Even though I knew that I was gay by age 15, I didn't know anyone else who was gay. I knew about a girl who went to the same junior high school and about the rumors that she was gay, but that was it. At 16/17, I tried to meet other gay teens through going to a gay bar, but that was one Epic Fail. The gay bars in my hometown were in fact 'gay' bars, as in gay guys. I didn't really know where to go and I wasn't out or bold enough to go to the local LGBT-center. I had looked at its website, but most pictures had either old women or young men on them, so it wasn't that appealing to me. When I was 18, a friend of mine informed me of this LGBT event that was taking place in our city hall and invited me to go. So I went there, with her and another friend of hers, not knowing anyone and slightly scared of what would happen. The event itself was nice and interesting, an award was given for special commitment to the LGBT community and I met a really nice guy who told me about the local youth group.
A few weeks later, I went to the regular local lesbian gathering and again met some really nice people. Most ladies at that event were definitely way older than I was (10-20 years) and knew each other really well, so I knew that I wouldn't fit in well. But, the person who organized this event also co-organized the youth even that I had already been invited to. So that was one of the next events that I went to. Through the youth group and the LGBT-group at our local university I got to meet some really nice queer people who were more within my age range and I made some friends. I finally had a sense of community and belonging that I had been missing all my life.
As far as I remember, I came out to my parents about 9 months before I first went to these events. I still know exactly when I came out to my parents, I just don't quite remember when these events took place. I can remember that I just couldn't handle the lies anymore. I had a great relationship with my mom and I felt like I was keeping this big part of who I was and am from her. So I decided that I would just tell her and see how it went. I talked about it to my best friend but her reaction simply was 'They are your family, they'll always love you.' While in theory this is true, I knew that coming out to my parents wasn't going to be that easy and there was always the chance that they wouldn't love me anymore. So I went and talked to the one person I knew would be able to actually support and help me in this situation - my teacher. In one of the 15 minute breaks we had daily at school I approached her and told her that there was something I wanted to talk to her about. I remember that I was incredibly nervous and that I was shaking a lot and tried like hell to hide the fact that I was shaking. I was so nervous that I just flat out told her that I was going to tell my parents that I was gay. Her reaction was a really positive one, in that she said she would of course talk to me and try to help me in the best way she could but that she didn't really have any experience with the subject. I let go of a big sigh of relieve and took a deep breath to face the challenge still ahead. I think either on the same or on the next day we sat down together after school and talked about it all, how I had realized that I was gay, why I wanted to tell them and what I was expecting/what she thought I had to expect. She told me that she had thought about it in terms of how she would react would her daughter tell her that she was gay. Overall, talking to her was one of the things that really helped me through my coming out and knowing that the woman I had admired for so long didn't think anything bad about me simply because I was gay gave me a lot of strength.
Two or three days later, I was sitting on the kitchen counter, my mom was doing dishes, when I told her that we had to talk. Then I just said 'I'm gay'. I don't actually remember myself saying that, I just remember the moment before and her reaction. She laughed and thought that I was joking, but when she turned around and looked at me she realized I wasn't. She asked how I suddenly came up with that idea and I told her that I'd known for a while. Then she asked when I was going to tell my dad and I said that I wasn't sure yet and that I would rather wait. My mom told me that she loved me, which is something I was and still am really grateful for, but I knew that she was shaken up. When my dad came home later that day, she asked me again when I was going to tell him and when I saw the look on her face that said 'I can't keep this a secret from him', I decided to tell him right away. He too thought that I was joking at first and then he poured himself a glass of alcohol and told me that he still loved me, but that he needed a drink. All in all it went by better than I had expected, as I had prepared myself for the worst case scenario. It took a while for the shock to sink in and a few days later my mom came and talked to me and she actually cried. They didn't want me to have children and my mom wanted me to see a doctor to see if there was a chemical imbalance in my body that had 'caused this'. I played along because I knew that it was important for her and I also knew that that was not the case, so I didn't have anything to fear. Incidentally, the doctor she wanted me to see told her that she should be proud of me for having the strength to tell her and that I was on the right path.
Part Three will follow soon...