When I was younger, I had a hard time connecting with the couples that I saw on TV.
At first, I tried very hard to avoid the attraction that I felt for women. When I was with my female friends I spoke about boys a lot. Because I never wanted them to ever question my sexuality. I tried very hard to fit in, act straight and avoid everything I felt.
When I turned 18 years old, I was still living in denial. Lying to myself was getting harder and harder to do. I was at that age when everyone around me was dating. So I dated boys even though I was never interested and the relationships never lasted long.
My last boyfriend, Babalo, broke up with me two days before my 19th birthday. I remember feeling so relieved! I didn’t have to pretend anymore. I was so relieved, I started to cry. I was finally ready to admit who I was to myself. “I’m a lesbian.” It was the first time I’d said those words out loud.
Admitting who I was to myself was the first step to living my truth. I spent my days reading blogs and watching YouTube videos dedicated to lesbian women. Now that I had accepted who I was, I wanted to know about my people - where were they, who are they and what were their lives like? There were community and organizations such as OUT and GALA and a history that I was a part of and I wanted to embrace it.
This excitement was something that I carried with me on the inside. Because I still didn’t know how to tell my parents that I was a lesbian.
After much planning and rehearsing of my speech, I sat my parents down and came out to them. There was a pause. My mom reached over, squeezed my hand and said, “Thank you for finally telling us. Thank you for trusting us.” Apparently, they’d known all along and were just waiting for me to feel comfortable enough to tell them.
I know everyone’s experience is different and not everyone has accepting family and friends. I’m fortunate that I do.
Here are a few tips from Busisiwe about coming out:
Coming out is not always a safe option for everyone who is part of the LGBTI community. If you believe that coming out will endanger your safety or leave you homeless then you may need to consider your options.
If you are struggling with your sexuality and need someone to speak to reach out to Childline at 0800 55 555
Reach out to LGBTI organizations in your community, or even online if you are scared to be seen, as long as you feel safe to do so. Speaking to someone who understands your struggles is always good. They will help make sense of the confusion and will offer valuable advice.
Coming out is a personal experience so before you decide to come out to your family make sure you feel comfortable and confident. Be prepared for the fact that your family may not take the news the way you’d like them to. Think of coming out to your family as a process and not just one moment. It will take time for your family to get used to the news.