I've known I was bi since high school, but I did not come out to most friends or my family until last year in an article. I have never been ashamed of who I was—being bi is just another part of what makes me, me. It does not matter what someone's gender expression or identity is. I see people for who they are, not what they are, and my sexuality has always reflected that.
I remember when I first realized I liked girls too, things finally clicked. It made sense now why I always felt that I did not fit in in my small, conservative hometown. Most people I interacted with were not outwardly homophobic, but being gay was never something you were supposed to be. I was supposed to find a husband, get married, and raise a family. While this sounded like a possibility, I always felt like this was not enough. My self-discovery cleared up my internal strife, and finally life started to make a little more sense.
But then I was faced with the disparities between my lifestyle, the person I truly was, and the people all around me. It was not that I did not trust my friends and family or that I thought they would not love and support me if they knew I was bi. To me, it really was not a big deal. It was just who I was, end of discussion.
So, I didn't have the discussion.
I did not want others to be uncomfortable.
I did not want to talk about it.
I did not want to feel that I was wrong somehow.
And most of all? I did not want to open the door for someone to invalidate me and my sexuality.
So I stayed quiet.
College was supposed to be different, and, in a way, it was. I told my closest friends, and I eventually told the whole world. But still, I felt this void between the true me and the person I put out into the world. I hated that.
I'm finally done playing a double life.
I went to my first Pride Rally, something I had wanted to go to for years. Before, I never had the courage, the friends, the confidence. Now I do. So I went.
If you have never been to a Pride event, I ask you to go. Go with an open mind, and you will smile as you find yourself surrounded by people who love who they are. You will witness more love than you will find anywhere else.
It was at Pride I found myself waving a rainbow flag, watching the beaming sun shine off the glitter in people's hair and on their cheeks, where I could not stop smiling, where even the smallest gestures like intertwined pinkies between a high school couple meant the world.
It was at Pride I felt home, surrounded by new friends running around with flag capes and choreographing impromptu dance parties on sidewalks.
It was at Pride I had more people welcome and encourage me than my school or community has ever done.
It was at Pride I started to realize what a real relationship should be like, and what people mean when they say you should date your best friend.
It was at Pride I found a community so strong and so courageous and empowering that I felt I could singlehandedly take on all the sexist, homophobic, racist, xenophobic, transphobic people on this Earth — not that they would let me do it alone, of course.
It was at Pride I found the missing piece of myself.
I finally found the LGBTQ+ community I'd been looking for all this time.
We're here. We're queer. Get used to it.