It’s lonely in the closet

Journalism student Nico Gwin shares what it is like to have two separate identities at home and at school.

It’s lonely in the closet

Nico Gwin, Reporter

In the past year, I took on the daring task of figuring out who I am, and it was not as easy as it may seem. I was so overwhelmed by all the sexualities and gender identities there are that it took me months (and a couple wrong assumptions) to find out that I’m bi and genderqueer.

I had to learn that it’s okay to think you’re lesbian for a while to only figure out that you’re actually bi. I am finally in a place where I’m comfortable with my sexuality, gender, and the labels I choose to use, but I still haven’t conquered the mountain. I still have to come out to my family.

I have come out to my friends, though. That was difficult too, but I think my friends already knew I was gay before I did. My best friend and I had this long running joke (which looking back, wasn’t much of a joke, more of a prediction) that I was bi.

It started when I told my friends about this dream I had where all my friends said I was bi, but I didn’t think I was. But I officially came out by painting my nails the colors of my pride flags and quizzing my friends to see if they knew those pride flags.

I must have overthought it way too much because I was expecting questions, theatrics. But when I told them, they said, “Good for you. We support you” and we moved on with our day.

So, I guess that just goes to show that being gay and trans doesn’t change who you are. You’re still the same kid, but are now free to express who you truly are.

Being gay and trans doesn’t change who you are. You’re still the same kid, but are now free to express who you truly are.

But now I have a split life between school and home. At school I’m Nico, they/ze/xe/it pronouns. But at home, it’s all deadnames and “daughter.” Even at school I have the fear of being outed by accident. “What if my parents hear someone calling me Nico?” “What if they see me with my girlfriend?” “What if they realize that I act really gay?”

I have all these fears with almost no probable cause because my family is not homophobic at all. I just can’t seem to tell them because Murphy’s Law is just playing in my head: “What can go wrong, will go wrong.”

That’s why my teachers have no idea that I hate when they call me “young lady,” why I hate when they call me “miss.” Because if they use my name and pronouns in front of my parents or tell my parents, I’ll have a lot of explaining to do.  And sadly, it may not be safe for me to come out to some teachers and staff on campus.

I haven’t even told some students on campus. Some due to the fact that I’m not sure it would be safe, but others just because I feel like a burden. People are used to referring to me as “she” and using my deadname, so when I ask them to change a few words in their vocabulary, I feel I’m being rude.

I have been told before that my preferred name is “too different” than my deadname so it is too hard to change. Which is kind of the point. I chose to change my name to shed the skin of my old self, of the “girl” inside of me.

I am grateful that I have full support from my friends, and they aren’t pressuring me to come out. And thankfully, Enochs has the GSA club for people like me that need a place to feel not so alone. But I still can’t build up the courage to come out to my family, not yet at least.

So if you’re reading this and you’re feeling pressured to come out, I say to you: take all the time you need. You don’t owe anyone anything. And if you don’t know who you are yet, that’s okay too. Experiment with different pronouns and labels for a while, do some research – just don’t rush it.

You’re not alone. We’re in the closet together.