Coming Out At Age 14

Coming out of the closet

By Zoe Heringer

I was 14 years old when I began to get in tune with my sexuality.

I had been watching a TV show called Skins, which is a British series that follows a group of teenagers who are confronting different problems in life. Some are dealing with depression or eating disorders or dysfunctional families. Others are coping with abuse or bullying. Each episode zeros in on one character and the struggles they face.

One episode centered on a young woman who was striving to come out and be honest about her attraction to girls.

Her exploration with all that exposed me to my own feelings, which I had not yet fully understood or come to terms with. Her journey helped prepare me to understand how I might be treated differently once I made the same choice to come out.

When I finally did, people started treating me differently — more like an outsider.

I might be with my partner, doing normal “couple things” and get stares — like they are trying to understand what is going on between us. Are we sisters? Cousins? Or partners?

Guys seem intent on flipping me. “I can get her to like guys!” I’m not sure why they do that. Maybe their hoped-for success would make them feel like heroes, having made such a major conquest. I find it frustrating because it’s hard to make friends when all someone can think about is changing you.

Others go out of their way to make me feel uncomfortable, treating me like my whole existence is wrong, and like I am a living, breathing sin.

Despite how I have been harassed I have never felt more at peace. But then, I am living my life openly and honestly.

Other people’s reactions don’t matter to me so long as I am happy. I believe that their issues are more about their own insecurity and discomfort with things that are “different” and not anything being wrong with me.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 21, 2019, in LGBTQ+ and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 74 Comments.

  1. I can relate to this post on multiple levels it’s almost spooky. I watched this exact series around the same age as you and also around the time I was coming to terms with my own sexuality and all the questions that come along with it. I’m glad to see that someone else around my age also found comfort in this television show as I think it really helped me see what other (although fictional) people were going through and relating to the characters who were also struggling to come to terms with themselves. On the other hand, this show and the media surrounding LGBT relationships and coming of age really led me to expect so much more of a glamorous experience and I really expected more in the beginning. In all of these shows and such, it always works out for the character and they always find themselves achieving hetero-normative goals like getting into a relationship and living that “over-the-rainbow” fantasy, something that honestly is not realistic to expect in the community whatsoever.

  2. I also realized that I was gay when I was around 13-14 years old. Actually, I had always just assumed that everyone liked girls, including some girls. I’ve always had crushes on the female characters in cartoons I watched as a kid and didn’t really think much of it. It wasn’t actually until one of my friends came out as bi that I realized I wasn’t heterosexual, and even then, I didn’t really feel like my sexuality was a big part of my identity. But then again, I’ve never come out of the closet, and I don’t plan on it. My brother (who is also gay, yeah the family bloodline ends here) “came out” when he brought home his boyfriend and everyone just went with it. I plan on doing the same. I don’t believe coming out of the closet is necessary for every LGBTQ person. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are mostly very open and accepting, so being a bit different doesn’t have to be such a big deal.

  3. Zoe thanks for sharing your experience. I know coming out is very very difficult and I congratulate you on doing so. I too have went through it and still feel everyday I’m becoming more myself. There are days where I still shy away from doing a 100% of the things I want to do and I know that’s just the social constructs stopping me. However, I feel more at peace as you described by coming out and I would never change that. I know everyone has things they struggle with and it may not be coming out but going against social constructs is always going to be a challenge but it’s people like you that make it so others can inspire to do the same. I grew up in Mexican household that was pretty religious and I know when my parents found out they were upset but they were more upset about what others were going to think. The biggest thing coming out has taught me is everyone is going to have their opinion and it doesn’t have to be right but life is not about pleasing others its about doing what makes you happy and when I realized that everything became so much better.

  4. Storm Edmundson

    Thank you for sharing your experience! Coming out, especially as a lesbian or as an afab person being attracted to other afab people, is very hard in our society. Women’s worth and identity has always been dependent on their relationship and tie to men. They have either been daughters, sisters, wives, or mothers, never just people in their own right. As a lesbian myself, I completely understand the predatory behavior that men express towards you, believing that you “just haven’t found the right man” and that they are entitled to your body because you are a woman. As I have come to terms with my identity, I have discovered that being a lesbian is empowering for me. It disrupts heterosexual norms and it gives me full autonomy over my life. Distancing myself from men in all aspects of my life has allowed me to fully assess the connection between misogyny and homophobia in America.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story and I am glad that you are happy with who you are! I grew up in a very Asian household. Where the male is suppose to carry on the family name and the girl gets married off to another family. However, when I was a kid my cousin came out as lesbian. She got no support from the family and even ran away from home. It took years, but my family slowly began to accept her. Currently, her mum finally accepted her and she lives together with her girlfriend. Recently one of my other cousins has came out as gay. I am glad that this time my cousin didn’t have to go through the pain of feeling abandoned and he’s accepted in the family. Overall I’m really happy that being lgbtq is being normalized and accepted. I live in California and people are pretty open about their sexuality here.

  6. Today my mom made a comment on a boys skates because the color seemed to feminine for a boy. I told her who cares boys wear pink, girls wear blue it doesn’t matter what is feminine or masculine. I think everyone should just be happy and like the people they want with o judgement. I have encountered some people who say well I support the LGBT community, but I don’t want to see it on TV or out in public where my kids can see and get ideas. It was nonsense to me how you can ‘support’ a community, but want them to hide from everyone. I don’t like seeing straight couples kissing or gay couples because i just don’t like PDA, not because of who they like. We need to change by teaching the new generations that we should accept everyone. I already told my 6 year old that two girls can love each other and two boys can love each other and that it is totally okay to love whoever you want. Love is love no matter what gender you love and be happy. It is terrible how people bully others, but I think its great you don’t care about what others think.

