I knew I liked girls at some point in middle school but I suppressed these feelings until the middle/end of high school.

It wasn't until I started talking to a girl in a romantic way for the first time that I truly started discovering who I was. In the beginning, I had accepted that I liked girls but since I also liked boys, I was nervous to talk about my sexuality to anyone. I thought that people would ask me all these questions when I came out that I didn't have the answer to.

I just decided to make things easy on myself and come out as a lesbian. (It wasn't until about 4 years later that I finally felt comfortable in my sexuality and came out as pansexual.)

As I was talking to this girl, who soon became my girlfriend, I told her that we couldn't date until I came out to my parents.

I have always been very close with my mom and dad and I knew that I wouldn't be happy if I was hiding from them. I also wanted to be able to freely and openly talk about this girl that was becoming a huge part of my life. My soon-to-be girlfriend was very supportive of this and once I was ready, she encouraged me to come out to my family.

Although I've never been a graceful person, I took this to a whole new level when I came out to my mom in the Walmart parking lot and my dad in the middle of lunch at Olive Garden. But despite the awkward settings, my parents welcomed me and my new identity with open arms. Here is my Thank You letter to them,

I knew I threw you a curve ball when the words "I like girls" came out of my mouth when I was 17.

I never showed interest in girls before and I only dated boys before. I know that you had no idea and I didn't really do a good job of warning you. But despite all of that, you both still love me. More importantly, you love me for who I am. And I have never been more grateful for anything in my life.

You didn't have to accept me when I came out.

You didn't have to welcome my first girlfriend into our family. You didn't have to support me and the person I was becoming as I was discovering myself.

But you did.

You told me you loved me and that you just wanted me to be happy. You invited my girlfriend to our house and on family trips. You took the time to understand me and where I was coming from. You showed a genuine interest in who I was dating. You respected me and my sexuality and that means more than you'll ever know.

I know that living as a member of the LGBTQ+ community isn't easy.

I know sometimes you might be scared for me. You might worry when I go to Pride or hold my partner's hand in public. I know that nightmares of the Pulse Shooting probably keep you up at night.

But I also know that you are proud to have a daughter who isn't afraid to be herself, who is confident in who she is, who stands up for what's right, and who fights for what she believes in. I am proud to be this girl too. And I know I wouldn't be here if it weren't for your unconditional love and support.

Thank you for everything. I love you both beyond words!

Love,

Your daughter