When I was about 20 my mom asked me if I was a lesbian. She quickly assured me she’d love me just the same; she’d been a Red Cross approved AIDS nurse educator in the late 80’s, early 90’s, and though I wasn’t aware of the word ally back then, she was one. I assured her I wasn’t, that I was just friends (the best — still are) with those in my small inner circle. And the conversation was forgotten.

Through the intervening years I thought I might be bisexual, but what did I know? A small town Midwestern “girl” who had a very limited number of romantic relationships with men. About a year ago, I started to think that there was something to it, and this year, at the age of 46, I began using my preferred, chosen name and came out as nonbinary.

I’m still exploring. Nonbinary is considered trans, and right now it’s a personal journey to find out just what that means for me. I’m still learning, still discovering, as are many of us.

This pride is different. With this newfound knowledge (including my autism diagnosis which explains SO MUCH), I want to shout my pride from the rooftops. Over the past year, I’ve discovered so much about myself, the biggest thing being it wasn’t me at all–it was them. (“Them” being people who didn’t understand me.) I still have to remain closeted in some spaces, so I also can’t fully embrace my newfound sense of self. But I’m working on that too, and someday I’ll be completely out.

So for this blog, I just want to tell you that it is never too late to discover things about yourself.

It’s never too late to realize you’re LGBTQIA+.

It’s never too late for pride month to be about having pride in YOURSELF, not just loving and supporting your queer friends.

And it’s never too late to remember that you matter, you are enough, and there are no gates or gatekeeping on recognizing and identifying your  LGBTQIA+ self.

Even if you have to hold the knowledge close to your heart at times, it’s never too late and you are loved.