  7. Zoe,

    Thank you for sharing your experience of coming out, and speaking to the difficulties the LGBTQ+A community faces every day. I celebrate your bravery, especially at 14, to live authentically and unapologetically you. Most people that age (and older) have a very difficult time embracing their individuality – whatever form that takes – because conformity is so drilled into us to “survive.”

    It is heartbreaking to know that there are so many young people who struggle so much with their mental and emotional health because they are afraid (rightly so) of the repercussions of coming out. Violence, stigma, and isolation are unfortunately very real possibilities for queer people in certain communities and within their families. I think that stories like yours are incredibly important to share because they can quite literally save lives. Knowing that someone else is out there who is just like you, who experiences the world in a similar way, can make all the difference in the world. Especially to read what you wrote, “I have never felt more at peace.” What a beautiful, hopeful message.

    I think it’s great that you were able to find a TV show that helped you to explore your own sexuality – this kind of visibility and normalizing is key to the continuation of moving forward towards equality.

    I believe it is my job as an ally to queer folks to help continue to create a world where kids, teens, young adults, and adults of any age can live their truth without judgment or fear. I hold space for you, and I see you. Thank you for bringing a little more light into our darkened days. The future is luminous because of people like you speaking up and living out loud.

  8. It is so brave that you have come out and are able to live your life freely and openly. I find it extremely brave, that you found the strength to live your best life. I always sympathize with couples of the same sex when they are out in public. People are staring differently and trying to figure out what is really happening. I fortunately, live in a very progressive area in California where seeing same sex couples is the norm. However, society has still not progressed enough to not get the stares. It can be a simple as a person’s clothing, whether they dress like a female or male. I still do believe that our society has not progressed enough where couples of different race don’t get the stares. I believe the public eye can be a cruel thing to deal with when you are different but I have faith that we are on the right track where it is ok to be different. I always tell my daughters that I love them and accept them for who they are, not who they are going to be with when they are older. I try to change society by making it normal in my daughters eyes to see someone in a same sex relationship. If we make it the norm for the younger generation that we have chance to change the judgemental ways of the past.

  9. Zoe, I commend you for coming to terms with who you are despite the backlash that you get for that. This backlash is precisely why some people have such a hard time accepting their sexuality and it is an unfortunate aspect of our society and needs to be changed. Thankfully, the LGBTQ community is more widespread today than ever. However, whether from religious or cultural reasons, there are still people out there that reject this community. They see these people as errors in society that need to be corrected. While this way of thinking is in itself flawed, it is hard to blame them because that is how society shaped their minds. We grew up (most of us, at least) with the teaching that the Earth is a round biosphere, so if someone came up to us and told us it was flat, we would view that as blasphemy. However, this does not by any means excuse the issue. Increasing awareness for the LGBTQ community is essential for society to fully accept them as people. This may not be able to happen immediately, but it is undoubtedly happening. At least for me, I don’t remember being aware at all of this community when I was in elementary school and I was just getting introduced to it in middle school. Luckily, although my community was religious, they shaped me to be accepting. The more children are aware that it is okay to be something other than heterosexual, the more untied LGBTQ will be.

  10. We have come such a long way since a time where members of the LGBTQ+ community would get jailed or even killed for living how they wanted to live. Thanks to the work of a countless number of people, the heteronormativity of society is slowly starting to change, seen in this post as the presence of a lesbian woman in Skins. I find it incredibly heartening that people are now feeling safe enough to come forward with their struggles and even take pride in all that they have gone through to come out as who they are. However, as this post shows, there is still so much work that needs to be done until we reach a point where one’s gender or sexuality no longer becomes their defining feature.

  11. With your story as well as mine, the whole process in figuring out your own sexual identity is very complicated and also scary to come to terms with. This is also difficult given the pressures and norms of society. I find however, that although difficult, it has actually become easier to talk about our experiences as well as helped in finding the courage to identify within the LGBTQIA+ community. I think that the world is constantly evolving and through education and knowledge is what will ultimately make the small but resourceful changes that our communities need and in due time. I do, however, believe that as long as contributing factors like patriarchy and religion remain dominant, the acceptance of bi/gay women (and all those within the LGBTQIA+ community) will always remain an issue in society, given the narratives and ideologies that have existed for centuries.

  12. I am 21 and just two days ago I came out to my parents. It’s crazy for me because I was out to my friends for years and a lot of other people close to me knew, but once I told my parents it all feels a lot more real and for the first time I don’t really want to be gay. They were very supportive, but just knowing they are very strong conservative Christians. I know the things they have said about others in my possession and that is what scares me.
    Reading this story about what you have gone through and what you are doing shows that this situation will always be that way and it is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.
    I really liked what you said about ‘don’t matter to me as long as I am happy’ because right now I am not at that point, but I know one day I will be comfortable to be. I mean it has only been two days.

  13. Although coming out is not something I can relate to, I understand the fear of not being accepted because I am different. Sadly, even in 2020, people are still uncomfortable with the concept of sexuality being fluid and on a spectrum. A huge factor for this is definitely the culture people grow up with and their family life. For example, in my culture and family, being gay is seen as a wrong. This is a common feeling across several cultures. I myself used to think that being gay was wrong because I was raised to believe this. There was no religious reason, but being anything but heterosexual was unheard of in my family. Through influences from school and media, I later learned that it is important to understand sexuality is different for everyone and romantic feelings cannot be limited to a specific gender. I hope that in future generations, as more and more people become allies of the LGBTQIA community, being gay will not be viewed as wrong or inappropriate. The author touched on how she later stopped caring about people’s reactions to her relationships. Being able to ignore hate is not something I am completely good at, but I am working on it.

  14. Coming out can be one of the hardest things for someone to do in their life, and for others it might just be another casual conversation with their families and friends.

