As I sit here typing this, I can feel my heart rate speeding up and my breathing becoming faster, with a sort of panicky feeling setting in. I’ve already deleted the start of this article at least ten times because I’m unsure how to go about writing this. But you know what? There’s no point in dragging this out any longer because it’s going to come out sooner or later (pun intended).

That being said, for starters, I support LGBTQ+ rights and the community as a whole. When I was younger, there were parts of the community that made me uncomfortable or that I did not understand. Growing up, however, I realized that it doesn’t matter whether I understand someone’s preferred gender or sexual orientation. It only matters that I respect them for their choices and treat them as I would anyone else. We, the LGTQ+ community, are people and we matter just as much as anyone else.

Yes, I said we. You didn’t read that wrong. I am bisexual. You also didn’t read that wrong.

Most of my friends have known since the summer after high school graduation, if not before. I came out to my parents in April 2017, so not that long ago. Aside from my friends and my parents, none of my relatives know and most of the people at USC don’t know unless I’ve chosen to tell them.

Coming out is a scary thing but it’s worth it. It’s worth finally feeling free and not having to hide a part of who I am. I decided to come out both in honor of National Coming Out Day and because I finally felt ready. I don’t want to hide anymore and I’m tired of pretending I “don’t have time for a boyfriend” when people inquire about my love life.

In all honesty, I’m not even 100% sure that I am bi. I might be gay, or I might be pansexual. I don’t know and that is perfectly fine. The label is not because I think I need one but because it makes it easier for me to put into terms “what” I am. So for now, I’m going to stick with bisexual. I ask that you support this decision. If you don’t support it, that isn’t really okay but I do understand. Just be respectful. I have feelings, too.

Me coming out may have come as a total shock or you may have already suspected it. Maybe you don’t even know me and you’re just along for the ride or you’re also struggling with your sexual orientation. It took me quite a few years to come to terms with the fact that I am not straight; I was in denial for quite a few years. I finally started approaching the idea with less reluctance and realized how many people around me are in the same boat.

If you know me, I ask that you do not tell my grandparents or family without Facebook/social media about this article. I would like to tell them on my own time, when I am ready (which I have a feeling will be sometime this year).

I want to be who I am, fully and unabashedly. Whether you are okay with it or not does not matter, because it ultimately comes down to how I view myself. I’m not straight and I’m proud of it.