Tag Archives: South East

Coming To Terms With Being Me

I had always felt different. It’s such a cliché, I know, but I just KNEW there was something staring me right in the face – I just didn’t know what I was looking for. I was upset a lot of the time for a reason I didn’t understand, but now I can see how blindingly obvious it was: I wasn’t a girl, but everyone kept calling me one.

I felt so wrong and alone.

PE was always difficult. I would loathe every second of the girls’ changing rooms, always leaving them in a bad mood or with tears brimming. The worst part about it was that no one, not even me, understood. We’re raised in binaries, as either male or female depending on what you were born with, and this is reinforced so heavily in our society that transgender or gender variant youth can feel so cut-off and isolated from the rest of the world. I hated my long hair. I hated the feminine school uniform trousers. I hated how people called me “she” or “dear” or “young lady”. I felt so wrong and alone.

It was probably in Year 9 when I first typed “I feel like a boy” into a search engine, and the results confused me. There was a whole universe of genders out there that I’d never heard of. I thought you could only be a girl or a boy, and that for me to be a boy, I had to like girls (which I didn’t!) – I couldn’t have been more wrong. I learnt about non-binary, two-spirit, genderfluid, to name but a few, and I also learnt that to be transgender there is no requirement for your sexuality. So, a person of any gender can have any sexuality. It was an eye-opening experience.

I was so desperate for me to make my mind up

I spent a lot of time after my internet discoveries thinking. I would go to secluded places at school and think. Think about the label I should use for my gender, about the label I should use for my sexuality. I was in a phase of confusion, which was honestly one of the most agonising times of my life. I hated seeing everyone so happy with their identity around me, so happy to be divided into male or female, when I was so desperate for me to make my mind up about this thing that’s deemed so important in our culture. I’d wake up one day and announce: “I’m a boy! I’m definitely male – I’ve finally decided!” only to then realise within a few hours that I was in fact genderless again, or sometimes even female. I would venture to YouTube and watch trans videos which definitely helped, but it drained me: they all seemed so sure in themselves, talking about how they’d always played with boys and action figures. Although I considered myself masculine, I didn’t really do those things, and that seemed to contradict what I was feeling at the time.

I came out to my parents as being confused about my gender, and to my luck, they were 100% accepting. We tried different names and pronouns at home – one day I was Liam, the next I was Phoenix – but nothing quite felt right and this made me more confused. “They” pronouns made me feel awkward, and “he” pronouns felt sort of forced.

I just had to accept that my identity would take time

This continued for a long time and it took me equally as long to realise: I was trying too hard to label myself. I was forcing feelings and thoughts before allowing them to surface naturally, and I was smothering my femininity because I felt it contradicted the male identity I wanted to have. I finally realised that I just had to accept that my identity would take time and I slowly began to embrace every part of myself. I accepted that I was sometimes feminine, sometimes masculine, and although I wasn’t happy about it, I accepted that I might always be genderfluid. And that’s okay.

It’s true what they say: things do get better. Feelings take time to understand. It was the summer of 2014 when I came out publicly after years of confusion and waiting for my feelings to settle – and since then, I haven’t looked back. I waited until I was certain that this was what I wanted, and coming out over the summer was just perfect for me. Some days I’m feminine, other days I’m masculine, and I like men – but I am male. This is me, and although it took a while to get here, I’ve finally found myself.

Take your time

So, if there’s any moral to learn from my story, I guess it would be this: take your time. Don’t rush so much to give yourself a label, because sometimes, it takes feelings a while to settle, and are often far too complicated to define by a single word. But, most important of all: don’t try to suppress parts of yourself because society dictates that you should feel a certain way. This is something I wish I’d realised soon.

Now that I’ve learnt this, I am me, and I couldn’t be happier.

I had only ever heard ‘bisexual’ in a negative context

I realised I wasn’t completely like my other female friends when I was 10, just before starting secondary school. My eyes were always drawn to women, and I was confused.

I had always gone to an all-girls Christian school and although my parents were really accepting of gay people, they didn’t talk about it. So I never fully understood different types of sexuality.

Part of me hated myself for my feelings. I pushed them to the back of my mind and continued life as normal.

It felt better knowing that there were other people like me

When I was 13 I came across a definition of the term lesbian on the internet and read a few personal stories. I decided that I must be a lesbian. I didn’t tell anyone, but part of me felt better knowing that there were other people like me.

I really hated myself

But I still hadn’t got to the heart of it. I was still really confused, because I realised that I still liked boys even though I liked girls better. I had rarely heard the word ‘bisexual’, and only ever with a negative context: ‘bisexuals are sluts”, ‘bisexuals are greedy’ and ‘bisexuals need to make up their mind’.  Hearing these things felt horrible and was eating away at me inside.

Then one day, when I was about 15, I was taking a long bath and thinking. What if bisexuals aren’t horrible, what if I actually am a bisexual, am I okay with that? And I was.

The moment I said to myself out loud, ‘I am a bisexual’, was the happiest I have ever been.

 

Your sexuality doesn’t define you

When I was 17, I was in higher education and I realised that my focus on female
teachers and a few fellow students was indeed infatuation and desire.
All it took was a university club night that was full of lesbians for everything to click into place. My friend who I went there with turned out to be just a clubbing friend and when I came out she lost interest me. But never mind, my world had opened and for a year I had a secret night life agenda where I met some great and carefree lesbians, who gave me the courage to come out.

