Welcome to Pride Project 2020! In this day-long series, a few queer writers share a moment of Pride on the last day of Pride Month. Read all the Pride Project posts (and identity posts) here. This post is by Helle A.
As a kid, and growing up, I always felt like the odd one out, the one being different and not really knowing why or how to change it. I never felt like I had a group of friends I was close with, and they didn’t really feel like a second family. You know, the kind of friend groups that always seem so close that they could have been family, and while I longed for it, I simply could not find it, though within the last few years it changed.
The first time I really felt accepted as a person, and for being a lgbtq+ person, was when I met my girlfriend. We met online, but even the distance from Denmark to the Netherlands didn’t feel like an obstacle, as she quickly became my closest friend and I felt like I could be me around her, without having to be scared of her seeing me differently once she knew I was a lesbian. She was the first person to make me feel like I wasn’t the odd kid in the back of the room, nervously chewing on her hair. She became family to me, even before we got together. I learned more about her close friend group that existed of two gay men in a relationship, as well as two allies. They were more in their friend group, but these four were her family, and I soon realised why.
It was my second time meeting my girlfriend and her friends, and I was quite nervous. It was a casual dinner, just her, I and the people I knew as her chosen family. I had only met them once before, so I was quite nervous about meeting them again. I am a very shy person in general, so I did not talk a lot with them the first time, as I was slightly scared they would not like me, and I knew it was important to her, giving me more pressure on meeting them. The walk to one of the men’s apartment felt like a long road, as my nerves were getting the better of me, and I felt like telling my girlfriend to call in sick at the very last minute.
Before I wanted it to happen, we were there and I put on a brave face, ready to feel like the odd one out once more. But as we got inside the house, I was welcomed with hugs and kisses, as if they had known me for years, and not just met me a few weeks ago prior to this dinner. We sat down in the living room and they all began to talk with each other, most of it being in English, and not Dutch, even though it would have made things easier for themselves. Without the language barrier, I could follow the conversation, give inputs here and there and slowly relax in their company. I would have been okay with simply observing them all, but as the appetisers came the conversations between me and the others did so, too. They asked me questions about my family, friends, about my time in the Netherlands and what I had seen an experienced.
This was only the second time in my life that I got the feeling of belonging somewhere, like I was meant to be there and not just be an outsider looking in, but to be an actual part of what was going on and happening. As the night progressed, I got to learn more about these 4 amazing people, and I got this rare feeling of euphoria and of being in touch with myself and the people I was surrounded with, knowing that over half of us have had the same experiences of coming out, of feeling like the odd kid, simply for loving a person of the same gender. And two allies who did not look at you any differently, but instead was happy that you had found the love and happiness that they shared with each other.
That is the first time I have ever felt like I truly belonged with a group of people, both lgbtq+ as well as allies. Allies that did not see me any differently, and other lgbtq+ people that knew exactly what I had been through and how amazing and important the feeling of being accepted is. Even though it was just a small group of 5 people and a casual dinner, it made me feel like I belonged. It doesn’t have to be a big group of friends, as long as you know that you are accepted and loved and can be your true self. And having a group of friends, that has been going through the same as you, and knows what it feels like to be the odd one out, will automatically make you feel some sort of unspoken understanding with each other. I consider these 5 people my small, slightly dysfunctional family, and I would not live without them. Finding your own chosen family, especially within the lgbtq+ community made me feel good, both in my own skin and in my surroundings.
Helle A. is your average Danish lesbian writer who spends too much time drooling over middle aged women, petting cats, occasionally reading, knows all of the lines to Mamma Mia! The Movie and is currently working on getting their own blog up and running. You can follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Read all the Pride Project and identity posts here.