Category Archives: Relationships and love

Love is Love

Diversity should thrill people, yet it doesn’t. Just as love and sex should fill people with happiness and excitement. I am sixteen, I have never properly be in love, I haven’t found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with – so how am I supposed to narrow them down by gender and age?

Gender doesn’t really come into play

For me, falling for people, relies on their character and humour, and when I kiss someone, gender doesn’t really come into play. If someone makes you feel delirious and tingly from head to toe…then go for it.
I am in a place where I would be proud and unashamed to tell anyone if I fell in love with a girl or a guy.

Love is for everyone

No words can quite match how love can make you feel and nobody should have to stop loving anyone because of what other people say. And that’s kind of why I’m writing, not because my story is inspirational or anything – but because love is for everyone, and I’m not willing to negotiate.

“Girlfriend?”

The first time I met China, we were both eleven, at the year seven open day. The first thing I said to her was ‘Oh, cool hairband!’ (as you can tell, I was a complete social butterfly). We quickly became friends, and formed out own little friendship group from there.There were four of us, or seven, depending on who you counted. By the time we finished our first year at secondary school, we were all very close.

But then, in year eight, one of our group left, and the others drifted – and China and I were left alone once again. We had friends, but not so much a ‘group’. We sort of flitted between circles, but this brought us much closer. This was when I first started to like China. In a romantic way.

She kissed me. And I kissed her.

The first time we kissed was at my house, at about half past nine at night, while an episode of Blackadder played in the background. By that time, I was confident in my sexuality – which at that time I called ‘I don’t know, but it’s not straight’. China said she wasn’t sure yet. She was sitting on my lap as we watched the show on my laptop, when she turned around, and rested her forehead against mine.
‘China?’
‘Mmh?’ She responded, eyes closed.
‘You okay there?’
‘Yeah. Just…Can I do something?’
I could feel my heart in my throat. ‘Sure.’
And she kissed me. And I kissed her. And that was the beginning.
The next day, when we hugged to say goodbye, I painfully awkwardly stuttered out; ‘Uhhh, girlfriend?’
She said yes.

Even after coming out, confusion is normal

I always knew I was gay. I pretended I wasn’t until I was 14, but I always knew. I enjoyed behaving like the girls and not having to conform. I was confident in myself and enjoyed the attention of being different. At 14 or 15, I came out properly to my parents and any friends that didn’t already know and was immediately filled with excitement and a sense of freedom.

I couldn’t talk to my parents or teachers because I was embarrassed

I had always known that I fancied boys and wanted more than anything to have a boyfriend, who I could kiss and hold, be with and who would love me. I was terrified of sex. I didn’t know anything about it! The little I did know about gay sex scared the life out of me and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. What made this even more difficult was that when I came out some people presumed that I knew everything that gay men did, both in and out of the bedroom. I found this difficult and didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. I couldn’t talk to my parents or teachers because I was embarrassed and my friends knew even less than me so they weren’t going to be helpful. Obviously the internet exists now to chat to other gay teens but that presents its own problems as well.

As I’ve got older I have realised that everyone felt like this for a while. Yes, gay teens have much less information and support but the truth is a lot of young people are scared of sex. Very few people know what they want or what they like when they are young. I realised this doesn’t make you any less gay or less valid in your feelings or your desires. I became scared of physical relationships, even though I wanted them, as I was worried I would be rejected for not knowing how to have sex and this subsequently stopped me exploring my sexuality for years.

Coming out doesn’t happen overnight

Now, I have realised the importance of being proud in your sexuality and your decisions and to never feel the need to be pressured into anything that you’re not comfortable with. Coming out doesn’t happen overnight. Just because you have told people you fancy boys, doesn’t mean you don’t still have questions and confusions about what having a same-sex relationship might mean. The most important thing is is that you do what makes you happy and comfortable and trust that others will be accepting of this.

I secretly read books about sexuality in the library toilet

I think I was about 11 years old when I feared the worst, that I might be gay. I was desperate to fit in at school so I told nobody.  I kissed boys like everyone else was but secretly found it traumatic and agonized all the time about how I could avoid having to have sex.  My family were very functional, as long as dinner was on the table at 6 and nobody ever talked about their emotions, that was fine.  My brother managed to hide the fact that he was a heroin addict from my parents because they would do absolutely anything to avoid having to address an emotional issue.

