What I Wish I Knew Ten Years Ago
Updated: Aug 19
While the weeks are continuing to zip by, I’ve been taking the time to reflect on my youth and teenage years in trying to better understand why I faced difficulty in recognizing my sexual identity. Though, what I do remember the most is when I was able to build the courage to explore my sexuality and embrace my vulnerability just a few years ago. This was the first time of feeling in complete control by grasping onto my truth for all that I am. I remember the feeling of knots in my stomach when I first began adding ‘interested in women’ on my dating app profile (like Bumble and Tinder as mentioned in my journey on coming out) but also remembering that moment of pure joy. While thinking about this, I can’t help but ask myself why it took so long for me to do so; to listen to myself and love myself for who I’ve always been. So, I wanted to dig deeper into my past and figure out what may have stemmed this difficulty towards recognizing my true self at a younger age.
Growing up I was always rather sporty and more of a tom boy in a sense that I loved hanging out with the boys; running around with them, playing soccer with them, and naturally gravitating towards them. I always thought that I had more guy friends than girl friends because of growing up with a brother and I was used to being around boys, but I don’t believe that was the only reason. Looking back at those moments, all I understood was that I was pretty nervous around girls and I didn’t know what the feelings were that had been transpiring over time. I suppose it was the epidemy of schoolgirl crushes. But, even as a teenager it was difficult for me to truly recognize that. I had this ideology engrained in my mind that I didn’t think I could like a girl similarly to liking a boy.
I was never told that maybe my nervousness around girls was because I liked them. Within my group of girl friends from school and ballet, there were merely never conversations of the possibility of one of us liking a girl. I felt that it may have brought a sense of discomfort so I would go along with it. I had no awareness of an outlet or a community where I could be my most authentic self, and regardless of one's age there should always be the opportunity to feel connected with other people. The thing is, there are the communities for LGBTQ+ youth, but I was never around any of them or apart of such a community in middle school and high school. At the time, I wasn’t even aware that an organization or a community for queer individuals existed. This is why I find it so important to bring this awareness out because when I think about myself at least ten years ago, I’ve known that I’ve been attracted to women but I was never given the resources to fully understand that and to understand that I should embrace it.
Aside from the lack of education I had towards the LGBTQ+ community when I was younger in school, this also plays a big part within the ballet world. If we think about it, growing up in ballet being around many other female dancers, there wasn’t much of a space to let true vulnerability shine. This is because my vulnerability and my truth are something that is never talked about enough in ballet so how can other women like me, queer female dancers, feel the open space to be who we are and to celebrate who we are? If we had a stronger sense of knowledge and education in the ballet world that a woman can love a woman and a ballerina can be gay, then imagine the positive outcome we could've had earlier on. I know that I can’t go back in time, but what myself and hopefully others can do is to help bring this awareness that is needed for younger girls in ballet and for upcoming generations; to emphasize that just because you’re a ballerina doesn’t mean that you can’t be sporty, a tom boy, or attracted to women. There are far too many stigmas that need to be broken to help other female dancers. If I had the awareness and education when I was younger to embrace my sexuality, then I would have been celebrating and living my truth before I finally had the courage to come out just a few years ago.
So, my note to my younger self would be to enjoy and embrace the confusion I faced. To feel excited about the curiosity of myself. To always listen to what I feel inside and to not shy away from it because it doesn’t appear normal to others. As I’ve been growing more and more in my own skin and feeling my best than ever before, I just wish that I would have always felt this way. I believe that youth has the opportunities to be who they are, honestly and genuinely. We have the ability to help make the change that is needed for all of us and for generations to come. It would be amazing to see the boundaries broken down and to shine the light on sexual and gender identities within ballet schools and companies, especially for women. It is something that is not only what is wanted but what is needed. I know that over time this can happen, but for now, continuing to talk about it is the step in the right direction.
Your gay friend,
Photo by Molly Novak. Sedona, Arizona.