Updated: Jun 28, 2020
| This is the 329th story of Our Life Logs |
Looking back, there were small signs of who I’d become. I was born in 1992 in Indiana, but with a dad in the military and parents who divorced when I was four, I grew up all over the United States. Nothing fancy, but nothing normal, either. Still, I managed to make friends with the neighborhood kids upon each new arrival. I liked playing make-believe games, especially House, and often times, a little neighborhood girl and I would play together. She was always the mom, and I played the dad. As innocent eight-year-olds, we didn’t think twice about the fact that I was playing a boy or that two girls were fake married. It didn’t seem odd to us.
My mother wanted a better education than the public-school curriculum, so she sent me to a Catholic high school. Along with the excellent education in the sciences and humanities, we were also taught certain curriculum like, “marriage was only between a man and a woman.” While I was being told these things, I started to feel guilty as I found my eyes lingering on my female classmates. Their eyes, their legs…I wondered to myself, why am I looking at a girl like this? As these feelings persistently invaded my thoughts, I started getting taught that those who like people of the same sex are sinners and bad people. They made me believe that what I was feeling was wrong.
I thought my feelings toward women would fade over time, but they only grew stronger, and I became terrified. It became evident that these feelings were here to stay when a close platonic friendship with one of my friends turned romantic. I had no idea how my family would react to this news. We had never spoken of gay people—we never had a reason to. Not knowing how they’d feel about their daughter being gay, I decided to keep it a secret.
Focused on my conflicting feelings—among other things—I didn’t really care about school until my junior year. And as a result, the only school that accepted me was Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois. So, I took what I had in front of me and chose theater as my major.
One of my cousins lived close by and often borrowed my car, so she and I became close over my first year of college. Meanwhile, the romance between my high school sweetheart and I continued into our college years…secretly. By that point, she was out and proud, exuding confidence, while I was still hiding, still afraid of completely accepting myself, and still thinking I could suppress the feelings if I tried hard enough.
Since my cousin came by often, she and I would often get into deep conversations about life. Eventually, being around her made me feel comfortable, like I could say anything. One day when she was over, I did just that.
“So, I’ve been messing around with this girl lately…”
My cousin shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “Cool.” I explained to her that I knew I should be seeing guys, but I just didn’t have an emotional connection with them.
She said, “You feel how you feel, and you shouldn’t fight it. You should never suppress your emotions because of someone else’s opinions.”
Her support and acceptance made me feel better, like maybe I could come out to the world. So, I mustered up all my confidence and prepared to speak to my mother—well, kind of.
A few days before the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I brought up a hypothetical situation with my mother. Because it was just the two of us in the car driving from Indiana to Columbia College, I felt bold and said, “What would you do if I liked girls?”
She paused. I held my breath. I feared how she’d react. I saw her fingers tighten on the steering wheel and she said, “It wouldn’t be ideal, that’s for sure. I’d never get grandkids or see you walk down the aisle. That’d be devastating. Still, I guess I’d support you.”
Hearing her not-too-hot reaction had me burrowing my feelings down again. Maybe coming out wouldn’t be such a good idea.
Soon after that car ride with my mother, I broke things off with the girl I had been seeing. I wondered if what I was feeling was just a phase and I tried to date guys for the next several years. Yet, when it came to relationships with men, the emotional connection was never really there and I could never hang on for more than six months.
The last guy I dated was nice enough, but I just wasn’t interested. And honestly, I had a female coworker named Candyss whom I liked far more. I continued to date my boyfriend while secretly seeing Candyss.
One day while I was with my boyfriend, I received a call from my aunt reminding me about my mom’s birthday party that coming weekend, and I told her I’d attend. She said, “You know, I always see pictures of you with girls and never with guys. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re a lesbian.”
At that, I sucked in a sharp breath and said, “I’m not, and I’m bringing my boyfriend.” I hung up and frantically turned to my boyfriend and said, “I need you to come with me. I need my family to think I’m straight.”
He bristled at that and said, “Ok?”
I realized then no matter what I did to try to suppress this, it wasn’t going away. Straight people don’t need to convince people that they’re straight.
