By Lilly Workneh (Article originally published on theGrio.com)
Djuan Trent made history in 2010 when she became one of four African-American women to win the pageant title of Miss Kentucky.
On Friday, Trent made national history again after she announced she was “queer” — becoming the first national pageant contestant to publicly come out as lesbian.
Trent, 27, published a lengthy post on her blog, Life in 27, Friday, opening up about her sexuality. In a detailed piece, the former Miss America contestant described her journey of discovery, acceptance and disclosure.
“I have written and re-written and deleted and restarted this post more times than I care to share, and after all of that I have finally realized: “There ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it.” So, here we go folks…” she writes. “I am queer.”
In her exposé, Trent articulates the apprehension she faced in making such a reveal – admitting that she had been contemplating in writing the post for months but wasn’t sure when or how to best communicate her thoughts.
“The most challenging part of my coming out journey was coming out to myself,” Trent tells theGrio. “It takes a little while to get to a place where you can truly and wholeheartedly come out to yourself. And once you get to that place, it becomes a little easier to come out to others.”
“The thing that held me back for so long was denial,” she adds. “I thought that if I locked it up on a box and kept it in a dark closet, that it would no longer exist. But I was so wrong. It hadn’t gone anywhere and it was just eating at me.”
Trent explains that she came out to her mother three times – the first time in the fourth grade. She writes about the personal bouts she faced with religion, writing “about the years I spent praying to a God whom I wanted so badly to serve with all of my heart, but couldn’t understand why this God made me ‘wrong.’”
She also talks about facing the the fear she held against family and friends whom she thought would have shunned her for her declaration – and the shame she felt in shielding her sexuality.
However, despite the hurdles she says were in her path, Trent writes that it was Kentucky’s current battle over gay marriage that prompted her public reveal.
“Last week, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that Kentucky’s prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law by treating queer folks “differently in a way that demeans them,’” she writes. “I have listened to people talk about ‘the abomination of our nation’ and ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.’ I am not surprised that some people would react this way…I mean, if people didn’t react that way, then there would be no need for a movement, no need to fight for OUR rights.”
Trent goes on to say, “What has prompted my writing today has been my questioning people’s constant assumption that a) I am hetero and b) I concur with their views and opinion.”
In a follow-up post published Sunday, Trent thanked those who admired her bravery and showered her with support.
“While I am very thankful for the love and support, I also stand very aware that I could have never made the decision to share this on my own,” she said.
“I stayed in the closet for a long time because it was safe. As long as the people around me “knew about me”, it was fine because the rest was really no ones business. But, the more I started to see other people come out, the more I felt the pull from within myself. And while living in the closet may have felt safer, let me tell you, it was not easy.”
In the same post, Trent lists a handful of people who have applauded her new sense of acceptance and guided her along the way including actress Ellen Page – who recently came out as gay – and some of her pageant peers.
“It’s a blessing,” she says. “I truly do seek to inspire others with my words and my stories, and it’s neat to see so many people feeling inspired by me simply being myself.”
Trent adds: “The most rewarding part was the burden being lifted off of my shoulders, the freedom! It is a beautiful thing, and all of the support I have received…it is just amazing. I am so blessed and so fortunate and so thankful.”