Because today is the one year anniversary of the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub, I knew immediately that I wanted to share this piece. It’s just such a perfect combination of heartbreak, passion, and hope all rolled into one. Plus, as you will read, Emily came out to her friends and family a year ago from tomorrow, so she deserves some serious admiration for that kind of bad ass strength.
I know she already knows this, but I’m so lucky to have Emily in my life. Even though we don’t even live in the same state, I feel such a genuine connection to her. She’s definitely taught me more than she realizes, and it’s been cool AF to feel like I’ve had some kind of small part in her coming out journey over this past year.
In my opinion, this piece is such a prime example of Emily’s beauty, inside and out. Without further ado, here are her words on accepting her sexuality, and the multitude of emotions that come along with that:
When I was 18 years old I got my first tattoo. It’s a simple script splayed across the right side of my rib-cage stating the word, “Forgive.” Forgiveness has been one of the most powerful guiding forces for me throughout my life, as well as the discovery of my sexual orientation. It guides what “Pride” means to me. The fight. The love that is love above all else. Forgiving yourself for not always being what your family, friends, or society wanted or imagined you to be. Forgiving them for their lack of acceptance. Forgiving everyone and everything because you are you, and what you are is beautiful.
For as long as I can remember, I have been attracted to women. To me, this never seemed wrong. Being the free-spirited, open minded and optimistic person that I am, it always felt natural. It was something I was always proud of, but at the same time, terrified to share. In 6th grade, I got my first kiss…from a girl, who also happened to be my best friend. Who was “just wondering what it felt like to kiss someone” and “wanted to practice before she kissed her crush.” She is definitely the straightest person that I know. I am definitely not. In 7th grade, I came out to one of my other friends, and she decided to never speak to me again – said she was afraid I would get a crush on her. Bless her heart, if only she knew she wasn’t my type.
High school came along and I went to an all girls’ school (oh, fuck yeah). Naturally, I befriended only the lesbians and bisexual girls. I came out to them and they were extremely supportive. I remember during this time in high school, my mom had randomly asked me one day, “Emily, do you think you could like girls?” Taken back by this, I nervously and quickly retorted, “What?? No! Why would you ever think that?” Then we never spoke of it again.
The summer going into my senior year of college, I fell deeply in love with someone for the first time. A woman. Things with her were mildly complicated. She dated a girl before me for roughly 3 years, but she kept it a secret and her family never knew. When she met me, she broke it off with that girl and started seeing me. Anyway, we dated for a while and then we both decided to come out to our families.
June 13th, 2016 is when I came out to my family. The day after the Orlando nightclub shooting. A time when I felt most vulnerable, but I knew that it needed to happen. I told my dad first. He was watching the news, and with my voice shaking, I just said, “Hey dad, um, you know my friend Nicole? Well, she’s my girlfriend. I like girls.” He had a strange reaction. He didn’t really know what to say. Then he started to tear up and (with horrible timing) news reports about the Orlando shooting came up on the TV. “I’m proud of you, Em. But life is dangerous for people like you and I don’t want anything happening to you.”
I went and told my mom and brother next. I told them exactly what I said to my dad, and my brother was like, “yeah okay so what I always knew that.” And my mom goes, “so you drive a Subaru and now you’re a lesbian?”, trying to crack a joke. Clearly, my parents have very different personalities. Overall, they’re very supportive of me and open minded about everything. My mom and I have had a few other talks about my sexuality and she will bring up an occasional question out of curiosity such as, “so… when you have babies, what are you going to do?” or “so you’ll only marry a woman? Are you sure?” It’s understandable that she asks these things and I like that she does. My family is still learning and trying to understand, and that means the most to me.
Senior year of college, I came out to everyone. All of my friends and even some of my professors (kinda awkward but whatevs). I was an RA at school and I remember during training for ResLife we were doing an activity, and I came out to a room full of about 25 people. That was the largest amount of people I had ever come out to at one time and it was absolutely fucking terrifying. Moments before I came out to them, I was standing there with my heart beating out of my chest. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. I have never been so nervous and terrified to do something in my entire life, but everyone was supportive and loving. It was liberating as fuck and felt really good.
In October, I attended a poetry reading featuring Sarah Kay and Andrea Gibson. Andrea performed a poem I had never heard her perform before; it was about the Orlando shooting. I dropped to the floor and immediately started sobbing. I couldn’t stop. My friend who was with me was confused and worried, unsure of what was wrong. She knows that I identify with liking women, but she didn’t know that I came out to my family the day after the Orlando shooting. She didn’t know what that massacre did to me inside. The day before the shooting, I was sitting in a diner with my girlfriend, holding her hand over coffee and feeling comfortable. Holding her hand in a diner or walking down the street or kissing her in public was something I felt able to do – and then this happened. Orlando happened and it made me question everything about humanity. If you want to hear the poem you can watch/listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUl2yfmDkk
My name is Emily. I am a registered nurse, sister, daughter, kickboxer, animal lover, coffee addict, aspiring bongo player…and I am bisexual. Some days I identify as a lesbian. I’m still trying to figure it all out but right now,
I am Proud to be who I am.
Also, check out Emily on Instagram !