I’m so incredibly excited and honored to have URBAN FLEUR’s Graphic Designer and Guest Writer, Alli Hoffer, share her story. URBAN FLEUR is a safe space where love always wins and all stories are shared. It means a lot to me that Alli would trust such an intimate story with me, and I hope readers find encouragement from it. Happy reading and Happy Pride!
“Pride Month has always been something I love to honor and celebrate, but this year it comes with entirely new meaning. This is the first pride month I’ve been out of the closet, even though I wasn’t ever really aware I was in it in the first place.
There’s this thing called compulsory heterosexuality that I think I’ve been struggling with my whole life. It’s the idea that heterosexuality is assumed until proven otherwise due to the heteronormative society we all live in. I grew up in an environment where it was okay to be gay, but somehow it didn’t make sense that it could be okay for ME too. To my knowledge, gay men were super flamboyant, feminine, and sporting women’s clothing and rhinestones while gay women were very masculine, had short hair, and never wore dresses. I didn’t know you could be gay and defy those stereotypes, much less that you could fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, or that there was even a spectrum at all. I was a tomboy, but that was okay because I was athletic and still liked pretty dresses and braiding my hair — so I must be straight, right?
I grew up with sisters who did ballet and brought home boyfriends while I played basketball and was perpetually single, and I was the token outspoken liberal at a tiny conservative catholic school, so being the odd one out has never really been unfamiliar to me. It wasn’t until college that I really began to embrace how different I was from my family and my peers from back home — the people I met at my little liberal arts college celebrated uniqueness and creativity unlike anyone I had ever met. I was home and I was free to be exactly who I wanted to be.
I’ve always had thoughts of “what if” when it came to openly liking women, but I never allowed myself to think about it for too long. What would my family think? What would my home church think? What would my catholic alma mater think? Who would I be then? Would I still be me? It wasn’t until quarantine when I was physically forced to be alone with my thoughts so often that I came to terms with this part of who I am, and the truth is — of course I’m still me. I’m more me than I’ve ever been.
Coming out has been harder than I thought it would be, but for reasons I didn’t anticipate. I have to come out every single day when someone asks a question about my life, and although it gets easier to say “my girlfriend” in casual conversation every time I do it, it still scares me. I often feel very aware of how different I am from my friends when we all get together and I can’t relate to “boy talk,” or when I have to explain and give details on things that straight people never have to explain. I notice people I care about unfollowing me or not liking posts where I reference being queer. All the clothes I wore before i came out and the decorations that still hang in my bedroom feel like they belong to a stranger. I get anxious to hold my girlfriend’s hand in the grocery store and can’t help but feel envious of the straight-passing couples walking around who never have to give it a second thought. I fear that saying, doing, or wearing certain things will make me “too gay.”
Despite all of it, I wouldn’t change a thing. Being queer, gay, bi, pan, trans — however you choose to identify, or maybe you’re like me and are shy to identify at all — is so special because that’s who you are and who you get to be even when it’s hard. There’s nothing more beautiful to me than the fact that I choose to love someone every day even when there are so many people who might not like it. It’s so worth it, and you are so worth it. Be proud of who you are — if you’ve been out for years, if you just came out and this is your first Pride too, or if you’re afraid you’ll never come out (you can do it <3). I’m proud of you, and I’m proud of me too. Happy Pride! 🌈”
Beautifully written, Allison. Thank you so much for sharing and writing this. Growing up with a gay brother in the same hometown as you, I understand and relate to what you were so wonderfully conveying in the piece. I admire your bravery and am here to support anyone who wants to speak their truth and be who they were born to be.
Wow!! As I was reading this, it matched feelings that I’ve always felt, but didn’t know how to express. I understand completely and still to this day struggle with the ‘what people will think’ aspect. I’m married to my wife now, but still find it very difficult to hold hands in public. I’ve been with her for 12 years but during that time because of feelings and stereotypes, I left her for a guy so I could feel “normal”. In fact, it was when she proposed to me that I “ran” because all I could think about was what others would say or think. It devastated my then girlfriend. I just wanted normalcy. However, I had already been married to a man (small world – your dad was my lawyer) and had 3 kids, so shouldn’t that have been my normal? Like you, I’ve always thought one woman in the relationship is butch and one is girly but that’s not the case in our relationship. I’ve been so confused and still struggle with some aspects of being involved with a woman, but I do know that I love her with all my heart and am happy to finally be married to her. Thank you for sharing your story and being so brave – something I have never been. This is actually the first time I have felt comfortable putting my feelings down and I think it’s because reading your story made me realize that I’m not so different after all!