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She Came Out During The Pandemic. Now, She's Ready To Celebrate


The pandemic lockdown last year forced many of us to spend a lot of time alone with our thoughts.

MELANIE WHYTE: When it came to going to work, I was straight. When it came to family, I was straight. I always told myself there wasn't a reason to clarify. You know, they can just assume what they want to assume. But ultimately, that just felt like lying.

FADEL: When the pandemic began, Melanie Whyte, a freelance writer who lives in New York and who is bisexual, was out to only her closest friends and her partner. But in April of last year, after 50 days of isolation, she decided she'd had enough.

WHYTE: And I think I just woke up that morning with this desire to just shed this weight of a secret.


WHYTE: The pandemic influenced me because I was alone. And before I came out publicly, I guess you would say, you know, living in New York City, I had access to a lot of queer nightlife, a lot of - you know, Stonewall, Cubbyhole, all the historical gay bars that I would go out every Friday, Saturday night. And that felt like enough. Like, I could access a queer space. When I didn't have this queer space, I did want to be able to interact on social media, on Twitter, on Instagram. So the pandemic really just kind of gave me the space to think about all of this, to take a break from the day-to-day and realize that it really did matter to me that I was keeping this to myself.


WHYTE: So coming out - it was my birthday, my 24th birthday. I was on the phone with my parents for the obligatory video call of me blowing out candles on a cake, and I hung up out of fear. I don't think I even said bye. I just hung up. And then I was like, oh, God, I have to do this. And my partner was with me. And, you know, I squeezed their hand tight. And then I called them back and just said, you know, this may not make sense to you as I am with a man, but I am bisexual, and I need you to know that about me. I'm very lucky that they responded positively. And then after I hung up, I hit share on a many-times-written-over caption, photo of myself that, you know, this is who I am.


WHYTE: The first thing I did when I got vaccinated was I took my vaccination card and then ran to Cubbyhole, which is a lesbian bar, and met up with one of my close friends. We just drank Dyke Beers and had a great time. I mean, we still were isolated in our little corner where everyone had to sit at their own tables, but, I mean, there was just so much joy in the air. We were just relieved that the bar was still standing, I mean, after the pandemic.

I'm just looking forward to more of that and just, you know, not being afraid of someone seeing me or feeling like I had to have some backup answer if I was questioned. Honestly, it's just - it's fun. I feel like my life is more fun. I get to send friends, like, gay memes and not feel like I have to defend it. And that's such a silly little thing, but it makes a difference. I get to talk loudly about my opinion of "Portrait Of A Lady On Fire" and other, you know, movies that came out in the pandemic. And that has made a real difference in how I feel day-to-day and how I see myself.


FADEL: After a subdued Pride Month in 2020, celebrations this year are in full swing in New York City. Melanie Whyte says she's excited to go to the Pride march tomorrow as an out, queer woman for the very first time.

WHYTE: I don't think it's really hit me yet. I think when I get to the parade and I have glitter all over my face (laughter) and I'm shouting and cheering and having a great time, I think maybe then it will hit me. But I'm really looking forward to celebrating myself and being proud of myself because this took a lot of time. I feel really good about it.


FADEL: That was Melanie Whyte, a freelance writer living in New York City.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.