Who We Are: The Closeted Sewcialist

This piece was written by a Sewcialist contributor, but I’m posting it under my name for her privacy. She’s replying to comments through my account too!

pride-logo-1024x502.pngPride is next weekend.

I want to go.

I’ll probably go.

But there’s a problem. I’m a mostly-closeted gender-queer 40-year-old Sewcialist who’s never been to pride, and has never felt gay enough to come out.

What do I wear?! Should I make something just for pride?

Is it time for me to come out finally? I’ve known for about 30 years. My childhood bff asked me if I was a lesbian when we were 10. A lot of my local friends know now. My girlfriend, luckily, isn’t forcing me to come out but she also sees the stress that being closeted brings into my life.

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, so we bought what we could afford. Fashion was not on the agenda, though my mom would make me dresses when we had the money. My mom, a staunch feminist, never made me feel like wearing a dress meant anything other than wearing something she made just for me, and I felt special. These days, fashion is my life.

In the fashion world, or the creative world I’ve lived in every minute of my 40 years, I doubt anyone would care if I came out. Some days, I want to sew up this look:

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Other days, this look is more appealing:

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As a Sewcialist, I’ve been really vocal about fit and working with what you’ve got, while still advocating: Wear what you want! Because of the shape of my body, I lean towards a more tailored look, which I love for myself.

Over the years, through my work, and my personal life, it’s become clear that staying in the closet isn’t a long-term option. I want to be fully out. As a queer femme, or really anyone else on the queer spectrum, you end up having to come out all the time. It’s never-ending, but being as active on social media as I am, it would be wonderful to feel free enough to add a rainbow flag to my profile as a shorthand for potential clients to know that I get it, I’m not going to judge you, and you’re safe. I do it in person, but it’s frustrating to not feel like I can share my life publicly, when I share so much about my sewing life already.

Sewing has been my social media language for over a decade and has opened my world up to some amazing people across different waters. But there’s still that one nagging thing I’m keeping from my feed.

If you’re also closeted, I’m sending you love and solidarity. If you don’t know how you feel about gender, sexuality, and how you present yourself to the world, a lot of people don’t either. You’re not alone. The beauty about sewing is that you can make whatever you want, in any color you want, and present yourself however you want.

Whether you celebrate the month of June openly or privately, Happy Pride!

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36 thoughts on “Who We Are: The Closeted Sewcialist

  1. Oh, good luck! Coming out is such a personal thing, obviously you should only do it if you feel safe—but I think it’s so good to do if you can. My father spent his entire adult life in the closet and the toll it took on him (and the rest of the family) is astounding in hindsight. Best wishes!

    1. My kids know, but since my parents don’t, I’ve put them in a position where I’m asking them to keep a secret. Not anything I ever wanted to do to them. Thank you for this perspective. -The Author

    1. That is a really good point! I have older lady friends who think they’re in the closet, but everyone knows. A lot to consider. -The Author

      1. That seems to be a nearly universal experience. Most people who agonize over coming out are stunned to be greeted by a big yawn. Most people know, few people care. You’re doing this to yourself

        1. I’m happy to hear that is the case for many people! I work at schools with conservative immigrant and religious communities, and I’m not confident that the reaction there would be as blasé! (This is Gillian talking, not the post’s author!)

  2. I’m a 48 year old, straight, married woman. I just want to send you a hug. I can tell from reading this that it’s a struggle, but I also know that it is deeper than what I can understand from just reading. Just know that there are lots of people out here in the world that care.

    1. Thank you. Yeah, in re-reading my own words, I can hear my own struggle. I really appreciate your comment. -The Author

  3. Be proud for pride. We all need to be prouder of who we are. Wear it. Be it. Do it. Show us all how it’s done. We’ll be there for you.

  4. Love and support to you. Just be yourself. Don’t be pressured to “declare” your sexuality unless you want to. I am a private person, and I like keeping my personal life to myself, while still taking a lot of joy in participating in the online sewing community. Do what feels natural and comfortable.

    1. I appreciate this so much. A lot of times, I think, “who cares!” Of course, with my parents not knowing, and my relationship deepening into something quite beautiful, I’ll want to take the uncomfortable steps toward telling my parents. -The Author

  5. Thanks for sharing your struggles with this here. If you do decide to come out, I’m sure you’ll find much love and support from this amazing sewing community! Deciding what to share on social media vs our private lives is a very personal line for everybody and I don’t think you should hesitate to do what feels right for you.

    1. I think about this a LOT! It’s “just” social media…but then, again, I’ve made so many meaningful friendships from it. This is so hard! -The Author

  6. I do not pretend to know what you are going through, but I wanted to say – be gentle to yourself. Give yourself permission to be you, and if you are not ready to share, then don’t. It’s really no ones business but yours. Xoxox

  7. You are not alone, sweetie. I’m sending you so much love and support, and so many hugs. If you ever need to talk, you can send me a message (I have a contact form on my blog). ❤

    By the way, Pride is amazing and I think you should definitely go, but it isn't my decision. 😉

    1. Thank you! Well, after I sent this to Gillian to post for me, I got tickets for the pride festival. I’m going! -The Author

  8. “Everybody’s gay, Kimmy! It’s the 90s!”

