National Coming Out Day
photo: iStock

Coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer can be difficult. It can take some people years to accept who they are and share that identity with others. It may be a lifelong process.

This upcoming Sunday, National Coming Out Day celebrates those coming out as LGBTQ or as an ally. To honor this day, Vivala rolled out a series of coming out stories this week. Below is the fourth, as told to Vivala:

Irina Gonzalez, 29
Astoria, Queens

I came out to my parents in 2003. To be honest, I don’t really know what prompted me to do it. I had been out for a little while to friends. I was really lucky that my high school was very, very accepting.

I had come out as bisexual at 16. I remember coming out to my parents wasn’t really planned. I wasn’t sure if I should or not. There’s a lot of stigma for bi people – some say ‘You’re just in a phase’ or ‘You’re doing it for attention,’ or ‘You’re on the way to being fully gay.’

My mom was like ‘WTF are you talking about? This is just a phase, you’re just doing it for attention.’ They asked me if I was gay. Being bisexual is a very different thing. I don’t remember it being a very positive experience. They didn’t really believe me at all.

Related from Vivala: I'm Coming Out! Katrina Ruiz's Story

Irina Gonzalez Coming Out Story
photo: Irina Gonzalez

My father was kind of angry that I might be gay and I tried to explain to him that that wasn’t the case. It really annoyed me at the time, and still does, because his brother is gay. My dad, who is Cuban, is in a lot of ways very traditional. To this day he thinks maybe it’s a choice, which obviously I don’t agree with at all.

I don’t remember feeling super upset or hurt about it, but I remember feeling very angry because that was the first time I faced that stigma that bisexual people face – that it’s a layover on the way to gay town. I knew that wasn’t what was happening to me … I knew that wasn’t it.

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We don’t really talk about it now at all. I don’t really discuss my personal life with my parents – almost at all. They don’t know about women I’ve dated, I just don’t want to discuss it with them.

I’m at a point where I don’t really care what they think. It’s my life. I live in a completely different state and city, so I find that that distance in my personal life has been better for me.