When I first started writing this blog, it was a place for me to vent about what I was going through. I had recently been forced to drop out of school, I had to quit my job, I was in the midst of a deadly disease that was doing its best to kill me. And I wanted a place to talk about that and to have the blog as a middle man to talk to my friends, family, and community. And for the most part I had that, and writing helped me recover pieces of my self that had been buried under “I’m stuck in bed all day because i have no energy to move” depression. Once I was back on my feet and in school and then a new full time job, I didn’t need this middle man to explain my situation anymore. I was confident enough to have the difficult conversations in person.
This blog has become more of a thing I do when I want to have fun or for when I need to really talk something out with myself.
But today I need the comfort of the screen between us, because I have to talk about something difficult. And this isn’t like my long-lost coat story, or when I came clean about being a morning person – where at the end it’s been a silly dramatic post. This time it’s serious, and if you’re reading this, I really hope that you can hear me and fully digest what I have to say.
I am a bisexual. I have loved two boys, and one girl. I don’t know if I will deeply love another, or whether they will be a boy or a girl, but I do know that I loved those boys very much, and I love this girl more than I’ve loved anyone.
The summer I came out as not-heterosexual, I came out because I started dating this girl. I don’t know when I would have come out if I hadn’t met her, but I met her and I knew I needed to know her. Apparently she needed to know me too and so I came out.
And it was really scary.
But it wasn’t fear of how my family might react. I grew up in a home with a mother who was daring and brave and preached openness and exploration. I knew that she wouldn’t mind in the least. And so she was the first person I told, and we cried together on the phone out of love and respect and relief and it was beautiful.
No, I wasn’t worried about mom, I was worried about how my friends would react.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. We are known for being liberal coffee snobs, running around with too much hair, too many opinions, a lot of Gay, and poor interpersonal skills. At the time I was contemplating my sexuality, I was working at a camp where we had (privately, on our breaks, semi-jokingly) calculated that at least 40% of staff were out and openly queer and at least 15% were closeted or oblivious. That proportion was pretty typical over the past three years of working for camp, and I had made many gay/queer friends. But in that time they had addressed me and treated me like I was straight.
I was an ally in their eyes.
And that was fine, but I also had absorbed the jokes they made about straight girls who experiment, or the torment of falling for a straight girl, or what a lesbian should look like, and what is gay and what isn’t. At the time, it was intimidating. At the time I didn’t know what they genuinely believed, what was a joke, or what was a remark masking their insecurities.
They were my only IN to an entire community, and so far it looked like they didn’t want someone who looked like me.
A week before I told B. I liked her, and thus a week before I came out, I was sitting on my bunk chatting with coworkers and somehow the conversation got steered to who we thought was gay at camp. This is INCREDIBLY common. It is one of the few environments that is so saturated with Gay, that everyone gets way too excited. I asked why in the past three years no one had asked me if I was gay, and my cabin-mate laughed and said, “Raelee, we know you aren’t gay because – ”
Lets just pause for a second – I think it would be important for me to tell you that up until this point I had only started dating in the past year. The two boys from before had happened that year when I was 19-20, and there was no dating in high school (there was a date or two, but they were as innocent as can be). There had been crushes, there had been flirting, but ultimately there had been nothing until the year before that summer. I knew myself, I knew I wasn’t ready or willing to give anything a go until I was ready. But I had known my camp friends for three years, before any dating and they had never once asked me if I was straight or not. Straight people are not unique in their heternormative thinking. Gay people do it too. Its how most of us were raised, it is a part of Western culture. Not assuming someone is straight takes a lot of time and homework that I am only now getting better at and I’ve been working on it for four years. But back then, I assumed that my friends, so deeply involved in the queer community, would be naturals at it. I hadn’t yet learned the reality that everything takes time and practice. I assumed that they could read it in my eyes that I had been questioning myself since I was 16, I thought they could smell the gay on me.
I thought gaydar was a real thing, dammit! I didn’t realize that it is developed by depending on stereotypes.
Ok let’s resume:
She told me I couldn’t be gay because I wore too much pink and liked Taylor Swift, and that, “no self-respecting lesbian would listen to Taylor Swift.”
That is the direct quote.
I know for a fact that was what she said because it echoed for days and I wrote about in a diary, and I cried about it on the phone. Those two things supposedly took away my queerness. And looking back now, I know that’s not what she intended. And I still know her and she has learned and grown so much, and by the end of the summer she apologized. But in that moment, it was a punch to the gut.
But the bigger reason that it hurt was not because I felt left out or misunderstood, it was because her instinctual response was to assume that a girl who was gay couldn’t like boys, and couldn’t be feminine.
And that was what I had been telling myself for years.
“Well, I don’t like girls that way because I like make up.”
“I’ve had all these crushes on boys for years, maybe I just think she’s pretty and smells nice because I look up to her/I’m being supportive/I’m being compassionate.”
“I can’t be gay because I don’t like covering everything in rainbow, isn’t that what they all do?”
“I can’t be gay because I like having nice painted nails/I like pink/ I have long hair/ I don’t like queer movies/”
“I can’t be gay because I don’t do this/I don’t look like that/”
It would be a while before I was able to get over those things. It took a year or so into my relationship with B. to really start feeling comfortable with my frilly and pink self. And I still battle with silly inner arguments about if I am presenting too feminine or not feminine enough. And its easy to throw those insecurities away when they aren’t yours, but for me they are much harder to conquer.
Everyone’s sexuality and romantic history is their own to share.
It is not owed to anyone, and it should not be assumed by anyone.
I don’t care what age, what gender, how they dress, who they have dated before. It is never your place to tell someone who they are. We have created an environment that makes people afraid to be themselves, one where they think they can’t change their mind about their opinions or lifestyle without getting judged for it. And what do we gain from that? What do we gain by continuing this tradition? Aren’t we just holding each other and ourselves back from our full potential?
I am a bisexual. I have loved two boys, and one girl. I don’t know if I will deeply love another person or whether they will be a boy or a girl; but I do know that it is none of your business until I say otherwise, and that my sexuality is only a small part of who I am as a person.