I am a gay, cis woman. I have attended private, Catholic schools my entire student career. I know how lucky I am to have this opportunity- but as member of the LGBT community, sometimes I don’t feel so lucky. While having the funds to attend this schools and the privileges to be accepted, I am not truly accepted by the students, faculty, and staff because of how I love.
Living in the closet all my life, has not been easy but now at 39 years of age I am out and out with a bang. I am different, I am gay and I am human. I had quite a normal childhood and swimming was the greater part of that. I started swimming in 1987 at the age of 9. I was a very good swimmer. Somehow, I grew up used to seeing almost naked bodies. I represented my country at various international swimming meets. My last appearance for Seychelles was at the Indian Ocean games in La reunion in 2015 after which I retired as a swimmer. I can honestly say that seeing nearly naked bodies has been natural for me at such a young age but it was not that of the girls that interested me.
All my life, I have been pretty good at fitting in. Or at least, maintaining the appearance of fitting in. I lived with this idea in my head that I could become anyone I wanted to – anyone who’s better, who’s not weird, who’s somehow perfect. I grew up in Ukraine. A country now wrought with pain, trying to figure out its place in the world – somewhere between its communist, conservative past, and a bold, progressive future. I think it’s ironic how, in a lot of ways, my story overlaps with that of my country.
At 16 I liked the things a lot of boys did. I liked pretty girls, loud music, cheap beer, and dreaming about being a rock star. I’d formed a “band” with my best friend, there was only the two of us, and I wanted to be the lead singer, but couldn’t sing in tune, so settled for playing bass.
To start this tale, I guess we need to start at the beginning. So, you can see my upbringing and see why things ended up as they did. A little long, and a little dark, but bear with me.
My father is disabled, he has a rare form of MS that is extremely variable. From days he can walk 20 miles to days he cannot leave bed. He cannot work and hasn’t been able to since his late twenties. It took most of my life time of testing to even find out what was wrong with him. My mother gave up work to care for him, and then me when I was born. They lived in poverty, just trying to survive.
I had just completed my sophomore year of high school and was on my way to spend the summer touring the United States and performing with a Drum Corp. What is Drum Corps? Drum Corps is essentially professional marching band, or, what I like to call marching band on cocaine. Drum Corps is incredibly competitive and only the most talented of brass musicians, percussionists, and colorguard members are chosen to spend a summer away from home practicing and competing in large venues across the U.S. It is, indeed as lame as it sounds, but it was the most profound experience of my life for a myriad of reasons. Mostly, because it is where I met my first love.
I never liked the phrase “coming out of the closet” until I realized it wasn’t the phrase I didn’t like…it was having to do it. I realized I was in the closet when I was about thirteen years old. It was a closet covered in hate, in fear and in shame. Hate for not understanding why this was happening to me when half of society said it was wrong. Fear for not knowing how to say it and what would happen once I said it. Shame for wanting to be myself going against hate and fear. Nevertheless, I found comfort when I connected my closet to Wi-Fi and I wasn’t so alone.