I didn’t want to admit it to myself

I went to live in Brighton and, even there, I still couldn’t face the whole “coming out” thing.  I had lots of gay friends but it wasn’t about anyone else, I didn’t want to admit it to myself.  I used to go to the library and take books about sexuality to the toilet to read them in private, I was too scared to take them home in case the librarian told someone.  As if she cared?  She didn’t even know who  I was!  The next five or six years passed in a haze of university, boyfriends, drugs and alcohol, but surprisingly, despite all this, I got a degree and a masters degree.  However, just after I graduated, the dot com bubble burst and I couldn’t find a job in IT.  I worked in bars with the cool people in Brighton and after we would go out, take ecstasy and drink.  I was miserable, paranoid and exhausted.  After a while I felt really tired and I looked at the people around me, still living the same life as me but in their 40s and I quit my job and threw all my efforts into getting a job in IT.
I got one, in the civil service, barely enough to live on but something, and there I met my ex-civil partner, Sally.  Sally was extremely obviously a lesbian, older than me, didn’t care about social conventions, she didn’t care what anyone though of her, I was fascinated by her.  By then I was so desperate to find an answer to my problems, I threw myself into the relationship with Sally and told everyone who would listen that I was gay, and I mean EVERYONE.  I was so angry, I went looking for conflict wherever I could find it.  The truth is, and it really is, that most people couldn’t have cared less that I was gay but I’d argue with them anyway, no matter how nice they were.  Sally and I had a civil partnership ceremony, all the people from my boring, conservative management consultancy job came to the wedding and I realized the day after that social acceptance of my sexuality was not my problem.  I was my problem.

I started to have uncontrollable panic attacks

Two years later Sally and I split up and entered into a bitter war over our stuff.  Then, the best thing that has ever happened to me happened.  I started to have uncontrollable panic attacks.  I couldn’t work, I couldn’t see friends, I couldn’t see anyone, I couldn’t do anything.  Grudgingly I went to a psychologist, I was lucky, my employer insisted, and paid.  There, I learnt firstly how to control the panic, and then about myself.  I started to heal.  The anger and the paranoia started to leave me, leaving in their place something kinder, something calmer.
I went back to work, just to prove to myself that I could, and then went travelling for a year and a half.  In the last week I met my now boyfriend.  I told him immediately about my sexuality and he was fine with it.  I moved to Argentina and started seeing another psychologist who helped me learn even more about myself, my past and my sexuality.  Now I’m training to be a psychologist myself so I can help people too.  I love my life, I accept myself and others for who they are and now I can enjoy my relationships with people without anger and fear getting in the way.

Just because I’m with a man doesn’t mean I’m “cured”

He’s a great guy but it’s not easy being with a straight man.  I’m also not really a big fan of the term bisexual, when I’m with a man I’m with that man, when I’m with a woman, I’m with that woman.  If it’s relevant to the conversation I tell people, if it isn’t I don’t.  However, if I witness any kind of homophobia I always confront it, just as I would if I witnessed racism or any other kind of prejudice.  I feel it’s my duty to the community but now I try not to do it with anger, I just try to make people think a bit more.  That said, most people don’t feel very strongly one way or the other, most of what is difficult about being gay is accepting yourself.
I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with my boyfriend and two dogs.

I didn’t know how my conservative Christian family would react

At 14 I knew I was not like the other girls. I ran around and played sports and games with the boys but I was more attracted to girls. I didn’t even know the word lesbian until I was 15 when my mother demanded to know if I was one. Of course, I denied it.

‘The church was not friendly towards homosexuals’

We belonged to a very conservative church. Any socialising I did was through the church youth groups. The church was not friendly towards homosexuals, and was even protesting against the legalising it in New Zealand.

The dictionary at school was not much help, and in my little conservative suburban world, the chapters on homosexuality were cut from our text books (this was in the 1980s), and there was no one I could turn to.

‘I started to read a lot’

I kept my sexuality buried for a long time – but I started to read a lot, and became a good theology student. Through reading people like Bishop Shelbey Spong and Dominic Crossan (which are heavy theology reads), I came to understand that the debate wasn’t as simple as my church had made out.

I then moved out of home at 20, found a new congregation that were more positive towards difference. I continued to throw myself into my degree and theology, and I dealt with the grief of my grandmother passing away.

