Two women share their coming out stories

Lydia Coutré

After five years of questioning her sexuality, Emily Vernon was able to identify herself last year, thanks to Coming Out Week.

When people shared their personal coming out stories last year, like many will at tonight’s PRIDE! Kent meeting in the Governance Chambers at 8 p.m., something clicked for Vernon, a sophomore anthropology major.

“Somebody mentioned asexual as being applied to people and I never even knew that was a possibility,” Vernon said. “I just broke down crying because I knew that is what I was.”

She said this simply means she’s not interested in sex.

“It doesn’t mean I don’t have attractions, because I do. Just not interested in sex.”

She said she felt a huge weight lift off her body as she identified herself as asexual.

Before Thanksgiving break in Fall 2009, Vernon said she came out to her mother, who was “completely supportive.”

Fusion Magazine published a quote in its Spring 2010 issue in which Vernon spoke of her sexuality.

She said it made things easier. She sometimes lets friends read the magazine instead of explaining it to them verbally.

Since then, Vernon has slowly come out to her friends and said she hasn’t had problems with people accepting her.

After years of questioning, Vernon was relieved to finally have this term.

“I didn’t really know who I was because I didn’t know who I loved at that point,” Vernon said. “I felt like if I don’t know myself, how do I identify with other people?”

Vernon said hearing someone else’s coming-out story was the “realization I was waiting for.”

Before coming to terms, Vernon said she felt “alone and out-casted, even though I wasn’t by my peers who I considered friends.” It was an internal struggle, she said.

At first, Vernon was hesitant to identify with this because of her Asperger’s syndrome.

“I don’t like to be touched, but I thought that was the reason why,” Vernon said. “But looking into it, I’m like it just seemed more like me.”

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, asexuality is called Sexual Aversion Disorder, a term Vernon hopes to see eventually disappear.

“It’s not really a disorder,” Vernon said. “It’s more of a way of being.”

Vernon said she is just like everyone else but doesn’t have the desire that most have to engage in sex.

“That doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me a freak,” Vernon said. “It just makes me who I am.”

She said is drawn to people based on personality and aesthetics.

“I just want to find someone that I love,” Vernon said. “I don’t care if it’s male. I don’t care if it’s female. I just want to find someone I love and someone who loves me back for who I am.”

Annie O’Malley said she tried to teach herself to be straight throughout her childhood.

It wasn’t until she was 33 years old that she came out to herself as a lesbian.

“Three years ago I came to terms with it when I really started to realize my attraction to women,” said O’Malley, a 2001 Kent State graduate. “And the first thing that came to my mind as I cried actually was ‘I’m in for a world of hurt.’”

O’Malley knew she liked girls throughout her childhood, but her questions of “Can girls get married?” were reciprocated with “What? No!”

Thinking something was wrong with her, O’Malley said she “buried it deep inside, but I always felt pretty disgusted by it.”

The summer before 7th grade, O’Malley said as her friends started to like boys, she had no interest but decided to teach herself who to be attracted to.

“I actually did develop an attraction to guys, but it never really went past wanting to hug, you know, wanting to cuddle,” O’Malley said.

She dated one boy in high school for almost two years.

“When we did kiss, I didn’t like it,” She said. “I didn’t want to tell him because I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”

Last summer, O’Malley received her first lesbian kiss.

“When she kissed me I was like ‘Do. That. Again,’” O’Malley said. “It was totally different. It was amazing and I wanted to be able to celebrate it with the people that I thought were closest to me as friends.”

However, some were not receptive of this. She said it hurts to know some people felt disappointed in her.

She started coming out to people last year.

“I’m not going to say there was no hurt — yes, there was,” O’Malley said. “There was some who rejected me.”

She tried to focus on the allies and those who accepted her to get her through.

The recent LGBTQ suicides honored at the vigil Monday hit home with O’Malley, who said she has dealt with suicidal feelings since she was 13.

Low self-esteem issues grew from being bullied for her albinism.

“But on top of that, I was hiding this dark secret that I felt like if anybody knew that I was having crushes on my classmates — oh my gosh — I was afraid people would find out and I felt so disgusting,” she said. “I remember in 8th grade one day sitting in class and contemplating suicide, thinking how easy it would be just to end it.”

She was hospitalized in August 2009 and August 2010, where she remembers telling doctors, “I’m a waste of space. I’m a waste of air.”

She said she is glad she was hospitalized because they helped her, but those feelings still come back.

Another big hurdle she had to overcome was fitting her sexuality and her religion together.

“I know that God knows I’m gay, but he hasn’t stopped taking care of me,” O’Malley said. “He hasn’t stopped loving me.”

O’Malley said coming out and finding those who do accept her has helped her find a place in PRIDE! Kent and the LGBTQ community.

“I started to see being gay as amazing and beautiful, and I found a real place to belong.”

You can view Annie O’Malley sharing her coming out story here.

You can contact Lydia Coutré at [email protected].