“I think I’m gay."
Those were the words I muttered, at age 12, to my sister Nicole on our family vacation. I had been torturing myself on the long drive to the beach wondering how I was going to tell her. I remember how lonely I felt at the time, already knowing that being a lesbian was not something that you were supposed to shout from the rooftops.
That's ironic, considering that that it's damn near from birth that parents and society start sexualizing and gendering their kids, forcing them to announce their alleged heterosexuality. If a baby boy is leaning on a baby girl in daycare they say, “Oh, look who has a girlfriend!" Onesies that read “lady killer," and "biggest flirt" fill the shelves at baby stores. However, when you’re old enough to vocalize feelings that are different, you’re told, “You’re too young to know what you want." As a result, I kept my blossoming feelings to myself until I thought I would burst.
Since the beginning, Nicole was my ace. We’re a little over five years apart in age, but have been thick as thieves since she put a stethoscope on my mother’s pregnant belly to hear me breathe–and as soon as I was born, she asked if she could bring me to kindergarten for 'Show and Tell." If there was anyone on the planet I could trust with my secret it would be her.
My palms were sweating and I had a knot in my stomach that was slowly creeping up to my throat. She looked at me and said, “What’s wrong with you”? It was either now or never. So many images ran through my mind. Would she jump off and run back to her room once I told her? Would she scream that I was “going to hell” and had “grossed her out”? But if I didn’t tell her then, I was sure I would implode.
I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience when I heard myself say, “I think I’m gay.” My eyes filled with tears. At that moment regardless of her response I knew there was no going back and I felt oddly at peace, as if the weight I had been carrying around floated above my head towards the clouds.
“Oh, is that all? I thought something was seriously wrong. Half my friends are bi-sexual or gay. It’s really not a big deal," and with that she gave me a hug. Her initial reaction let me know that regardless I would be loved. It would be another 10 years before I came out and stayed out; but she let me know that if there was no one else that would have my back, I would always have her.
All people just want to know that who they are is enough and that regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity they will be loved–that is particularly important for LGBT people.
From tea parties to my wedding reception, my sister has always been in my corner routing for my success and that’s what family should do. Family should be your net, allowing you to swing and navigate through the pitfalls in life, providing you with a safe place to fall.
Loving someone holistically is a radical act. I’m grateful for my very first friend on Earth, my sister for showing me that kind of love. #ThisIsLove
Danielle Moodie-Mills is a former educator and recovering lobbyist turned media maven. She is the Chief Creative Officer of Politini Media, where she writes, produces and co-hosts Politini, a politics and pop culture show. She is also an Advisor at the Center for American Progress. Her work examines the intersection of race, sexual orientation and gender identity.