Sexuality (Part two I guess haha)

So last July (I think), I wrote a rambling stream of consciousness thing about sexuality and starting to come out as a lesbian (pls see that if you’re interested in the rambling). As of today, I’ve come out to my mum and sister and most of my friends. Everyone has been so incredibly nice (again see last post where I talk about my mum and sister) and I’m so thankful for the reaction.

I guess the main reason for writing this is almost like my own wee diary to look back on and reflect on the progress. It might not naturally seem like it to some, but I think coming out is a moment to be proud of, it’s an incredibly hard scary thing to do, and as an anxious person, it’s something I’ve at times believed I’d never manage. As well as reflecting on my own sense of achievement I guess, I’m maybe writing this update to readers of the last post and any LGBT+ people out there; I feel an overwhelming sense of relief and almost weightlessness, freedom, and I really think it’s important to hear of other’s positive stories and reactions.

I think with having anxiety I tend to catastrophise (although I’m simultaneously an incredibly chilled out person, so it’s a very unusual mix haha), and this is one of the main reasons I struggled to come out. I mentioned my perceived worries in telling friends in the last blog- friends potentially feeling uncomfortable or assuming that I like them etc, but my friends were ridiculously kind. Yesterday we went for covid walk 1817364783 and I mentally prepared myself to finally tell them, revealing the big build up that has led to the brink of many a panic attack. I should also mention that I was also contemplating jumping in the loch and swimming away from my problems hahaha. However, after giving myself time to reflect more on my identity, and some of my family knowing, I knew that yesterday was the time. It felt almost like a gut reaction that now was the time to come out, and regardless of any potential negative reactions that I may have received, I knew that I’m at a place where not talking about and being myself is worse. I mention this because I know how hard it is, and I do not feel that you should have to come out if you are not ready (or ever come out). I believe you need time to yourself and you will know when it’s right. Once you know, and once you come out, you will feel a sense of freedom, a sense of relief. But you will also feel a sense of, not being underwhelmed that’s the wrong word, but normality, continuation. I spent so long catastrophising that the reactions of my friends were so incredibly minor, so incredibly ‘normal’ that I almost couldn’t process it for a wee while hahaha. I don’t mean to say that coming out cannot be scary and I understand that people unfortunately experience reactions far less positive than mine, and I appreciate how lucky I am. However, what I’m really trying to say here is that if you are similar to me, please know that the stress and panic you are putting on yourself is likely causing far more anxiety than coming out as yourself.

This leads me on to internalised homophobia, something I’ve been reflecting on over these months. I’ve naturally gravitated to books and videos that discuss this and reflect on the self-inflicted struggle that LGBT+ people can experience due to the homophobia in the world. One definition I found is: ‘internalised homophobia is both a conscious and an unconscious reaction to external negative attitudes toward people within a sexual orientation minority.’ This may appear to make little sense to people out with LGBT+ communities, however, the homophobia that is in the world can filter into your brain, especially when you are contemplating coming out, and can be difficult to overcome . This can lead to a lack of self-acceptance. I have always been incredibly accepting of others and I’m proud to say that I try to be as non-judgemental as possible, however, I am often very hard on myself and factors like homophobia that I have witnessed (towards others or through media) has affected my self-esteem and self-image. This has in turn led to the catastrophising of coming out and being open about my sexuality. I’m also a very shy person in general and do not really like to talk about myself- although that’s all I’m doing here hahaha- so knowing that being LGBT+ still draws lots of attention and opinions from some is a little bit stressful to me. However, I have reflected that I managed to convince myself that I would not be accepted, something that is my own doing and which does not reflect the caring nature of my family and friends. Ps. When I say my own doing, I really mean the doing of those in society who are unfortunately homophobic and who create this sense of discomfort and a lack of safety.

The relief and happiness I feel today are not to say that I will never struggle with my sexuality again; I know that I will still find it hard, for example, to tell colleagues over the years and there are definitely some members of my own family that I am still very unsure about telling. These family members *cough* grans *cough* are good people and love me very much, however, have made openly homophobic comments about people on tv etc without being aware of my sexuality (which has actually been quite funny and had a strong sense of dramatic irony). I am not necessarily upset on my own behalf, but upset that homophobia continues to exist, and sad that people believe that their comments on social justice issues that don’t affect them are more important than the extreme sense of anxiety and guilt they can cause for the people taking in these comments (I also refer here to sexism and racism, although this is not an area which I have the right to discuss, being white and very privileged). I hope that the more people that come out, who look after each other and who treat each other with kindness (everyone, not just LGBT people), the easier and kinder the world will be. Who knows what will happen next, what will happen with the people I’ve yet to tell, will I look into counselling for anxiety/internalised homophobia (maybe I’ll write a part 3 hahaha), but I feel free and I feel happy just now.