    I do sympathize as someone who is bisexual and a social butterfly as well. Every time I’ve felt that I made a really good friend and wanted to confide in them about my sexuality, I’ve had two reactions. One being that they think that it’s cool and they finally have a “queer” friend, and for the most part are really supportive, but not educated enough on LGBTQ+ issues and sometimes make mistakes. Two is the not so great reaction where they ask if I’m sure it’s not just a phase, and that I might be confused since “bisexuals aren’t actually a thing, you’re just a lesbian in denial.”

    I think it’s great in the article how this individual was able to come out with courage taught to her on TV. I think that highlights how important it is to be diverse in the type of characters that exists on Television, movies, and media as a whole. A lot of what children absorb at a young age is comes from the media they absorb so if we normalize queer individuals in society, it won’t be such a big deal when they appear in our lives and if anything we finally begin to “normalize” such individuals.

    Unfortunately there are a lot of backwards thinking individuals who are teaching their children these same ideals they were sadly taught as well. I say taught because no one is born to judge, rather is a taught over time.

  15. I’ve found that society tends to view a character trait or physical attribute that is different from “the norm” or what is expected of a person — more specifically, a straight, white, well educated person – as the only important thing about a person: a person who is blind is “that blind person” without any regard to the other aspects of their lives.
    Much like in the case of the hypothetical “blind person,” I feel that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is not only seen as being an “other,” but also that it is the only defining characteristic that society cares about. This is the case in a lot of media portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters where the only memorable or only “real” characteristic is being gay, bi, etc.
    I sincerely hope that this societal perspective changes but at the same time, it starts with what young children are exposed to – are our movies portraying LGBTQ+ members as whole humans with traits other than their sexuality? Are they a focus of the story/show/movie because of their sexuality, or is it just another character trait that they have?

  16. Coming out is a scary process, especially for someone so young. I think anytime someone goes against the “norm” of either their culture, society, race, religion they will be faced with adversity. To have the adversity from your own family is something that has driven so many kids to suicide. I know people don’t want to talk about it from such a young age because they think it will “influence” or “recruit” their children into this lifestyle, but this is when kids need their parents the most. And honestly there is no choice in this lifestyle, it is not something to be “chosen or not”, that is a myth and people will never find the leprechaun.

    I can understand tradition and the importance of the ritual, but we are living with rules and guidelines about our faith, our society, our choices from books and ideologies that are thousands of years old. We have changed as people, but the system that supports the foundation has not changed enough. We modify our own traditions all the time and we as humans need to keep pushing forward to keep creating positive change so families can stay together, parents don’t lose their children because of hate or fear, children feel safe at home and in public. They are hard conversations, but if it was easy… everyone would do it.

    Unfortunately, as we can see by what is transpiring in today’s world, injustice, racial discrimination, LGBTQ rights being rolled back, lack of leadership in the Oval Office, is starting to feel vaguely familiar to my high school days of slurs, comments, threats, physical abuses, losing support and fear mongering. Everything is a threat of force and ostracizing.
    I hope that LGBTQ kids can find comfort in their families right now, I hope there is a dialog happening between them.

    I don’t think it is easy at in the first 30 years of someone’s life regardless of when they come out. IT’s never easy no matter the age to be out and open, but the hope is that by the age of 30 you can self-sustain, live your life by your own needs and wants and have already begun to build your community of support. There will always be comments of not finding the right one, or they will try and flip you. I don’t know why it threatens boys/men so much, it’s a harsh reacting to something they cannot have, nor accept that they cannot have. And with fertility clinics these day’s children are still possible, yet families of friends that I have say they want grand babies, but when the process isn’t a natural one, they find reasons to reject the baby, the family, the lineage. It’s painful to hear this hurt from them and disappointment in their voices. People need to not listen to the few who put them down and live their lives and be happy. One of the best parts of getting older, making it on your own, is having your own community of support and love. Sometimes for these kids who come out so young, I don’t know if they can see this far in the future, one day it will get better, you will find love, you will find acceptance. And if they are a lucky one who comes out and finds acceptance immediately, it’s fantastic. I am happy to hear that Zoe eventually found that and she lives her 100% truth every day.

  17. Athena Clark

    I’ve noticed throughout my life that when individuals who are homophobic or claim to just be uncomfortable with homosexuality are asked why, they never really have a good answer. It’s always something like “the bible says it’s wrong” or “it’s just not right”. It’s crazy how disturbed people can be by someone who is just living their own life, and having no effect on theirs. Having the strength to live your life honestly and let people judge you is truly inspiring. I’ve also seen Skins and realized that the character being talked about went through the same experience in terms of being treated differently when she came out so I really understand how you can relate to her. At the end of the day, what’s most important is making yourself happy, because it is your life to live and others peoples opinions, especially those who are strangers or aren’t close to you don’t matter

  18. Serena Delgadillo

    As a straight female who hasn’t had to “come out”, I’ve never had to worry about my character or sexuality being judged because of it. I think that it’s awful that people of all ages have to worry about being authentically themselves. Seeing that you had to struggle with the idea of coming out at age 14. I’m glad that you were able to have such great representation in the tv shows that you were watching because I can’t imagine how scary that might have been for you. I don’t know exactly where you were or are living, but I do know that there are people that still see the LGBT+ community as taboo. No one should ever feel uncomfortable for simply existing and doing normal things with their partners. I do find it disturbing that we still hear men make such insensitive comments such as, “I can turn her straight” or “she just hasn’t found the right man yet”. I’m really happy to see that you were able to free yourself and always remember your sexuality and decisions are valid.

