"Hiding a part of myself was exhausting..."
Coming out is not a one time announcement, it is a continuous process, and it does not always get easier. After months of silent terror following my first confusing feelings for a girl, I met my first girlfriend and came out as bisexual to my family and friends during my sophomore year of high school. I was met with loving support, however, the relief that came from coming out did not last.
Six months after coming out, I moved from my hometown and began my training at Boston Ballet School’s Pre Professional division. I quickly realized that the piercing heteronormativity at a larger classical ballet school would make coming out to my new friends and classmates extremely difficult. I was terrified that my bisexuality would confuse or scare away my new friends. I deleted the pictures of my now ex-girlfriend from my Instagram because I did not want my new classmates to feel differently toward me. One fellow student discovered my ex-girlfriend through social media and teased me relentlessly about her and asked inappropriate questions about my relationship with her. Experiences like this left me in tears feeling ashamed, angry, and misunderstood all at once. With the exception of my dearest friends, I did not share that I was queer for the next two years. Hiding a part of myself was exhausting and painful and it made me hate parts of myself.
I only reclaimed confidence in my sexuality after leaving Boston and meeting two other queer women dancers. Sharing and commiserating about being a queer woman in ballet made me feel instantly supported and comfortable. I was craving this community in Boston and was not brave enough to create it for myself. Finding a community of other queer people, however small, is life changing. I wish I could have talked about my sexuality at Boston and possibly open the door for other queer girls to come out.
Even though I am now in college and have left dancing behind, I still want to be a part of the movement that changes the unhealthy and unwelcoming culture of ballet. I hope that queer women and girls will be more courageous than I was, share their sexualities, and create a safer and more welcoming space for all dancers.