Today is National Coming Out Day, celebrated internationally. And we here at Derby Central thought you might enjoy hearing the stories of some of the amazing folks behind a couple of your favorite derby spaces, so we collaborated with the Vagine Regime, and gathered a handful of tales together. We feel like it’s an especially apt moment to feature this, given that it’s exactly a week to the much-anticipated world premiere screening of the Vagine Regime documentary,In The Turn.
The first is from the personality behind your latest Vagine Regime posts, Lex Go:
“I started roller derby at the same time I was starting to figure out that an unsuccessful history of dating dudes was maybe part of a bigger trend. Part of what appealed to me with derby was that everyone was their own kind of weird, so maybe my own newfound “weirdness” would fit right in. I still remember a fresh meat practice where one of the other skaters was talking about there being queer skaters in our league and I chipped in, heart in my throat, “Oh yeah, me too”…and it was a total non-issue. It was the first time I’d outed myself like that and it was amazing.
The women in my league were the first group that knew me only as queer, and that gave me the space and the support to grow into my new identity. My teammates never told me I “looked really straight, though”, or got confused when I talked about past relationships, or questioned my L Word references.
Finding the Vagine Regime was like finding “my people”. After getting to know some of the amazing people involved over a few years I was hooked. When I finally made it to Vegas for RollerCon 2013 I was kidnapped by the wonderful Injure Rogers my first night and spirited away to a gay bar off the strip to talk about queer politics, drink cheap booze, and sign bad karaoke. Every time I saw someone at the Riviera wearing a VR hoodie (and there were a lot of them!) I felt this overwhelming feeling of “there are my PEOPLE!” Working with GoGo and the rest of the documentary team just confirmed it. Watching the VR vs. Caulksuckers bout was incredible – HUNDREDS of people cheering for a team of my favourite skaters who just also happened to be gay. So much love there!
The women in my league were the first group that knew me only as queer, and that gave me the space and the support to grow into my new identity.
I came back from RollerCon so excited about everything, and decided in a late night driving home conversation that I didn’t want to hide the queer part of my personality from ANYONE anymore. I came out to my family the next day by leaving them the new VR trailer and a note. Everything and everyone about my time with the Vagine Regime made me realize that I was way too proud to be a part of such a rad queer community to keep it hidden from anyone.
Unfortunately, my parents weren’t as amazing as I would have liked. But we’re working on it! Fortunately, my derby family has picked up the slack on that end of things…and Vagine Regime, I give you hella credit for that. Thank you.”
One of the incredible stories that the Vagine Regime got from you is from Tiggz. She says “I was always one of those people who would defend my “straightness” to the death but then say things like, “Well I mean, who HASN’T made out with a girl?” or “You guys don’t have girl crushes?”
I call it my ‘a-ha’ moment because it felt really electric….like something was saying to me, “Its ok. People will still love and accept you for you, it doesn’t matter who you love.”
I started questioning my sexuality in January 2013. I was in a relationship with a man for nearly 5 years but I wasn’t happy. We were long distance and that made it a lot easier for me to exist during this time because I didn’t have to face him each day. I cared about him deeply, but I wasn’t putting everything I had into the relationship anymore.
Fast forward to Rollercon 2013 – this was the year the VR documentary was being filmed. I was surrounded by this really positive movement; some of my closest friends were involved in the filming of VR whether they were being interviewed or were a part of making the magic happen. I was still in this relationship and had no clue how to let go but I knew it was time. The culmination of things happened during the VR vs. Caulksuckers bout where I felt like I was the only person in the room while I was watching this game. I call it my ‘a-ha’ moment because it felt really electric….like something was saying to me, “Its ok. People will still love and accept you for you, it doesn’t matter who you love.”
I came home from Rollercon and dissolved my relationship. I am so thankful every day for support from my former boyfriend (who says he knew waaaayyy before I did!) because without his understanding, it would have been much harder for me. And its true: nobody loved me any less or chose not to accept me because of who I love.
Thank you, Vagine Regime!”
Oh, and then there are some stories from those of us at Derby Central. My coming out story is narrated by yours truly at about the 9th minute of this podcast
And there’s Jennings’ tale, a proper Kiwi study in understatement: “I met my wife on a roller derby road trip, and had to play down that I had watched her play countless times on the internet before. (Because what’s more creepy than hiding that, right?) I had been playing derby for seven years, and had at one point edited an LGBT paper for four years, and had never dated a woman.
For some reason I managed to not scare her off, and now we skate together, raise a brood of fur babies and eat a lot of crock pot food. We’re basically the biggest threat to the traditional family America has ever seen.”
We’re basically the biggest threat to the traditional family America has ever seen.
Perhaps Chelsea gave us the best note to finish on, when she told us “I first came out when I was 20. There were 19 years of confusion and naivety and one year of denial and turmoil leading up to that moment. While it was relieving to finally understand myself, coming out was a roller coaster. I first told a close friend who told me she would pray for me. I cried. A lot. I didn’t tell anyone else for a long time after that. I eventually told my parents and that changed everything.
I had been the golden child of a prominent family my entire life. That went away. The already rocky relationship I had with my parents got rockier. I moved in with my girlfriend and that created further tension. I lost some friends I had known for my entire life. People said “You’re better off. They couldn’t have been good friends anyway,” but that didn’t make it hurt any less.
But then time went on. My family learned I wasn’t any different. They knew me in a new way. They knew all of me. They began to tolerate my sexuality. Then embrace it. I made new friends that loved me for who I was and found comfort in the many old friends who decided to love me for me.
They say it gets better. And I can vouch that it totally, absolutely does. And it’s worth it.”