On a night like many other during my freshman year, I sat in the Leavey Center’s big comfy chairs and pretended to do homework with friends from my floor. But on this night, my friend took me and another friend aside and said that she had something important to tell us. I had no idea what it could be, but after she started to say what was on her mind, stopped, and tried again in a different way, I realized that whatever it was, it was big and daunting for her. We encouraged her to just get it out there.
“I think I might like girls,” she finally said.
“You might?” my naïve self asked, not quite grasping what she was trying to tell us.
“No, no, I mean, I definitely do,” she elaborated. I then realized that for the first time in my life, someone was coming out to me, and although it wasn’t what I was expecting when she sat us down, I felt incredibly humbled that she trusted and appreciated us enough to share something she hadn’t shared with more than a
During our conversation, we moved from what first made her understand that she was gay, to current crushes, to what prompted her decision to come out to us. It was Pride Week, and that supportive atmosphere had been an encouragement. She told us to ask whatever questions we had, and we did. She also insisted that this didn’t mean that she would now be adverse to lesbian jokes, and proceeded to share a particularly salacious one about lesbians with long fingernails.
When my friend came out to me, things started to fall into place in my mind. We’d become close friends quickly and planned to be roommates sophomore year only a few weeks into the school year. But, although I couldn’t explain it at the time, I’d felt some distance that I’d never experienced with close friends in the past. When she came out, I realized that the distance I felt occurred because not being able to be fully yourself around your closest friends is draining, and makes you feel the need to create barriers that shouldn’t need to be made.
It’s hard to be close to someone when you feel the need to hide a part of yourself, no matter what part of yourself that is. In the weeks after she came out, I noticed that those moments that had happened previously in the year, such as feeling like there was something she didn’t want to tell me, or that I was somehow prying with questions I’d never thought intrusive, disappeared completely. It made me understand in a concrete sense what it meant to be completely, honestly yourself.
Although I’d been a liberal, open-minded person who abstractly supported gay rights in high school, I hadn’t had anyone actually come out to me; the general atmosphere at my school was pretty conservative and lacked any sort of LGBTQ organization. In the few years since then, I’ve had other friends come out from Georgetown and from home after being around a similar supportive atmosphere like Pride, making me see how vital these kinds of groups are.
It was the National Day of Silence on the day that my friend came out to us, and we’d gone to an inspiring poetry slam and open mic night to break the silence earlier in the evening. If someone decides to break their own silence and come out to you during this Coming Out Week, I hope you’re excited for them for being who they are, and I hope you’re challenged to be exactly who you are as well. Your friends, and you, deserve nothing less than that.