CW: Homophobia, depression, self-harm, mention of violent crimes towards LGBTQ+ individuals.
Over the last few months, I’ve briefly talked about being more open about my sexuality. In November last year, after being in a dark place because of it, I decided enough was enough and came out, to myself and with my immediate family, and to you guys.
Coming to terms with the fact that I sometimes am attracted to a woman or a person who’s identity is gender non-conforming, as well as my humungous attraction to the opposite sex, has been a lengthy process. Many times as I grew up in my teens I spoke with my parents about how I was feeling.
These conversations were often like: ‘I don’t know what this means. Does this mean I’m like this? I can’t imagine being with another woman in that way, but then why does this happen?’
I would get so confused by my feelings, but for some reason, I was terrified that I would somehow be gay. I didn’t see anything wrong with being gay, and still don’t, but I did have some unbeknownst internalised homophobia, that it was ok for other people to be, but for some reason, not for me.
I came to the conclusion that perhaps it was just teenage growing pains, or that period of curiosity before you really come into your own about your identity. Excuse my naïve thought process, but I was a teenager at the time when Captain Jack Harkness being an alien omni-sexual flirt was ground breaking stuff for British television.
I’d go from ‘nah I don’t like women at all in any capacity’ to ‘well, I don’t like women strictly, but if I did meet someone and it felt right, I wouldn’t be mad at it.’ I’d felt strong attraction to some women but was unsure how I felt about sex with other women. ‘Maybe I’m just romantically attracted to some women whereas I like men both romantically and sexually.’ I thought. So for a long time I flitted between straight and being ‘bi-curious’.
Like many people who are not/not exclusively straight as a dye (PSA: straight people are valid too. Heterophobia/homophobia etc. any kind of phobia like that just outright disgusts me) I experienced bouts of depressive feelings because I felt I was ‘wrong’, even though I knew full well there was nothing wrong with it. Then when I’d feel a strong attraction to a woman, the spiral would begin again. But if I’m attracted to just men, why am I feeling this strongly?
It got to the point where last year, I found myself in a dark place for the millionth time because of my being scared to be open. Feeling like you can’t be who you truly are, for fear of the wrong person overhearing and subjecting you to truly vile words or kicking the crap out of you, or worse, is bloody scary.
But I couldn’t hide it anymore. I didn’t want to. Why should I hide who I am in my entirety? Feeling so depressed that you begin to have self-destructive thoughts is even scarier. I can deal with ignorant people telling me I’ll go to Hell, but I can’t deal with feeling like that, because you can’t run away from that. You are all you have at the end of the day, you have to face that head on or it won’t go away. So you may as well be good to yourself.
‘I can’t live like this anymore. I have to be me.’ Those were the words that ran loud and clear through my head as I was crouched on the floor leaning against the bed. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, so screw anyone that doesn’t like it.
As mentioned, my parents already knew and welcomed me with open arms. I haven’t tried to label my sexuality (after a long while of trying believe me!) but I honestly don’t mind the terms bi, pansexual, heteroflexible, straight with rainbow sprinkles etc. Call me what you like as long as it’s nothing horrible.
Recently I spoke to a friend about me who is pansexual. How he described his own self was an almost identical reflection of my own feelings. As he put it ‘For the most part, I like women (or in my case: men), but that 1%, I can’t ignore it.’
It was an ‘OH MY GOD. Yes, me too!’ moment. As well as my chats with Kinky Bestie on the subject, it was so nice to find someone else who understood the whole process of ‘coming out to yourself’ before you do to others.
This friend is one of the few others that know (unless it comes up in conversation with trusted folks, I don’t feel the need to talk about it generally. Plus it saves on a load of questions and stereotyping. I am more than just my sexuality) and he said he was proud of me, congratulated and hugged me. I could have cried.
I’ve found since being ‘out’ so to speak, I’ve become even more sensitised to instances of phobic behaviour, and violent crimes just for being who they are. I.e. The murders of Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard, the many countries where you can be imprisoned and even executed etc.
Another such example is kids being thrown out on to the streets by their families, sent to conversion therapy and so-called ‘corrective’ practices which are all basically torture. It’s truly horrific and no one deserves to go through what happens at these places, undertaken by adults who should be protecting these children.
Recently I heard a few people saying homophobic things online and IRL. The usual use of religion to justify such hatred, the ‘it’s just not natural‘ argument and of course the ever popular ‘will someone please think of the children?!’
Needless to say I was quite upset by this, even more so as I knew they’d react with the same disgust if they knew my own preferences. Normally, this kind of ignorance I brush off, but this instance particularly hit me.
My own mother is religious but is not like this. I know many that are not like this, but unfortunately it is a problem. I remember speaking to my parents, ending up in tears asking my Mum (who is Christian) ‘please don’t start believing I’m wrong because you’re religious.’ The thought alone was heartbreaking.
My mother being the wonderful soul she is, told me she would never do that. God is love, love thy neighbour etc. and she herself dislikes using faith to be prejudiced towards others.
To round off on sexual orientation that is different to your own: I’m not asking you to understand it. I’m not even asking you to like it. I’m just asking not to bully or worse. Everyone has the right to a normal happy life, gay, straight, whatever.
Sorry if this was a bit of a long one folks, like I said: introspective rambling! I am lucky to have the folks around me that I do and I just want y’all to know that you are very much loved, valid and very much welcome here.
Resource-wise, Stonewall and The Trevor Project are good places to start.
Group hug, everyone 💝
All my love,
*Picture – Pinterest