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Emergence 2021: Kara Ballenger


I came out as bisexual when I was in High School to my friends but my parents would take me years to tell them. I always knew that I was not considered “Normal” in society's eyes when I was 8 years old. I had a crush on the very first boy of what I thought was my dream...but something seemed odd about it. I was always hanging around boys in my class and had very few girls as friends. One of them ended up being my first kiss with my neighborhood friend. I would invite her to my house all the time and even to my 8th Birthday. On one of the occasions, I remember her asking me if I knew what kissing was. I said only from movies and she wanted to know what it was like. So, we kissed and it was a little awkward at first but when I look back on it….it was very innocent. 

Jump forward to high school where I started making art and watching a lot of tv shows. One of them was Xena which inspired me to create my own stories as I got older. I had boyfriends through my time in high school and into college but it just didn’t seem right to me. It wasn’t until 2013 where I had an online relationship with a girl for about 2 years and I finally had gotten a chance to meet her in person. Everything seemed great and I even told my mom what I was feeling. I was immediately met with “You better not be” So that thought went away and so was that relationship.

My friends didn’t support the long-distance relationship so I started thinking that it was never going to happen. One of my friends even said how are you going to have kids, you want them but a girl would never be able to provide for you. The relationship was broken off and I started dating another man again. I wasn’t happy and my only escape was to go to comic conventions with online friends and draw. That kept me going. I had gone back to just being friends with the man and taking a long break from relationships until about 2016. 

I met my now life partner at a convention and knew something special would happen. I had asked her to help out with a comic that I had wanted to start for a long time and she agreed to help. Over several months we had gotten to know each other online and chatted on the phone every single night. We finally expressed our feelings through David Bowie and Labyrinth gifs and the rest is history. She moved in with me in the summer of 2017 and hasn’t left my side. At first, it was a little hostile with my parents but I had to keep her as “just friends” for a little while longer. She kept asking if we were in a relationship in the course of the years but it just wasn’t the right time to tell her. I wanted my mom to get to know my partner for who she is and hang out with her. Their relationship started evolving and I was getting happy knowing that I could finally come out soon. 

My partner’s parents automatically supported us from the beginning and I was relieved that some people now know. 

Fall of 2020, a BIG falling out of a friendship that resorted to calling the police and my parents had a change of heart for them. A week later my mom asked if we were in a relationship again and I finally said “YES”. She was incredibly happy for me and said she just knew about all these years and was afraid for me. She loves my partner and supports our lives together. I’m just happy knowing that I’m out to my mom and Stepfather. I think if my Dad was still alive he would have supported it too. 

Now, it’s just a long journey of telling more family members, friends, and coworkers. I love how free my life is now and I don’t have to worry anymore.

You can learn more about Kara and her work by visiting her company, FireSphere Media.  We are proud to be a partner on her graphic novel Faust, as part of our fundraising efforts.  



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