Dear Queer Diary: Coming Out on Paper

Welcome to Dear Queer Diary, a (new!) column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We’ll be cracking open our tiny notebooks and breaking out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!

Header by Rory Midhani

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px


My first diary was a pink confection that came complete with a tiny key, presumably to hide my private preadolescent thoughts and feelings from the prying eyes of parents, siblings, and nosy stuffed animals. This was the “Dear Dairy” era, when spelling was unimportant and gel pens reigned supreme—and more than I remember actually writing anything in my diary, I remember toting the key around on a ribbon around my neck in order to safeguard the privacy of my words.

gelpens2

Would it be unprofessional to use these delicious-looking gel pens for work?

Just like Gretchen Wieners’ hair, my old diaries are full of secrets. Secrets about who I like liked and the disgraceful and traumatizing time I cheated on a map quiz about the rivers of the Middle East. Secrets about the crush I had on my high school history teacher, and my best friend’s struggles with anxiety, and the creative writing seminar I really, really, really wanted to get into. Yet amidst all these exciting and confidential factoids, there is one big secret that isn’t there.

As queer-type-humaniods, many of us have, at one point in our pasts, probably had one important secret in common. “I think I might be attracted to girls.” “I have a crush on Kristen Stewart.” “I’m as gay as a rainbow flag plus kale risotto times Jamaica Plain.” “I’m queer.”

That secret is the one that’s missing from my diary.

via Etsy

via Etsy

Of course, this is partially due to timing: I flew into the lesbian dance party headfirst, so it wasn’t until after I suddenly found myself with a girlfriend that I realized the assumptions I’d made about my own desires were shaped by heteronormativity and historical romance, novels rather than my own heart/soul/body.

Yet in retrospect, I wonder if another reason those magic words never appeared in my journals was that they were too complicated, too uncertain—and maybe just too big of a secret for me to write down. Once I had kissed a girl and liked it, I used my diary to work through identity markers and logistical scenarios. Before, there are only the smallest of hints: my choice to prioritize school over boys, my interest in the LGBTQ people around me.

Katy Perry loves to write in her journal when she's not applying cherry chapstick. Via UtepPrintStore

Katy Perry loves to write in her journal when she’s not applying cherry chapstick. Via UtepPrintStore

In many ways, I am inordinately, indescribably, amazingly lucky that my identity never had to be a secret, kept only between the pages of my diary and locked up with a key carried on a ribbon around my neck. Yet I know, my dear queer diarists, that this cannot be the case for all of us. Just like we all experience our identities in unique ways, and we all have our favorite Autostraddle editors, and we all have divergent feelings about pumpkin-flavored beer, we all must have different relationships with our dear queer diaries. When did you come out to your journal? What did you write?

Just one of the amazing photos submitted so far. Via Claire

Just one of the amazing photos submitted so far. Via Claire

In other news: nine hundred bouquets of posies and a dozen molten chocolate cakes to all of you who have sent in photos of your journals! We already have some beautiful shots, and I am happy to report that there are some electronic journals documented along with the pen-and-paper ones.

I’ll keep accepting submissions through the weekend—if you send me a photo after that, I will love it and treasure it, but you probably won’t see it in the upcoming gallery.

feature image via weheartit

Maggie is a freckly, punctuation-loving queer living in the Boston area. She supports her book-buying and tea-drinking habits by teaching America’s youth how to write topic sentences and spends her free time writing postcards and making sandwiches for her girlfriend.

Maggie has written 53 articles for us.

59 Comments

  1. Journaling has always been the most helpful tool for self-discovery in my life, so my coming out process is well-documented in my journals. I can relate so well to many of these comments!

    The earliest I can remember writing about my homosexuality (in unstated, implied language of course) was my junior year of high school. I had a crush on a new friend, who I decided I was going to witness to (I was also a bit zealot… she was Mormon). When writing about getting to know her and preparing to get my gospel-sharing on I wrote, “I do have to be careful with that other thing…” ‘That other thing’ was, of course, my habit of thinking lustful thoughts about her, not unlike the lustful thoughts I knew I’d had for many, many other females in my life. Ohhh good times.

    Yes, my journal knows it all!

  2. When I was coming out to myself, I never dared write it down. I was too afraid that my parents would find it. But I did write many journal pages about this one friend and how amazing she was and how I longed for her etc. etc. — completely oblivious, years before I started questioning my sexual orientation.

    Also in fifth grade my friends wanted to write our own poetry anthology, and they decided there should be various categories of poetry. I forget what the others were, but one of them was romance, and I wrote a love poem for a girl in my class. I used female pronouns and everything, but it never occurred to me that there might be anything non-heterosexual about this (probably because I don’t think I knew there was such a thing as non-heterosexuality) — I just was like “oh I’m writing a poem from the perspective of a boy.”

  3. I must have been more self-absorbed than most people because I always imagined that someone would be reading my diaries after my death, (I would of course be famous by then for having done something great), and so I censured myself. Some major events I wrote down in a way that would let me remember what happened upon reading it years later, but that nobody else would understand. There is just no way that I would have written down something as “shameful” as my huge crush on Angelina Jolie. My diaries are so unauthentic it’s sad really.
    At least real-life-me is finally out!

  4. I wrote, “I really like this girl [name]… I’ve always known I like girls more than I should, but I’ve never LIKED a girl. I don’t know what to do about this.

    And now here I am. Gay as a rainbow.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!