Fat, Queer and Here: National Coming Out Day
I don't have a coming out story. Well not in the traditional sense. I feel like I come out all the time and I probably always will. I haven't always known I was queer. For a long time, I felt really guilty that my queerness didn't look the way I thought it was supposed to. I didn't feel queer enough. I felt behind. I worried that I wouldn't be accepted; that I would be judged by any potential partner for being late so why even try. As it turns out, the only person judging me, was me. This fear kept me from really discovering my authentic self. 

Understanding my sexuality and queer identity has been a lot like learning to love my body - it has been a journey and an ongoing process of self discovery, acceptance and empowerment. It didn't happen overnight. In fact, this is a process I've been going through most of my 20s. I identified as fluid at 21; bisexual at 25 and now at 29, queer fits best for me. Prior to my current relationship with a woman, my two most serious relationships were with cis men. 

Queer Enough: National Coming Out Day
When my last relationship ended in mid-2016, I told myself that I wasn't going to settle anymore for whatever was most familiar to me. I was going to stop letting people assume I was straight because it felt easier than taking up space in a community I was scared didn't want me. I decided that I was going to try and lean into my fear instead of running from it. Let me be clear that this didn't just mean going on more dates with women; this meant a lot of intentional self work. vulnerability and discomfort. 

Queer Enough: My National Coming Out Day Story
I read self help books about love (I suggest this one!). I did an intensive 8-week study exploring authenticity among LGBTQ+ identified folks (more about that below). I watched this Ivan Coyote speech about femmes on repeat and cried every time. I found the strength to let myself be seen. I cut out people from my life who I knew only served a purpose of validation. I was intentionally celibate. I doubted myself. I was scared. I broke through walls. I discovered new insecurities. I learned to use my anger and anxiety as triggers for situations when I was really feeling sad or alone. I confronted my deepest fear of being unworthy of love. I called into question everything I thought made me unlovable. I started to believe things I had taken to be fact about myself were no longer true. I broke myself down and I learned to build myself back up. 

Queer Enough: My National Coming Out Day Story
I haven't written much about the process mostly because I still felt so in the thick of it but in talking with an old friend recently, I realized how far I've come. Over the past year and a half, I have dedicated my intentions to eliminating my own fear and self criticism surrounding my sexuality and identity. The friend mentioned how happy I looked lately and that she felt like it was too late for her to make a similar shift. She's only a year older than me. I told her that it's never too late; that coming out doesn't look one way and your past doesn't dictate your future. I told her all the things I needed to hear a year ago and most importantly, I believed them. 

Queer Enough: My National Coming Out Day Story

Although I still bear the wounds, I am longer judgmental of my own past. I work everyday on showing myself the care and empathy that comes much easier for me to give to others. I give myself space to grow and process. I don't ever strive for perfection but rather I seek awareness. I try and catch myself when I fall into old ways of thinking. I try and focus on the why instead of the what. And if I look happier lately, it's because I am. I feel more free than I've ever felt. 

Queer Enough: My National Coming Out Day Story
At the end of the eight-week study I did on LGBTQA authenticity with David Phillips of Energetic Awakenings (you can grab his book here), each member of the group had to write a letter to themselves - that was all we were told. I wrote freely thinking that this was for my eyes only. It was in this moment back in May that I finally felt queer enough. And I realized the most important person I had to come out to was myself. 

Queer Enough: My National Coming Out Day Story
Today, I am sharing the letter I wrote to myself with all of you. I needed to hear and maybe you do too:

Hey girl,

Thank you for being here; for taking time for you. You haven’t always made yourself a priority, but that’s not your fault. You were sold a lie that love meant putting others first at your own expense. I’m so proud of you for all the work you’ve done to see that true love starts from within. You didn’t love yourself for a long time. Mostly because you didn’t know you could. You’ve been through some shit. I’m sorry you had to experience that pain and that trauma at such a young age. I hope you stop beating yourself up for what you’ve been through. You were a kid, and you were just trying to survive.

I’m sorry that you felt like you had to hide or shrink yourself in order for others to notice you. I love you just the way you are, and I don’t want you to hide anymore. You’re kind of a badass, and all of the things you’ve been through don’t make you less than others. They have made you tough as hell. You don’t give up.

I hope you can learn to trust other people. I know you have been hurt by those people who should have protected your heart, but don’t let other people’s mistakes stop you from allowing caring, empathetic, good people in. You’re independent and that’s great, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. It’s OK to need people sometimes, and most importantly, you deserve that! Believing that good people exist isn’t setting you up for failure. In fact, I think that belief that you’re worth people caring about is the first step in letting those good people in. Will you still hurt? Will you still cry? Sure, but you’ll do so knowing that it’s not because you’re “the worst.” I hope you destroy those two words forever.

I know you’re letting go of the anger that has masked the sadness you’ve felt for a long time. I know it’s not going to be easy, but feel that pain, feel that discomfort. It’s real, but it’s not going to break you. Allow yourself to feel those feelings so you can see that you’re OK, because you’re OK and going to be OK.

I want you to know that you’re smart enough, pretty enough, well enough, good enough, queer enough. You’re enough.

Destroy the idea that how you feel about yourself has anything to do with anyone else. You decide to be free, and I know you can do it. Don’t settle for anyone who makes you feel like who you are isn’t enough. You’ve got this!

I love you!

Queer Enough: My National Coming Out Day Story

Writing this letter helped me and maybe if it feels good to you, you can write a letter to yourself too. You don't have to share it but try to feel the fear, recall the pain, forgive yourself and start to heal. It is NEVER too late to discover who you really are. 

Thank you to photographer Benjamin A. Pete for helping me stop traffic to take these pics and to JCPenney for this Fashion to Figure dress!