This Is What It's Really Like To Be Gay And From Texas

Hello world! Hello gay friends! Hello oiled up go-go boy dancer grinding on me from a tabletop nearby! Hey you confident bull-dyke eyeballing me in the sleeveless denim jacket! That's right motherfuckers, Gay Pride is officially here in Los Angeles!

I love LA Pride for all of the reasons I stated above, of course, but for so many other reasons as well. As a lesbian woman born and bred in the conservative, homophobic, god-fearing state of Texas, I have LOTS to love about Pride. I love the beautiful people, the unconditional acceptance, the straight-up crazy humans and the non-stop ragers that tend to blur together -- oh and all the gay people like me.

Judging by that introduction, you'd probably assume I've always been comfortable with "gay stuff," but you'd be greatly mistaken, my friend. Before coming out and letting my freak flag fly, I felt extremely uncomfortable being around other people who were so comfortable with themselves. Deep down, I knew I could get there, but I wasn't sure how.

We might as well begin with my coming-out story. At 23 years old, I was somewhat of a late bloomer; but beyond that, I was confused as fuck. I was known as the party girl who was always game for anything. I hooked up with guys, girls, whoever, whenever! I was down to have fun and be casual about it all. I laughed my way through my confusion.

But then I met her. The first woman I fell in love with. I knew once I fell in love with a woman, there was no going back to just being crazy ol' Caroline. I finally wanted to be my true self, and boy, did it feel good! I didn't want to be that person sneaking around, lying and telling everybody my partner was my roommate or my best friend or "like a sister." I wanted to scream, "I'm in love! I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!"

Once I did just that (though a little less dramatic, of course), things started to change. Not drastically like a rom-com, but subtly. I noticed I got fewer Facebook likes, some angry stares here and there and, surprisingly, very few people in my life took the whole "lesbian thing" seriously. "You're in a phase," they'd say, or, "Are you sure you're a lesbian?" My favorite line is, "I bet you'll date a guy again," followed by, "Lesbians never really stay together."

All of these rude comments confused and infuriated me. I was shocked to discover so many of my so-called friends were uncomfortable with the LGBTQIA community.

As the years went on and I continued on the path of self-discovery, that same girlfriend crushed my heart and left me for a man. Heartbroken, I slept with a handful of straight or bi-curious women and even tried enjoying sex with a few drunk men. I was as lost as you could be, but I knew I was heading in the right direction. Despite all the twists and turns my life took, I never regretted coming out. It was messy and confusing, but I was out and staying out! Truth be told, it's brighter, clearer and smells better out here anyways.

Looking back on my own personal journey, I don't regret a single thing because now I can proudly say that I know my sexuality and myself -- as much as a person can, anyway. I look forward to going to LA Pride not only to meet other gay people like me but to inspire those who are scared and confused like I used to be.

When you go to LA Pride this year, take a look around you at the people celebrating. Each and every person has had a long journey toward pride, just like me. Pride means so much more than waving a flag around, cheering, getting drunk and making out with strangers of the same sex (although that's a big part of it). LA Pride represents a journey of self-exploration, fear, bravery, acceptance, community and so much more.

Oh, and dating women is awesome. I highly recommend it.