She would support me through whatever I needed

The most difficult thing to get my head around was telling my mother – we were really close and I didn’t want this to be a problem or affect how close she was to me. She laughed when I told her, as we sat having a coffee. I think she was shocked, but then she took my hand and told me it didn’t matter and that she would support me through whatever I needed.

Luckily, we are still as close as we were and she loves telling people about me, leaving my sexuality as a last detail because, why do you need to describe someone’s sexuality when telling another person about their life, interests and successes? It’s definitely not how I define myself. Yes I have a partner, she is also female, but what about the fact that I’m a teacher, I’ve spent the last ten years travelling, learning languages and doing the things I love. Surely that defines me more?

Around my mid-twenties I hit a hard patch

Maybe it doesn’t and don’t get me wrong, I’m an out and proud lesbian. People ask so I tell them I’ve never dated a guy and I’ve always been attracted to girls. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable saying stuff like that, now that I’m nearly 30 and still having to bring it up in conversation with my employer or a new colleague. In fact, around about my mid-twenties I hit a hard patch where I felt myself going red when it came up in conversation. This was so different from when I was 18. I would just say it when I met people and have a ‘just deal with it’ chip on my shoulder. But now, successful in my life, feeling like being gay has had very little impact on the rest of my life, I see the things I’ve achieved in my life as equally important.

Yes, I have achieved telling my best friends, at the time, a group of 8 popular, very attractive heterosexual 18 year old girls. Luckily, my fears that they would shun me or think I was attracted to them were all proved to be wrong. They are still my best friends. But aside from that I’ve also just led a normal life, the same way a straight person would hope to. I went to university, I’ve travelled and lived abroad for the past 6 years, I have had a few long term relationships, I’ve worked my way up the career ladder, I’ve had fun. It’s all possible.

Your sexuality doesn’t define you

If you’re comfortable with yourself and let others see that your sexuality doesn’t define you, that it’s just an extra bit of information on a need-to-know bases, like if you like sugar in your coffee, then others will relax and see you for a whole person and not just a gay one. If someone is weird with you after you’ve mentioned it, take it as their own personal issues. You’ve done nothing wrong. You are no more intimidating than the mail man who just asked you to sign for a package. Who knows, maybe he was gay too. Who cares! The only person who needs to know about what you do behind closed doors is your significant other half.

I’m two and half years into my relationship and we plan to start a family in 2016. Be strong and true to yourself and you can have the life you always dreamt of.

The internet is good when your family isn’t

I think my grand revelation happened after watching that one episode of the X files when Dana Scully goes to Africa and spends the whole time wearing a tank top and henley wielding a machete and, well, I had to take a cold shower afterwards.

I was terrified. I’d always believed that attraction to the same sex was a bad thing, and here I was clearly infatuated. I locked the door and opened an incognito window on my laptop, just in case. “Signs you’re a lesbian.” I took quizzes, read blogs, I did them all. Some of them said yes and some said no, but none of it helped. I looked up pictures of attractive men to “make sure” I wasn’t gay. I wasn’t. I stumbled across a quiz that told me I was bisexual. I’d only ever pictured bisexual as a thing that teenage girls say when they want to be more attractive to guys. I was really wrong. I looked it up. “Bisexuality” “What is bisexual” “Am I bisexual”. Well, I guess I was queer.

I told myself I was bisexual for the first time

It was months later when a really pretty girl complimented my shirt and I got so flustered that I told myself I was bisexual for the first time. It was only a few weeks after that that I accidentally came out at school when during a discussion about dress code I said I liked girls but didn’t get distracted by their yoga pants. I was ignored, because it’s high school,  but the people around me heard and it spread around.

I came out to my family on April fool’s day (just in case) and got three responses: NO, it’s a phase, sexual orientations aren’t a real thing, people just sleep with who they like. None of them are exactly positive. My brothers are still dicks about it, and my dad likes to pretend I’m his heterosexual daughter, but no one has disowned me for which I’m lucky.

I found several internet communities which were super cool about sexuality and gender, and yeah, there’s always assholes out there, but sometimes it’s easier to find acceptance in online anonymity. Fantasy is also great for that, and one thing I learned from fantasy is that family isn’t about blood relation, it’s about love. Any family that doesn’t accept you is just shit. You’ll find your real family, trust me.

I thought straight was the only option

I tried to persuade myself that I liked boys

My mother is very homophobic and only ever mentioned heterosexuality in regards to relationships. Secondary school (high school) was really really tough. I went to an all-girls school. No one ever talked about girls in a romantic or sexual way at all; it was all about boys and that was it. If someone even hinted about being not heterosexual, their bag would be thrown across the room, or shoved into a bin for them to find later. By this time I was starting to discover who I was as a person more and more, but as soon as I had even a thought about another girl, I would instantly shut myself up and brush it off. No. You must like boys. Girls like boys. You must do.

They used the word ‘lesbian’ as an insult

The last few years of secondary school were pretty damn bad. I made friends with some terrible, terrible people that still give me bad memories even two years on. They all treated being gay as a horrific disease that was disgusting. They used the word ‘lesbian’ as an insult. For a very quiet, very confused teenager, this made working out my sexuality an almost impossible task. This is a part of my life that I try not to think about too much.

Now I can be who I really am

After I broke free from that crappy place and went to college, I was able to take a deep breath and just think about who I am, rather than who I’m supposed to be. College really opened my eyes; the diversity of that place is over-whelming. I was finally able to call myself gay and not be shunned. I feel proud. I can’t tell my mum yet, but I’ll find a way somehow.

Realizing who you are can be frightening for some, but you’ll get there, I promise. If I got through that awkward stage, then so can you.