Out and Proud After 30

DawnOutComing out is a unique process for everyone.  Some people know they are queer from a very young age and have the “born this way” feeling, while others go through a much more gradual self-realization. Sometimes this development of self takes one all the way into their 30s, 40s, or even 50s and up. I wouldn’t say we’re late bloomers, rather we had different experiences that shaped our sexuality realization and our idea of sexuality in a way that doesn’t allow us to truly come to terms with our attractions at an early age.

I personally came out at age 32. After having had serious relationships with numerous guys, after experiencing my first “love,” after college (and the disappointment of the lack of an experimentation phase), after moving to the city, I finally came to the realization that I am meant to be with a woman. This was a long long process, and parts of the process shocked me.  Ten years prior I was out at the clubs on the weekends being a 22 year old female trying to catch the eye of the hottest guy on the dance floor, embracing the challenge of getting his attention and making him focus on me.  And during that time I wanted guys to want me, it was validation, it was empowering, it was fun!  BUT I always said (only to myself of course) that before I got married I would casually date a woman, just so I could experience it and rid myself of the curiosity that was always lurking under the surface before marrying a man and losing the opportunity to figure out why such an experience seemed so necessary to me.  It was such a simple solution, right?

DearJonBookUnfortunately the opportunity never presented itself. Somehow I never knowingly met a lesbian at any point before age 30. No one in my high school was out (though I know there must be someone else out there, it’s just not statistically likely that I’m the only one), no one I met in college was out, no one I worked with was out.  Had this not been the case I’m sure I would figured everything out much sooner. But alas I was confused and thought I just needed to experience that ONE time. I truly believed that everyone thought women were beautiful and sexual and everyone should want to see them naked in their bed. I mean that’s what the media tells us right?  When I realized that not all females have this view I actually called my best friend and asked her point blank, “Are you really not at all attracted to women?”  How is this possible? Women are beautiful!  My brain was slowly starting to get it, though I admit sometimes I am still confused by the realization that straight women don’t find women like Olivia Wilde, Katherine Moennig, and Megan Fox sexually attractive.

But it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my experiences.  There are also celebrities who came out later in life, such as Kelly McGillis (Top Gun), Meredith Baxter (Family Ties), Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Wanda Sykes (comedian), and Vickie Shaw (comedian). There is also a great book called Dear John I Love Jane that tells the personal stories of women who left men to date women. So if you feel like you came out later than all of your other lesbian friends, know that you are not alone! Feel free to share your stories in the comments!

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About Dawn

Dawn is a Chicago area native and loves the city she calls home. With a strong passion for both the field of psychology and LGBT issues, she strives to combine the two through gender and sexuality research. As the Women’s Outreach Chair for the Illinois chapter of the Human Rights Campaign she reaches out to the lesbian community to further their involvement in the fight for equality. Whether putting on fundraisers or spreading the word about equality at local festivals, she is always thinking of new ways to serve the LGBT community. When not doing research or fighting for equal rights, she loves to take long walks around the city, enjoy the street festivals, go camping, and hunt for the best Persian food in Chicago!


4 Responses to “Out and Proud After 30”

  1. I can certainly relate to this, especially the part about thinking that if I could just have one experience, it would be out of my system, and that having such desires doesn’t make one gay, because everyone has them, right? Unfortunately, I did end up getting married to a man and having children before I finally came to terms with it all at the age of 34, leaving quite a lot of brokenness in my wake. It’s been a long road for everyone to come to a point of healing and acceptance, with much faltering, but I’m proud to say that my daughters are two of the fiercest advocates you’ll find for their lesbian mama and the community in general. My ex, however, has quite a way to go on that road.

    Posted by Val | May 24, 2013, 9:45 am
  2. While I wish that the process of coming out later in life contained a “happily ever after”, that has not been my experience. I found alienation, judgment and hostility from other lesbians, discomfort from straight women, and a general feeling of never feeling like I fit in anywhere. It’s isolating and lonely and sad. But the best lesson I learned is that being gay (or whatever I label myself) is not my only characteristic and that I can now live truthfully, honestly and drama-free.

    Posted by Rachel | May 24, 2013, 10:14 am
  3. I married at a very young age after having been bounced around all my life between my mother, father, and paternal grandparents. All I wanted was stability and a family of my own. After 3 amazing kids and 12 years of marriage, I divorced at 29. Almost exactly a year later I finally came out. I dated one guy after my divorce and he actually helped me tremendously with the process – he once asked me if I’d ever wondered if I were gay. LOL

    I knew that I was attracted to women but being from a VERY small place in Alabama, the word gay wasn’t even in my vocabulary.

    My kids have been great about it. One of my daughters came out when she was 15. They are all extremely supportive – I like to think it has something to do with the way I raised them.

    After coming out I started my migration from small town to larger town to small city to bigger city and now, Chicago! I’ve loved meeting and being a part of the LGBQT community in so many different places. However, I must say that the community here in Chicago is amazing. I’m so grateful that I moved here in the midst of Illinois’ journey to marriage equality. Having always been politically active, it’s been an amazing thing to witness and be a part of something so historic.

    Each person’s “coming out” is unique to that person, regardless of the age at which it happens. I’m so glad that it’s easier for the younger generations – my daughter, Asia, took a girl to her HS prom – in Alabama! We still have a long way to go but we’ve come so far!

    As to coming out at a later age, you’re never too old to go to Disney Land! 😉

    Posted by Kymberly Smith | May 25, 2013, 1:57 pm
  4. What an inspiring story! I grew up in a very religious household. Having been taught, I knew what I was suppose to like, but I also knew how I felt inside. Now I’ve been divorced many years and male free since 🙂

    My daughter came out to me a couple of months ago. I’m so happy and proud of her and for her to be able to live the way she is.

    Posted by Corina | August 22, 2014, 1:55 am

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