One of the things that I miss about my time at Stanford is that in every class I was in, we had the most amazing discussions about some pretty heavy topics ranging from religion, sexuality, gender identity and expression, race and ethnicity, the list goes on. In my life now, I don’t have those too often. Many times, I think this is because these types of “triggering” topics as we’d call them now are confusing, hard and many times personal and deeply felt. I believe that when you come to a place of mutual respect and understanding you can and should be able to communicate, through understanding someone else’s viewpoint. What I’m about to discuss is one of those topics – coming out.
I’m telling my story because there still are so many misconceptions about what it means to be gay and still many people are closeted because of it. It is always a personal decision to not come out, and from my story you will see that I absolutely understand. I feel that it is my duty as someone who wants to make change and to help other people that I share this with you all. However, it’s important to note that my experiences and thoughts are my own and are not representative of the entire LGBTQ community.
I’m not sure when I first started questioning things, likely early in high school, but I rejected it like the plague. I grew up in a Catholic family, went to church every week (at the time), and was even an altar girl. I so strongly believed in every moral principle the Catholic Church taught me. As the years went on, I realized this feeling wasn’t going away. Sometime around my junior year, I was moving closer to about 80% sure I knew, and I hated it. I hated myself in fact for having those feelings. Growing up, I always tried to my best ability to be and do “good.” The feelings that I had only made me feel so wrong and bad. * (See comment at bottom)
I also hated having those feelings as a goalie. As a goalie, we are stereotyped enough as “weird”, “lazy”, “unathletic”, “masculine”, etc. Like pretty much everything else involving women’s sports, the common misconception is if you’re more masculine then you must be more likely to be a lesbian. This reason is largely why I feel most girls are opposed to shorts, in fact, I wrote an entire paper on it in college but gender expression is another issue entirely which I can discuss with anyone who wants to later! Because of this, I got comments and questions about being gay before I even came out. I hated it even more that I was becoming the stereotype, because yes if you know me you know I’m not a “girly girl”. I barely wore make up in high school, in fact, for all nice occasions my younger sister put my make up on (not kidding), I hated shopping, I loved being in sweats, and I loved being strong. All of this just made me upset at the idea of somehow “confirming” this was true to others and made me feel even more “weird” or different. At this point, I’d like to note that while it was true for me, not every girl that is more masculine or doesn’t conform to society’s expectations for femininity is gay – just for the record.
So what did I do with all of these feelings? I hid it. I kept it a secret from everyone. I got to college, and I still wasn’t one hundred percent sure. This is where the tough part comes I think for a lot of people questioning their sexuality. I had no idea what to even say. Am I supposed to tell my teammates and best friends, “I think I like girls but I’m not totally sure” or come out as bisexual? I’d never heard of anyone doing that, and I wasn’t about to be the first. I went to Stanford to be the best lacrosse player I could, and that’s what I wanted to be known for. I just wanted to be a normal college student-athlete. After about a year or so in college, the rumors started going around, girls we’d play against or working camps with and I’d hear people say oh did you know “Sally dates Jane?”. Hearing people talk about it like it was huge gossip was not something I wanted to be a part of. This made me reject my feelings even more. Unfortunately (I am utterly disappointed in myself now), I did the opposite and acted pretty homophobic I’m not going to lie. I was so scared of someone “finding me out,” I thought that was the only way no one would think anything. Life hint: this is why some might say the most homophobic probably are questioning things!
Another reason I feel that it’s difficult for people to come out is because of the dichotomy that is created around sexuality. Personally, I identify as gay because it’s easier for people to understand and truly I do like women more than men. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like men at all. For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed going to Chippendale’s on my trip to Vegas after graduation :). I see sexuality more on a spectrum and think many people out there do too, it’s just really hard to explain. So instead of having this long drawn out explanation, they don’t come out. As I said before, sometimes coming out as bisexual leads to more confusion and questions like “you must not really know” or “it’s probably just a phase”. Some even identify as pansexual, meaning to like anyone regardless of biological sex, gender identity, or gender expression. Again, there are a lot of topics here and if you want to discuss more I’m happy to do so! I just hope I didn’t confuse things more. I’ll get back to my story now.
Towards the end of my junior year of college, I started dating a girl. Yet, I still hid my sexuality and relationship. I was still processing things. How could I tell everyone else? How would my teammates, friends, family take it? I had no idea. There were way too many questions and seemed like a huge risk. However, those closest to me know that I can’t lie. I’m literally the worst. About a month later I told my two best friends, and that was about all I could handle. During that summer, I told my family and a few more close friends from home. Everything had been pretty smooth, but there was still one more huge part of my life that didn’t know this very large piece of me, and that was my team.
I still went back and forth in my head about it, people talking about me for my sexuality, negative perceptions from teammates, the stereotype reaction of girls thinking you like all girls just because you like some, not to mention locker room stuff. Eventually, it got to a point where I saw the hiding more similar to lying and I couldn’t look at myself anymore. My teammates were my closest friends and I was keeping a huge part of me from them. Not to mention, I was extremely happy and wanted to share that with them too! So, one day before winter break, I told them and my coaches. They could not have been more amazing. So many hugs and so much excitement, I was so overwhelmed. I know not everyone shares that experience, but everyone made it so easy for me. It was something I should’ve discussed long ago, but my own insecurities kept it inside. Honestly, that was the only pushback I got from friends and teammates. They were only upset I hadn’t told them sooner.
I have come a long way with accepting my sexuality. Now I openly discuss with friends, family, even write about it on Facebook! I thought I finally accepted this part of me, but an entirely new realm of insecurities hit me as I was launching LM Lax Training. I had no idea if I wanted to put it out there for all the kids and parents to see. What if they don’t want me to train their daughters or the girls I work with now look at me differently? The thoughts went on and on. Someone told me, though, you know Lyndsey, if you don’t say anything and hide it, you’re admitting there’s something wrong about it, about you. You know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong about it or you, and you never know what girls or boys out there might be questioning things just like you were. Like I said before, I have some pretty awesome people in my life. Ultimately, this is why I am sharing my story, for anyone that is questioning, I am here and I understand. You are not alone. Recently, Taylor Tvedt discussed coming out on Inside Lacrosse, and Taylor I’ve never met you, but that was the most courageous thing I’ve seen in a long time. The thing is -- the more women and girls that come out, the less of a stigma there becomes.
Clearly, this is still something I am still accepting as a part of myself, but that’s okay. Everything in life is a journey, and some things just take time. However, one thing I have fully accepted more than anything is that being weird and different is more than okay, it’s great. That’s why I tell all of my goalies now to embrace the weird because being normal is boring. When you’re weird you are unapologetically yourself, and that’s what people enjoy being around most.
If you want to talk about this further, or specifically about coming out confidentially you’re welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, the Trevor Project has a ton of great resources, which you can check out here: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/section/YOU.
*Note: I do not hate the Catholic Church. While I don’t agree with its stance on same-sex marriage, growing up Catholic made me who I am today. My Catholic foundation is why I can’t lie, why I am empathetic to everyone’s circumstances, am full of love for others, always have hope, and know that everything happens for a reason. Religion is a whole other part of my life that I’m currently working on, so TBD on that. But I just wanted to make sure that point was clear, I don’t hate Catholics or the church. I was simply stating how their teachings made me feel.