Costumes in the closet


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Seren Regalado

To my peers: I have not been truly honest about my identity and who I am as a person. I have something that I have been hiding for fear of judgement from those I hold dear. I can no longer contain this and must share my true feelings. To the University of Texas at San Antonio community, I, Seren Taj Regalado, am here to say that I am a cosplayer. I am truly sorry for hiding such an important part of who I am. To understand my hesitance with sharing this information, I will describe my process of first realizing who I am and my path of fully accepting myself.

When I was young, my family understood early on that there was something different about me. My parents noticed that I had a strong affinity for dressing up, even on non-costume related days. I tried not to show my love for costumes unless I was in the presence of close companions and family members. In my youth, I was already bullied in school and had very few friends; I did not want to give my tormentors any more ammunition. I loved costuming but wanted to create my own costumes. As great as a store bought costume could be, there was a certain charm to creating my own. I wanted to be whatever I could but I doubted my own artistic abilities. In addition to strong fear of ridicule, I was consumed with self-doubt. Like my costumes throughout the year, I too was trapped within a closet afraid of judgement and afraid of accepting myself.

My first real attempt of “coming out” so to speak was in high school on Halloween. My school allowed students to wear their own costumes and allowed people to stand out and be proud of their work while enjoying the holiday. I had already dabbled with my own costumes, but my first real breakthrough in cosplay was in my senior year of high school. Halloween was only a couple months away, and I wanted to be a World War I soldier. Nothing that I wanted for the costume was available: I had no job and no money. Lacking the resources, I decided to try something I had never done before—create a costume. I purchased a hand-me-down pea coat and created my own gas mask, helmet, rifle, bayonet, trench knife and pistol. The result was something I could be proud of; my hidden artistic talent was on full display for all to see. Since then, I have been creating my own costumes from various materials ranging from foam, epoxy putty, pvc or anything I can get my hands on. The ability to finally express myself was overwhelming. There was only one hurdle left to face—showing this side of myself to others.

One could easily say that I did not need to shout to the world that I wanted to cosplay, and that I was a cosplayer. This would have been wrong because I needed to accept myself for who I was, and to me, that meant telling others. For the longest time, I had refused to call myself a cosplayer for fear that it was “just a phase.” But I started small by telling close family members, such as my brothers and my sister, then moving to my close friends, all of which were extremely accepting. This allowed me to come out to my parents a second time, the first was when I told them I am bisexual, and they welcomed me with open arms. I even found an online community of cosplayers who had known for many years that they were not just going through a phase. Seeing them coming from all walks of life, races and ethnicities for a single cause made me realize that I am who I am. So I say to you, reader, I am a cosplayer, that this is not a phase, I am here, I am being sincere, get used to it.