Photo by Katie Grieze
Knowing When to Keep Quiet
Claire Boenitz first realized she was gay in the seventh grade. Ever since then, she’s had to change how she approaches other people.
“I’m not different because I’m gay, but I’m different because I’ve had to adjust to being gay,” she said. “You have to gauge whether or not you need to hide.”
When she came out as a lesbian during her freshman year of high school, she says most guys “were pretty crappy about it.”
“They liked to ask me if I was willing to have threesomes,” she said. “They liked to ask me if they could change my mind. They liked to tell me they could change my mind.”
She also worries that people will perceive her coming out as a political statement rather than a personal one.
“It’s like talking to someone you just met and immediately jumping into why Donald Trump sucks or why Hillary Clinton is a demon. It’s not the first thing you want to tell someone.”
She says mentioning her girlfriend to a new person means she’s sharing the fact that she’s gay, which she feels could come off as a challenge.
“Relationships are such a big topic, especially at this point in our lives,” she said. “You have to know whether or not to keep quiet about it.”
She also doesn’t want to be labeled “that lesbian chick.” But she says it doesn't really bother her when people ask innocent questions about her sexuality. For example, her grandma has asked whether both women in a married lesbian couple are wives, or if one is the husband.
“You have to learn that people aren’t necessarily always out to get you,” she said. “Sometimes they’re just curious and their questions are harmless.”
For the last nine months, Boenitz has been dating a woman she met on Tumblr three years ago. They will see each other in person for the first time this summer. Her girlfriend’s parents don't know about the relationship, and the couple has to plan around them not finding out.
“We’ve made it through a lot of crap,” Boenitz said.
She feels lucky that her own parents have been so accepting of her sexuality. She wishes her girlfriend could experience that acceptance as well.
This content was created by Muncie Faces, an immersive learning class publication exploring new topics for student media. Find more stories at https://www.instagram.com/munciefaces/