How Community Helped This LGBTQIA+ Member Find Herself

“I didn’t necessarily fit with who society considers a woman to be. My ‘why’ has always been to feel good inside my body,” says WW member Ellen C. “And WW has played a big part in that.”
Published May 27, 2022

The coming-out process was a long one for me. I come from a time when it was the norm and important to get married and have children and be a good housewife. When I was growing up, my parents had friends who were gay men, but lesbians were less visible. It took me a long time to let go of the life I thought I should live and say, “Well, I'll be a lot happier if I live the life that makes sense to me.”

“I’ll be a lot happier if I live the life that makes sense to me.”

I came out to friends when I was in college, but it wasn’t until I was 40 years old, when I met the person I ended up marrying, that I came out to my parents and people in general. I was worried they’d be disappointed in me, even though they had friends who were gay. It's different when it's your kid, you know? But their response was, actually, “What's new?” Then I came out in a big way by joining my partner in a Pride marching band in 1994, becoming its bass drummer. We marched primarily at an annual festival and parade in North Carolina.

We’ve now been together for 27 years, and we got married in 2014, the year the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. It's not something I ever thought I'd see in my lifetime—being able to be joined together in a legal way was exciting and important.

Finding your why

I've struggled with weight from the time I can remember, and that made it even harder to figure out who I was, what I thought I could look like, or who I wanted to be. Because I didn’t necessarily fit what society considers a woman to be, in terms of partner preference and in terms of body. That’s why my “why” has always been to feel good inside my body—and WW has played a big part in that.

I’ve seen a lot of changes in WW over the years, and every time it’s changed, it’s always gotten better. The first time I joined WW, I was in my 20s. I was always successful; I’d lose weight and think, “Oh hey, I’ve got this,” and try to do it on my own and then gain back the weight. Now I’m on my fourth time. Even though I’m a Lifetime member, it’s taken me a long time to get consistent and work on my mindset. So when I rejoined in 2016, I promised myself I wouldn't quit no matter what. And that really made all the difference for me.

“My ‘why’ has always been to feel good inside my body—and WW has played a big part in that.”

Seeking purpose

My adolescence was troubled, probably in part because of my confusion about my identity but also because it was a troubling time. It was easy to get lost in the ’60s and ’70s. So in reading and learning about my own problems with depression and anxiety, I got very interested in the whole field of psychology and decided that's what I wanted to do.

I spent 25 years of my life as a psychologist, and one of the populations I worked with was low-income individuals who lacked sufficient access to things like housing, food, and healthcare. The mental health center was their community, helping them to find the resources they needed.

Counting on community

In many ways, that is what makes WW so special: the community. WW is willing to embrace everybody—and not only embrace everybody but move forward with inclusion efforts.

In my life, most people have been very accepting of me, but there have been a few times when that hasn’t been so. Recently, the rainbow license plate on the front of my car was ripped off and crunched up. Somebody had to be really upset to do that. After that incident, I joined the LGBTQIA+ group on Connect. I felt like I needed more community around, and I found everyone to be very supportive, not only in identity issues but also issues related to my WW experience.

For anyone who is struggling, reach out to people who can support you. There’s no template for finding yourself. So you have to find people—a diverse group of people who can help you figure it out.