Every two weeks, I will be profiling an extraordinary human being who lives in our community. If you know someone who is doing something interesting with their life or has an inspiring story to share, I want to hear about it. Send me an email at [email protected].
Jamielyn Stevenson is making up for lost time.
It wasn’t that long ago that the 25-year-old was stuck in a rut of trying to figure out who she was. Having the guts to come out and admit she’s gay made a serious mark on her self acceptance. It was a huge life lesson. Be true to who you are, she says, life will be so much more fun.
Jamie was 19 when she told her friends, and 21 when she broke the news to her parents. Then it was like she blossomed. She climbed out of a shell, so to speak.
Hiding who you truly are — especially from those who love you the most —restricts your growth as a person. And it can seriously cramp your style. Coming out was the best thing she ever did, and once she let her little secret out, all that turmoil and anguish turned to happiness. She felt a lot better inside.
“It’s a small town where everybody knows everybody and with that comes small-town mentality. I think I waited for so long to tell everybody because I was afraid of that. When I came out, my friends were very accepting. Some of them had actually been waiting. I was already dating and I figured if I was going to have serious relationships that I had to tell my parents.”
It’s not that Jamie ever doubted their love: her folks have always been her biggest supporters. She feared embarrassment mostly. She has a big family and the thoughts of not being accepted postponed her decision to tell them. But then, one day, it was time to break the news. She called up her mom and simply told her she didn’t like boys, she preferred girls.
Her mom’s reaction was, ‘So?’ She just wanted her daughter happy. That’s what both of her parents wanted. And once the cat was out of the bag, Jamie could breathe a huge sigh of relief.
One hundred percent, I believe you’re born gay. Trust me, you fight being gay as much as you can, until you can’t anymore. I don’t believe people would commit suicide over being gay if they could control it.
No coming out story is all that easy and simple, says Jamie. There’s so many emotions about if you’re actually gay and she understands there can be a lot at stake if you decide to come out. She commends the “kids who are coming out at 14 and 15.” She admires that courage. They’ll be able to figure out who they are a lot sooner than she did. Being a teenager is a lot like being on a rollercoaster, and it’s a crucial time for exploring your sexuality. Jamie recalls a lot of uncertainty during her teenage years. She felt indifferent about guys and chalked it up to her not finding the right one. She compares discovering her true self to learning how to make out. You have to do it a bunch and then you get the hang of it and it starts to feel good. But for her, that wasn’t the case.
For me, it was always shit until I abandoned men altogether… Except for my guy friends.
You don’t grow until you fully accept yourself and Jamie has come to realize that. She can now tell you what kind of girl she is attracted to, how difficult it is to date in Muskoka and that she’s having a lot of fun right now.
She’s come a long way from being the girl who was so unsure. Growing up in a small town (Utterson) as a tomboy was tough and she doesn’t remember ever hearing about other gay people or stories of people coming out. And maybe that’s why she suppressed her true feelings of who she was for so many years. She likes girls. A lot. Real feminine ones are her preference. Her openness is refreshing. And hopefully her story will inspire others. There’s often nothing to fear except fear itself.
“I feel like a kid again,” she says. “I didn’t go on dates when I was a teenager. I didn’t get that chance. I feel like I’m making up for lost time.”