In light of wrapping up my semester working at a religious school I feel the need to write about my sexuality. Something I have not written about in the past because I’ve been confused for so long. However, I think I finally am able to accept and embrace my sexuality.
I’ve dated men and I have a daughter who is biologically mine. Confusion about my sexuality was always present, breathing over my shoulder. If I never looked back though I would never have to face it, so I chose avoidance and didn’t take the time to get to know myself. After reflection on past relationships and desires I know now that I spent years of my life just trying to be straight. Making up excuses for the way I felt (or didn’t feel). For some, sexuality can be fluid. You don’t need a label or explanation. You don’t need to defend yourself. You like who you like, be fucking proud of that.
It pains me that for so long I could have been living in my own skin but instead I made the active decision to deny my feelings and my heart. I wore this mask I felt like I was supposed to cherish. I wanted my ticket to a “normal” and “desirable” life. One that included a man, a woman, a lasting and passionate love, followed by marriage and children. Ha, that’s a laugh – when my life didn’t go this way in the slightest. Pregnant before marriage (I was 19 and single actually), a split up family, and gay. – Yet, I am happy.
They didn’t tell us that. That you could be happy with a completely different reality.
Why did I want the “clean cut” future? Probably because that’s all I was taught. Every children’s book, TV show, and damn princess movie included love between a man and a woman. I grew up knowing this as reality, this is what you were supposed to want. So, I unconsciously decided to pretend. I was good at it too. Hell, I almost convinced myself.
- I rationalized that staring at the ceiling during sex, just waiting and wanting it to end was normal. The girls almost never were excited by sex in the movies – sex must be a job.
- I thought not wanting anyone to touch my body was normal. Other people must feel this disconnect of their body and mind. I’m sure that this screaming in my head will go away, I just need wait it out. Let it happen, it’ll end.
- I made excuses for every girl I kissed, held hands with, and fawned over – “It’s just this girl, she’s special. It doesn’t mean anything. I am not gay.”
Shortly after being intimate with my first official girlfriend I quickly realized, yes I am gay. Still, I was reserved about my sexual orientation. I hated “coming out” to new people in my life, either about being gay when they already know I have a kid, or having a daughter when they already I know I’m gay. Because apparently you can’t be both.
I hated (still hate) the questions like “Are you actually gay?” “Specifically, how do you identify?” “Can you be a lesbian if you were with guys?” “How do you have a kid then?” “Is this a phase?” “Are you sure you’re not bisexual?” or even worse, the statements: “You’re not a real lesbian.” “I think it’s phase.” or “You’re not gay.” It’s shit like this that once again tells me my feelings are incorrect. Imagine going through life and constantly being told this intimate and important part of you is just not true. It’s not real, it simply must be made up.
Why was I so certain that my feelings were wrong? Because the catholic church I grew up in told me they were. Because the movies I saw and books I read never had a gay character. Because the term bisexual or lesbian didn’t even exist in my vocabulary until I was twelve. Because no one told me that I could love girls the way other girls loved guys. I remember wondering why my heart was so full whenever there was a lesbian character on film. I remember loving those characters to death. It’s because I saw myself. There I was as another person, in a different body with a different life. Someone like me exists.
“If it doesn’t exist, it can’t be real.”
You know what, it’s real. And real feels amazing. Real feels so incredibly right. I am so happy that I found and accepted myself in my 20s. So many people take their time, they ignore the feelings and push through the traditional for much longer than I did. They marry, have families, go to therapy, and do everything in their power to pretend and suppress and pretend some more, until one day you just can’t pretend anymore. Your body, soul, heart, and mind ache to act as one. You begin to scream inside when the wrong person is touching you. Your brain yells and begs for your attention to land on what you already know to be true. It pains me that people live like this because they don’t know it’s okay to live their true self.
I hope for a future where my daughter can feel confident enough to follow her heart without fear. I want people to really see LGBT+ in their daily lives. In the books they read. In the movies the watch. In the classrooms in which they learn. In their friend groups. In their communities. Change starts with recognition. Open your hearts and minds. Open your conversations and perspectives. Teach your friends, kids, and lovers that their heart always knows what is true for them. Teach others that what is true for one person may not be the same for another. Seek out books, movies, and shows that all inclusive. Tell young ones that boys and girls can love each other, boys and boys can love each other, and girls and girls can love each other. While you’re at it teach them about gender, social constructs, and bodies. Teach them about the oppression and discrimination against people of color. Teach them about all religions and acceptance of that. Can we please make a world that accepts people as they are, not a world in which those who don’t fit with the dominant culture are afraid to walk outside in their own skin, afraid to “come out”, afraid to practice their religion, and just afraid to be themselves. I hope my daughter finds a world in which kids know that is not just okay, but expected, that they love themselves. They are worthy even if they are different, we’re all different.
Let’s change the damn culture. Let’s do the damn thing.