A journey of coming out


Kelsey Fenton, a 21-year-old sophomore, walks around campus sporting 23 piercings and 11 tattoos. Fenton moonlights as a body piercer and a vlogger for Flurt magazine, a blunt and sex-positive publication.

Fenton suffers from depression and anxiety. Fenton was a college drop out. Fenton is a lesbian.

Fenton said most people would see these attributes as negative setbacks. They would consider her life to be less than admirable, but Fenton sees her life and the complicated journey she has taken as a continuous teaching moment.

Fenton has known since a young age that she was “different.” She noticed girls over boys, but she did not know why.

“I followed the average. I wrote notes to boys like I had a crush on them because I didn’t know there was such a thing as being lesbian. I was raised in a Catholic home. I was taught man and woman. I didn’t think there was such a thing as girl and girl,” she said.

In middle school, Fenton befriended a bisexual girl. She felt drawn to her in a way she had never experienced.

“That’s when I started questioning myself. I kept a lot of it to myself because I was really embarrassed and thought it was really bizarre and out of the ordinary,” she said.

Fenton had her first boyfriend in high school. “I always had this image of a first kiss being sparks and everything, but I felt nothing with him,” she said. “He was just there. I didn’t get it.”

Through an acting class, she met another female who was questioning her sexuality. Their bond soon turned from friendly to romantic.

“That’s actually been the longest relationship I’ve had. I was 15 when I started dating her. I felt something completely different with her that I hadn’t felt with any guy,” Fenton said.

Though she had discovered she was lesbian, Fenton still did not feel free.

“I was dating this girl that just seemed perfect. I wanted to tell everybody and show her off and tell everybody how normal the relationship was and that it was like any other relationship,” she said.

Fenton attended high school in Burlington, Iowa, a school she described as “pretty liberal.” Even so, a mere seven years ago, she knew there was much ignorance surrounding the idea of being gay or lesbian.

As Fenton’s relationship with her first girlfriend became stronger, they both questioned why they were hiding it from everyone.

“It was like, what’s the point of this? What’s the point of hiding because we aren’t doing anything wrong? We love each other, and we both want to be together. It’s not any different,” she said.

Fenton came out to her parents, strong Catholics, around her 17th birthday.

“I had formed a scenario where it would be a regular conversation, and they would say they loved me, and they had known or something. But it went in the complete opposite direction,” she said. “Basically, I was contextually told I was a whore by them saying ‘I don’t know who you’re sleeping with and who you are not. I don’t know who out of your friends you’re sleeping with.’”

After she came out to her parents, Fenton struggled to keep a loving relationship with them. This was especially apparent when she attended church, where her parents were committed members.

“Some of the hardest times going to church were when they would be talking about it and basically condemning it,” she said. “I felt the discrimination towards me.”

When Fenton entered college and left her parents’ home, the wounds of their relationship healed.

“My dad finally sat down with me and said, ‘I don’t understand a lot of it, but I can understand it’s who you are,’” she said. “I went through a really harsh break up. My mom asked me about it. She wanted to help comfort me. It was huge.”

Enter into 2014. Fenton has pursued a nursing degree, quit her nursing degree, suffered through a quarter-life crisis, become a body piercer, is in a happy relationship, started a new program of study at Simpson and writes and vlogs for Flurt.

But most importantly, she is happy.

“I’ve accepted that everything that’s happened on this journey has led me to where I am today, and I’m starting to finally feel successful and that I’m actually going somewhere,” she said.

When asked if she had any regrets through her process of coming out, Fenton smiled and confidently said, “No.”

Fenton now lives her life with no fears or doubts about who she is. She wants to use her journey to help others who may be questioning their sexuality or just feeling alone.

“When I started Flurt, the big thing I thought to myself was, if I’m going to do this, I’m not going to hold back. I just want to be honest. If someone is going through the same thing that I went through, maybe I can help them,” she said.

Fenton’s biggest weapon against ignorance is to be open, honest and outgoing about being lesbian.

“I get a lot of questions about everything on the spectrum. And I’m open to it. I would rather someone be educated about it so that they can bring it up the next time someone says something ignorant about it. Educating brings understanding,” Fenton said.