    Seriously, though, coming out seems a lot scarier & potentially eath-shattering from the closeted side of things. Then you do it, very few people care that much, & you get to put all that energy you spent wringing your hands over the potential ramifications of living truthfully into more enjoyable activities.

    1. HAHAHA! I love Kimmy! You’re probably right. I know you’re right. So few people are thrown by someone coming out anymore. -The Author

  9. I live in Milwaukee and we’re known for our lakefront festivals, one of which is Pridefest. I’m straight. My brother, gay, took me one year and it was one of the best times of my life! You walk around an event like that and it’s just amazing and reassuring and eye-opening to see what “gay” looks like. People of every ethnicity, of every level of financial means, from pre-teens to the senior citizen set. And the dress! My gosh – there were people who presented in every combination of dress & gender imaginable. It was beautiful! And it was all a mini-microcosm of my home town.

    You be you, Author. But just know that there are plenty of people who support you, however you choose to Be! And Happy Prideweek!

    1. Thank you so much. Feeling part of the greater gay community….aaaah, I’m looking forward to that. -The Author

  10. My brother eased his way out of the closet. He never really declared, “I’m gay.” At some point, everybody knew, and they knew his SO, and he felt better, and we felt better. It reminds me of the Paul Simon song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” There are probably at least as many ways to come out of the closet, and you will do what’s right for you.

    1. I love that song. And yeah, there are a lot of ways. I’m definitely easing my way out. -The Author

  11. You don’t have to be ‘gay enough’. Whatever your lived experience is, that’s yours. You get to be proud of it, whether openly, or quietly at home. And thank you for writing this! It is something to be proud of too. 🙂

    1. Thank you for that. I got called “baby gay” and boy did it make me sob. I’m 40. I’ve known for as long as I’ve had feelings for another person. I’m not a baby. On the other side, I get it. I’m closeted. Baby needs to start walking. 🙂 -The Author

  12. Whenever you are ready, we are here to like what you make and talk fit issues and fabric choices.
    While you aren’t ready, we are here to like what you make and talk fit issues and fabric choices.
    It won’t change a thing for us, but for you this is a big decision and we respect that.
    Good luck with it and take care – we are here if you need us x

    1. I would love that! I’m just this person who loves to sew, and fit, and make pretty things, and I love to share all of it. Thank you for saying it won’t change a thing. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate those words. -The Author

  13. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I’m a bisexual woman married to a man, but I’m only out to a few people. I feel guilty about being able to pass as cishet and often feel like I don’t belong in queer spaces. However, my partner has come out recently as non-binary and may in fact be trans, which will force me to come out! Anyway, I’m glad to hear that you decided to go to pride, and please be gentle with yourself ❤️ And thank you again for this!

    1. Hi Maggie, I fully agree on the guilt of passing as cishet. But I’ll also add, it’s not easy being invisible either, and not being accepted, (or fearing nonacceptance) by the non-het community has kept me silent and painfully self-questioning.

      As I am also a woman of colour (and I don’t pass, ever) I have a complicated relationship with passing/not passing. I feel like my life has been lived right at the intersections, you know?

      I did an MA thesis on belonging (I’m a therapist) and I believe this is something we negotiate, finding safe spaces and bubbles within communities to grow and share. I love what the Sewcialits have created here. ❤️

      Maggie, I felt personally moved to respond to your comment, as a bi woman – and would also like to share that my teen son has come out as trans. I wish you and your partner the best in this journey.

  14. I’m Bi, and it’s taken me till I was 50 to share about this with anyone. I’ve been in a monogamous straight relationship for 21 years, and even my husband didn’t know. There’s been so much stigma around bisexuality, even from (maybe especially from) my gay friends, that it’s taken me years to peel through all that. It’s changed nothing (I love my partner and I’m deeply monogamous) but it’s also changed everything, in the best way.

    Here’s the thing – suppressing parts of the self hurts. Protecting parts of the self, that can really make sense, until YOU feel ready and strong. Coming out to my husband, kids, some family members and close friends has helped me to fully embrace and accept all of myself more fully. And to model a richer, more nuanced orientation and sexual identity for my kids, (They are in their teens, and we have some really wonderful discussions.) Not having a secret is also lightens my spirit. May it be the same for you, when you’re ready.

    Through sharing here, I’d guess you’re getting ready, maybe just a little more prepared to say the words publically. I wish you all the best on this journey, as you move towards fully embracing yourself, perfect just as you are.

  15. As the mother of a very proud and out lesbian, I wish you felt comfortable in being out to your parents. You both deserve the honesty. We’re dealing with custody issues due to one of the first same sex adoptions in Mississippi and planning a wedding for her and her amazing partner. Coming out to the world on social media is a different decision that only you can make, until (if) someone outs you. I feels it always better to me in control of the news rather than reacting to someone else breaking it.
    Pride is amazing and I’m glad you went!

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