Photojournalism Series: "Coming Out" & Visibility

Coming out can mean a lot of things. For some, coming out means telling everyone in your life this small part of your identity, whether that is in terms of sexual orientation or gender. 

For me, coming out did not happen all at once. At first, I came out as gay (that I was attracted to girls), retaining my identity as a girl. Yet, "gay" a liberating word in its essence, had never sit with me comfortably. We lived side-by-side, but never together; a term meant to make me feel freer, heightened my sense of emptiness. I surrounded myself with gay people and laughed about self inflicted gay jokes until it completely took ahold of me. I was gay and that was what people knew me for.

That was what the boys talked about at the Catholic school that was associated with mine and that was what was spoken about on the SIR train amongst girls who knew so little about me. So with all of that pressure, I was willing to climb into that skin and make it mine, even while the person who disliked it the most happened to be myself. 

Amidst this discomfiture I did a lot of self-reflection. After having discovered the term "transgender" I was left asking myself, what now? Coming out was more than just a hard conversation with family friends.

It meant having the courage to go from fifteen inches of hair to just three. It meant being able to wear men's clothing without caring what the world watching would think. It meant being brave enough to walk into my all-girls Catholic high school and look into the eyes of the dean and say this is me. This is who I am and I can no longer conform to your expectations of me. It meant being bold enough to walk into my senior prom in a suit and with a girl by my side. Bold enough to refuse to wear a dress and flats to graduation. And bold enough to refuse to continue putting my mental health aside for everyone else.

They say that people in the queer community experience their teenage years in their twenties, because those years were spent playing a part in a life that felt so foreign to us. The me I am now, feels more like myself than it ever has. I am free to experience my life without limitations. Without feeling sorry; and without pretending. I am in control now. 

So, this is what coming out meant for me--what does it mean for you?

This is the question I asked a group of LGBTQ+ participants:

Featured Participants (Respectively): Tyler Diachiara, Deanna Morales, Lawrence Civil, Brittny Membreno, Sarah Craig, Issa Re, Jack Tranchina, Kenzi Fry, Medusa, and Connor McDowell.

Contact me if you are interested in becoming part of this series!

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