  19. Being apart of the LGBTQ+ community myself, reading about individuals coming out stories has always held a special place in my heart. To hear your story and your discovery of not only your sexuality but the way you went about coming out to those you love is greatly inspiring. Posts such as these ones may spark that discovery you felt at the age of 14 or others older or younger. Being a part of the community means you engage with stories or situations of being treated differently or outright hated. To know individuals such as yourself have gone through instances as such is always something that hurts. The reason we come out as people is to openly love those who we want to love. Just as you did. With that openness, you expressed you were suddenly outcasted but at the same time put under the spotlight. People wanted to change you or set you aside as something different. What you say is that even with everything thrown at you, you are still happy and loving the people you want to love. That is what’s so important. As for anyone in that space, be safe, and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Thanks for the post Zoe!

  20. I just wanted to point out that being open with your homosexuality at a young age is very courageous of you! Also, I am excited that you have found your partner and are living a happier life now that you are open with who you are. I am thankful to be in California where there is so much love and diversity. There has been more awareness and supporters of the LGBTQ Community which lead to PRIDE festivals and parades to show people that all sexualities are okay! The LGBTQ community has become a huge support system and guidance for individuals who are struggling with their sexuality, especially for teens. They show that it is perfectly normal to explore your sexuality and to embrace your individuality. I dislike how people act a certain way in order to hide their identity in order to please others and to not feel discriminated. Everyone should be comfortable under their own skin and be who they truly are.

  21. I can remember feeling different at a young age, in grade school while other girls were getting crushes on boys, I found myself liking boys and girls. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized this wasn’t what society or the church that I grew up in would consider normal. I remember my mother and father talking badly about anyone in the LGBTQ (not the term they would use) community, it made me decide to keep that a secret for many years. When I did finally come out to my mom, she handled it better than I expected until she told me not to tell my father. I’m almost thirty and still am not fully out. I found my soulmate in a man (by chance, though it had nothing to do with his gender) and have three kids, so my mother feels there is no point in telling my dad. I have made it a point to teach my children that no matter who they love it is valid. I never want my kids to feel as I did and I have an open door policy with them and their friends. I wish beyond anything that people would understand that love is love and it is valid. Our world would be so much better off.

  22. When I was around the age of five or six, I experienced things in regards to human sexuality that led me to understand my own. I had older cousins expose me to pornographic sites and overheard my mother have relations with other men on multiple occasions after already divorcing my father. Things of this nature made me examine my own sexuality. In a way, I guess I was forced to do so. I came to the conclusion at a young age that I wanted to be around girls in hopes of doing what straight males naturally want to do. But at some point in life, men and women consider having relations with the same sex to see if it’s something that would or wouldn’t work for them. Whenever it crossed my mind, I immediately shunned any possibility of engaging with another man. But as far as I was concerned, people have always been able to live as they wish. I had no quarrel with homosexuality because people will choose what makes them feel happy just like me. As long as people live an honest life for themselves then it shouldn’t be a problem to anyone on the outside looking in. I understood at a young age that people who are attracted to the same sex are forced to live in secrecy and possibly denial because of the stigma society and religious beliefs put on them. These people have to face something that I’ll never be able to understand how it feels. I can only imagine the torture of constantly being judged, demeaned, and excluded from what is considered “acceptable.” As well as the self-torture they put on themselves trying to fit into a world where others constantly put them down for simply trying to live their truth.

  23. It’s truly sad that people will treat you differently based on your sexuality, but it’s a hard truth that society is very judgemental. I think it’s so brave for people to be able to show and be their authentic selves despite what other people might say. It’s tough when you not only have to face what your parents and family’s expectations are, but also your friends, peers, and society as a whole. I definitely think that this issue has gotten better over time as there’s more awareness in the LGBTQ community now and there’s a lot of support there. For example, we have gay pride parades every year in the summer that support this community and there’s always so much love there. This gives me hope for the future and for society as well. Even though certain people discriminate against others for their sexuality still to this day I believe there’s more love and support than hate. It really helps to know that if you’re struggling with coming out about your sexuality and who you are that you’re not the only person struggling with this, and there’s so many others going through the same situation that are there to help you along the way.

  24. Living in this amazing bubble called California, its sometimes difficult to understand how in other countries, or even in other states coming out to be different in any way might not be as easy, we have been convinced there is a certain mold we all fit into that is if we want to be successful in our personal or professional life where masculinity echoes loud in of our daily routine. Gladly many individuals have understood one size does not fit all and have come out regardless of the outcome to live a much happier life because they accept themselves not an old belief system.

    Media is changing and broadcasting topics 10 years ago would’ve been taboo or declined to air it. Media gives a voice to people who aren’t vocal about personal things, whether is hate or love the pint it gives a voice it encourages people and touches people life’s more than what we acknowledge, this why it’s important to be able to have diversity represented in the media.t

  25. Society makes it very difficult for young adults to choose their own sexuality, they follow this norm of what is supposed to be right or wrong. If you don’t follow those guidelines you are bullied and put down. Being so young and choosing to let everyone know what you like shouldn’t have to be something “brave” being attracted to the same gender should be just the same as someone saying they’re straight. I think it’s amazing when people choose to block out the mean comments from other people and choose to be happy as they are, it shouldn’t be a bad thing and parents should teach their kids to believe the same. It’s not something so rare and more people have become open to the idea of homosexuality, and it should be that way. Especially for young adults that are trying to figure out who they are, they should not have to le pressured into being someone they’re not.

  26. I didn’t come to terms with my sexuality until I was in my freshman year of highschool. I however, didn’t get to see the show you described called Skins, so I didn’t see much representation of the LGBTQ+ community in tv shows or movies when I was younger. I am also Catholic so I had a sense of self-hatred and homophobia growing up due to the things I was taught and exposed to. Once I did come out and dated a girl, I was embarrassed and afraid to show any type of public displays of affection due to the judgemental stares we would get. Due to the widespread belief that heterosexual relationships is the only “normal” type of relationships, people don’t know how to perceive or feel towards queer relationships. I completely agree with your statement that there is nothing wrong with these relationships, but people only treat us differently because of their own close-minded beliefs.

