By: Anonymous

Pride is bittersweet to me because I'm not out publicly. My parents and friends know, though my siblings do not. Even then, I'm not completely open about everything I'm feeling - my sexuality is pretty well figured out (though unlabeled), but the rest of me isn't, and that makes me sad.

Walking around Pride in the city I was raised on the outskirts of, made me feel lonely because I don't have the courage to be out. I don't feel safe enough to be. I know being out or failing to fly under a radar means opening myself up to an increased risk of harm.

I have "passed" all of my life. I was not aware that I could actually feel attraction towards anyone other than a man until I was 17, though I had had an inclination of possibility years prior. I made a point not to explore those feelings all the way. I didn't want to open myself up to the questions or scrutiny I knew it would bring.

I have always felt uncomfortable about the concept that I am obligated to share with people what I am and what I am not. I don't want to have these conversations out loud in a serious context - I like to come out with jokes or in settings where I know I can control the narrative.

I did not tell my father I wasn't straight until the day after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, and that was only because I promised myself that I would.

I said that if Biden won, I would come out to my dad, and if Trump won, I would end my life instead out of fear of what the next four years would bring.

It's been almost two years since then, and I am still hiding parts of myself from the people I'm closest to. My own siblings do not know anything about my sexuality because I do not feel as though they are deserving enough to know me that well.

On the flip side, I have musicians I trust with my whole heart to love me regardless of the way I am wired, and for them I am forever grateful. I have come out to some of them instead of my siblings because I feel safer and more loved by the strangers I listen to and the people I've met through their music than I do my family.

I am envious of those who can go about their lives proud enough of who they are to share it with the world, but I know I am privileged to be able to mask it so well that it keeps me safe.

It is hard to be proud of who I am when I feel the need to hide it as violently as I do.

~a very special thank you to this author, you are seen, you are heard, you are loved