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Coming Out When Everyone Thought My Straight Tomboy Twin Was a Lesbian

Coming Out When Everyone Thought My Straight Tomboy Twin Was a Lesbian

Coming Out When Everyone Thought My Straight Tomboy Twin Was a Lesbian

When I take a look back at my coming-out, I realize that my experience wasn’t as bad as what other queer people have endured. My parents were supportive; they didn't tear me down or tell me I was going to hell. My siblings were supportive, and my friends didn't abandon me after they knew I was dating a woman. I never experienced the typical coming-out emotions, like anger, sadness, or disappointment, that many feel. However, I encountered a blend of confusion and genuine disbelief, which seems to be chronic.

Confusion isn't as soul-crushing as being banished by family or perceived as disgusting. When everyone questions your sexuality and wonders if you're telling the truth, it makes coming out very difficult. Before I came out, I felt like I gathered a newfound confidence that would finally propel me to share my biggest secret. I was finally in tune with myself, able to understand and accept my truth, and I was excited to have my loved ones share that experience. But that’s not what happened — because I'm an identical twin. 

My sister and I didn’t know we were identical. When we were born, the science about twins was premature, and my parents were told we were fraternal. From the moment we were born, we couldn't have been more different. Physically, we were indistinguishable, but our personalities were clearly unique. When I was 2, my sister asked my mom to help her take out her earrings and remove her namesake bracelet (a common Latina tradition). I wanted to wear my jewelry. As we grew, my sister wanted to wear "boy clothes," and I prefered Disney T-shirts and bike shorts. During recess, I choreographed dance routines with my girlfriends, and she played soccer with the boys. Our personalities inevitably defined us: She was a tomboy, and I was a girly girl. 

These labels followed us everywhere. Every friend, teacher, administrator, and parent, knew us as "the tomboy" and "the girly girl." When we entered high school, my sister traded her "boy clothes" for "girl clothes," and I ditched my Disney shirts and wore sweatpants and sports bras. Even then, she was the tomboy and I the girly girl. 

When I came out, our socially prescribed titles resurfaced. People said, “You can’t be gay — you’re the girly girl,” and my poor sister, who's straight, was constantly told, “Everyone always thought you’d be the gay one.” It broke my heart. Very few people believed me, and most said, “it's just a phase.” According to everyone else, I was going through a gay spell in college, and my sister was a closeted tomboy. 

People assume twins share everything. My coming-out became a conversation about gender stereotypes. The emphasis on the courage required to come out was completely lost.

Twins are used to being asked ridiculous questions. Which one of you is older? How do you tell yourselves apart? Are you sure you're Briana? After I came out, we were forced to endure a herd of absurd sexual questions. Who would have thought you’d be the lesbian? You know we all thought it was going to be your sister, right? Are you sure she isn’t the gay one?

I wish my family didn't assume my tomboy sister was the lesbian twin, and that they would have believed me when I came out. When I say "I’m gay," it actually means ... I’m gay. I’m happy that when I finally did share this important part of my life with everyone, my sister was there. Standing by my side, having my back, being my ride or die, my protector, my supporter, my hero, my sister, my twin. I’m the luckiest person in the world to have the twin sister I do, because she was what made my coming-out bearable. She made every day after easier to deal with. She made it OK. For that, along with a million other reasons, I’ll always be grateful for being born with her. Being born her twin.

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