Berlin Comes Out of Her Dark Closet to Reveal Her True Colors

Emma Gonzalez, Reporter

It’s not easy being 16 years old; it’s only harder when you bring sexuality into the big picture. Junior Berlin Casillas, like many high schoolers today, questioned her sexuality and was able to honestly express herself and what she identifies as despite the challenges that soon entered her life. Casillas endured many tears, frustration, and happiness in the span of just a few months, but in the end, she is who she is.

 

It took Casillas a long time to tell herself that she is bisexual. She tried many times to reassure herself that she wasn’t physically attracted to females, but something inside of her told her that it was not true. 

 

“Having to figure it out myself… ‘No, they’re just pretty, Oh you think girls are pretty that doesn’t mean anything,” Casillas said. “Just having to come out to myself first was one of the biggest struggles because that took me what, 15 or 16 years?”

 

Pew Research Center claimed that the average age at which a person can positively say that they belong to the LGBTQIA+ community is 17 years old. Most people from the LGBTQIA+ community have been noted to start questioning their sexuality at an early age. For example, 4% of people were older than 30 years old and 7% belonged to the LGBTQIA+ community in their twenties.

 

Junior Omar Gomez was the second person at Da Vinci Communications to know about Casillas’s true sexuality. Gomez knew that Casillas was a fun person to joke around with, so when Casillas came out to Gomez over Snapchat, it took him a while to actually realize that she was serious about it.

“She’d always do little signs, I always took it as a joke, but I never knew she was so serious about it, I thought she was playing,” Gomez said. “She always told me that she was straight…she would always throw hints at me around sophomore year that she might be attracted to females.”

 

People may think that by being bisexual, you are just are undecided and don’t know which gender you are attracted to. Better Health Channel discussed that because of this belief or idea, people coming out feel as if they are being judged and have to educate their friends and family as to what being bisexual actually means.

 

Casillas revealing her sexuality to the public also meant that she had to prepare herself for what society and her surroundings would say about this. She knew that everyone would have their own opinions, even if they were harsh. 

 

“At school, or even just now I would hear people go like ‘Oh what a f’ slur, you know? They would make jokes like ‘Oh that’s so gay’, but sometimes it wasn’t really a joke,” Casillas said. “I’ve heard people go off and it’s just like ‘Damn if I want to come out…Am I gonna be treated differently?”

 

Human Rights Watch stated that students part of the LGBTQIA+ community may have to deal with discrimination and bullying inside and outside of the school enviroment. This affects the students’ studies and exposes them to potential physical risk if the school community is not supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

Growing up in a Christian household where Casillas was told that the church believes being gay means that you would go to hell, only made it more difficult for her to come out to her family. This fear led Casillas to confide in her friend, Juliana Roman, before coming out to anyone else, including her family. 

 

“One of her biggest struggles was probably telling her family because her mom’s really strict, and her dad is really strict too…they’re Christian,” Roman said. “I think they just were trying to convince her that she was confused when she didn’t feel that way.”

 

 Reuters mentioned religious parents that have a child coming out usually don’t know how to support them and should join support groups if available. There have been studies that have shown that the only way religious parents can learn to understand some of the challenges that their child may have, is by having a person that is part of the LGBTQIA+ community as a friend.

 

What a typical bisexual person wears or should look like is often stereotyped by others as more masculine or more feminine. However, Casillas does not want to wear what society labels as masculine or feminine clothes, because Casillas is herself, bisexual or not.

 

“Parties, if all the girls would have to wear a dress or have to wear something [like that] I would feel so uncomfortable in my own skin and just having to wear that,” Casillas said. “It’s not like I would rather be wearing a suit because that’s not it either…I’m more comfortable in sweats and a hoodie or some jeans.”

 

Although stereotypes can be looked upon as a bad thing, Bodylore explained how they can help make statements when society is categorizing what is “normal” dress code depending on your sexuality. For example, women dressing like the opposite gender and vice-versa proves how others label sexuality.

 

As being one of Casillas’s closest friends, Gomez knows how her parents act when she brings her girlfriend to their house. Casillas has to hide how she behaves around her girlfriend because her parents are not completely comfortable with their relationship yet.

 

“She always tells me that her sisters had boyfriends and [when they’d come over], they would be all cuddly, but then when she started being cuddly [with her girlfriend] around them, they don’t like it and they’d make her go away or [at like that] not in front of them,” Gomez said. “That’s one of her biggest struggles right now, making sure that her parents accept her fully, just as if it was like a heterosexual relationship.”

 

Revealing true sexuality can be difficult for not only the person but also for the family members. Healthy Children asserts that being honest to yourself and the people you are surrounded by can take time, but acceptance can vary within each household.

 

Zoe Chavez is Casillas’s first and current girlfriend. Although they have only been dating for four months, Chavez identifies Casillas as being proud of who she is as a person. Chavez feels that Casillas is self-assured around everyone except her parents.

 

“I mean throughout our relationship and before, she’s still confident, she’s fully comfortable with who she is,” Chavez said. “She’s really confident, doesn’t really care what others think, besides her parents.”

 

Revealing true sexuality to parents seems to be one of the most difficult tasks encountered when coming out. According to Pew Research Center, 39% of people revealing their true identity told their father while 56% of them had told their mother.

 

“I’m really happy Berlin found herself and that she feels comfortable in her own skin now and she feels confident enough to show off Zoe,” Roman said. “It’s hard at first, but then things get easier.”