03/21/2014 05:55 pm ET

I Stayed In The Closet So I Could Benefit From My Straight Privilege

Frank Herholdt via Getty Images

I've known I was a lesbian since I was a kid, but I didn't fully come out of the closet until I was 22.

Before coming out as a lesbian, I dated both women and men. At various points, I identified as heterosexual, while at others, bisexual. In truth, I wasn't confused. I knew I wasn't straight. I knew I wasn't bisexual. So why didn't I just speak honestly and identify myself as a lesbian? Because I knew something else, which in some ways terrified me more than actually being a lesbian: I was terrified of losing my straight privilege.

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