Tell us about yourself! What do you do for a living? What are your interests? What are your pronouns?
My name is Kel. I coach soccer for San Diego Surf Soccer Club and am an assistant coach for Point Loma Nazarene University Women’s soccer team. My pronouns are they/them.
About how old were you when you came out? How was the climate you grew up in?
I came out as gay when I was 19 while I was dating my first girlfriend. I came out as non-binary in July 2020 (I was 23), but I did not understand the full scope of what that meant at the time, I just knew I was not a female and wanted to steer away from female-gendered verbiage. Growing up, I always felt the support of my family, but my family was not the reason I did not come out until 19. I never realized I was gay until I knew and when I finally knew, I came out immediately and it has never been an issue. I am lucky to have such a supportive family. Coming out as non-binary has been slightly more difficult as people adjust their language around me and get used to they/them or referencing me as a child instead of a girl, but I have my family’s support 100%.
Did you make career choices that allowed you to feel comfortable being open about your sexuality? (Are you out or feel comfortable being out at your workplace?)
At Surf, I have been out since I got hired in 2019. At Point Loma, I did not come out as gay but that is because of the Christian environment and the hesitance to share my personal life with the staff and college girls since we were so close in age. As far as non-binary/ transgender, it took me longer to come out as transgender to my colleagues and co-workers because coming out as gay is more normalized and, in fact, trendy right now. I sometimes struggle with the balance of being my most authentic self and wanting to plaster being transgender on my forehead while balancing the fear of being rejected or ridiculed for being transgender. I never want to be ashamed of who I am and it is something I work through in therapy.
If you could tell your younger self something about yourself that you are proud of today, what would it be?
Man, there are so many things I am proud of myself for. I would tell myself that what I was feeling with my gender and being so uncomfortable in my own skin was normal and that I wasn’t a freak. I have done guided therapy healing a lot of the trauma I internalized as a kid. I felt so lost and never understood why and now realize with the correct language that it was because I was assigned a female at birth but am not a female. I would tell myself that one day everything will make sense and that I am not alone. I also would definitely tell myself that emotions, feelings, do not need to be put into a box. FEEL THE DAMN FEELINGS, haha.
Have you tried to surround yourself with like-minded peers/colleagues? If so, how?
Most recently, as I build a community for myself here in San Diego, I have very much been intentional about who I am letting into my life and recently, the people that I have met have been like-minded. I have a lot of heterosexual friends, in fact, my best friends from college and high school are all straight but they all live in different parts of the country. Besides my co-workers, the people I have met have all been queer and I have enjoyed being able to connect with other queer people since I have never had that in my life previously. I do not think it is necessary but I am thankful for who is in my life, those that are new and those that have stuck around and allowed me to evolve and have supported me through it all.
Who were your role models growing up? What tv shows/movies allowed you to feel seen?
I did not have too many role models growing up or watch any TV shows that made me “feel seen”. I really internalized a lot and I never had the foresight to recognize that I was gay and not a female. I never sat in it and like I said previously, I knew I was gay when I knew which was at 19 and I realized I was not a female when. I realized it at 23 and came out then and there. I played soccer my whole life and my role models were soccer players because I wanted to play professionally so it had nothing to do with my queerness.
Complete the sentence, if I knew ____________ back when I was first figuring myself out, I would tell my younger self that _____________________?
If I knew I was not a female back when I was figuring myself out, I would tell my younger self that it is normal and you are not a freak.
Coming out as gay was easy, it made sense, and it took me 4 years after coming out to realize I was not a gay girl and in fact, not a girl at all. I am still questioning and discovering my gender identity and as I do that, I get closer to transman every day. However, and with that being said, since realising I am not a female, my angst and anxiety have been alleviated in a lot of ways. I have top surgery in less than 4 weeks and that is both incredibly exciting and liberating. Whether you know who you are at a young age or you do not discover things until later, your journey is your own and there is no timeline for anyone in life regardless of what societal pressures have you believing. Every story and journey is valid and beautiful.