Coming out of the LGBTQIA closet is just as hard as coming out of the autistic one. You are afraid people will judge you and not see you for who you are. Coming out of the LGBTQIA closet was really hard because how I was treated in middle school and high school.
Growing up, I always knew I was “different from other girls.” I knew I was different but there was no name for it or I did not know the name for it. My mother wanted a girly girl but that wasn’t me. She always told me,”You need to meet a nice Jewish Boy.”
The first sign of dysphoria was when I was 7. This was soon after I was diagnosed with ADHD. I was starting on Ritalin. I remember this because the school nurse showed me how to swallow by putting the pill on the edge of a paper cup and letting the water push the pill down. I really liked the nurse.
Anyway, it was picture day. I wanted to wear shorts and a baseball shirt because thats what I was always wearing. There as a purple dress my mother wanted me to wear but I did not want to. She literally held me down and forced it on me. Here is the school picture she got:
Notice the difference between that and this photo on the baseball field.
About a few years later, we were all sitting at the table for dinner. My father would always watch the news while we ate. They showed a lesbian wedding. Just keep in mind this was late 1980’s to early 1990’s. I was watching intently and I said,”COOL! Two girls could get married?!” Both of them screamed NO and turned it off. Looking back I laugh at them freaking out over this.
The next sign of dysphoria was around the time of my bat mitzvah. That was November 11, 1995. This dress was itchy and I was really uncomfortable in it. It came with a jacket. Looking back now, I always felt dysphoria when it came to my chest. I didn’t really develop it here because I was a late bloomer. No period until I was 16. Looking back I am thankful for that.
Anyway. I said I didn’t want it. I didn’t want a big party. They even used the money I got as gifts to help them pay for the party I DID NOT WANT. In this photo my father’s parents told me I should be grateful they could do this. This is the grandmother who fat shamed me once I developed PCOS symptoms.
Quickly read the link above about middle school and high school. To give a summary, I was told I needed to go to a dance in 7th grade. I went, my best friend at the time was upset in the bathroom and I went back and forth to check on her. This turned to a rumor being spread around that I am a lesbian. I did not even know what it was so I asked my parents. They asked me how I knew so I told them. They told me I was lying. I was so upset. Due to this rumor, I had NO FRIENDS and I was the outcast. I do believe my gender identity and my sexuality was suppressed due to this experience. They did not believe me until another friend came over when I was home from college and she verified this. It was awful. They told me I must have given them a reason to believe this.
A clue about how my parents are about being queer happened after I got married but before I had kids. She was visiting and Nick needed the car so she brought me. In the car I asked,”What would you do if I was bi?” She told me she wouldn’t want to know. Then I never brought it up again.
After moving to Florida I learned more about gender identity and I had a light bulb moment. The term for feeling different than other girls but not feeling like a boy is non binary. I was so excited that I found a term for it and it made me feel whole. But because of the interaction with my mother about being bisexual, I never brought it up outside my husband and his family.
One thing I am thankful for is that my children will NEVER have to go through this. Two of my children came out to me like it was no big thing and thats the way it should be. No drama, no fear of being kicked out.
When I made that long post about my history, sexuality and gender identity, my rabbi emailed me and offered to replace our tattered Jewish pride flag. For the first time, I was seen for who I was. A huge weight was lifted but I was left vulnerable. He contacted me in my preferred communication method. He respects us for who we are and I will be forever thankful for him.