7 – Katie Duggleby

Lesbian/Currently questioning gender identity (she/her) // Colorado Springs, CO // Mom of four leggeds. Helper. Aspiring Homesteader.

With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know?

“I guess really not until a couple months ago.  I work at a community mental health center, and I run an LGBTQ+ group for adults there. I started to question from hearing everyone’s stories…A client said something that really resonated with me. They said, “I think if society asked more questions about gender identity, more people would identify as non-binary.” And I was like, ‘Damn…’”

On sexual orientation…

“Looking back, I knew I was different in probably Kindergarten. I had this friend who was a girl, and I dunno… I just had a different feeling about her than other friends, but I wasn’t able to articulate it. Growing up I had a loft in my bedroom, and before I would go to sleep I’d pretend that I was on a boat saving princesses… and it was always specifically princesses. ‘Ariel, I’ll save you!’ I think it was probably high school when I was finally identified with the label, Lesbian.”

On her coming out experience…

I was 22… it went well. I was very fortunate. I first came out to my friend, Kyle, who’s also gay. Then my wife, I came out to her next… prior to dating, and then we began dating a few months after that. Then once we started dating, that’s when I came out to my family. My mom took it really well, my dad took it really well. All my friends took it really well. I was very lucky.”

First celebrity/person that made you question your sexuality, or current celebrity crushes?

“I felt [the Kindergarten crush] was a different relationship. I’m sure she didn’t pick up on it, but I just felt differently about her… and, I really like Carmen from The L Word!”

Fears/Concerns with coming out…

“I was really close with my mom, and ironically she was the last close family member I came out to. She grew up in a Catholic household – though she’s no longer Catholic – she identifies as spiritual now. I was still nervous about coming out to her, even though I knew she was generally supportive of the LGBTQ+ community… but you know, sometimes it different if it’s your kid who comes out that way. I was nervous about coming out to her.

I knew I was a lesbian for a really long time, but it took me until I was 22 to come out. There was definitely some level of nervousness with coming out to friends, and not wanting them to feel weird, or be worried I had a crush on them. It did take me a while, and I do think it partially came out of a place of concern.”

Favorite thing/part about the LGBTQ+ community?

“Just the community in general. Being a part of something so special and so close. You meet someone and if you know that they’re part of the community, it’s like you automatically feel a connection.”

Least favorite?

“I think seeing how it affects my friends who identify as LGBTQ+, and even my wife… even in her family, just seeing the intolerance and the stigma played out. That is infuriating.”

What’s something you would tell younger you?

“Keep hope. Just stay true to who you are, because there will come a time where you will be who you are. Find your support.”

Any advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or don’t have a community to be a part of?

“With the internet now, I think it is possible to find support… perhaps not physical support in front of you, but to find support somewhere. So maybe if you have access to internet, or are able to private browse, try to reach out and find some support, because it’s so important…. Hear others’ stories and be validated in how difficult it is to be in such a repressive environment when you can’t let yourself out. I have a bunch of clients that have experienced that.”

What in your life are you most proud of?

“Searching for who I am, and living my true life with my wife. And moving out to Colorado… away from Wisconsin… away from what was familiar. Getting out of those comfort zones. It’s important.”

With the state of the nation and the world is currently in, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?

“I would continue to bust the stigma of being LGBTQ+. Working on breaking down barriers, spreading awareness… because people are who they are, and everyone is unique. It’s not okay to put people in boxes, or make assumptions, or push your beliefs on someone else and expect them to live their lives that way.”

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