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GUEST POST: The Horror (And Triumph) of Coming Out

They call us late bloomers: LGBTQ+ folk who come out later in life. Who recognize or reconcile with their queerness in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and beyond. Many of us need time and space to process this shift within ourselves, and then in our families and communities. For me, reading books with queer characters and relating to those stories offered clarity. And writing sapphic horror gave me the courage to finally embrace this thrilling, frightening part of myself.

Horror is the genre of anxiety, thoughts and feelings that prowl the darkest corners of our minds. It’s about what lurks in closets—and the urge to crack open the door and peek in, even though we’re terrified of what may be stirring in the shadows.

Coming out in the midst of a marriage, of a decade-long relationship with a man, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’d identified (though privately) as bisexual for years—and want to stress the validity of that identify for others—but I could never shake the feeling that some part of me was brittle and withered, screaming for water and sunlight.

And so, to find relief, I wrote. About bloodthirsty, women-hunting sirens. Queer forest nymphs whispering like inner voices. Young women falling head over heels for undead girls. I held my stories and poems close, and faced the things I was afraid of: the pain I’d cause my husband if I came out, which in one story amounted to a woman who, in a daze, finds herself holding her partner’s severed head. The truths I’d have to acknowledge, the trauma I’d have to unearth—those dark forest paths queer kids walk, brought to life on the page.

Perhaps most clearly, amid fearful imagery, I saw the joy and wholeness I’d been denying myself. Sometimes my characters loved with horror’s violent intensity; other times, in the face of terror, their queerness offered solace. My narrators expressed longing and desire, comfort in daydreams, certainty in the arms of women: reflections of my own potential.

The lens of queer horror allowed me to acknowledge my wants and needs. And later, it gave me the strength to come out to others. I was so scared of being judged or misunderstood. I’m a private person, the type who shares her inner self with a select few. When I finally told my mother I was queer, I could barely get the words out: shaking, crying on my end of the phone. It’s such a hard thing to express, even to a sympathetic ear.

Coming out through publishing sapphic horror felt almost effortless, in comparison. Writing has always been the one exception to my rule: a time and place where I’m willing to be vulnerable, to pry open my ribcage and bare my heart. I love my stories and characters dearly, and I’m willing to make sacrifices for them. And in turn, they’ve taught me about my own worth. These tales are beautiful and meaningful, and they deserve to exist in the world. And so do I.

Elizabeth Anne Schwartz, born on Friday the 13th, writes sapphic stories and dark, enchanting tales. She earned her BA in Creative Writing at Purchase College, and has work featured or forthcoming in The Lovers Literary Journal, Hearth & Coffin Literary Journal, Haunted Words Press, and the Under Her Eye women-in-horror poetry showcase from Black Spot Books, among others. Follow her on Twitter @elizanneschwa and visit her website at

[Image Credit: photograph by Alexander Grey - via Pexels]

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