December 5, 2011
I’d like to think I became aware of my sexuality when I was in elementary school. I was young enough to not know what it was called, but old enough to realize I was different. I remember pretending that certain girls in my class were my girlfriends. Or when I played Barbies, every now and then, I’d have the two girls make out. But this was something I never talked about, because somewhere I knew there was something unwelcoming about it all. I always liked guys, and I was genuinely attracted to them, so I didn’t really feel the need to address the whole girl issue. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that it hit me. I met a girl who I was completely and instantly enamored with. It was then that I realized whatever I had felt before wasn’t a phase. I was attracted to women. There was no denying it. It wasn’t contrived. It wasn’t a behavior that I picked up because I played sports. It was as much a part of me as my personality, my allergy to cats, the birthmark on my left shoulder.
This of course changed everything, but nothing at the same time. I struggled with what I was feeling. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to be judged or talked about. I was so unsure of myself. I began to wonder if I was a lesbian, but I still liked guys, and I even had a boyfriend at the time. I didn’t really like the idea of labeling it. For some reason the word “bi” evoked images of those “girls gone wild” commercials. There was something fleeting and promiscuous about it, whereas the word lesbian seemed to conjure up images of women who looked like men in flannels and overalls. (Things have certainly changed over the last 10 years). I knew I wasn’t straight though. I realized I could find comfort in a man’s masculine frame, his rough exterior, his demeanor. But I was equally aroused by a woman’s delicate frame, her sensuality, the way she was so in touch with her feelings.
As time went on and I began becoming more and more comfortable with who I was, I ended up telling my friends, and then my parents. This took time though. I was so afraid of how people would react. I thought my parents wound cry. I thought my straight female friends would freak out, and think I secretly wanted them. I thought my coworkers would no longer see me for what I did in the office, but for what they imagined I did in the bedroom. But these were my fears, and fears cast big shadows. Gratefully, I never got the reactions I expected. People were surprised, but not judgmental. And more often than not, I wished I had shared it earlier, especially with those closest to me.
After college I continued to date men & women. A vicious cycle. I would date a guy, it wouldn’t work out and then I’d say “I’m done with guys!” This of course, only until a woman came along and it didn’t work out, and I’d swear them off just as quickly. I watched my straight friends go in and out of relationships too, maybe not as frequently, but it made me feel like even if I were straight, finding love wouldn’t be any easier.
My attraction to anyone, man or woman, is made up of the little things: conversations, laughter, chemistry, the way I feel when I’m with the other person. And straight, gay, bisexual- we’re all seeking that genuine feeling that rushes over us, that can’t be explained, but simply is. My concepts of love and sexuality have grown more complex over time, making labels and definitions seem like boxes that can’t contain me. Instead I’ll just go where the feelings take me… and hope they lead me to love.