I’m a 25 year old woman and I’m gay. How easy it is to write it down, and how liberating to say it out loud. I wish it was that simple for everyone! It was a long and winding road for me too, to get here. To anyone out there who is going down the same path, my message to you is that it’s worth it. It’s worth more than anything. But let’s jump back a few years and start at the beginning.
If my memories are correct, I was about 16 when I first had a thought that I might be attracted to my own gender. But just as quickly as the thought came, I shut my brain down, saying I’m certainly not gay, I can’t be.
Looking back I realized, I was scared of the unknown. Although my love for Keira Knightley and Kristen Stewart were quite obvious signs, I even had posters of them on my walls. I was scared because I only heard the word ‘gay’ as an insult at school. Who would want to be the target of all that? Not to mention that I didn’t even see any LGBTQ+ characters represented in the media. With all the information I had, homosexuality was not a great prospect. Due to all this, knowingly or unknowingly I just buried the big question deep down and tried my best to fit in amongst my straight peers.
For all the LGBTQ+ readers the following scenes might be very familiar: when some handsome guy was the subject of the talk or there was a contest of who likes him more, I was part of the contest. If the girls showed me how cute one of our schoolmates is, no one agreed with the statement more than I did. My personal favourite was when I went to training and picked a guy to like based on what the girls would say.
I previously mentioned training. Yes, I spent 10 years in competitive sports, including floorball. You might ask how I spent all those years with a whole team of girls, and let me tell you, it was a journey. Let’s jump a few years ahead from my compulsory heterosexual self to myself when I started to question who I am.
After graduating from high school and completing a 2 year course I got into university. I can’t remember why, but while sitting on campus one of my mates said this to me: “You have a lesbian vibe.” Of course I had no witty response. All my reactions were my heartbeat racing, my dilated pupils and my way too long silence. Then I asked when we are going to the next class. Back then, I was angry at the situation and the person who said it, but this sentence started off something in me because I started reading about homosexuality and started watching LGBTQ+ themed movies and shows. Yes, I also went through all those “Am I gay?” quizzes, and the results were always the same, that -drumroll- I am gay.
I joined Tumblr where most of the users are attracted to their own gender. This site helped me realize that if as a girl I am attracted to girls, that’s totally okay. This is when I started to worry about what my teammates would think if they knew. Would it change anything? Would I see them differently, would I fall for one of them, how will they react, will they treat me differently? I had so many questions, fears and thoughts about the whole thing, but I also started to make my peace with it.
By this time I was about 20 years old, and after my first year of university a big opportunity came up to participate in an international floorball contest in Prague. Before I got on the train to the Czech Republic, one of my teammates warned me that 80% of the Finnish team is gay. In case you were hoping this was just an encouragement for me to be myself, I have bad news for you. It was more of a warning to be careful, be aware of the danger. It’s not the kind of thing you like to hear when you’re trying to accept your own sexuality.
But the train set off and I met the team. I can hardly find the right words to express how liberating and heartwarming it was to see that it’s so widely accepted somewhere to be attracted to your own gender. There were two couples on the team, and it was the first time I ever saw two girls as a couple in real life and not on screen. The fact that they were together was as obvious as the sky is blue and the grass is green. This was the first time I felt like there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have what these couples have. Just when I thought this trip couldn’t get any better, on our way back from a match we ran into the Pride march. I think this is all someone needs when they are struggling to accept that they are gay. This was just the icing on the cake.
After the trip I finally made peace with who I am. This is how sports and a sports team helped me to accept my homosexuality.
There was just one small thing left, coming out. A tiny, small thing, accompanied by racing heartbeat and a lump in my throat and conversations in my head about what it will be like to tell my parents, or anyone at all. I wouldn’t get into details, because if you’re about to do it or if you’ve gone through it, you know how nauseating it is. But I will never forget the fact that my parents accepted me instantly, and I am still to this day moved by the memory of it. I know very well that I’m one of the lucky ones to find acceptance in the family, and I can only hope it will only get easier and more positive for others.
Encouraged by this experience, half a year later I shared a post about the Pride march, where I stated how fantastic it was to celebrate this day with my community. I even used a hashtag saying “this is how I’m coming out as gay on social media”. I was excited and terrified while waiting for the reactions. I got a few likes, but not many answers from all my 700 facebook friends. I didn’t think of it as a problem, I was still proud and couldn’t wait to get a reaction from my teammates. Before I met them, I took a trip to England and when I got back and went to practice, this question welcomed me: “Have you found yourself a cute boy out there?” So it seems like posting about Pride in our country saying I’m with my community doesn’t express how gay I am. I don’t know if it’s because it’s such a taboo or not, but it certainly makes me think. If they want to ignore the core of my message, that’s fine by me, and it doesn’t change that I’m attracted to my gender and this fact is out there on the internet.
However, this didn’t break my pride, and I am quite open about who I am. I’ve never been happier than now, when I can be unapologetically myself. I can only encourage everyone to come out, because there’s no feeling more phenomenal than your soul being free.
The reality is in fact a bit shaded and it should be explained why this article's author remains unknown: "I know I wrote how open I am, but there is a constant thought in my head what if someone finds this article and starts to gossip about me that turns into an assault. Unfortunately it can happen and the last thing I want is to be and make my loves ones the target of a cyber bullying."
Translated by: Éva Csermendy