Finding My Feet |

3 mins

Finding My Feet

Abigail Sinistore has been “studying abroad” in Dublin for four months now, and during that time, the Irish LGBTQ+ community has become a second home to her. But, as the writer explains, it wasn’t always that way.

I discovered that I was bisexual during the last few weeks of my junior year of high school. Little 16-year-old Abby had a lot to think about at that time, considering it was the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and about to be my senior year of high school. Due to this, I didn’t reflect too much about my queer identity until I got to college.

I attend a small liberal arts school just outside of Boston, so you can imagine the thriving LGBTQ+ community on campus. This was the year I started unapologetically embracing my bi identity and discovered the joys of being queer. For the first time in my life, I had queer friends and I felt deeply understood and seen. I started attending drag shows, interacting with LGBTQ+ groups on campus and going to Pride events. Leaving this support system I had built so that I could study abroad this semester in Dublin was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

When I got to Dublin in January, I didn’t know what to expect and was terrified to be moving that far away from home. As a way to cope with this big change and do what I thought would make this adjustment easier, I distanced myself from my queer identity. I made straight friends, changed my Tinder to show only men and didn’t bring up being queer.

Identifying as bisexual in my rural hometown when I had no confidence in my identity was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I was often discriminated against for being LGBTQ+. I knew that Ireland was a small country population-wise and I was nervous I might have to relive that experience in Dublin.

When I arrived, I hid my queer identity because I thought that if I could tuck away one part of myself, I would adjust to life here better. However, the complete opposite happened. I felt incredibly isolated and cut off from the main part of my identity which brought me joy. I wasn’t engaging in LGBTQ+ events, didn’t have any queer friends, and felt utterly alone. That’s when I happened to go out to a pub with a group of people I knew from one of my college classes and discovered I’d be okay.

I remember sitting down with them and feeling awkward because they were all friends and I felt like the outcast. However, immediately after ordering a pint, one of the friends commented on her girlfriend, and I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. They knew all the references I made, the emotional distress of being in a queer situationship, who boygenius was, and most importantly, they knew who I was. Being around them, I finally found the queer space that I was so desperately missing, and I felt whole again.

I had shut off the part of my life that brought me the most happiness, and just because I move places physically doesn’t mean that I have to leave that part of me behind. I still feel the queer love and support coming from my friends back home, as well as the new community I carved out for myself in Dublin. Finding my place within the LGBTQ+ community here has made me feel more at home and confident in my queer identity than I ever thought possible. It turns out that the LGBTQ+ community is everywhere, I just had to be brave and put myself out there to find it.

So thank you Dublin, for accepting me for who I am and for reminding me that being my full self is the best thing I can do for my happiness. As I prepare to head back to the States, I reflect on all the beautiful and kind queer souls I’ve had the privilege of meeting while being here, and I will never forget the lessons Ireland has taught me about embracing my true self.

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Abigail Sinistore has been “studying abroad” in Dublin for four months now, and during that time, the Irish LGBTQ+ community has become a second home to her. But, as the writer explains, it wasn’t always that way.
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