  27. In this blog post about coming out with her sexuality. She makes observations on how society starts treating her differently once they saw her alongside her partner. One of her observations is on how guys would sexualize her, and make crude jokes on her sexuality. The men she comes across treat her relationship as if it’s just a joke. By mentioning how they can “get her to like guys”, it demonstrates that there was no type of validation on her sexuality. They treat her sexuality as if it’s a choice when it isn’t. The other observation she makes is how adults see her. They talk about her sexuality being wrong and all the shame thrown her way making her feel unaccepted. Although all these things are happening, she is happy, or as she said, “at peace”, being who she truly feels she is. Which has to be one of the most important take away from this topic, is that even after all the harassment she faces. Being who she is, is what makes her happy rather than hiding it as if it was a crime certain individuals are treating it like it is.

  28. Areyda Bautista

    In the world we live in now there are many people who are against LGBT for many reasons ranging from religious beliefs and more. I would like to start off by stating my opinion on LGBT and that would be to be yourself no matter what because people are always going to judge and will always have something to say no matter what it is. If someone is not comfortable in their body or with who they are, they have the choice of changing that, being someone they would prefer and feel more comfortable in. Although coming out to the world and family may be hard, they must come to an acceptance and understand where you are coming from. The fact that these people who identify themselves as being gay, lesbian, trans, etc get treated differently because there are many people against it and many haters out there. In my opinion I believe that those people do not understand what it means to be confused and uncomfortable in your own body.

  29. there are many people that I know who are gay and/or bisexual and coming out is not easy as it looks. I see videos online of people coming out to their parents and friends and they get a reaction that they didn’t expect. There is thus one video of a teenager who told his parents he needed to tell them something, he was scared and started to get emotional because he didn’t know how his parents would react. Once he told them, his parents started hugging him and telling him that that does not change anything and that they still love him no matter what. Many people don’t get the same reaction and support as he did and I understand why people stay in the closet because that’s what they fear. They fear of getting treated differently, of getting hated by the society, and not being able to be who they are. I am glad you came out and I hope you are getting the love and support from your family and friends!

  30. I have been in similar situations and each time gets harder to process. Being African American we are supposed to date within our race. I would get stared at all the time with my ex girlfriend who happens to be white. I would get remarks that I hated black women because I was with her, or that I must have hated my skin color to do such a thing. That wasn’t the case, I just wanted to love whoever I wanted. Race or skin color did not matter, love should be about love nothing less and nothing more. At a certain point I hid my ex from my family because I did not want them to find out her race. Although it’s not the same as coming out and getting stares it’s a similar feeling, those who come out are brave and take the worl head on. Its tough to be an Lgbtq member in this society.

    • I can’t imagine having to deal with the backlash from a community for being your authentic self. I admire your drive stay true to you and acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with you. On the case of being a gay woman, I think that’s society doesn’t really put them in the same category as gay men. I think that gay men are plain disliked based on stereotypes and being plain homophobic, but with gay women, they are sexualized, over sexualized. From your experience, it seems that society doesn’t care about you or like you unless you fit the mold they created. This is unfortunately the case for many people and it happens based on race, religion, physical appearance, and political views. I honestly think that if you hadn’t come out, you might’ve been in a different unhappier place. I hope you continue to stay true to you and fight for the acceptance of loving who you love.

  31. Jennifer Valenzuela

    As a bisexual women watching movies or TV shows also made me learn about my own sexuality. I also remember feeling confused and unsure about my own sexuality when watching said movies or TV shows as a young teenager.It’s confusing to feel as if you are completely different from others and that makes it difficult to come out about your sexuality. I know what’s it like to feel like when people start treating you differently. I was 15 when I decided to come out to my older brother, we were fairly close at the time. He was supportive but definitely asked questions that I wasn’t sure how to answer, and I wish he hadn’t done that. I still haven’t came out to anyone else in my family. I remember that the days following me coming out to him, my mom looked at me in a weird way. I still don’t know if my brother told her but we have never talked about it again. I often see others on the street staring and judging same sexed couples. It’s frustrating to see them judging others for being in love.

  32. Hi Zoe,

    I commend you on sharing your story along with having the perspective that you have regarding other’s reactions, it gives hope to others out there that may not have someone to talk to along with helping them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can relate to you on so many levels, especially when I’m out in public and am showing my partner affection or she’s showing me affection. I often see heterosexual couples being affectionate and not one person staring or paying any attention, it made me sad in a sense because the first thought that came to my mind was how I wish that I could show and be just as affectionate with my girlfriend without any worries or fears of what those around may think, say or how they would react or be stared out like we’re some type of entertainment. Thinking and knowing who I am and no longer having to pretend or hide who I truly am has made the world of a difference for my happiness and being able to live my truth and love every aspect of my life. I’m extremely happy for you and I hope that you’re able to bring comfort to those out there that struggled the same as you did then with hopes of having the outlook that you have now.

    Best wishes,
    Jalisa M

  33. Hi Zoe,
    I am glad to read that despite all the negative reactions and experiences you have faced you are still able to live in peace and be your authentic self. It is unfortunate for someone to have fear embedded in them due to certain society believes and “norms”. Nonetheless, I do feel that it is more acceptable today then several years ago, though there is still plenty of room from for further improvement in the way gay people are treated and accepted. There will always be those who can not accept the “unaligned” behaviors and likes of woman and males towards the “equal” gender as them. However, like my experience, for someone who is coming out the most important acceptances and support stems from family members. I am a Mexican woman and in my culture there is a stigma that woman are made for men. Fortunately my parents were very open minded and when I came out my moms answer assured me I was going to be just fine. She said “I always knew you would be different”, and she said it with a smile. My parents said as long as I am happy they are too and any negative feedback that came from speculators did not matter or effect me. At the age of 14, and having the courage to come out knowing the resistant you may face, I applaud you for your courage and hope that life brings you great happiness.

