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[coming out stories]

Nanette Edwards
Student, Sacramento, CA
October 11, 1997

Coming out is the hardest thing you could ever do but its rewards do comes back in tenfold as it did for me!!!

When I was in elementary school, I realized there was something different about my sexuality when I started taking more interest in girls instead of boys. At first, I thought there was something horribly WRONG with me!!! That's because I was raised in a strong Mormon family with where my adoptive mother was religiously devoted to Mormonism while at the same time my adoptive father was strongly Christian. They preached that homosexuality was TOTALLY wrong.

I continued to deny my own sexuality during my young years dating guys to please my family and even getting engaged to my childhood male sweetheart. When I graduated, I went on to Gallaudet University for a year. My new friends there gradually pulled me a bit out of the "closet" I desperately wanted to hide in away from the world.

First person that really opened my eyes to the world of possibilities of being openly lesbian was Dragonsani. I witnessed her constant drive and determination to make this world a better place for countless of other people within the gay community and found it insipiring. I decided to take a giant step out of the closet and be open with my own "alternative lifestyle", as the straight population would say.

Ever since, I've never regretted coming out at Gallaudet. Sure, I have encountered all forms of bigotry and discrimination from all walks of life. . . but it has made me a better person today and more appreciative of my life and who my friends are.

A hard part of coming out was coming out to friends. They would first deny and claim I was going through a "PHASE" and that I would eventually outgrow it. Then when I didn't, they become angry. Some of them had misconceptions about gay people and assumed I must be a bad person. It took me a while to make them realize that I am the SAME person as before, only that I am openly gay. It took them a while to get to a point of total acceptance. Some still dont approve of my lifestyle but respect me, just like I respect their heterosexual lifestyle. It is a constant process of change of perspective and accepting things between us. My feelings toward them have never changed. I am confident that complete understanding and acceptance will eventually come and that one day those who have not yet done so will embrace my being gay and allow me to live my life fully with their support.

I get continuing support from the gay community and friends whom I affectionately call my new "family." They are always there when I encounter frustration resulting from other people's bigotry or misconceptions about gay people and gay issues. I always learn something new every day. I am proud to be out and visible!!!

The final hurdle in this coming out process is telling my family about my sexuality. My mother was the first one who found out and adamantly said I was just going through a "rebellious stage and phase" with her. Took me a few years to repair our strained relationship (it was already strained before I came out to her). On the day she passed away, when I held her in my arms while she was terminally dying, she finally accepted me and said to seek the happiness I deserve no matter what others say. Those final words of love and acceptance meant a lot to me even today four years later after her unexpected death. It still bring tears to my eyes thinking of that today.

I have a twin sister and she suspected it but never brought it up. I have endured offensive gay jokes/remarks being spoken by my adoptive family but never said one word in fear of being confronted with my sexuality. But I have hinted more than once on different occasions with my sister about my lifestyle. I'm hoping this month on October 11th, on the National Coming Out Day, I will finally put those doubts to a rest and confront my birth twin sister for the first time to make it clear I am happier being this way and hope for total acceptance just like my friends have finally come to accept me. I know my family will be deeply shocked but it is MY LIFE that I am living not theirs. I choose my ultimate destiny to live and decide who I want to be that I want to be proud of!!!

Yes, it is a lifelong process. . . but it is worth the struggle of coming out. I no longer have to hide in the "closet". I am free to live my own life without secrets or any regrets. I never regretted the day I came out for the first time. It was the best experience I ever had. You should learn from others and remember that it is your life and you ultimately decide your destiny for yourself. . . nobody else can tell you how to live your OWN life! I know the Goddess will always be on my side through all triumphs and personal trials of tribulation. So can you!!!

I wish you the best in the quest for happiness and my blessings will always be with you... PROUD TO BE OUT AND QUEER!

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