Behind Sophie's Mind
I didn’t know I was queer until I was eighteen, and saying it took me by surprise is an understatement. My whole life up until university, I felt pretty ‘normal’ and never questioned my sexuality. Everyone I knew was straight, everyone I grew up with was straight, so I assumed I was too. Looking back on my high school years, there were many signs that pointed to me questioning my sexuality; I just never processed or thought too much about them (always being interested in the LGBTQAI+ community, being invited by teachers and staff to pride classes and events etc.). If I’m being honest, I think some of my teachers suspected I was gay before the thought even crossed my mind.
September of 2020 was the month I moved away from home to go to university. I left all of my friends and family, and began a new unknown, scary, anxious-filled chapter of my life. In the first week of university, I met my now partner Lee (pronouns he/him; previously she/her). I was immediately captivated by Lee’s energy and the way he lit up the room. Within a couple of weeks, we were good friends…and slowly we started to become more than that. It took me some time, a lot of self-doubt, tears, anxiety, and fear, but after about a month I allowed myself to feel all of my feelings, Lee and I started dating, and I came out to my family. Everyone took the news well and although there was a small learning curve for my family in terms of accepting a new addition to my identity, for the most part none of my relationships with them changed. It also took a lot of processing on my end to accept this new part of my identity. I felt like I was getting to know a new me, and I loved it.
I didn’t want my coming out to be a ‘big deal’. Looking back, I believe I felt that way because I was not yet comfortable with my sexuality as everything felt so new and scary. I didn’t want to be celebrated because I felt that being gay wasn’t something to be celebrated (when in fact it totally is). After my very low-key coming out, I was feeling uncertain of who I was because I hadn’t given myself a label. Part of my non-exciting coming out was not labelling my sexuality. The longer I didn’t allow myself to label my sexuality, the more uneasy I felt about who I was. I then felt guilty for wanting to label what I was feeling, and for wanting more involvement from my family about my queerness. Because I had downplayed my coming out, I was not able to openly process my feelings and new identity because I felt guilty talking openly about it. I looked up definitions of bi-sexual, pan-sexual, lesbian, etc. and nothing really felt right. I finally came across ‘queer’, and immediately felt grounded and thought ‘this one is me’. Queer is a very broad term for anyone who is a part of the LGBTQAI+ community who identifies as something other than heterosexual and cisgender. Now, I identify as queer, and occasionally describe myself as gay (mostly as a reclamation of the word).
I am thankful to have family and friends who support me no matter what I identify as, as they know that being queer is not the most important thing about me (although it is pretty cool). Although my journey in celebrating who I am is just starting, I feel that sharing my Pride Story is allowing me to shamelessly, and happily celebrate my queerness.