Then I fell for someone, head over heels in love. It didn’t work out – but it did confirm the feelings I had felt at 14. She didn’t make me feel dumb for loving her, so I felt I could start to come out.

‘Good things take time’

Coming out to myself had taken almost ten years, and it took me almost another ten years to come out as genderqueer.

Telling my friends was easy, they were all supportive and encouraging, both within the church and my secular friends. Most of them had thought I was gay for a long time and put my non-dating down to my shyness.

Coming out to my family was more problematic as my mother and brother still attend the church I grew up in. One afternoon (on my 25th Birthday after watching the rugby) I told my mum and dad that I was gay. My dad was so positive, he turned and said “that’s the bravest thing I’ve ever seen you do”. My mother wasn’t quite so positive, and for the next couple of weeks my dad mediated the conversation and helped mum through understanding that it wasn’t me changing –  it was me showing who I was.

How does this end? My mother has told most of the church that I am gay. This hasn’t had any repercussions; she still holds a position of responsibility. The relationship with my dad became much stronger he has been an incredibly positive unconditional supporter.  I kept my faith for a long time. Moving to another country I still study theology in my spare time and occasionally try and find a congregation I fit in with.

I was a serial marrier of men…until I married a woman.

I was always aware that I was bisexual, although when I was younger I never felt able to date women – I was a serial marrier of men. At 40 I was on the point of murdering my husband and joining a nunnery…well I had seriously run out of options anyway, when a met I woman who turned my life around.

I was with her for 10 years before mum even begrudgingly agreed to come to our civil partnership. She still won’t introduce us as anything other than friends! We have a young boy together too, but none of the older relatives will consider me a mum, but the young ones are fine with it.

I’ve realised that sometimes you have to pick your battles. Who cares when people hide their heads in the sand? Be kind, understand when folks are confused and above all – live your life!

 

It’s just a phase…until it isn’t

Growing up in a fairly aloof household, physical and emotional closeness have always seemed scary to me. When I was twelve years old, it got scarier. I’d had a ‘boyfriend’, but that wasn’t much more than hanging out after school holding hands. My relationship with Elise was different.

I wanted to be around her, I wanted to do whatever I could to make her smile. Most importantly, I wanted to understand what I felt for her. She was a friend, but every time I thought about her, there was a tug in my chest. It took me a year and a half to realize I was in love with Elise.

‘I shoved my feelings into the darkest corner I could find’

For three years after, I forcefully shoved my feelings into the darkest corner I could find. I never told her how I felt, because, after all ‘it’s just a phase’, right? It’s what all the movies said, what my family said, what Elise herself had said, to another friend of ours when he came out as gay. It’s not love, if you’re going to grow out of it – or at least that’s what I thought.

At twenty, I started to question that rationale. How could I still find myself attracted to both women and men, after eight years? Surely, I would have passed through that ‘phase’, after eight years. By now, I’d had a few serious relationships – with men. I was still staunchly refusing to believe that my attraction to women was anything more than a physical curiosity.

‘I couldn’t deny my feelings for Anna’

Enter Anna. I was finally getting over a nasty break up, when I met this wonderful ball of happiness. Discovering quite a few common interests, it wasn’t long before we attached the term ‘best friend’ to one another, and spent any and all free time together. Again, I felt that strange tug in my chest – by now, I knew that feeling.

I couldn’t deny my feelings for Anna, but I could keep them to myself. Our friendship continued to grow, over the course of a year. We’d even spoken about becoming roommates, to save on rent.

One night, not particularly different than any other we spent together, I found that I couldn’t continue to keep this secret to myself. It took me fifteen minutes of stammering, awkward analogies, and awkward pauses to tell Anna that I was in love with her. I explained that, while I had questioned my sexuality before, that something this strong couldn’t be called into question.

Anna, quite thankfully, understood why I hadn’t said anything previously. She knew what I meant about thinking it was a phase, about being fooled into thinking that bisexuality wasn’t a real thing. Not only had she lived it first hand, she’d had it thrown at her as an insult – ‘bisexuals are just sluts that’ll have sex with anything’ (another woefully common expression).

Fast forward another two and half years, and Anna and I are happily coupled, and proud of our sexuality.

Being curious is natural. Feel free to question yourself, to ask those ‘what if’ questions. Anything can be a phase, but it doesn’t mean it is a phase. Whether you’re homosexual, heterosexual, or something in between, don’t let anyone else dictate how you feel about someone.