Anna Shvets

To The Ones Who Helped Me Come Out: Thank You

To the ones who helped me come out: thank you.

Thank you to the internet strangers all over the web—Tumblr, Reddit, and various corners of social media—for helping me come out. You helped me realize that it’s okay to question your sexuality, whether you’ve been questioning it for years or only recently, and that doesn’t make your journey any less valid. You taught me that there’s nothing wrong with being queer and that anti-queer sentiment is very much internalized like any other form of prejudice against a minority group. You taught me that it’s okay to make jokes about being queer, that the jokes about being “bisexual disasters” and “bisexual humor” can be done in good humor, and that humor is a great weapon against internal and external prejudice. Thank you for providing a safe place for me to come out.

Thank you to my college’s LGBTQIA+ resource center for helping me come out. You showed that diversity in sexuality, gender identity, romantic orientation, and what makes me who I am is something not to shy away from—it’s something to embrace. You provided a safe space for me to ask questions I was too afraid to ask people I knew growing up, people I wasn’t sure would support me. You never made me feel stupid or ignorant for asking questions about myself; you never pressured me to “figure out” what my sexuality was, to “choose” a label, to know a part of myself I was still discovering. You taught me that discovering parts of yourself is a nonlinear yet beautiful process. Thank you for giving me the courage to come out.

Thank you to my queer friends for helping me come out. I was a baby bisexual conflicted over my feelings, my identity, and not knowing when to stop stressing or having my mind run in circles. You helped show me what confidence looks like. You have been out and proud since I met you, and that’s something I’ve always admired. You were willing to listen to me when I would ramble about my sexuality, not knowing what labels I wanted to choose (if I wanted to choose any), not knowing exactly how I identify or if that’s going to change. You were brave enough to tell me about the painful sides of coming out, the hurt of rejection from parents and other people who are supposed to fully love and accept you, the homophobia, transphobia, and anti-queer prejudice you had to deal with in high school and even now with politics. You went through hardships, but you also went through triumphs in accepting yourself. You taught me that radical love and acceptance of yourself is essential to life and that, while it may be a work-in-progress, it’s a work-in-progress worth working on because it’s all about loving yourself. Thank you for sharing your story and giving me the strength I need to come out.

Thank you to my allies for helping me come out. Thank you for listening to me instead of talking over me, acting as a listener when I needed and voicing back my feelings to help me feel validated. Thank you for giving me the space to figure myself out without any pressure or impatience. Thank you for teaching me to be kind to myself and give myself some grace, showing me that I deserved the compassion you so selflessly gave out to me and others. Thank you for realizing that you were not queer and that you would not understand exactly what I was going through, but you were willing to be a listening ear. Thank you for giving me the support I needed to come out.

To all the people who helped me come out that I haven’t already mentioned, thank you. Loving and accepting yourself is so important, but that’s hard to do, if not impossible, when you have no one in your corner. To this day, having a support system—strangers online, friends in the LGBQTIA+ community and allies, organizations that support and fight for our rights—is vital to my existence. It took me years to feel comfortable enough to come out to myself and also come out to others, and I would have never done it the way I did—with relative ease despite the anxiety, with knowing that people would support me if I faced any rejection—without your help.

I am beyond thankful that I found supportive people in my life, and I would be foolish to let them go. I know not everyone has that person in their life right now, so I want you to know that I will be that person in your life. You can reach out to me. I don’t care if you’re a stranger or an old classmate or someone I may have passed by on the street; I don’t care if it’s been years since we’ve talked if we only know each other through mutual friends, or even if we’re not as close as we used to be. I am here for you, and I always will be.