Updated: Mar 31, 2019
“My name is Ashleigh, I am from Indiana, and I will be sharing my coming out story.
I knew I was attracted to females when I was about the age of 10. I started having strong feelings about friends, and about other girls, and I thought it was just something every girl went through. I thought every girl had feelings for other girls, but they always ended up with guys because that’s what we’re “supposed” to do.
In high school the feelings never went away, but I suppressed them by just never dating and hoping that they would go away. I mean, yeah, there was a guy or two I dated, but never in a real relationship.
I finally started dating my first real boyfriend (ever in my life) the summer after I graduated high school. It was a good relationship, he was a good guy, but I always felt something was missing. I was always honest with him as well, I let him know I was interested in women before him. I actually had a huge crush on a girl I met at a camp a few months before he and I became “official”. But I never pursued her (even though I wanted to) because I just couldn’t accept that was something I wanted/or was.
When I got to Ball State University to pursue my undergrad, I started hanging out with this really cute girl across the hall. I started falling for her. I found myself wanting to be around her all the time, always trying to make her laugh, always wanting to study together. It was hard for me to admit at the time, but I felt more comfortable with her and wanted to be with her more than I did my own boyfriend.
So, after a lot of contemplation, I broke up with my boyfriend and decided to go for this girl.
I thought it would be easy. I thought that everything would be fine, my parents would be cool with it, my friends would understand. It was 2013, why would people be upset? I had a gay uncle, it shouldn’t be such a big deal.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
I think that was the hardest part of the whole “coming out” process for me. Not only did I not get the acceptance and understanding I had hoped and expected, but I also saw first-hand how my “non-conforming” sexual orientation changed the way some (not all) people treated me and my new relationship.
It was so foreign to me to be treated differently.
I had always been taught to treat everyone the same, so to see my new relationship being treated so starkly different than my previous relationship (just because I was now with a woman instead of a man) was mind boggling to me. But without this experience I honestly (truly) do not believe I would be where I am in life.
I found so much strength in myself through this experience and though it sucked at the time, I would never change it. I learned to be patient, to stand up for myself, to not take responsibility for others’ issues, (that I can only control myself), and most importantly that my opinion is the only one that matters when it comes to my life. I cannot live my life on the opinions of others.
It did take a while, but things have gotten better.
I think my experience opened up the eyes and hearts of those around me, and I believe it opened my eyes and heart to others as well. I know that not every coming out story is rough, and I hope that as we progress in society this will be a rare occurrence. However, those who do go through a rough coming out experience I want to let you know that you are STRONG.
Living authentically is not easy, many would rather put on a mask to stay in their “lane.” I’m proud of you for taking that mask off and putting your truth out there; that takes confidence. I also want you to know that you are not alone, and it absolutely gets better.
Sometimes people are scared for you and your truth, so they try to change you because they want to protect you. Know that their hearts are in a good place, though their actions may look otherwise.
If I were to describe my experience using one word, I would use ‘Truth.’ Living my truth is how I got to where I am today. God makes a diverse group of people and I am just a color in His rainbow.
If I were to give someone advice going through a similar experience, I would say give yourself time. Give this whole experience time. I promise it gets better. You deserve to live your truth. Also, forgiving others for not understanding you is something you should do for yourself. Even if they’ve never asked for forgiveness before. God made you who you are and you should shine.”
Hear the song inspired by Ashleigh’s story: “Change Her” by Bri Dimit (https://open.spotify.com/album/5VTAKYWhiNCuvnTGUcfRai)