When my boyfriend, myself, and my two girl best friends arrived, it seemed I wasn’t fooling anyone. My family kept grilling him to see if our relationship was genuine and conversing among each other, wondering why I would bring my best friends along instead of just him. After the party, we continued to openly date while I saw my female coworker Candyss in private. She and I would go out in public, posing as friends. Though I preferred spending time with her, if my boyfriend ever called while I was with her, I’d always pick up. I could tell it bothered her, but I was trying so hard to keep appearances and so I tried ignoring her reaction—until I couldn’t.
One day, Candyss and I were out shopping and had stopped for lunch when I received a call from my boyfriend who said he wanted to see me. When I told him I’d be there soon, Candyss became silent. Our food arrived and she wouldn’t touch it.
“What’s going on?” I said to her.
“I can’t do this,” she said.
“What? What do you mean?”
“I can’t share you anymore. You need to choose between him or me. You can either continue to hide who you are to please others or you can be yourself and happy with me.”
Hearing that shook me. I knew she was right. I always knew in my heart what she said was true. But hearing it come from her, putting it like that made me see that I needed to come out, finally. No more hiding.
I started by breaking up with my boyfriend then telling a few close friends that I was gay. Many of them had figured it out after seeing me with my coworker more than my supposed boyfriend. Candyss and I got together openly.
I still remember how nervous I was to tell my dad. I called him and said, “I’ve just got to tell you, and don’t take this the wrong way, I’m just letting you know…” I paused, gripping my phone tightly. “I’m gay,” I said quickly and hung up, breathing heavy. My dad immediately called me back laughing.
“Did you really think I’d react badly? My best friend is gay! Thanks for letting me know, but please don’t hang up on me again,” he said with another chuckle.
Then came my mom, the person I’d been dreading to give my confession—and rightfully so. When I told her, the first thing she said was the typical, “It’s just a phase” followed by, “I’m not coming to your wedding if you marry a woman.” She then proceeded to try to set me up with guys while I was seeing Candyss.
I told her, “I’m not wasting my time with guys. I did that for 22 years. It’s time to be myself.”
I couldn’t completely blame her for acting this way. She was just a product of her traditional background. Really, doesn’t everyone want to blend in and be “normal”? Still, this was my normal, and I wasn’t going back to a head and a heart full of conflict.
Over time, when my mom realized she couldn’t do anything about it, she slowly started accepting it. She still may not like it, but she stopped trying to fight me on it. She even stopped throwing guys at me and started asking about Candyss and letting me bring her to family events.
Since coming out, I’ve become confident and happy with how I live my life. I’m no longer fearful of how my heart feels. I’ve learned from my coming out that no matter how old you are, you can’t deny your truth. For years, I tried to dismiss my truth until it grew too big to hide. Even if it’s hard, even if you’re in the second act of your life, it’s never too late to accept your truth and live a happier life. Like my cousin said to me years ago, “You shouldn’t suppress how you feel because of other’s opinions.” Not everyone may accept you, but the ones that do will surround you and validate the truth you’ve accepted. That makes it all worth it—to wake up and know you’re living as your most authentic self.
This is the story of DaVida Cole
DaVida currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she’s currently working as a Producers’ Assistant for the TV Series Queen of the South. When DaVida started to find herself looking romantically at women, she became scared and tried hiding and denying it for years, even when she was seeing women in secret. It wasn’t until she became serious with a woman who encouraged her to live her life openly did she finally find the courage to come out. In doing so, she found that suppressing your emotions because you fear what others think is no way to live. She now lives openly and happily. Although DaVida and Candyss have broken up because of DaVida’s job field, the pair ended on good terms back in January 2019. Aside from her career in production, DaVida hopes to start her own business one day, helping independent creators market and brand themselves properly. She also likes to binge watch Netflix and occasionally paint if she’s inspired.
This story was first captured by the VideoOut team on May 11, 2017, and completed by Our Life Logs on May 29, 2019.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: Colleen Walker |
You can listen to DaVida’s retelling at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73KV2olI3YA
Our Life Logs partnering with: