Hello ladies, gentlemen, and everyone beyond and inbetween! Welcome to Episode 10 of the Darn Good Life Podcast. I am your host, Danielle Roberts. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a member of the LGBTQIA+ community! Today kicks off Pride Month, so HAPPY PRIDE. To celebrate, I’ll be posting new episodes every single week in a special segment called Pridecast! I have some great topics and special guests planned for you all month long.
I’m really excited – not only will it be fun, this segment is also meant to spread light on the many issues our community faces, and to show how you can get involved and be an advocate.
And to kick things off, I’ll be sharing my personal coming out story. Let’s do this
I am many different things.
I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
I am a niece.
I am an aunt.
I am a friend.
I am an entrepreneur.
I am an empath.
I am a nerd.
I am a mut of different nationalities.
And when it comes to my sexual orientation, I am bisexual, which simply means I am attracted to both men and women. My gender identity is female, and my pronouns are she/her. And today, I want to tell you my coming out story
Before I continue, I need to preface several things for everyone listening today.
First, everyone’s coming out story is different.
There’s not a textbook that teaches this stuff, and there really isn’t a right or a wrong way to reveal yourself to the world and come out as LGBTQ+. No one’s coming out story looks the same.
Coming out is very personal thing. It is an intense, intimidating, and equally celebratory experience.
Coming out should only ever be done by that person as long as they are ready. Let me repeat that. Do NOT out somebody. LGBTQ+ people still face shocking rates of hate crimes and discrimination, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why some of us stay closeted.
Second, sexuality is a spectrum, and coming out adds another layer of challenges and complexity to our lives. For instance, having to label ourselves can be a pain.
After coming out, people often ask: Well what are you? Are you a lesbian, are you gay, have you been gay forever, etcetera?
I would sometimes rather not label myself, because I think it forces us to package ourselves in these pretty little boxes, only to help other people try and understand us. So we feel compelled or pressured to declare one identity, one label, and stick to it.
But that is not the case.
Sexuality is ever-evolving, and as humans, so are we. Which means our labels aren’t permanent. We can change our minds. We don’t have to be stuck with the one label that we initially come out with.
Third, throughout this Pridecast series, there will be a lot of terms that you may be hearing the first time and unfamiliar with.
It’s important to listen and educate yourself with what they are, because knowledge is powerful and empowering. I’m going to drop a link in the shownotes to a Glossary of Terms put together by the Human Rights Commission. If you consider yourself an ally, I highly recommend going and taking a look at those terms, familiarizing yourself, and asking your queer friends questions – respectfully of course – if you need help better understanding them.
Everyone’s identities and orientations are different, and even how we define these within our community can vary. For example, whereas I identify as bi, someone else could classify their similar sexual attractions as queer or even pansexual.
There is a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sexual orientation describes a person’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person. For example, being straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being male or female, or as someone outside of that gender binary. For example, being transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, or gender-fluid.
Ok, so now onto my coming out story…
It took me 20-some odd years to discover, embrace, and grow into my sexuality.
I never actually knew there was something special or different about me while I was growing up. By not knowing, I felt like I was doing a disservice to the LGBTQIA+ community. I knew so many card-carrying queer people who hid their identities for years; I knew people, who were brilliantly aware of their sexuality from day one and, despite social isolation and marginalization, wore it as proudly as their own skin.
Since I largely only dated men my entire life, I also felt like I couldn’t be bisexual, because that would do some kind of disservice to the men I dated….like being attracted to women as well made my relationships with and feelings for them somehow untrue.
More than anything, though, when I started to figure it out and consciously chose to keep hiding it, or to not explore it, the only person I was doing a disservice to was myself.
It took me probably five or six years between when I thought being bi was a possibility and when I finally acted on it. Life planted a lot of seeds along the way for me to finally arrive at coming out. For example:
- I was not only athletic, but a full-grown tomboy. I played roller hockey and asked for a football uniform on my Christmas list in second grade.
- I craved connection from other women, which in my adolescence was masked as friendship.
- I confused wanting to be like other women with being physically and sexually attracted to them. For instance, I had a huge affinity for certain female characters ever since I was a kid, like Serena in Gossip Girl and Sarah Roemer in Disturbia. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I was a Twilight fan, and I still think Kristen Stewart is awkwardly hot to this very day. I even remember this exciting feeling in my stomach watching Piper and Alex’s sex scenes in Orange is the New Black.
- I wrote my junior-year term paper on why same-sex marriage being illegal was unconstitutional and did whatever I could to stick up for my brother, who came out as gay when he was 15.
- I stopped going to church when the priest talked about how being gay was an abomination and said gay people were going to hell.
Looking back, all of this — and more — makes sense to me now. But I didn’t understand my feelings. How could I?
I experienced some trauma growing up. I was raised in a household with a devout, Roman Catholic mother and a born again Christian father. As mentioned, I already had one sibling who came out of the closet, which was not very well received, I might add.
There are also so many misconceptions and stigma around bisexuality, sometimes even from within the LGBTQ+ community.
I want to paint a picture of this stigma. If you kiss a girl at a college party, you get called an attention-seeking slut. If you’re in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex and reveal your same-sex attraction, you get propositioned for a threesome or asked if they can watch.
