Adam grew up in a lower middle class household where his father raised him and his sister on his own from when he was just 7 years old.
“I never really had much of a community or social network outside of school and my limited number of friends, as my father is an introvert and isn’t involved in any hobbies or a church,” Adam said. “Most of the people around me as a child — and now — are LGBTQ+ tolerant but aren’t hard allies.”
Along with a heavy religious presence and people from churches being openly phobic, they’ve given Adam and several of his peers a hard time merely for being out of the closet. He started questioning his sexuality at 12 and his gender at 14.
“I knew I was interested in both boys and girls my entire life but I didn’t question it until then because I assumed everyone else felt the same way,” he said. “I only realized it wasn’t normal when same-sex marriage was legalized in my country (Australia).”
And he started questioning his gender when he began to learn more about transgender and nonbinary identities, and realized that a lot of the feelings that he’d been having for years were actually gender dysphoria and euphoria.
“When I was 13, a pride group started at my school and a few of my friends went. I ended up attending as well, and as a result became very entrenched in the LGBTQ+ community and learning about our history and culture,” Adam explained, describing being out as freeing but also terrifying.
“It felt amazing to be able to explore my true self but the idea of the possible social consequences weighed (and still weighs) down on me a lot,” he said.
He came out as bisexual to his best friend — who is also bi — when he was 7. Earlier this year, when he was 15, he came out as transgender to the same best friend who identifies as nonbinary.
“It didn’t seem any different to them. When we were younger, we would casually talk about our crushes on both boys and girls without either of us questioning it,” he explained. “We both accepted it even before we had the words to know what it meant.
Neither of them really knew or cared about sexuality or understood they were different. Adam had no doubt his best friend would accept him when he came out as trans.
“Bringing up my gender crisis wasn’t something I worried about,” Adam continued. “I just casually mentioned it in a conversation one day, and, over time, things just progressed as I figured my labels out. They were always careful to ask about my name and pronouns regularly to ensure that I felt comfortable.”
He isn’t out to everybody yet though, noting that doing so is a “mammoth task.” His closest friends know along with some internet mutuals.
“With my family, it’s more of an irrational fear of being rejected by them and, as I mentioned, a lot of my town is phobic of the LGBTQ+ community. I need time to arm myself with the right resources to be able to face the hate that I will get. My safety and mental health needs to be ensured before I tell everyone.”
Knowing he’ll likely face hardships when he comes out to everyone else is something else that has weighed Adam down. He hasn’t began transitioning yet either.
“I’m very aware of the challenges that trans people face and the idea of going up against them is scary,” he said. “It’s also hard knowing that I will almost definitely lose people who are close to me because I’m trans. I lost several friends when I [came out as] bisexual and it was hard to come to terms with the fact that some people’s love for me is conditional upon me fitting their flawed ideas of what an acceptable human being is.”
But Adam knows that having a support system and LGBTQ friends is one of the key things to help with feeling safe but also revealing some hard truths, “such as the fact that not all LGB+ people are trans allies.
“Despite what some people may think, having a large queer friend group isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It has been just as frustrating to me during my coming out journey as it has been liberating.”
And for those who aren’t safe or ready to come out just yet, he said to hang in there.
“You are valid and you are strong. Come out when you’re ready but never if you’re not safe. Make sure you have the right resources and support network to face your hardships. You are not alone.”