When I think back to the moment I realized I was queer, I can visualize every detail. I sat by the window of my childhood home, looking out at the sunny afternoon but not paying attention. I’d been texting some old friends, telling them why I felt confused about my sexuality — explaining the symptoms. They told me they’d experienced them before too, describing their own experiences coming to terms with their identities.
When I finally put down my phone and thought to myself for the very first time: “I’m bisexual,” I felt an overwhelming sense of awareness wash over me. It felt like a wall had been blocking a part of my being, a wall I never saw before but had just, in an instant, fallen down. It may sound ridiculous or exaggerated, but I genuinely felt physically lighter.
It shouldn’t have been surprising to me, all the signs were there: I’ve always been deeply passionate about gay rights, had queer friends and love a small shirt big pants combo (I’m a bi woman after all). But these parts of my life only perplexed me more — how had it taken me 19 years to realize I was queer?
It’s complicated. I knew from a pretty young age that I was physically attracted to women. My heart skipped a beat just as much when I watched the “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” documentary as it did when I watched Rihanna’s “Pon de Replay.” But could I love a woman? I didn’t think so. It took a difficult time in my life, illuminating conversations with other bi women and a lot of deep reflection to understand that I did love women, it just felt different than loving men. After years of skepticism, ignoring my feelings and refusing to “put a label on it,” I finally accepted myself that afternoon. To my surprise, I felt relieved.
Now comes the next scary thing: coming out. Over time, I told my closest friends, boyfriend and siblings about my sexuality, met with love and support almost every time. Even still, these conversations are exhausting, and I still haven’t publicly shared this aspect of myself.
As a woman of color, being openly gay is the last thing I feel like adding to my life. For me, coming out to my family and community wouldn’t just affect the way others treat me, it would become an overshadowing burden on people I love and care about. Bisexuality is demonized, misunderstood and sexualized across both of the cultures I belong to. As a straight-passing woman in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship, I see no need to take that on in the immediate future. In fact, this anonymous letter may be the closest I come to fully coming out.
I understand that this is a huge privilege, one I feel ashamed to take advantage of. Yet somehow, at the same time, it is forcing me to rethink what pride means to me. The relief and joy I felt when I recognized who I am for the first time and the peace of my chosen family knowing who I really am — that’s what I’m proud of.
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