On Having PRIDE In My Queer Identity After A Hetero Marriage| By Christy DeGallerie

Christy DeGallerie is a writer, actor and mother living in New York. I’m so happy to have her here today. LaTonya

“If I can use one word describe what it was like to maintain a queer identity in a heterosexual relationship, I’d say suffocating. It was an internal battle where I was fighting my true self and demanding that the real me stay low. I was always fluid in my romantic life. But I never had the words to describe my feelings. The world screamed that whatever it was, it was abnormal. Every romance that wasn’t with a cisgendered man had to be in secret, and when you’re so used to loving people in private it begins to form a spot in your mind. A spot that says, this kind of love won’t be successful out in the world, and these nights will always be temporary.

No matter if you grew up in a religious household or not, we have been raised by our country’s law of normalizing the criminalization of loving whomever we want. I grew up terrified to lose everything. I did what deemed safe for me. I did what I knew I could handle for the sake of not losing the people around me; I devoted years to femininity and a heteronormative life. I believed if I pushed this role on myself it could be movable and I could maybe ‘storage file’ my identity. I defined myself because of societal pressures.

Among the pressures, there was one to have a kid and get married– you know, the Hallmark card we all want to see. I spent four years with my best friend, and we created an awesome kid. Despite that, the pressure was still on me. I could no longer keep up with ignoring myself despite my fear of ruining my family and all the hopes of those that have invested in my life. I had no clue if wanting to be with a woman was worth it. And then I realized it wasn’t about any other woman, or dating within the LGBTQ community… it was about me. It was about my freedom that was continually stifled.

So I went for it because I needed to be free in my adulthood; just as free as I was when I was a young adult who was loving in secret because I was afraid of disposal.

I had to catch-up on everything I missed. I dated…a lot. I was a queer single mom and I thought I was super late to the party, or maybe a kicked-out member who had ‘traitor’ on her forehead. Without much of a search, I crossed paths with other single moms and non-binary parents. And call me lucky, I was met with support from my now ex-partner who is good friends with my current partner (she is a single mother with two kids as well). We’ve become this blended family where we can rely on each other.

Truth be told, I was nervous if I’d be taken seriously. Or that one day, my daughter would be upset with me. My partner and I have merged our lives over the last two years. I didn’t believe it was possible, due to lack of representation, and shame around lesbian and queer identity.

Being in the LGBTQ community wasn’t linear for me, and it never will be. I’ll likely continue to surprise myself as I find new ways of my identity. Even more-so now that I’m open. It’s no wonder why I’m so wrapped in pride this year. For years I protested against the disapproval of society, people around me, myself and my identity. The social marginalization didn’t matter to me because being who I am meant that I get to show my family and a little girl I birthed years ago, how one chooses freedom. Here comes the pride, the satisfaction and complete delight of fully living my truth out loud.”

Photograph by Ryan McGinley for The New York Times Magazine. You can follow and support Christy’s work right here.

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