Sitting in a crowded café next to Rotterdam Central Station, waiting for a friend to get some food, I’m looking around and notice many different things. Like many different people, very many different people. All of them individuals with their own story and their own experiences gained in their own lives: nice experiences and less nice experiences. What I’m questioning with all these different people is if they ever questioned who they actually are. Are they satisfied with themselves and particularly: are they happy with who they are? Is that couple sitting at the corner of the table really as happy as they seem to be? And the girl on the other corner of the table, the one who is boringly staring at her laptop really happy with what she is doing? Or is she just doing this to support her family? Or because her parents told her to do this? Who would she be if she could take matters into her own hands?
In this article I will take you with me on my journey to me and finding myself. Not everyone will be able to identify with this story, maybe because it could be a little controversial for some. However, I hope to reach those that need a helping hand in the journey to finding themselves.
As I noticed my blog has visitors from various countries, mostly The Netherlands, the UK, US and Germany. To be more friendly to my international visitors I decided to translate my coming-out story (with special thanks to Hannah as my translator) in English. Once I receive enough requests or see an increase of international visitors, the other articles and future articles on this blog will be translated in English too. Find the Dutch version here.
Who am I really?
After years of feeling unsafe I’ve finally found my own safe space: my own apartment. Time to work on my self and find out who I really am and how I can become a happy person. I have always had the feeling that I was different, different than the standard set by the Dutch Society. But whatever that deviation was, I did not know. I always thought that it had to do with me being an introvert, and therefore I was different.
With the help of psychologists, I started working on my question about who I am, next to deeply unhappy and damaged. I wanted to know who I am in a positive way. I have always felt lonely and never had luck in finding a girlfriend. Not even when I opened Tinder and swiped every profile to right, never got a match. A fun night of speed-dating was the next step for me, but again, no success. What was my problem?
Ever since I was a young kid many different people have asked me if I am gay. A question I always answered with ‘NO!’, period. Because in my upbringing I had always learned to follow the standard. Homosexuality was, so I was told, was an abnormality, something different from that standard. And my parents always spoke about “gays”, “faggots” and “Nancy’s”. That, for me, was reason enough to always answer with a ‘no’ when people asked me if I was gay.
Deep, deep down I have always had the feeling that I was more attracted to men instead of women. But I didn’t want to accept this. The longer you deny it, the sooner that feeling fades away, is what I thought. But I can tell you, it was always a struggle to walk through the male underwear isle in the clothing store…
2019 was a year of self-reflection, among other things on my sexuality. On a hot summer afternoon, I sat on my balcony, enjoying the sunshine. On the other side of the road I saw a couple running, a man and a woman. Since it was hot outside, both of them were not wearing too many clothes. Every heterosexual guy would get enthusiastic about a running woman, without a doubt. Not me. All I saw was the guy and could not get my attention away from him. From that moment it became totally clear for me and couldn’t push it down anymore: I’m probably gay.
Because I had finally found a safe space and had room for self-reflection there was enough time and space to think about all this and come to terms with my thoughts and feelings.
I took my phone and opened Tinder. To my field of interest I added men, just to take a look and see if this was my kind of thing. This way I could see the profiles of both men and women. Soon enough I noticed that I only swiped to the right with male profiles and not the female ones. The matches started coming in, from 0 matches to more than 50 in only an afternoon of swiping, of course only matches with men.
After a couple of days of chatting and swiping I came to the clear conclusion that I was definitely not heterosexual and probably also not bi-sexual. Looking at the conversations with the guys I matched with, it finally became clear for me: I am gay.
On Sunday afternoon June 2nd, 2019 I officially came out of the closet for myself. What a relieve that was: I finally knew who I was!
Coming out to the people who are important to me
The next step was actually coming out to the people around me, especially the ones that are really important to me. What the rest would think of me, that didn’t bother me much. I made a list with names of the people that meant a lot to me, those of whom I thought needed to know first about my coming-out.
At the top of that list was the name of my former best friend. He and I had so many conversations about my sexuality. During these conversations I always told him that I was hetero, I just didn’t know any better: I didn’t think I would be gay and actually didn’t want to think about it either, because of negative stereotyping. But because he and I had talked so much about my sexuality, it was very important for me to come out to him first, especially since he always accepted me for who I am, even though he probably already knew I was gay, despite me denying it.
At first my coming out to my best friend seem to work out positively. After working out in the gym I came out to him and he reacted, like expected from him, super positive and enthusiast. However, after 2 days his reaction changed from positive to very negative. Out of the blue he disappeared, saying he needed time to set things straight for himself. Of course, I gave him this time and space, but it has been eight months that I haven’t heard from him. It’s a shame that our close friendship so ended so abrupt and especially because I don’t know what exactly happened. I assume it has something to do with me coming out.
Fortunately, his was the only negative reaction I received. The rest of my friends and family have reacted (relatively) positive on my coming out.
I haven’t really had any other negative reactions on my coming out. The people I really care about and those that really care about me accept me for who I am, luckily.
What I really want to tell you
Naturally this article has a purpose, just like the other articles on my website. Other than with the other articles I find it’s important I share my explicit goal and message with you.
Are you doubting your own sexuality, please let me share this with you: dare to experiment. I’m not telling you to suddenly create a profile on Grindr and go to bed with everyone. But try to find people that share your field of interest and look for the experiences they have had. Get inspired with other peoples’ stories and let them be a motivation to start to find yourself.
So, it’s okay to be who you are, despite all the negative reactions and stereotypes that are out in the world. I’ve noticed that the hateful homophobic group against the LGBTQ+ community is relatively small and the group of people that accepts you for who you are is surprisingly big. To give you a nice example: a little while ago I was at the tram stop with a guy I’m seeing (currently my boyfriend :)) and I gave him a kiss in public, since his tram was coming and he had to leave. When the tram left an older lady came to me and said: “You two are looking so sweet, I hope you two have a nice future together”. So, this lady saw us kissing at the tram stop and thought it was nice to give me a compliment on this.
Clearly, I understand, honestly, I know this by heart and experience, that is very hard to come out: Am I going to be accepted for who I am? I’m sorry that I can not tell you that everyone around you will accept you and that you won’t lose anyone. There is always the possibility, we sadly can’t influence someone’s opinion and feelings. Of course, I have also lost someone very dear to me, someone who was very important to me. But maybe this can give you some hope: there will be coming so many beautiful new people in your life.
With this I want to finish this article. Are you doubting your own sexuality, or are you looking for experiences of others? Check the website of COC (in the Nederlands) or other LGBTQ+-friendly parties, you can find other people’s experiences, as well as information on what it means to be not-heterosexual. And just start looking around on other websites or forums about LGBTQ+ culture and community.
In my next article I will tell more about being an introvert and what this means, how to deal with your own introversion and how people around you can deal with this.