sexuality, which is understandable. After only a few minutes, I realized that she had told my dad without my permission. While it wasn’t really a big deal in my situation, this action could have dire consequences for other people. I quickly realized that my mom didn’t know that she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. I told her this, but it didn’t seem to stick with her because she continued to out me to people, some of which were not accepting at all.
The important takeaway from this situation is to make sure that you clarify to people you come out to that they shouldn’t out you to other people. Unless you give them explicit permission, no one should out you. If you find that someone has been outing you, make sure that they understand why what they’re doing is wrong. Explain to them that coming out to someone can be such a fragile process. It is a very personal journey, and if they truly want to accept you then they should respect that fact. Luckily, my mom stopped outing me to people after I explained this to her in more depth.
When coming out to people, it is important to explain everything, even if you think it is basic knowledge. Taking your time to fully explain things can help to prevent situations like mine. Even if you do this, however, not everyone will be accepting. The important thing is to remember this, and be prepared for it. Personally, there have been people in my life who were not accepting, and I’ve had to drift apart from them. Even though this made me sad, I am overall better off. Surrounding yourself with negative people can lower your self confidence and make you feel bad for being who you are. If you surround yourself with accepting people though, you will have a more positive mindset and healthier relationships that will lead you to accepting yourself.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.