“I’m Rafaela D’Almeida, an immigrant, a queer woman of color, a generational spiritual healer, a creator, CEO of Mindful and Grounded Co., and a philanthropist. My passion is sharing how I overcame challenges and learned to embody my authenticity to inspire others to live their truest, most creative, and most empowered version of life.
This is my coming-out story.
At 12 years old, I officially came out as bisexual, and that’s where my greatest journey began.
Since I was a little girl, I knew. I’d fall in love and fantasize about my girlfriends as much as the boys in school. I just never thought it needed to be disclosed, I thought everyone felt this way.
Shortly after I came out, I got together with my first girlfriend, Jessica, during a trip back home to Brazil. I was so excited to share it with my dad’s girlfriend at the time, except that it wasn’t received so well. This led to me being pushed to go to church every time I was with them (which was almost every day), so I could free myself from my demons and escape hell while I could. When I shared this with a close trusted family friend, I was met with, ‘Well, you’re just confused, you will find your path later.’
A couple of months later, when my girlfriend and I broke up, I got into a relationship with my now ex-boyfriend. To those who shamed me, I was no longer going to hell, to my significant other, this meant I must not be bisexual anymore, to the gay community, I was now no longer considered gay enough, and to everyone else, I was confused.
No, just because I am bisexual/pansexual, does NOT mean I am confused. I know what I want. I know who I am. I love who I am. However, to get to this conclusion, I spent my teenage years questioning if I am one or the other if I am accepted and loved. Not only did I encounter bullying for my weight and the fact I didn’t speak English, but now the people I trusted brought more self-doubt regarding my sexuality. This led to major self-esteem issues. During this time, I began hanging out with the wrong people in order to feel like I belonged, the physical abuse at home got worse, and I started having sex to prove to myself that I am worthy of love.
After being raised in a gay-positive household for most of my childhood, this was my first experience with homophobia. This led to serious religious trauma that took me years to be able to work through and heal. To this day, being able to say I work with energy and spirituality is something my younger self would’ve never believed. I spent many of my younger years stating that I was an atheist since I was told God hated me and my people. For so many of us in the community, this affects us greatly. To be told we are not loved by either people or god itself is destructive to the heart and soul. Just recently have I come to terms with this and discovered my own definition of spirituality and what that means to me.
I wish I could tell my younger self that I have always been enough. My personal healing journey through therapy and spirituality has been my biggest blessing. I’ve opened doors to my soul I didn’t know existed, embracing my shadows and working through them is what got me a step closer to my purpose. For that, I’m forever grateful.
Dating while being bisexual/pansexual presents another set of challenges. Within the LGBTQ community, I’m considered not gay enough (what does that even mean?) or questioned if I will leave/cheat to be with another gender. Within the Hetero community, I am sexualized, fetishized, and not taken seriously. When choosing a relationship, I look for a partner who is kind-hearted, authentic, and motivated regardless of what is in between their legs or what they identify themselves as. Although it is okay to have preferences while dating, there is an enormous amount of biphobia and stigma within both communities. It is okay to have a type, it is not okay to generalize a group of people based on internalized judgment, this goes for any gender, sexuality, race, and economic standpoint.
As I continue on my path to authenticity, I am becoming more empowered by being true to my sexuality, beliefs, background, and boundaries. I no longer find the pressure to identify as either-or, and instead embrace that I am the embodiment of yin, yang, and everything in between. This is what true freedom means to me.
If you are currently experiencing any difficulties with embodying your authentic self, whether it’s fear of abandonment, lack of support, or mental health, please remember that you are worthy, you are powerful, and you are loved. Don’t hesitate to begin building community as soon as possible, there is always someone willing to love you, believe it. Being rejected hurts, but not as much as it hurts to live a life that is not in alignment with your soul. Become familiar with organizations and people who have your best interests at heart and set boundaries with those who don’t.
Everyone deserves to feel accepted and safe, with the freedom to be who they are and to express their authenticity without fear. That is why I do what I do.
I love you.”
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