I spent Monday morning scrolling through my phone while my girlfriend slept beside me. As I passed through the Martin Luther King quotes, I was reminded yet again of how lucky I am. So many people have fought for the rights I enjoy today. I am grateful for every protest, sit in, vote, and voice that have allowed me to live and love who I am.

My coming out story doesn’t fit the traditional narrative. I have an inkling that those who fought for same-sex rights were really fighting for everything that sentence encompasses. Because of their sacrifices, I was empowered to feel like I didn’t need to come out. I was allowed to start living my truth. I know how incredibly privileged that sounds. I don’t even know if I could measure the tower of shoulders I stand on that brought me to this place of acceptance. I know the fight isn’t over, but so many battles have been won.

Last December (2015), I returned home from a studio Christmas party buzzed with nothing but the thought of this girl in my head. I panicked to my best friend, as so many of us do when those first feeling of a crush just can’t be crushed. I finally had met the person that pushed me to really and fully accept I am not straight. My first realization of this came when I was in my early teens, but for many reasons I denied it or believed it wasn’t true. Bisexual wasn’t a thing I had heard of and I liked boys, so I had to be straight. In my twenties, I began to accept that I could fall in love with either gender and that would be ok. Which is beautiful in theory, but really fucking scary in practice. At 30, I took a job at a teen center. Their open attitude toward sexuality was what cemented the fact that I’d be ok, no matter who I was with. So when I started to hang out with Bridget, I was at the point where I was more frightened of love than love with a woman.

Even though I was ready, I wasn’t sure my friends and family would be. I had only ever shared my sexuality in theory, although I felt like most of the people close to me would not be surprised. I worried about the reactions of a few friends, but for the most part I treated coming out like I would have treated informing them about any other relationship, letting them know I had started dating someone new and her name was Bridget. I was somewhat prepared to discuss it, but I just wanted to be treated as if it were no big deal. That to me is the measure of equality.

Our relationship grew. We have since moved in with each other. We are extremely blessed with an accepting group of friends who support us and our relationship. There have been challenges. I struggle with criticism, feeling defensive, because that’s better than feeling odd or wrong. On those days, I cry, I write and then I talk to Bridget, because she knows exactly what I mean. Even so I still get angry that there is this extra layer to our relationship that many do not have. Our relationship is political, whether that’s what we want or not. Holding hands or kissing in public is a statement.

However, these challenges are nothing compared to what faced couples in the past, or in other parts of the country or throughout the world. I am lucky, because others weren’t. I am privileged, because others weren’t. I live (mostly) without fear, because others didn’t. I use my voice where I can, because others can not. Thank you to all those out there who have and who continue to fight for the rights of all humans. I am eternally grateful. I will continue to live out loud and use my voice where I can so that others may enjoy the same privileges.

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