I remember the exact second that I finally acknowledge I was different, at least to myself. I was fifteen years old and in homeroom during my ninth grade high school year.
I started a new school that year, in a new town almost an hour’s drive away from my hometown. My parents had been divorced for almost ten years up to that point and my mom remarried, so we moved.
Before that, I went to a religious school that had fifty children in it and that was in all grades up to eighth grade. We lived right next-door to my grandparents. Next to them,
lived my uncle and aunt. We had a
farm and I was never alone, especially with the animals around. I saw my dad
every weekend. He was just a phone call away and would always come if my
sisters and I asked him too. My childhood wasn’t perfect, but it was still
okay. Better than some. I was loved. Like really loved and I knew it.
But before that moment in
homeroom I brushed my own feelings
aside, not sure how to deal with them. Even before puberty set in, I knew I
felt something …other. On the outside, I was just like other kids, but inside I
knew something wasn’t normal. It’s hard to explain, because it really didn’t
even make sense, even to me. It went beyond what I looked like or the types of
things I like to do to fill my time up.
But there I was in homeroom in a new school, a pissed off teenager that was even angrier because I had to move away from the only home I’ve ever known. (I’m an introvert and was even back then so meeting new people wasn’t something I was excited about). I supposed my attitude about the whole new school experience was fairly typical actually.
I sat in the back of the classroom and had on a new pair of jeans and a new shirt. My clothes weren’t named brand or anything, but I never was the type of kid that cared about stuff like that. I supposed I probably looked like a girl whose parents worked hard for a living. I don’t know what the other kids thought of me, if they even thought anything at all. I had been one of the first people in the classroom, besides the teacher, and started writing something in a notebook when the other kids my age started trickling in. I can safely say I didn’t pay attention to anyone walking in. In fact, I was actively trying not to pay attention to the other kids, because just looking at them made my heart race with nervousness. If I could crawl under the desk and disappear I probably would have.
Then the teacher started talking and I didn’t have a choice to stop my avoidance tactics and acknowledge the
teachers existence, if not the
other kids in the class. That was a long time ago, so time would have wiped away
the memory of what the teacher had said, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell
you even while she was speaking. My entire focus was on the girl in the seat in
front of me. She was facing forward, so I could just see the back of her. I
remember how her hair looked. It was long and she clipped it up at the sides. I
knew this because I could see the barrette in the back of her head. My heart
beat just a little faster for an entirely different reason than nervousness.
When the teacher was finished talking the girl turned in the seat in front of me and smiled. She told me her name and we got to know a little about each other in the ten minutes before the bell rang. She walked me to my first hour class and every class after that for the entire first week. She sat with me at lunch and introduced me to her friends. She went to my choir concerts and invited me to her house for Halloween.
It was either
acknowledge the fact that I didn’t look at her
as just my friend, that we were in fact attracted to each other, or hurt her. I
just couldn’t do that to her, not when she was so open with me about her own
So that was the moment when I acknowledge I was different. I wish I could say that the story ends there, that the beautiful girl and I had a happy ending, but we didn’t.
I moved in with my dad a few months later and while I saw her a couple times after that, the physical distance made our relationship crumble. Still, I was never the same after that.
I still didn’t talk about how I felt. I met my husband a year or so later (Yes, in high school). Turns out, he was the love of my life and we’ve been thick as thieves from the first moment we met. (He was the first person I came out too and he was amazingly supportive. Still is.)
Dating a girl one year and a boy the next definitely wasn’t something I was ready to share with the whole world, least of all my friends and family. I kept my bisexuality a secret and it festered inside me like an open wound. Funny, how staying in the closet feels like that. Painful and raw.
I was able to blend in with the ‘norm’, because I was in a straight relationship. I still do, if I’m being honest. People see what they want to see, what makes them comfortable, and before recently, sexuality wasn’t something anyone talked about openly. Growing up in a religious family and being told that feeling anything other than straight was a sin didn’t exactly make me want to talk about my sexuality. Beside, does it really matter if I’m also attracted to women? I’m in a relationship. Right? Right?
It mattered. A lot. Not talking
about it was like refusing
to use my arms, as if pretending they weren’t there at all.
I’m out now to everyone. Although, most choose not to talk about, which is fine I guess. I supposed it’s not something that needs to be brought up every time we have a conversation anyway. I know some of my family try hard to be
accepting and take me as I come. Some don’t and that’s okay too.
I’m comfortable with myself, even if others aren’t. That’s something I haven’t
always been able to say and I have the therapy and doctors’ bills to prove it.
I consider myself a very lucky, privileged person. I’ve never been physically assaulted because of my sexuality, or for any reason actually. I know some people can’t say the same thing, which makes me angry and sad (and a million other feelings). Just thinking about what some people put other people through because they’re different is sickening.
So why am I getting so personal and telling you all this?
Because there are people still out there that think I and others like me have a choice. I don’t. I’m not attracted to gender. At all. I’m just not. You can label that whatever you want, but it’s something that I’ve felt since I was young. If I had a choice, I would have chosen differently. I’ve been verbally persecuted by people who identify themselves as straight and by those that don’t. Some of these times were said directly to my face and not online in some social media post where I could choose to ignore that person or ‘
unfriend’ them. Personally speaking, I feel like I’ve had it easy too. There
are others that have had far worse things happen to them because they came out.
People in some countries can’t come out for fear of being put to death. Yes,
that is a real thing and not something I’ve made up.
If you take nothing else away from this post, please consider that my story sounds familiar to some people. I am by no means alone in my sexuality. I’m not asking for anything more than some sort of understanding, not for myself, but for others who are like me. Like I said these people have experiences that you might not have ever faced. Some of these experiences are horrific.
To the people reading this that went “Oh my God, this is me. I completely get it.”: I’m with you.