Jacqueline Smith, age 22

Albuquerque, New Mexico 

“Proud of who I am”

As a child, I sometimes felt different for various reasons. One that caused me the most anxiety however became evident as my peers and I reached middle school age. When the topic of boys came up, I participated. There were boys, mostly celebrities, that I’d confess attraction to. But as I started to begin really experiencing attraction, I felt like being with a boy was always an act. On the rare occasion I kissed a boy, held hands, had a boyfriend for a week at 14, it all felt like I was pretending. I kept waiting for that magical feeling that all my friends would talk about. It wasn’t there. In some part of me I knew I had an attraction to women- but because I hadn’t really seen two women in a serious relationship- I couldn’t conceptualize it.

That all changed when I was 17. I had met someone – the first person to really give me that feeling that I had so much anxiety and self doubt about. And it was a monumental moment for me. It was like a lightbulb going off in my head, and for the first time I could understand what my straight friends meant. When I came out to my mom, it wasn’t by choice. I was outed by a poem a friend had written about me in my senior yearbook. I had been trying to tell her for about a year at this point, but it never felt right. I was not raised in a homophobic house, we went to a church that recognized same sex marriage, and I had never heard anything negative (or anything at all) about homosexuality growing up. My moms reaction was however not what I expected. While she was not mad, she was sad. She expressed to me she was sad I’d never have a husband and a child, an atomic family. She was mourning the image of me she had since doctors had told her she was having a,”beautiful baby daughter”.

Being a woman who is attracted to women I feel like I have gained a unique perspective in seeing just how much gender roles shape how one feels about themselves, and also how much they can affect how people perceive you. I had to come to terms with my identity, and reject what society expected for me- accept that I was different- and now I have to let me mother go through this process as well. As a country we should all be experiencing this in some shape, and through our interactions and projects like this we can hope that America is waiting for it’s “coming out” as a place where societal roles are second to equality.