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