Ten years ago I came out. I’ve never observed my anniversary before, but the marking of 10 years has made me reflective of how much—and how little—has changed for me since accepting my identity.
I was a 13-year-old girl who didn’t know much about love (or really anything), but I knew that for the past two years, I’d felt a sense of guilt about being attracted to women. Coming out was NOT a picnic. I did it during a panic attack, and as soon as I said, “I’m gay,” I burst into tears while also wanting to throw up and take it back simultaneously. I don’t think my family took me seriously at first because of how young I was. And though they say they’re accepting, off-color things are still normally said around me. I tried to explain and teach them why it was wrong, but I eventually learned that sometimes you can’t waste your energy on people who don’t care to learn. Accepting people as they are is still an everyday process.
Instead of being happy and reflective, on the morning of my anniversary, I woke up devastated. I wanted to wake up next to someone. Ten years have gone by and I’ve still never been in a relationship or had sex. But does that invalidate my identity? Absolutely not. However, my heart wasn’t logical and I walked around all morning in a funk. I felt like a failure, a loser, and like maybe it just might be impossible for someone to love me.
As someone in therapy for the treatment of trauma, I’ve realized the trauma attached to my ability to love and my sexuality. Now, lots of things have changed about the way I see my sexuality and my comfort with it. I’m more open, I refuse to battle people on whether it is a choice, and though I know I prefer a relationship with a woman, I know it’s possible for me to potentially fall in love with anyone. I’ve also had a lot of experiences, I’ve come out in a text, in an essay, or just by using “she” as opposed to “he.” I fallen in love with girls who nowhere near loved me the way I did them (they were straight), but somehow still treated me as if they cared for me (I later found out this was because of my wheelchair and nothing else).
However, I’ve realized for myself that my disability is a huge part of how I viewed (and sometimes still do) my sexuality as well. I’ve been in a wheelchair my entire life, but often I feel like I can’t be both queer and disabled. I have to choose when I know that’s not possible. A lot of the time, queer events aren’t accessible, and that not only goes to show that not only does society need to step up its game in terms of intersectionality, but that, when I realized I was queer 12 years ago, I felt I was making my life harder than it already was. It felt worse as I got older. When you have a disability, you are immediately desexualized and infantilized and that shit sucks. As a grown woman, I should be looked at as exactly that—a grown woman—and it’s angering when I’m not.
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t people with disabilities who are in successful loving relationships regardless of their sexuality, but I haven’t seen any that look like me. I can’t help but think that after all I’ve been through, there’s no way I don’t deserve to wake up next to someone who cares for me. I used to think that maybe I wasn’t ready, but no one is ever “ready” for anything. I believe that there is someone for everyone, but sometimes I feel like the exception. I go out and about and have even joined Tinder and nothing happens. I try to be as transparent as possible so folks know what they’re getting into and they can’t say I deceived them, but there seems to be no reward for that. I could take disabled out of my bio, but that feels wrong. In these times I have to face that society is very ableist and we thrive off of ignorance and fear, I’m not too sure if that’ll ever end. And if it doesn’t I’ll still pray to meet a decent woman who loves me enough.
Coming out hasn’t been all bad. I’ve met amazing friends and gotten the best surrogate sisters you could ask for—people who, like my therapist, see me with someone who makes me happy soon. That’s what carries me through, the idea that the people who love me hope for the same things I do for myself, even when I want to give up. I’ve survived a lot—pain and depression and suicidal ideation—but I’m not sure that that would be possible if I hadn’t come out. I don’t miss that weight on my head, heart and shoulders. Nothing in the world could make me want to go back there, even if it feels like I may have wasted time. Still though I wish I could say a decade later that being true to myself had a bit of a sweeter, more loving outcome.