By Graciella Bocanegra (Zeta Omega, Western Carolina University)
I was around 13 when I first came out to someone, and I can honestly say it was one of the scariest things I have ever done. My best friend at the time and I were sitting on her bed watching television, and I remember thinking that it was the perfect time to say something. My heart was about to explode out of my chest, and it felt like I could barely breathe, but I had done it. Once I had said it, she just looked at me and said, “OK,” and we went about our day. I had thought that it would be this huge defining moment and I would immediately feel so different, but honestly, I just felt lighter. I felt more free to be myself.
The thing that I didn’t really realize at the time, though, is once you start coming out, you never really stop. You tell your best friend, and then you tell your close friends, then you tell your family and cousins, and then maybe you post about it on social media, but it doesn’t stop there. I moved my freshman year of high school to a whole new town, and I had to go through the whole cycle over again, choosing to wait till I had a solid group of friends till I told anyone.
Then I moved away to college and joined Alpha Chi Omega. Once again, I was in a place where I had to choose either to wait or to be open and honest right out of the gate. I wanted to tell my sisters, but I also was extremely new to Greek life. I never knew anyone in a sorority, and I was scared that maybe it was only for straight, blonde, white girls, so I chose to wait till I felt comfortable with my new sisters to come out to them.
What I didn’t expect was how quick it was to feel so comfortable and how fast I learned that Greek life is for everyone, not just one group of people. I ended up coming out to everyone during our new member retreat, and again it felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I was so nervous that it was going to be this huge deal, that no one would want me in my chapter anymore and I would be kicked out. My imagination ran wild with a thousand different scenarios, all ending in me leaving crying. It was nothing like that at all. I told them and found out two others in my member class were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and those who weren’t a part of the community quickly reassured all three of us that they supported us no matter what. My sisters told me that nothing changed the fact that we were sisters, that our bond would stay the same no matter who I loved. I was over the moon that I was able to be my authentic self without hiding anything from my sorority.
There will always be people who don’t accept me, and I know I will have to come out a thousand more times in my life, but the best thing is knowing that no matter what, there are people out there who love and accept me, bisexuality and all.