when i knew #28.
by Michael King
“Throughout high school and college, I had many boyfriends. So many, in fact, that family often joked about them. I constantly found flaws and characteristics in these partners, then broke it off. I often wondered if I was being too picky, but something always seemed to be missing. At the same time, in both high school and college, I found myself so interested in the ‘tomboy’ girls at school. I wondered, as an athlete, whether I just wanted to be like them or if I was actually attracted to them. I brushed the thoughts off and told myself, ‘Of course I don’t like them. They’re just really good at (fill-in-the-blank sport) and I’m envious of that.’ But, in the back of my mind, I always knew.
“When I got to college, my coach was a lesbian and had a partner. I was so interested in their relationship and often envious of it. I wanted to know more, but didn’t know where to turn. Randomly I would hear someone say, “Well so-and-so’s a lesbian’ or ‘well, she has a girlfriend,’ and I found myself quickly tuning in. I kept ignoring, however, the signs of interest within me.
“In my third year of college, I formed a close friendship with someone who identified as a lesbian. I loved how real this person was, how brave and … attractive? This was the confusing part. I constantly wanted to be around her. I loved the confidence she exuded and was drawn to learning more about the LGBT+ community.
“Enter grad school. Wow, two years of the biggest ups and downs of my life. A time where we were encouraged to do more self-discovery than I knew was possible. A time when I got to see classmates and friends become their bravest selves. A time when I knew I could no longer hide this big part of my identity. And that’s when I knew I needed to say it out loud. I didn’t know all the fancy words, but I knew how I felt. And I was so ready to let others know this as well. Saying the words felt unbelievably terrifying but also ridiculously freeing. I could be 100% me.”