by Caylie Guinn.
As a kid, I never directly addressed my sexuality. Coming from a small town in rural Indiana, it wasn’t even a question: I was a girl, so I liked boys. Simple. Straightforward. But this didn’t quite complete the puzzle— the hours spent in a literal closet marrying Barbie and Barbie told me otherwise. Eventually, I learned there was a word for me: bisexual.
I came out to my parents twice. They don’t remember the first time, but it is cemented in my little queer heart. I was twelve when I accepted my bisexuality. My folks have always encouraged open, honest communication, so there was no question whether or not to tell them. I never expected anger or disgust, but by then I was well-aware that this was something taboo, well-aware of the world’s discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community. Despite my confidence in my parents’ love and support, there was still the chance this news could shatter everything.
To my surprise, relief, and great confusion, my stuttered “I think I might be gay” was met with a simple laugh and a gentle, “No, you aren’t. This feeling will pass.” There was no malice or hate, no disgust or disappointment. Just a laugh, as though I had told a half-funny joke. Since they don’t remember, it’s hard to know exactly why they laughed. Was it an attempt to hide their concern? My parents are incredibly supportive, but they also know how cruel the world can be to a queer person. Was their laughter meant to discourage, to make this seem insignificant? Maybe it was just a gut-reaction to the sudden news. Regardless, I went back into the metaphorical closet at home, not out of fear or shame, simply out of confusion. Would this feeling really pass? Was this just a laughable little phase?
But as I got older, my attractions grew stronger. I never actually “came out” at school. When conversations would come up around sexuality, I never outwardly declared anything— but I never denied it either. By college, I was confident that these feelings were here to stay. I started to openly discuss my attractions as though they were completely normal. Because they are completely normal. And the more I embraced that fact, the more the world embraced me in return.
“Gay marriage” was legalized while I was in college and it seemed like the whole world was finally celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. I learned more about LGBTQ+ history and developed more confidence through gratitude. I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to openly talk about my sexuality. And I can’t express deeply enough my appreciation for the LGBTQ+ folks who came before me, who paved the way for this bisexual to not only feel safe in this world, but to be genuinely accepted.
The second time I came out to my parents was after I graduated college. By this time I knew that in order to be truly authentic to myself, I had to be truly open with my parents. I made a crop-top in pink, purple, and blue and prepared my speech. Then, over a decade after that confusing laugh, I sat my parents down again.
“I have something big to tell you. You see, these colors on my shirt…they are the colors of the bisexual flag.”
“I made this top to wear to the Pride festival. And I picked these colors because I am bisexual.”
My mom was first to respond…with another laugh. This one was hearty and genuinely amused. “Oh! Well yeah,” she chuckled, “we figured as much.”
No jokes, no shock, no soul-crushing disownment. Just a simple laugh and simple acceptance. While I was growing into my queerness, they were watching, understanding, growing with me. Whatever had been behind that old laugh was gone, replaced by the reassurance that my loved ones were behind me one-hundred percent.
And now that they know, they go out of their way to show their support. They are openly curious and learning about LGBTQ+ issues. They attend our local Pride festival and actively support queer-owned businesses. Heck, they even tease me about being queer sometimes. But this only makes everything feel more normal. Because, after all, it is normal. Now, the laughter is light, playful, with no hint of anything but love for their little queer.
Artist’s Statement: I tell my “coming out” story all the time. My experience wasn’t dramatic or life-altering— in fact, though a little confusing, it was fairly wholesome. But telling it helps me reflect on just how lucky I am and, hopefully, helps ease some of the pain the LGBTQ+ community has faced for so long. Too many of us have lost loved ones simply because we wanted to be true to ourselves; my aim with this piece is to encourage authenticity and highlight the people who will love and support you no matter what.
Caylie Guinn (she/they) is an alum of Public Allies Indianapolis.
This piece is part of Public Allies’ campaign to highlight LGBTQIA+ voices in our ecosystem in honor Pride Month.