Indirectly & Involunarily Coming Out to Someone Close to You

A few months ago something happened that was not under my own control: I came out as bisexual to my dad.

My dad has always been supportive (to my knowledge) of the LGBT+ community. (Also sorry about not including the rest of the acronym, but I swear it just keeps getting longer every time I see it mentioned in a post) His philosophy was “if it doesn’t hurt anyone or involve me directly in any way, I don’t care about it”. Keep in mind that I live in the South, and things can get pretty homophobic down here. So when I heard his opinions on it, I wasn’t all that worried about telling him.

I worked up the nerve over the process of about a year of visits to speak my opinions about the LGBT community. From time to time I would bring it up, according to news reports and the like.By doing this I actually grew closer to my dad and Julia, his fiancee.

When victory at the Supreme Court came around, I had already come out to Julia. It was on that day exactly that she told my father that I’m “gay”. In her own retelling of the event, she and my dad were sitting in the living room watching the news report on it. My dad remarked “I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, they’re just getting married. *Insert comment reflecting his own views about marriage thanks to his failed ones*” This is when my stepmom replies, “Well, it wouldn’t hurt for you to be more supportive.” My dad proceeds to go have a smoke break, then comes back in and asks her “Is Hannah gay?” And she replies, “Yes”.

I can’t express to you how much that bothers me because of how untrue it is. I’m bisexual. If I was gay, I would have come out to the 15+ people in my life as that. However, I am not.

She told me all of what happened around 2 weeks after it occurred because that was the next time I was to come over. She was so excited, and didn’t want me to freak out about it. But I was anything except ecstatic. I wasn’t ready to come out to my dad, and I gave her specific instructions not to tell him because I wanted to tell him myself. She even went outside with me to see how it all would play out. Looking back, I know I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I should have told her that I just wanted it to be him and me. She already had the stolen honor of telling him the first time, why should she be there again?

When I finally go outside and meet my dad, all the while choking on my tongue and having an anxiety attack inside, I give him the longest hug I probably ever have given to him, and I correct her crucial mistake. I tell him that I am, in fact, bisexual and like girls and boys. “That’s fine,” he says. He goes on to say how he always sort of knew. I don’t recall what else he said because I blacked out like I’ve done in the past in coming out to people close to me.

I think the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard my dad comment about my sexuality was uttered that day: “Besides, aren’t those Converse high tops lesbian shoes?”

Skipping forward to last Friday, mid-Bible class:

My Bible teacher gave us the simple assignment of thanking someone who has raised us. I sent messages to my mom, grandma, Julia, my other grandparents, and my dad. My message to my dad and Julia is as follows:

“Thank y’all so much for loving me and accepting all of me. It means the world to me that y’all support me, and it keeps me going when things are tough. Everything is fine, but I just wanted to let y’all know that. I love y’all so much. Have an awesome day 🙂 <3”

My dad’s response left me in a puddle of tears in my school’s bathroom:

“Thank you, baby. That made my day. I’m so proud of you and always will be, and nothing will ever change that. I LOVE YOU.”

With the lack of confidence I have in my mom accepting my coming out, It’s incredible to hear that my dad does. My advice to people coming out is this: create a support group of people who love you regardless, then work your way up to the challenging ones. I can’t tell you anything about facing the hard ones, though, because I still have my own lions to tame.

I still can’t say I’m completely convinced that my dad believes in my bisexuality as much as he does my false homosexuality. All I’m saying is, if I come home with a guy for him to meet, it’ll be his own fault if he’s shocked half to death.

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Through Society’s Mask

**This post contains triggers about eating disorders, self esteem, self harm, and more pertaining to these subjects.

***(I wrote this paper nearly a year ago for my English class, and recently dug it back up. I’ve decided to post it here because I believe many people can benefit from this. In this essay I don’t discuss how society can affect men’s opinions of themselves and the harm it can do to them because the paper was to be specifically about the effects on women. I would like to do a paper about this, however, and I certainly will if someone requests this. Feel free to express your own opinions on the subject in the comments. However, if I say something that offends you, I can assure you that is not my intention. Simply address it in the comments and we can discuss it. Thanks!)

Anorexia, Bulimia, self-harm; what do these things have in common? They are all caused by the influence of society. Everywhere you look, there are images of photoshopped women pressuring girls to be like them. Our society deems that women should rely on other people’s opinions to feel a certain way about themselves. Why some people say that this is healthy motivation for girls, I will never know. All I do know is that we need real women on billboards inspiring girls to be themselves.

From magazines to internet advertisements, unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies have spread like wildfire. Everyone is affected by the cruel, superficial outlook society projects onto this situation. All of the false advertising can seep into young women’s minds, and it can make them feel unworthy. What people do not see is how much photo enhancement goes into these pictures. The internet’s “magic diet pills” do not help young women’s cases either. Needless to say, their side effects may include: low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, and eating disorders.

Society tells each and every female that they should live up to their friends’, families’, and even strangers’ opinions and standards. It is such a popular campaign that people actually begin believing it. These are the false gods of our world. What we should be doing is promoting self-respect and self-love. If you cannot love yourself, then how do you expect others to treat you respectfully? Society’s principles and commandments can invade the homes of influenced females. As if they do not receive enough pressure at school or work, they also have to listen to it at home. One small comment on a woman’s weight or appearance can change her own opinions of her body for the entire span of her life. Be wary of what you say.

Some people believe all of the false promotions can motivate women to improve the current states of their bodies. All of the “motivation” can cause eating disorders. Starving yourself is not going to do anything healthy to your body. No matter how low the number on the scale gets, there will always be a lingering desire to lose another pound. On the February 2014 cover of Seventeen magazine, a material for adolescent girls, an actress’s struggle with an eating disorder was shamelessly overshadowed by an article for how to get an “insane body” (BR Admin). This is how advertisements blur the focus of young women.

Some may think all the advertising can shed a light of reality on young women’s minds. I have news for them: women are not the picturesque Barbie dolls they portray on magazine covers. In fact, “the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females” (“Eating Disorders Statistics”). Reality is certainly not a Hardee’s commercial or the cover of Vogue. Beauty is a combination of personalities, genetics, character, and grace. You cannot change who you are, but you can change your opinions on yourself.

Others may say society’s lies can become an “outward expression” for females. I do not believe self-harm can be regarded as so. This “self-expression” element of the act makes the victim feel as if it is okay to cut, burn, or inflict pain on themselves in general. The orange ribbon for self-harm awareness is there for a reason: too many people ignore or dismiss the issue. Those who have harmed themselves in the past may think even lower of themselves than before, merely because of having done so. Megan, a former self-harm victim, shared with abc.net about her experience: “Having such low self-esteem, seeing damage done to yourself really kind of justifies your negative existence.” In my opinion, these are the women—real, strong, beautiful women—who should be given the attention in our society.

My point is: women should feel comfortable in their own skin. Whether they are short or tall, overweight or underweight, they should love themselves. Regardless of what others think of them, self-respect is more beautiful than any diet pill or weight loss program. No one has the right to tell them who they should and should not be. Join with me in demanding real beauty in a fake society.

Works Cited

BR Admin. “Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds.” Beauty Redefined, 2014. Beauty

Redefined. Beauty Redefined. 6 December 2014

<http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshopping-altering-images-and-our-minds/>.

“Eating Disorders Statistics.” ANAD, 2014. ANAD. ANAD. 6 December 2014

<http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/>

Rice, Deborah. “New statistics reveal dramatic increase in self-harm hospitalisations for young

Australian women.” ABC, 2014. ABC. ABC. 6 December 2014   <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-23/alarming-spike-in-self-harm-in-australian-women/4902384>