Being Closeted in Your 20s

May 22, 2019

Like many other young LGBTQ+ people, I’ve struggled with my sexual identity for years. I almost wish I could’ve figured it out sooner so I could have come out as a teen, back when I was bolder and didn’t care what my family thought. But now that I’ve entered my 20s, I’m hesitant to share who I am with my family because I’ve spent years listening and taking note - every time they’ve spoken about or have had an opinion on LGBTQ+ issues, I’ve paid attention and I haven’t liked what I heard. I feel like now that I’m older, I am much more careful and calculated about what I say or who I tell that I’m bisexual.


For some of us, it feels like we missed the mark. Teenagers today are embracing who they are, taking who they want to prom, and overcoming any obstacles schools or churches or parents throw in their way. When I was a teenager, I was essentially in denial and was uneducated about the LGBTQ+ community. I knew I liked both women and men but I shoved my feelings down deep, assuming I’d get a boyfriend in the end and that it would never matter anyway.


 Me (right) with my girlfriend (left)


Then when I entered college in my 20s, I met my now girlfriend of three years. After meeting her, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my sexuality has always mattered, even when I tried to deny it; even if I had a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend. It took growing older and meeting my partner to realize that it was and always be a part of who I am. I basically had to “come out” to myself - and now all that’s left is coming out to my family.


Still being in the closet in my 20s was never part of my plan, but it’s what I’m working with, so there’s nowhere else to go but forward. If you’re like me and haven’t come out to your family yet, don’t worry. We’ve got time - and there’s a lot you can do before that day.


Learn to love yourself and embrace who you are, including your sexuality. It’s okay if you’re in your 20s and still not sure if you’re pan, bi, ace, gay or whatever - sexuality is a fluid thing, so take your time getting to know yourself and this previously unexplored area of your life. Reach out, get involved, and join the LGBTQ+ community - now you’ve got a second family that you can always count on.


Sarah DeLena is currently studying for her masters in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College. She hopes to become an editor of YA literature, her favorite genre, own at least two golden retrievers, and further the legacy of the Oxford comma.


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