I haven’t planned any of this (evidently hahah) or read over what I’ve written, but the points I want to get across are really that I know how incredibly difficult it can be to be LGBT+ whether you have experienced homophobia  directly or have experienced anxiety due to indirect or unconscious experiences of homophobia. I know how hard people can be on themselves, how much some people are struggling just now. I really wanted to acknowledge these things in this post, and recognise the strength that LGBT+ people have and the hope that things will continue to get better. I want to express that you do not have to come out, but if/when you’re ready you will feel free and you will lose such a sense of the burden that you have been carrying. I wanted to share this positive story because I know there is lots of negativity out there, and I wanted to create a tiny lil space where people can talk to each other (if you want), or just read anonymously and hopefully feel a small sense of comfort. Sorry for the rambles if this makes no sense hahaha.

I truly mean it when I say I am here to speak to anyone who feels like they need someone, if you would like to, please comment here or feel free to message me on Instagram (carlybooksandmusic).

Also, please write your own positive LGBT+ experiences in the comments! They are so helpful! Thank you so much for reading, I hope you’re happy and doing well 😊

April Favourites

Book:

I hadn’t heard of this author until this month, when I listened to the Podcast ‘Greek Mythology Retold’ and discovered that Janell Rhiannon is writing a book series called The Homeric Chronicles. I loved this book, it’s an interesting and easy to read account of the events leading up to Trojan wars. I’d recommend this is you like mythology and this might be a good place to start if you’ve never read a Greek myth but would like to- if you google some of the characters and Gods/Goddesses as you go along 😊

I’ve already mentioned Girl, Woman, other this month, but this was another favourite read because of the thought-provoking writing style and the interesting characters.

TV programme:

I rewatched Killing Eve this month before starting the new season, I love this programme. I tend not to like crime programmes but I love the balance of dark humour, well written characters and the atmosphere in this show- the music in Killing Eve has been used so well to create this atmosphere, I love the way music can influence the tone of a show. 😊 I can’t think of anything I’d change about this show, I’d recommend watching it if you’re bored (I also enjoy You for its similar humour).

Music:

I LOVE music, I think it’s so important for mental health and can really lift and affect my mood. I end up listening to the same songs constantly and this month (basically this entire year haha) I’ve listened to The Beatles constantly. For some reason I keep listening to I’m only sleeping in particular, this song will not leave my head when I hear it.

The song Spanish Sahara by Foals came on shuffle recently, I’d forgotten how much I love that song, it’s very calming and atmospheric (apparently my favourite word to describe things). I think I first heard it years ago watching Misfits, another amazing programme. 😊 I really should listen to some new songs, please let me know your favourite singers or bands!

The outdoors:

I’ve loved being able to get out most days and be around nature. I love riding my bike (very slowly, a man who was possibly 65 years old passed me today and rode away into the distance haha) and getting fresh air. (I know there’s no other way to write, but I feel like I say ‘I’ constantly and I’m very conscious of it now, it sounds very selfish haha). It’s also been good to feel a sense of community and see so many kind acts during the crazy times, even small acts such as clapping for the NHS and getting to speak to neighbours we wouldn’t usually get a chance to speak to- I’d like to say here that I completely understand the perspective of those who feel this is a pointless act and the biggest thing we can do is not vote the Tories. I’ve never voted the Tories and agree that they have made many many mistakes that negatively impact a number of people. I will continue to vote in a way that will hopefully remove the Tories power one day, and hope that we can become more liberal in our politics and actions. I do, however, think small kind acts have a place in maintaining positivity and helping people to feel together in times like these.

Someone has been painting little rocks with kind messages at the loch beside my house and it’s created such a nice sense of community, so me and my family decided to paint easter egg rocks at Easter as a little hunt for the children who live nearby. All of the stones disappeared so hopefully children enjoyed finding them, but a swan may have eaten them all, we’ll never know haha. I’d like to do something with books, like a little anonymous book swap at the loch, I’m unsure how that would work but it’d be quite fun to try 😊. I also enjoyed bringing some books for my gran to read and being able to speak to her (from a safe distance). I feel a bit useless sometimes because I can’t think of something I can safely do (my mum’s in the at risk category) to help or volunteer with, I’ll hopefully find something positive to do soon.

Cooking:

Cooking/baking seems to be everyone’s go to just now (I’ve managed not to make banana bread yet haha), its been fun trying to make new things- I’m a kind of possibly okay as long as it’s just me eating it type of cook, but I cannot bake hahaha. I like giving myself little challenges, so I’ve been trying to make creations from the food I’ve bought and I’m only shopping around once every three weeks. A quicken nugget (quorn) katsu curry has been my favourite creation, and my homemade pizza was not what I’d call edible. Homemade vegan brownie recipes are also pretty good! 😊

I really hope you’ve all felt okay this month, thank you for your comments and I’d really like to know what books, films and shows help you to feel better 😊 I’m ending this with a picture of Dusty because she’s always my favourite wee thing.