It all started once I hit high school in 2007. I did not feel ready nor equipped for the exposure of relationships, sex talk/education, and the depressive episodes when I did not feel “quite right”. Sure, I had many queer friends as I performed in a local theatre group since I was 10, but I had never really considered anything about my own sexuality. I had a few female partners in high school, but it never truly felt natural and there was something so they only lasted a few months each. I was angry and upset at myself; many of my high school colleagues threw around the word “faggot” and “gay” in such a derogatory way, and here I was slowly realizing I was becoming what they hated.
Many folks ask me about my coming-out story every now and then, so I have attempted to compartmentalize it into three stages. The first stage for me was coming out to my own self. It took the majority of my high school career to officially recognize my own homosexuality and to treat myself right. As mentioned, I had many depressive intrusive thoughts and found it difficult to see myself in a loving way. I remember I would wake up and have 10 seconds of complete bliss where I was “normal” only to have the reminder of my sexuality crash down on my brain and my emotional well-being. This was the stage where I felt the most alone. Mental health was briefly talked about, no school office had rainbow stickers supporting diversity and inclusion, and I had no safe space to discuss my experiences with someone who had been going through the same or similar feelings.
Feeling alone at this stage, I decided to reach out to my close supports in my family and in my school. Stage two consisted of coming out to my parents, brother, and high-school circle. This stage was mostly positive as I had no negative reactions regarding my sexual orientation. The only tricky part to this was keeping track of who I had came out to, and the growing concern that other friends could find out through word of mouth and be upset I didn’t come to them first. My depressive thoughts went down and I felt better about my own well-being, but I had increasing anxiety due to this awkward transition and navigation of social situations of who knew and who did not know. Granted, I was slightly flamboyant in elementary and high school, and when I came out to certain people I had mixed reactions; some called it since they first met me, and others had no idea.
I felt confident in my family and friends that I felt comfortable enough with coming out to the general public, which was my last stage. One of my best friends (Dayna H) was kind enough to make me a shirt that said the word “proud” on it in the rainbow colours. I wore it confidently on my last day of high school, ready to combat any negativity from anyone. Fortunately, I was only faced with kindness and support from my school peers, teachers, and acquaintances. To this day, I still have not received any harsh critiques from my closest supports to strangers regarding my sexual orientation. Flash forward a few years later; I started to become more aware of the social injustices that were happening outside my own ecological perspective. I heard the heartbreak in one person’s voice because their parent did not at the time accept them for their gender identity/trans I saw the uproars with the USA residents protesting their right for marriage equality. I witnessed homo/transphobia happening in the queer community itself. Acknowledging these discrepancies helped develop a sense of who I am and what I stand for. It also was the catalyst for my career, working with vulnerable populations. I was even able to complete my undergraduate thesis observing gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and their impact on the students and school itself.
Jennifer and I discussed the importance of this photoshoot and what it truly meant to grow as a person. We wanted to portray the multiple components of queerness and my experiences with it through boudoir. The flowers represented the beauty of being part of the LGBTQAI+ community in such a delicate and impressionable way, symbolizing the need for nurture and love. The crown represented the embodiment of my progress, being able to wear it with pride and strength. The dirt represented the trials and tribulations of getting to the place I am now and focuses on how the journey is just as important as the destination. Jennifer was able to capture many components of my queer growth, including self-awakening, joy, strength, and masculine/feminine play.
I would like to thank my family and friends for their continuous love and support. I would not be half the person I am without them. The Mythical Meadow Flower Shop constructed the beautiful floral crown by hand (a huge thank you to the team there) and provided the rainbow roses. Jennifer was fantastic in setting the scene and making me feel comfortable in my own skin. She has a way of empowering others in such a kind and professional way. I would truly recommend Jennifer to anyone who wishes to feel beautiful and loved in their own skin, and I cannot wait to work with her again. I am so grateful for the opportunity to express myself in such a fun and artistic way with her direction and compassion.
Thank you for listening to my story.