  34. Dear Zoe,

    First, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to you for sharing your story and being open about your experience. I know that these are difficult discussions that are sometimes easier not to have, but when they are shared, they can be so beneficial and so many great things can come from them. In addition, on behalf of our society/culture, I would like to apologize for the harassment and judgment you have endured. I encourage you to continue to be brave and stay true to yourself, because that is where, I, too, have found lasting peace.

    You mentioned that a woman’s story on the show Skins helped you understand and prepare for what would come with being open about your sexuality, and your story has helped me understand my 14 year old niece who confided in me that she is attracted to girls. I will recommend the show to her and hope that she benefits from it like you did. Thanks again!

    Maria C.

  35. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story, this could really help others who are still trying to figure out their own sexuality, or who are struggling and afraid of coming out. I think that sexuality is a norm, in a sense that many people are still not “used to” or familiar with seeing or being around people who are attracted to someone of the same sex. Coming out can be very scary because not only do you have to face the reaction of your friends and family, but you also have to face the reactions of the public world. Although the opinions of others should never affect you and how you live your life, somehow it can. “Guys seem intent on flipping me”, it’s sad to think that many people, especially men when it comes to women liking women, do not take them seriously. It’s as if men think it is just a “phase” or that women are just making up the fact that they like people of the same sex. This is where spreading awareness needs to come in. More people need to be educated on how to properly interact with people of the LGBTQ community.

  36. Thank you so much for sharing your coming out story and your struggles. I myself am bisexual and my wife is a lesbian. We have gotten more than our fair share of stares or the consummate male gaze that stays on us holding hands for far too long. We have gotten the questions of “Can we watch you?” from men that have only just met us and also the implication that we just haven’t had the right man. I have discovered though that when confronted with the fact that while my wife is lesbian, I have in fact been with men and find the ones asking to join us inadequate, that it is met with immediate hostility and I have been called quite a few names.
    My daughter was 14 when she came out to us, but she knew we would be accepting. I was hopeful that she wouldn’t have the same struggles that my wife and I faced and in reality, that didn’t happen. She came out as pansexual and was met with immediate hostility from her peers and isolated very quickly. People could kind of understand bisexual, but being pansexual is a newer term and in the small town we lived in the people around her just didn’t understand what it meant. She has a better circle of friends now that she is an adult, but it still kills me that she was immediately placed in a box titled “other” by people who had known her for her entire life. It seemed unfair having struggled through the 90’s myself as a teenager and helping pave the way for LGBTQ youth to be more accepted that when my own daughter came to age, she was shoved right back into that same box that I knew so well. It is freeing being yourself and living your best life its just such a downer when the rest of the world sees that wonderful life and calls it sin even if it is the farthest thing from it.

  37. Kimberly Welch

    Dear Zoe,

    I commend you for staying true to yourself and putting your happiness and life choices first. Coming out is probably one of the scariest things to do as you’ve mentioned because it’s unclear on what to expect from your friends and family and how they will react. However, those who truly love you for the amazing human being that you are, will support the decision you’ve made for yourself and stand by your side at the end of the day. I think it’s pretty amazing that in today’s society, there is an LGBTQ+ community of people to reach out to for guidance and to provide a sense of belonging. Communities like these are wonderful because they educate us on the various important issues in which they fight for and promote on a daily basis. This includes: ending discrimination and obtaining basic human rights for all, which is a powerful and beautiful message. I for one, have certain members within my family who are “gay” and have heard some of the hardships and pain they’ve endured over the years. It’s hard to watch the people you love suffer and go through discrimination and constantly be ridiculed or reduced to feeling unfit or not normal simply for not conforming to what society considers to be normal. My advice for you would be to continue to stay true to yourself, obtain a loving support system, and pay it forward by guiding another individual into coming into themselves. I wish nothing, but the best for you and a positive and bright future.

  38. First off, I can only imagine how difficult this experience has been and likely still is. I admire your mindset of putting your happiness first and foremost and not letting the judgments of others effect you. Coming out at a young age, when the teen years are already filled with bullying and judgment, sounds terrifying — you have a tremendous amount of courage. In my catholic high school, two girls came out shortly after graduating because they were afraid of the judgment they would receive in the school community. I find this so sad because religion should be about loving one another but in reality, the world we foster on a day to day basis is pretty much the opposite. Also, the mother of a close family friend of mine just came out to her husband, children, and friends. The amount of judgment she has had to endure for people she has known and loved for 40+ years is insane. I think everyone likes to think we live in a progressive, accepting society, especially in our own “inner circles” but her experience has showed me, second-hand, how people isolate someone just for expressing who they are. I cannot imagine how painful it must be to have close friends of many years isolate and distance themselves from you for being true to yourself.

  39. Hi Zoe,
    Firstly, I want to thank you for sharing your story here. I think that the ability to come out to friends/family is something that so many LGBTQ people struggle with, so the fact that you were even able to do that is wonderful and so incredibly inspirational. As someone who used to watch skins, I’m so glad that you were able to get some type of epiphany from the show that helped you to prepare for your own announcement to the people you care about and the rest of the world. I do think that anyone who tries to change you, or make you feel like you’re wrong somehow for your feelings or the way that you are is struggling with something deep down inside of themselves, maybe its because of the way they were raised, or because of how they were taught, and while I am in no way condoning their behavior my point is that the issue is not you at all: its the person passing the judgment, someone who does that is obviously struggling with their own issues. I think that your ability to handle the harassment you’ve received and your ability to stay true to yourself is the most amazing form of self-love and grace and I hope that you continue to speak your truth and be yourself 🙂

  40. As others have mentioned, coming out in a relatively old-fashioned society like America is incredibly courageous. I was saddened to read the heartbreaking reactions of shunning, chastising, and attacking against you expressed in this post, but I am, disappointingly, not surprised.