Bisexual people on dating apps come across couples all the time looking for a third. Bisexuality doesn’t mean that I’m literally attracted to everyone with two legs, or that I’m 50% attracted to men and 50% attracted to women. Nor does it mean that I am greedy, incapable of commitment, confused or can’t make up my mind.
But there are all things that I’ve heard growing up, and still hear to this day. Bi erasure is an issue both within and outside the community.
So, I never even considered that being attracted to both men and women could be my truth. All of this stigma and internalized homophobia made me suppress my feelings so deeply in my subconscious that they affected my reality on the outside, to the rest of the world. It took a long time of unlearning these personal biases and the internalized homophobia that was instilled in me from a young age.
Eventually, my attraction toward women grew stronger – so strong, that I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
So one random night when I was 26, buzzed by the humidity of summer and a couple glasses of wine, I found myself shamelessly flirting with a woman.
It was scary and exciting, and the chemistry was undeniable. I remember looking into my mirror thinking, I like her, not quite recognizing the person staring back at me in the mirror.
The next time, I actually said it out loud, gnawing on the words to see how they tasted before I spoke them.
We planned to meet up, and a part of me hoped that when I saw her, I would figure out this was all something I dreamt up in my head. That I would go back to being the Danielle who always avoided stirring up her own shit instead of tiptoeing around uncharted territory, panicked by the thought of what it all meant. Panicked that I would disappoint the people I loved the most.
But that’s not what happened. And at the end of the night, I tried her lips on for size, and they were a perfect fit. As soon as we kissed, it was like fireworks, and everything in my body just KNEW that this was what was missing all along, and that this feeling – this part of me – was here to stay forever.
The next morning, I woke up to a text, and it said: “Danielle, I really fucking like you.”
And guess what? I really fucking liked her back. And I still really like her back. In fact, I love her. That person was Shea, and she is now my wife.
My coming out was mostly well-received. I did lose people after coming out and marring a woman, family members included, but I’m better for it.
I believe that love is a verb, and the people who stuck around and continue to support me are the ones who truly love me. I no longer reserve the time, space, or energy for people who believe I am deserving anything less than love, or that my existence is somehow less-than.
It’s entirely possible to wander through over two decades without fully knowing yourself. That night changed my life, for the better. The broken pieces of me finally fit together. All of those seeds that were planted along the way blossomed. And now, I can take a step back and look at that bigger, more beautiful, and more wholesome picture of my existence.
Sexuality is not an either-or scenario. I was not straight when I was dating men. I am not a lesbian now because I am married to a woman. I am proudly bisexual, all of the time.
At the end of the day, I am a human being, and I just want the freedom to be fully and unapologetically myself – the same thing I think we all want.
That’s why I live out and proud today. I spent so much time unknowingly suppressing who I am, that it’s the only way for me to live now.
I’ve always just been Danielle, and I just happened to discover myself comfortably sitting somewhere along a not-so-straight line.
But it is important that we DO come out. And we don’t just come out once. We have to do it time and time again. I think I’m a pretty straight-presenting bisexual woman. Unless I have my beanie, flannel and converse on, people wouldn’t necessarily know I’m in the LGBTQ+ community just by looking at me.
We have to come out to honor those who came before us and paved the way for what our community has achieved so far
And we need to come out, to clear the path for generations to come. Because there is still a lot of work to be done, and our liberties are currently at stake to this very day.
Gay marriage wasn’t even legalized in the United States the same year my wife and I started dating. The Pulse Shooting happened four short years ago. Young people are still being kicked out of their homes because families use religion to justify intolerance and straight up bigotry and hate. We can still be fired in many states across the U.S. simply for identifying ourselves as part of the community.
We shouldn’t have to be afraid.
We shouldn’t be taught that being straight and cisgender is the only way cisgender is the only way that we’re deserving of love and equality and acceptance and happiness.
If the next generation is taught that there are different sexualities and genders, the world would be a better place.
That is why I am telling you my coming out story today. And I hope one that day, during my lifetime, we can live in and experience a world where we don’t have to rationalize our existence or fear being who we are.
But every day leading up to that day and every day after, until my time is up – to my fellow community members, I am in your corner.
You always have my support, and I will always provide a safe space for you to talk and express yourself – your authentic self – without judgment.
Remember that life is short, so please do your best to make it a darn good one. The world needs you, and it needs to know that you are here. Because you matter.
Because we are your brothers, your sisters, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins, your mothers, your fathers, your nieces, your nephews, your neighbors, your classmates, and your friends.
We are everywhere, and we are here to stay. Happy Pride, everyone.
Thank you for joining and celebrating Pride Month with me today. Every week this month, I’ll be focusing on different aspects of the LGBTQIA+ community, so wherever you are listening, hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss when those episodes are posted. It would also mean a lot if you could leave me a review, and share my show with a friend or two.
You can find the shownotes for this and other episodes at darnroberts.com. And as always, I’d love to hear from you. If you have a comment, a topic idea or a guest suggestion, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for listening! I’m Danielle Roberts, and this is The Darn Good Life.