Hi Everyone I hope you’ve had a fantastic week. Today marks the end of the Easter term. Working in a school sets you up to fall into a weird state of mind where you start counting down the days until the next holiday right from the first day of term. That’s not to say I don’t love my job because I do beyond belief but if you ask anyone who works in a school and they don’t openly admit to counting the days off on their calendars, then you can safely assume they do it in private.
However, that is not what I’m going to be talking about today. I will be talking about my experience of coming out as a lesbian. I’m now 26 and the process, for me, started when I was around 13 – 14 years old. It’s strange to think that I’ve known that I like girls/women for a longer period than I didn’t.
I feel the need to start off by saying that I feel very thankful that I am one of the very lucky ones. Many people in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community have faced a lot of stigma, fear, persecution, hate and have been the victims of crime even among their families. I can only speak for myself and my own, rather sheltered story.
I have been lucky enough to have a supportive group of friends and family members around me my entire life who have, with very little comment, accepted who I am.
So my journey began when I was around 13 years old nearing the end of Year 9 of secondary school. It was at this time in my life when I started to become aware of the fact that I found women good looking. At that age, I didn’t realise what that meant. I guess you could say that I just thought that was a regular thing that every girl did. I’d had crushes on boys in my year. However, being able to look back now I can see that there was a clear distinction starting to form between the way I was starting to view other girls in my year to the way I was looking at boys.
This spark began to grow and develop until I was 14 and half way through year 10. It was at this stage in my life that I had my first proper crush on a friend of mine. I couldn’t get over how cool she was, she was confident, amazing at art, had that gothic independent streak in her. I either wanted to be her or be with her. I couldn’t quite make up my mind but either way, I knew I liked being around her.
One evening I picked up the courage to message her on myspace, god that takes me back; unfortunately, the feelings weren’t mutual luckily she was cool with it, and we remained friends. She was kind enough to give me some soothing words of advice. For the life of me, I can’t remember her exact words, but I remember the gist.
Only you know your mind, feelings and emotions. You’re the only one who knows what’s right for you. If you like girls that’s fine, if you like boys that’s fine, if you like both that’s fine as well. Only you can know that and no-one can make that call for you. That same sentiment applies to anyone in the LGBT community. Each will identify differently.
If someone is transgender (someone born into one gender, male or female but feels strongly that they were born into the wrong body i.e. they are the opposite gender to their body and will likely suffer from body dysmorphia) then who are we to tell them they can’t be who they truly are?
If someone identifies as non-binary – genderfluid, agender, bigender (an individual born in the body of one gender but feels like their personality and mentality can vary between male or female) then we cannot constrict them from presenting in a way that makes them happy and comfortable in who they are.
Somebody who might identify as Bisexual – emotionally and physically attracted to both men and women, may be seen as unable to make up their mind. I was on the receiving end of comments like this when I was around 16 – 17 years old and however light-hearted the comment may be it can still be hurtful by the way). They are not constrained to a gender. Rather, they like the personality of the individual. Another word often used in this situation is pansexual.
Of course, there are many labels for people who lie along the spectrum of straight or lesbian/gay and male/female and many people may have more than one label. However, it can be very confusing and very constricting at times to be labelled, and some individuals do not like to label themselves but just live each day as it comes.
Anywho getting back to my story, it was not long after that incident that I was able to find the courage to come out as bisexual to my group of friends at school. Luckily I was not the only person in that particular group who identified as Bi, so I felt fairly at ease to do so.
My parents, on the other hand? Well, that was the terrifying part. You never quite know how they’ll react, whether it’ll bother them if they’ll feel disappointed and betrayed. Not having that control over reactions and the fear of the consequences of your feelings can be a frightening thing.
You don’t want to be shut out because of who you are and how you express yourself. You don’t want to be belittled or undermined because you are a certain way or your sexuality doesn’t conform to the outdated social construct of what is considered normal.
I can’t remember the finner details of when I told my mum that I thought I was Bi. I believe it was because I wasn’t initially planning on saying anything at that particular time. It was a relaxed Saturday evening, and I think The X Factor was on and my mum had asked my brothers what they thought of Cheryl Cole and then she asked me and it just came out that I figured I was bi.
I also think I was lucky in the fact that it wasn’t made a big deal of. It was almost like nothing had been said, not in a negative, ‘we’re gonna ignore this’ type situation, it was more of an, ‘ok that’s fine we’re comfortable with this, and you can talk to me whenever you feel you want to’, kind of situation.
So from the age of around 14, I was officially Bi, and I started to accept that it was ok for me to like both men and women. I learnt that this ‘shift’ in one aspect of my life didn’t mean the end of the world, more it was just part of me growing up and getting to know more about myself.
For the next 3 – 4 years, if anyone ever asked me about my sexuality I would say that I was Bi.
When I was 16, I went to a specialist boarding school for people with Visual Impairments. It was my first time away from home and a time that I learnt a lot about myself. Being away from home at this age can be a rather peculiar feeling. You have the licence to explore who you are without the confinement of your parents being on your back the entire time.
It was during this three year period that I went through a huge mental and emotional journey regarding my sexuality. To say that I was confused would be the understatement of the year.
I had gone from being straight one minute 2 years beforehand to being Bi. Then during another three year period, I went from being Bi to Lesbian and back and forth for a little while. It’s such a weird state of limbo that you find yourself being in. You never know quite where you stand with yourself.
At that age I was someone who just wanted to know one way or the other. I wanted to be able to label myself. Not quite being able to was a real struggle. It was a strange state of affaires because I had, what you could call, minor crushes, on a couple of the boys in my year at this point in time. However, it was their personality that was more of the attraction rather than their physical being.
I had no idea of what my head or my emotions were doing to me and I think that the worry and the concern did get in the way of letting things just blossom more naturally. I didn’t quite want to be into girls but I knew I wasn’t into boys the same way that all my friends were.
It didn’t help that non of my close friends were experiancing the same thing as me so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to who could truely understand what I was going through and help me in any way. Having real people who you can trust and talk to who have experience of what your situation is can be a life saver at times.
However, since the age of eighteen I have self identified as lesbian. Not that I particularly like that word. I prefer the word gay. As strange as that may seem for a woman. It’s my own personal preference. Some women prefer the word lesbian, some such as myself prefer the word gay and some don’t like to be called anything. It litterally does depend on the individual.
Since 18 I have had a few periods of personal crises where I do wander, ‘am I really, fully gay?’ The simplest answer that would be yes. I would much rather be with another woman than a man. That’s not to say that if I fell for a man I wouldn’t date him and be with him for the rest of my life. No, I think it just depends on the personality of the person. Nonethelss, I know that I am much more physically attracted to women and emotionally, I feel I would be much more relaxed and open with a woman.
However, it is said that sexuality is fluid. I have now come to embrace that saying. It really does depend on the personality of the person, how they make you feel and how you interact. It’s not as black and white as some people make it out to be. It’s all about your own personal beliefs and feelings.
Your love life and sexuality is sometime that only you can be certain of. No one can tell you who you should and shouldn’t be. Yes, the likelyhood is that you will face times in your life when you question who you are and you know what? It’s ok to do so as long as you come to the conclusion and answer the questions by your own valision. There is nothing wrong with not knowing everything all the time but coming to terms with who you are and accepting who you love for them and not their gender/gender identity or sexuality. As long as you have a loving, caring relationship based on trust, friendship, respect and honesty things will wind up working out exactly as they should do.
For now my lovelies I shall love you and leave you until next time. Have a great weekend :).