I’ve been out for a few years and throughout the mix of ups and downs, I can say with certainty it’s continually gotten better. Questioning my sexuality has dissipated while self assurance has risen. Fear has been replaced with confidence and courage, and I’ve found myself sharing my story with less and less hesitation.
Still, there are those moments where I struggle with a shame that quietly lingers within my being.
I have a girlfriend.
Sometimes when speaking those words out loud, a series of negative thoughts race through my brain.
“They’ll know you’re gay now and look at you differently. They’re going to judge you. They’re going to disapprove of you.”
I fear that someone’s supposed judgment of my sexuality will have a direct and negative result on my character; that my relationship status will equate me to being less than, broken, or incomplete.
I let shame and assumption speak louder than truth.
But if we walk through existence afraid of people’s judgments, it’ll only continue to leave us with an emptiness and lack of self-awareness. Life is a journey of letting shame fade and confidence shine. It takes practice and time until the negative thoughts are replaced by positive self-talk and self-confidence. With perseverance and determination, the sting of shame will begin to disappear.
So next time the words I have a girlfriend exit my mouth, I will practice speaking them with the presence of pride and confidence and with the absence of fear and shame.
I am who I am. You are who you are. Now go on and shine.