My coming out story has been a journey that I have been on since I was in elementary school. Growing up I was always considered a “tom-boy,” my go-to was a t-shirt and jeans. I have an older brother and while I loved to play dress up, I loved to wrestle and get dirty. I was bullied from 3rd grade until my senior year of high school because I am fat and I was the rumored class lesbian because in 3rd grade I liked to play house with a girl.
While I was unsure about my feelings for women until high school, I repressed any possible feelings because why would I want to be something that all the kids made fun of me for? After graduating 8th grade, I wrote down in a letter to myself that I was a lesbian. I wanted to make it real for myself. I later threw the letter away because I needed this feeling to go away. I desperately tried hard to fit in with other girls by joining activities they did, wearing makeup and dressing as feminine as I could.
I was not happy and I was depressed. Until this point in high school, I was living my life for others. I was coming home from school everyday crying in my bed before my family would come home because I felt trapped and alone. However, I pretended everything was okay. From middle school until my sophomore year of high school, I self harmed. When I would attend religious retreats in high school, they would have us write letters to God, that would be burned, where I always wrote that I had feelings for women and did not want to be like other girls.
Before my junior year of high school in August of 2012, I attempted to take my own life. Thankfully, I survived. I was depressed because of the bullying and because I was repressing my sexuality. My parents did not fully understand my sexuality and thought maybe the bullying had influenced how I felt. So I went back into the closet. After dating a guy for a month, I knew it did not feel right and broke things off. I came to terms with the fact that I was a butch lesbian and I started to come out as such in March of 2013. When I learned about the term butch I found it to fit me because I enjoyed masculinity and it it helped me explore my gender.
During my senior year of high school, I started to question my gender identity more. In October of 2014, I chopped all my hair off. After, I shared with my close friend at the time about how I didn’t feel like I was a woman, but possibly that I was a man. When I restarted therapy, I revealed to my therapist that I may be trans, but I didn’t know what that really meant for me. I even considered her calling my Ashton. These thoughts terrified me. Because I would be bullied for joining the Gay Straight Alliance in high school, and local queer centers were an hour away, I decided to not explore this gender identity further and tried to make being a butch lesbian woman work.
When I started college in September of 2015, I quickly joined the LGBTQ club on campus. I made many new LGBTQ friendships especially someone who identified as genderqueer and used they/them pronouns. The genderqueer person’s story resonated a lot with me and I felt that being genderqueer was a safe space for me bcasue it meant that I did not have to be a woman. I started using they/them pronouns from then on, but only sharing this with my friends.
During my sophomore year of college I met my ex-girlfriend who identified as a lesbian. As we started going on dates, I shared that I used they/them pronouns, which she was okay with. This was my first serious relationship since coming out in high school. As our relationship progressed it brought out repressed feelings around gender for me. While being genderqueer is a valid identity, it was not who I truly was. In April of 2017, I came out to my ex-girlfriend as a transgender man and told her I wanted to use he/him pronouns. She was supportive of this for me and we continued dating. In May 2017, we sat in central park on a date and she asked me if I wanted to go by a different name than my birth name. I thought for a brief moment and told her I wanted her to try calling me Matthew. I chose this name because I wanted to keep M as an initial and I loved Matty from 13 Going on 30. When she called me Matthew for the first time, I knew this was who I am. I slowly started out come out to my close friends, but was unsure how to come out to my parents.
After going to see a Redbulls soccer game together at the end of July 2017, I came out to my dad. He was ultimately okay with it, but needed time to process.
It is hard for me to talk with my mom because she always had the image of me in a beautiful whtie dress marrying the man of my dreams. So, I decided to write her a letter explaining my identity and left it for her as I went to work a long late night shift at work. My mother texted me after reading it, “No matter what, I still love you.”
It has taken time for my parents to adjust, but they both did it with love in their hearts and I am thankful for my family for accepting my identity. On August 7th, 2017, I came out on all of my social media and I never looked back.
Since then, one of the best reactions to my coming out has been from my great Cuban aunt who found out about my identity through my cousins who follow me on social media. When my father visited her a few months after I came out, she told him to tell me that she is, and will always be my aunt; she will love me no matter what; that now I am Matthew and that is fine; she understands how this is something that comes from birth, that I did not choose this; this is her home, I am welcome and will always be loved. When I visited a few months after that, she never made a mistake when calling me Matthew and using my correct pronouns.
Since starting my social and medical transition, I have found my sexuality to change and grow. I identify openly as queer because my sexual and romantic attractions differ and I have reclaimed the use of this word. What in the past used to hurt me is now something I am proud to call myself. I am proud of the queer trans man that I am and I would not want it any other way. I am thankful for the love I have received from my family and friends, and I am excited for what’s to come next on my journey!
Happy Pride to everyone!