    However, it certainly must feel emboldening and encouraging knowing you are living an honest, open life. In the long run, those who shunned and chastised you for coming out will become the odd ones out, and hopefully this comes sooner than later. I hope you continue to feel encouragement and support from within yourself, as accepting yourself for who you are is a big feat many cannot say they’ve toppled.

    I have the luxury of being a straight man in a society that favors my “type” as the norm. I won’t pretend I can fully comprehend your experience, but I will say that coming out as an atheist in a highly Christian high school, and still to this day, proves difficult, especially among family. So, I am at least partially understanding of the feeling of freedom that comes with being honest with yourself and others. Please, keep being who you are. I believe the comfort and hope this brings you will far outweigh anything anyone can say or do to you.

  41. I think there is a lot of bravery and courage needed to come out because one will have to understand that they will be subject to different treatment and judgement, but its good to know that the show “Skins” was able to help Zoe understand how one could possibly go through that process. I feel like nowadays there are more and more shows that include characters that are part of the LGBTQ+ community and include the way they are treated which in more cases than not can happen in real life. These shows are good for public who watches so that they are able to understand what those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community have to go through and also to help people like Zoe who are just trying to understand how the journey would be like for themselves.

    I couldn’t imagine how it would feel like to have guys wanting to “flip me” because it shouldn’t have to be something that they should even think about doing or decide to make on someones life. I can sympathize with Zoe that it can see it being difficult trying to make friends when there are people who hope to flip you to like the opposite sex.

  42. While LGBTQ rights have improved a lot in the last generation, this posting is a prime example of how much further it has to go. I find it strange that people can be so threatened by someone that is different even though they are not causing anyone harm. That concept of fitting in affects people their entire lives, not just when they are young and in school. There also seems to be more analyzing of gay couples than straight couples. It is less common to look at a straight couple and wonder if they are friends or siblings. The assumption is that they are a couple and it is socially acceptable. Also, I found it interesting that she was concerned about men’s responses to her being a lesbian more than women’s responses. There is a common reaction by men to try and make gay women become straight. I suspect that somehow a woman choosing to be with another woman is perceived as a threat to their masculinity. They are not comfortable enough with themselves to accept that a woman does not want them.

  43. Enedino Vasquez

    Not many people can “come out of the closet” due to cultural beliefs in their family and how society would treat them. Yes although it is 2019 the LGBTQ community face a lot of criticism. Which prevents them to show their passions towards their partner in public because the community thinks it’s still wrong. I have a friend who says that he still gets looked bad and treated differently because he is gay. I asked him if it affected him in how he acted around others he then told me that he didn’t really pay attention to the people criticizing him and his partner because the only people that matter is how his parents feel about it and he said they actually respected his way of being. That all they wanted for him is to be happy. Yet he didn’t “come out the closet” until he was 18. The LGBTQ community should be respected as they respect everyone around them.

  44. Coming out at the age of 14 can be pretty scary, and personally, I have heard adults say things such as, “there is no way a child could make that decision”, or, “how could they know?”. Although I have never experienced this before, I can understand that it can be something stressful and difficult to carry through. It is crazy to think that even after all this time being straight is the norm. People should be allowed to choose and change their sexuality without anyone giving it a second thought. Although sexuality is a big deal, it should be treated the same as a random part of a person’s identity such as their clothing style. In addition, the fact that men have a desire to “flip” someone, does not have a lot to do with someone’s sexuality. Although, it can hurt someone’s feelings and cause them to feel that others around them are not in support of their sexuality, it mainly has to do with those men trying to prove their masculinity.

  45. I am really glad to hear that there are platforms out there that help people tackle difficult decisions like deciding when to come out. I always imagined it would be a scary process, constantly thinking up all of the different ways an announcement like that would go. It’s terrifying to think that a part of your life could completely change the way another person thinks of you, especially when it is so central to who you are. I did not really even consider that someone might think to make a game out of something so personal. As if someone would, after going through all of the different motions of coming out, suddenly realize that they were wrong all along. Not only does this come across as disrespectful, but it makes a joke out of something that is a somewhat vulnerable and intimate subject. It’s sad that a simple change in how a person lives their life brings about so many other complications.

  46. It takes a lot of courage to already be honest with your inner self, I can’t imagine doing it as well to the world. Also having the risk of them not accepting you as your true self could be a scary thought, this makes it more difficult to even try to accept yourself. Most of the TV shows that now air on TV and even on the internet like Youtube are helping young people understand that there not the only ones who are experiencing  these situations . Compared to back when in the early 2000s there were not many shows and media that would often openly discuss about this topic thus making people feel like it wasn’t normal. I am glad that we have more open media because this will help young or older people feel loved that they are not alone that it’s completely natural. Your sexuality doesn’t define you as a person, we are all the same no matter what our preference may be. 

  47. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for someone to come out. You aren’t just coming out to your parents and friends, but you are putting yourself on display for the whole world to see. It must feel like there is a big label on you that everyone can see when you are in public. Although I have not had to go through this, I have friends who have come out and they have told me similar stories where they were dreading telling their parents about who they were. Thankfully, they were all accepted by their parents and didn’t face much criticism in public for who they were. It is really sad to hear how people didn’t accept Zoe and made her feel like an outcast, especially when I compare her story to the positive experiences my friends have had. I’m hoping that Zoe’s story is from years ago and that she is much more comfortable with who she is today.

