I grew up in a private lake community on Long Island. I know what you’re thinking but I assure you, it’s not at all like that. I was not entitled, wealthy or fortunate at all. It’s a blue collar community and that’s what makes it amazing. We got dirty as kids. We swam in the lake, went fishing, took out our sailboats and kayaks and went hiking in the woods. I was definitely a tom-boy. Which as a kid, I never thought twice about because all my friends were doing all the same things.
As I got into my teens I became a lot more aware of my appearance. I dressed nicer. I did my hair and wore make up. I was definitely interested in what others thought of me. I did have boyfriends who I genuinely cared about but I also had friends, girl friends, that I was especially interested in. Still, I didn’t think I was gay. I honestly just thought that I REALLY liked hanging with them. I liked having long hair. I liked my make up and getting my nails done. I just didn’t fit the mold. All through high school and all through college I continued to date boys. Just before my 21st birthday I had my first experience with a girl. She was smart and pretty. She was feminine and also liked her make up and long hair. I had such a limited understanding of the LGBTQ community. I didn’t understand I could be gay but also be feminine.
I had no idea how diverse the LGBTQ community is, we come in all shapes and sizes. Suddenly, I started to think maybe I am gay? It still took me another year and a half to fully accept that I was a lesbian. It was not an easy thing to accept. It was a complete shift in the life I imagined for myself. Well, really the life I had ALWAYS been told I should have. I don’t blame anyone for that. It was the world we lived in. It was my catholic family. It was tv. It was society.
If someone told my 21 year old self that I would be a 41 year old in a happy marriage with a woman and we would have 3 amazing children; I never would have believed it. That world did not exist for me. Until I went out there and got it. We live the life that WE create. Be yourself. Be happy. Be proud.
This is a guest blog post written by Erin Vilar. Jesus & Sergio (founders of Gay Pride Apparel) met Erin as Ms. Vilar at Frank Borman Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona when they were young middle schoolers.
I was raised on Long Island. I am married to Brittany Vilar and we have 3 wonderful children. I have a master’s degree in School Counseling and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I am currently self-employed but I spent nearly 10 years working in public schools as a school counselor. While working in Phoenix, Arizona I had the joy of working with Jesus and Sergio as their middle school counselor. I am incredibly proud of everything they have done and continue to do, both professionally and for the gay community. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.