One Year to Being Queer

Jayde Teutsch, Staff Writer

October 11 was National Coming Out Day, a holiday first created in 1988. This year it trailed a mere 19 days behind the day I celebrated my one year coming out anniversary. I was, for the first time ever, able to enjoy a day my childhood self never thought she’d get to participate in.  

My family was Catholic when I was growing up, so I was dragged to church each Sunday to sit in a pew while an old man told me “those people” were going to hell. I even had a childhood best friend tell me she would no longer hang out with me if I ever ended up gay. It was made clear to me from a young age my community’s hatred for the LGBTQIA+ community was simply “the way it was,” so I suppressed the feelings I had rolling around down deep, never questioning them or, God forbid, considering exploring them.  

It wasn’t until the cringe age of 13 that I began tiptoeing around with the idea of exploring my hidden identity. By the end of high school, I could count on one hand the number of people that knew about my double life because the guilt that I had been indoctrinated with during childhood told me I was a faker.  

College was, just like every old person and movie says, the time that changed everything. I met a girl that at the time made me throw all caution to the wind. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I told everyone I liked her, but I had reached the point where I could no longer hide myself behind the closet doors built and locked around me. I knew I needed to let go of the pressure I had put on myself and stop living my life for others.  

I decided one random afternoon to visit home and tell my mom my deepest secret. With my voice wavering and hands shaking, I told her about this new phase of my life. When I was younger, my mom shared stories about her queer friends that babysat me during her college days. She was the only person in my life that didn’t speak ill of the LGBTQIA+ community, but my brain still tried convincing me I was letting her down. I felt relief hearing her tell me what I already knew that she was proud of me and hoped my journey would go smoothly.  

I mark the day I told my mom about being queer as my coming out day because she gave me the confidence to tell the rest of the world. I have been blessed with friends that agree with my views and support my journey. My family has educated themselves and has proved me wrong when I doubted their kindness. This process has not been easy and is far from over, but I’m thankful for the cards I have been dealt with and hope my story lets people see even rough beginnings can lead to a beautiful existence.  

The one thing I found hardest to learn over this past year has been giving myself time to discover myself. I know what it feels like to be stuck in the closet confused and thinking you have to rush, but the community will be waiting with open arms to support you through every step of your journey whenever you feel ready.
Telling just one person you truly trust about your identity can feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders and can make the process seem less daunting. I hope everyone who had been waiting to tell the world gets their opportunity to celebrate their one year of being queer, because we all deserve to celebrate our beautiful identities and the colorful lives we get to create because of them.