Kendall is a 16-year-old lesbian who makes her own clothes and loves movies, music and books. She talks about her experiences coming out and offers some advice for other GLBT teens thinking about doing the same.
What made you decide to come out?
I felt like I was lying to my mother. She and I are really very close, so it was very difficult for me to keep something so big from her. She was there for me after a bad situation with a female friend, but she did not know the specifics of the relationship. I think after that she realized, but I felt like I needed to tell her.
What was the best reaction you got to your news? What about the weirdest?
The best reaction was "I knew it!" from my mother. She then went into all these things that I've done or said that fall into the stereotypical butch. That was definitely strange.
Are you out to your family? If so, how did they family react?
I'm out to everyone except my grandmother. My step-father at the time was very homophobic. It's not that he's hateful, but it's clearly uncomfortable for him. He was worried that his daughter and I were so close. He isn't in my life anymore, but his daughter and I are still friends. He doesn't allow her to come over. That was the worst reaction. Otherwise, my sister was very supportive. I don't think I've ever seen her smile so hugely. And, as I talked about before, my mother was great. She is great. My uncle and his husband were thrilled about it. They proudly declared it part of their side of the family.
Did you have a plan for if their reactions weren't positive?
I knew most of them would be supportive but I did have a plan in the back of my mind, just in case. I'd stay with close family.
What advice do you have for other teens thinking about coming out?
The best advice I can give is to make sure you're ready to come out. It's a big deal. Be certain you're not lashing out or trying to prove a point or anything irrational like that.
What has been the best part of coming out? The worst?
The best part is feeling liberated. I never really worried about hiding my support of LGBT rights. I have always been very vocal and active when it comes to all sorts of human rights. However, it’s nice knowing that if I think someone is attractive, I don’t really have to worry about voicing it (respectfully, of course). I can talk to my friends about feelings for a female. That’s nice. The worst part is that for some reason, [people think that] liking females automatically worsens my taste in some way, as if every female I see I want to have a relationship with. That’s totally untrue and I don’t really understand why there’s the thought that a lesbian or gay [guy] likes every single [person] of his or her preferred gender.
Is there anything you would do differently?
When it comes to my coming out? Definitely not. I’m glad I came out when I did. If you’re asking about the way I lead my lifestyle, I’m not sure. I wish I could work up the nerve to tell my grandmother. I love her a lot and it gets really awkward when she starts to discuss “the perfect man” for me.
Is there anything that our readers would be surprised to learn about you?
It isn’t really anything exciting, but I go through about two mini bottles of hand sanitizer a week. I’m really terrified of germs, so I wipe everything down, including my own laptop and desks at school. The thought of all those unwashed hands drives me crazy.