When I started to realize I was bisexual, I was over-the-moon with excitement. I was elated because, all at once, parts of myself and my being that had formerly confused me began to make sense. I saw myself and my surroundings in a new, clearer light. Finally, I was able to understand how I felt love in a way that would allow me to fully and properly give love.
But there was a second feeling almost directly after the initial happiness. A feeling of unease and slight fear, despite all the positives that did come with this self-discovery. I was terrified of coming out. Though I was looking forward to being honest with friends and family, the fear of their potential reactions made me uneasy.
Additionally, I was frustrated with the fact that I’d have to feel this nervousness repeatedly. After coming out to my parents, I’d have to do it again. And again. And again. That’s something they don’t often tell you about coming out— you’re constantly doing it. Yes, there was that important moment with my mother when the shock on her face carved a pit in my stomach, though it was followed by a promise that she supported me. When I came out to my best friend, my heartbeat was so prominent that it seemed audible—my heart exposing itself for the occasion. Yes, there are deep conversations and personal revelations to the people closest to you. But there are also more casual ways to admit your identity. For example, last week, a casual acquaintance at work asked me if I had a boyfriend at school. To this, I replied with little hesitation “No. But I have a girlfriend. She’s the coolest.”
Since discovering that I was bisexual, I’ve come out countless times, and I know I will countless more. Still, I believe that, for everyone, there’s always that one person (or set of people) to whom coming out seems the most monumental. For me, these people were my grandparents. Coming out to my grandparents was equal parts scary and crucial. I felt I had to do it, but I was scared of the capacity it had to change everything.
As their first-born grandchild, I have always had a unique bond with my grandparents. They show great passion and interest in being a part of my life, and for that I am forever grateful.
They spoil me. Not with material items, but with sincere engagement in helping me learn and grow. My grandparents are my wisest teachers and most loyal friends. They also make me sound cooler than I actually am to all of their golf buddies. Because of the irreplaceable role they play in my life, I thought it was only fair that they knew about every part about it.
So, I took them out to dinner and planned to tell them the truth. At first, I was nervous to alter my relationship with them in any way. They both practice more Conservative Judaism (in comparison to my parents and I, who are Reform) and grew up in a different generation (while LGBTQ+ equality hasn’t been fully achieved presently, our community was even further from that prospect when my grandparents were growing up). I was scared of altering their perspective of me. Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to make them proud of me.
At that dinner, even with all of my hesitations, I decided that in order for anyone else to be proud of me, I had to make myself proud. No matter the results, I needed to have pride in every aspect of my identity, leaving behind no part of what makes me, me. Those who truly love me, I thought, should love every part of me. Not just curated pieces.
With this in mind, I told my grandparents that I was bisexual and currently dating a girl. Then I held my breath and didn’t let it go until I heard my grandpa say, “Are you happy?”
I told him yes.
He said, “Then I am happy.”
About three weeks after that dinner was my prom. At my school, taking pictures before the dance is always a big part of the event, and members of my class were encouraged to invite their family members to the venue for this gathering. After coming out to my grandparents and having it go well, I decided to invite them, along with my parents and siblings.
Here’s another thing they don’t tell you about coming out: it makes you free. For me personally, suppressing my sexuality was like carrying a backpack of rocks. Each time I came out to a new person in my life, I took one rock out of the bag. Each time, I became lighter and a little bit closer to being airily, completely, and incredibly free.
On prom night, I was feeling particularly weightless in a wonderful way. I laughed with my friends, held my girlfriend’s hand, and wrapped my arms around her for pictures. According to my sister, I was smiling wider than she had ever seen.
After my mom finished taking pictures of my girlfriend and me goofily sticking out our tongues and smiling at the camera, my grandparents approached me. I grinned and hugged them, thanking them for coming. In return, they just pulled me close and told me they loved me. While he was hugging me, my grandpa whispered to me: “Of all the things I’ve seen in my life, the love you carry in your heart is the most impressive.” While my grandma was hugging me, she pulled me into her own whisper. She had to get on her tiptoes a bit because of the height of my heels. Leaning toward my ear, she said: “You’re constantly amazing us with your beauty and strength, young lady.”
On prom night, I felt incomparably light. I’ll admit though, some days are heavier than others. Some days, there are a snide comments from ignorant classmates. Other days, slurs are murmured under breaths, not fully spoken out loud because they are crushed under the weight of cowardly hate. There have even been times where relationships of mine with friends, family members, and teachers have been altered or ended as a result of my transition into embracing my sexuality. Even so, I know that I am surrounded by people that care about me and offer their undying support. There are times when it feels difficult to be me, and in these times I find comfort in reminding myself how lucky I am to carry the love I do.
Love is the greatest thing we can do as humans. To love is beautiful. To love is to be free, and I constantly thank G-d for making me love like I do. I thank Him for helping me be a little freer every single day.
On prom night, there was a pretty impressive sunset. My girlfriend and I love sunsets, so we watched this one very thoroughly. We saw it start with the spilling of pink, yellow, and orange hues—and watched it conclude with a dusty glaze of deep violet. I like to watch the sunsets because they reveal certain unarguable truths. They are nature’s embodiment of the phrase “at the end of the day.”
At the end of the day, when the sun’s light drips vibrantly away from the sky, love remains a constant source of natural illumination. We continue to love, because love was there in the beginning. and love will be there in the end.
At the end of the day, love is what liberates us all.