  48. Hi there, thank you for this post.
    I have a female friend at work to confided in me last night that she was invited to drinks one-on-one with a male coworker of ours. She was nervous to go out with him because she would be telling him she was gay. She told me that it could go one of several ways: he will either be totally fine with it, super turned off by it, not wanting to even be her friend because she is not a possible dating option, or will still make advances at her despite her saying she is only interested in women.
    I was saddened by this as I do not face any discrimination when making friends and telling them about my boyfriend. Some guys may get bummed out realizing I would not be an option, but overall, most still want to be my friend. I did not realize just how much of a struggle it is for her to make friends with men because she is gay. She confided in another coworker of ours who is also gay and he let her know the guy she was going out for drinks with is not a complete ass and will not be upset with her for being gay.
    However, this is still so frustrating as there should be no worry for anyone to come out to a friend about their sexuality. It annoys me that her first thought when she was invited out was to worry about talking about her own life and her girlfriend in front of someone who may not approve.

  49. It takes a lot of courage to come out and even the journey to figure out this important part of you should take as much time as necessary. I really like how the show Skins is discussed in this article because I remember watching that show when I was younger and having it really open my eyes to many different issues, problems, and situations in the world. I remember exactly which episode the author is talking about and I remember it helped me understand my sexuality too! Especially due to the age I was watching it at was beneficial because I did not see the negatives or have any prior feelings towards the LGBTQ community, understanding that people saw same sex couples negatively was something I found out about after this crucial time in my life. Being able to understand my attractions with no restrictions was really helpful and I wish Skins was still running!

  50. Coming out can be a scary situation at any age. There is always that fear of your friends and family not being supportive, being harassed, and being treated differently. When meeting new people, there are no expectations, no preconceptions, no previous ideas about who you are, and who you are “suppose” to be. There is only you, a brand new person to strangers. Most of the time, your sexuality doesn’t come up, but when it does, and it is mentioned that you aren’t straight, you did not shatter someone’s expectations of you. The fear is telling your family, your friends that you have known since elementary school, and basically everyone that has ever know you to be straight. Shattering that preconcived idea of what your life was suppose to be like. That is what is terrifying, are the most important people in your life, the ones you love and cherish most, going to love you unconditionally and support you through the toughest of times? I sure hope so. However, if they don’t welcome you with open arms, then I hope one day you find the people that show you what unconditional love really is. I hope that you can live your life to the fullest extent, and express your self, your sexuality, and your love in any way you may imagine. (P.S I am using “you, and you’re as a general statement. They are not directed at you personally. However, I am very happy that you are now expressing who you really are.)

  51. Hi there. I first want to express openly that I may never be able to truly understand what it must be like for you on a day to day basis. That being said, it is with full heart that I am in awe of your bravery to come out at a young age. Please do not take my words as pity or anything negative. One of my good friends in high school grew up in a tradition Asian Christian household and his coming out to his parents was without a doubt one of the most difficult ordeals he had to go through. And even then, it did not occur until he was in college, with an amazing support system of friends, and the experience and bravery built up over years to back his decision. So when I hear your story, again I am just in awe with your take on life to live openly and honestly because for far too many people, living openly is terrifying. I am also just so frustrated with society because I know that people being different has always been and always will be a defining factor in creating prejudice and hate. I just want to end this with keep on doing you and rock this world.

  52. It’s so brave of you that you did coming out in your young age. I would not do that if I were in your situation. Your words, “Other people’s reactions don’t matter to me so long as I am happy,“ is expressing how you went through some difficult time and have been still fighting with them. For a third party, people including me can understand that the best way to cope with those people who say something bad about others is just ignoring them. However, imaging if I was said something disrespectful for me I could not put up with and try to think things positively like you. (Of course, I know it was not that easy to move on.)
    More and more numbers of people have more understanding of LGBTQ, but we should not only promote the movement of LGBTQ but also understand what kind of things LGBTQ people are suffering from.

  53. It sucks because some of the worlds are super accepting and supportive. HOWEVER, another large part of the world sees your being bi as something DIFFERENT, which means, while they might not think it’s the worst thing in the world, they still want you to know there is an option to NOT BE THAT WAY.
    It’s a little effed up, yea, but I think it happens to all of us regardless of age. If you feel comfortable enough to come out, I think you should. You don’t come out for people around you, you come out for you. That is what is important here. There will be questions/concerns/ comments from people, sure, but keep in mind that YOU know yourself. Even if your mind changes in 15 minutes, this is exactly who you are right now. This is not a phase; you are not confused. You are you.

  54. I love this. I came out at a young age as well, and it can be very lonesome. I’m asexual so telling people came with a lot of explaining and youtube searches and metaphors. But what really helped me was reading books with characters in them like me. Watching YouTubers who could explain things in a way that I couldn’t. I think there should be more representation out there for every type of person.

  55. I am so proud of you for being brave enough to come out and being able to take on all the harassment. In middle school I had a best friend who I knew was hiding something from me for weeks. It wasn’t until I moved to a different state that she called me and told me she was bi and had a crush on me. She was afraid that I would hate her or not want to be her friend anymore, but the only thing that upset me was the fact that she didn’t tell me before I left. I told her that I was her best friend and that I would have never judged her, but I wasn’t even able to figure out if I could return her feelings. We were miles and miles apart and had already started to slowly stop talking to each other, also starting off a relationship like that wasn’t ideal, not to mention we were in middle school. Even now, as a college student, I have only ever dated one guy and months after we broke up, I found out that he had cheated on me. So, I’m not looking to date anyone for a while. I’m still trying to learn about myself, get my degree, and start my life.

  56. I became a wiser man when gay people told me what it was like growing up in a world where they were “different”. Although a lot more people consider it acceptable in modern society to be gay, there are always going to be people who do not accept anything that is not within the parameters of their narrow way of thinking.

    Life is like the school playground, where people are attacked verbally or physically because of anything that is remotely different about them.

  57. I agree that the reactions she has received are more about the people with those reactions, than anything to do with her. Historically, in some societies I suspect she would be the norm. In the society she lives in today, well more acceptable today than when I came into the world so long ago. I suspect the actions of some less enlighten others, do unfortunately bother her.

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