Featured image credit: Vashito
“Mom, I have something to tell you.” I anxiously brush the hair out of my face, unsure of the direction this conversation will go.
She doesn’t even look at me when she says “What?”
I take a deep breath.
“I like girls” I said. She looks at me with a doubtful expression.
“So you’re gay?”
“Well, no not exactly. I like boys too. I’m bisexual” I reply. She laughs and continues cooking dinner. “I’m serious.” I clarify, even though I thought it was pretty clear that I wasn’t joking.
“You can’t like both. This is just a phase, you’re doing it for attention. You’ll grow out of it.” I’m dumbfounded because I’m not sure how to reply other than explaining that it isn’t just a way to get attention.
“Does me liking girls bother you?” I ask. She stops what she’s doing to look at me.
“I don’t care if you are gay or straight. You can like girls or you can like boys. You can’t like both, that’s just greedy.”
I’ll never forget that conversation with my mom shortly after I met my first girlfriend. At the young, impressionable age of 14, you feel as though your parents know everything, especially when there’s emotional abuse and manipulation involved. I questioned my sexuality, maybe even doubted it, but all the signs were there. My heart would race whenever Megan would walk into the room, she made me smile so hard my cheeks hurt and those lips, those soft, incredible lips that I couldn’t get enough of. We spent most of our time getting into trouble together. We skipped school a lot to go to the mall or hang out downtown. We would end up in detention together passing notes. How could my mother be right? How could I feel the way I did about her, but also be attracted to men?
The seed my mother planted about me seeking attention spread, shaking my confidence and eventually caused the relationship to disintegrate. From that point on I only every pursued men. Occasionally I would get drunk with some friends and it gave me the excuse to hit on and make out with girls I found attractive, but was too low on confidence to ever ask them out. Any attempt to do so without alcohol in my system was an awkward interaction of compliments and women taking them in a ‘no homo’ way while I was screaming “Full homo!” in my head.
It wasn’t until last year that I asked a woman that I had been crushing on for years if she’d be interested in coming to a Christmas party with me. I did so in a way where it wasn’t overly clear whether it was a date or a friend hangout, which looking back, I can understand why I did it. My confidence still wasn’t there and I wasn’t sure how to deal with rejection if she said no. We had so much fun that night and after a few drinks my anxiety started to wash away. I watched her light up while she enthusiastically spoke to people she hardly knew while we were outside smoking. That’s when I felt the pace of my heart start to pick up. When the night began to come to a close and we were getting ready to leave, I leaned in and kissed her. This wasn’t the normal drunk, sloppy make-out session I’ve had with other drunk girls in the past. This was one of those soft, sincere kisses that make your heart warm and your brain stop.
We spoke about it a few days later and I discovered that the kiss wasn’t reciprocated due to the alcohol consumption: she felt the same way I did, so we made plans to see more of each other. The anxiety and nervousness was always kind of there whenever we would hang out; the words from my mom still plaguing the back of my brain without me consciously realizing it. Given the lack of experience I’ve had with women due to this, I found myself questioning everything I was doing. Am I being too much? Should I do more? I realize now that I was putting a lot of pressure on myself as well as the relationship we had. When she spoke to me about labeling that relationship as an ‘intimate friendship’, I took it hard. I thought of it as a downgrade (which it is most definitely not at all but more on that later) and began blaming myself, my mother’s words ringing in my ears. This all happened shortly after my longest relationship had ended so I was still repairing some of my own internal damage which I had not taken into account.
We reconnected a few months ago and once again found ourselves kissing unexpectedly, only this time it was different. There was no questioning what I should or shouldn’t be doing. There was no wondering what she was thinking or forcing a relationship past what we had because I felt like that was something I had to do. We’re great friends that can have riveting conversations, an amazing time together and who are genuinely attracted to each other. Why would I ever want to push things further than that? The relationship label never defined or validated my sexuality. My feelings and attraction towards her, or any woman I’ve felt drawn to did. Being bisexual was never just a phase, a choice or a way to get attention. It’s part of who I am and I’ve finally been able to fully accept that.
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