Today marks National Coming Out Day! This day is super important because it gives people the opportunity to share and celebrate their triumphant coming out stories. So this year I decided to share mine in hopes it would inspire someone else to have the courage to explore and express themselves too.
As far back as I can remember I knew something was different about me. I couldn’t put my finger on it as a child, but by the time I was a freshman in high school I learned. The knowledge that I wasn’t like my friends or family sunk in deep. It felt like a never-ending wave crashing into me and knocking me over time and time again. I struggled with accepting my sexuality and who I am for a long time, but not anymore.
I recall as young as 6, hiding behind a tree as I waited for my friends to find me. I had a moment to think as they searched and for some reason, that day, I remember thinking “I’m not like them.” At the time my curious bright brown eyes didn’t find the issue many adults in my life did. It occurred to me not long after that society’s ignorance and lack of understanding heavily influenced those around me.
It’s something I know now, I want to change.
My first kiss was with a girl. I never forgot it even when a boy kissed me for the first time in 8th grade (though it was like 75% on the cheek, I don’t know the rules so maybe it doesn’t count). By this age, a lot of my friends were dating. I ended up forced into two relationships by friends who thought they were doing me a favor. I hated it and for a moment – myself.
At fourteen, I hadn’t experienced attraction to either gender yet. I wondered awful thoughts that I know today, are a reflection of not me but society. Was I broken? Why didn’t I feel like kissing the boy who said he loved me? How come all the things my friends talked about doing with their partners – I couldn’t see myself doing? Why did I say I felt things I didn’t feel just to be ‘normal’ and like my friends?
It would be in high school after I turned sixteen that I felt an attraction to someone, she would be one of my closest friends. I never spoke a word of it and kept it close to my heart along with all the other secrets I buried.
Around this event, I learned a lot more about sexuality, gender identities, and attraction. I had found the LGBTQ + community. It was incredible to know there were others like me and that when the time was right if I felt like choosing a label there were choices. It was also helpful to understand that sexuality can change & that it can be a continuing process of discovery.
Now, after being able to accept and love who I am, I want to help and let others know it’s okay to be who you are. This journey is yours and there’s no right or wrong way to travel.
It can take time, and there will be challenges that require us to overcome more than we ever imagined. Yet, the more people continue to come out and share their stories, the less those who dare to keep us quiet win. We should always be able to embrace who we are and live our lives without fear. No matter what you define yourself as, there are people who will support you and understand you.
For me? I am very fluid in my sexuality.
If I had to pick a label, I find I tend to lean towards the term pansexuality, simply due to what it means. It’s only a preference for myself to use this term. I like to refer to myself as demi-pansexual.
Personally the gender, sexuality or identification of who I date – will not influence my feelings towards them. However, there is one important part of my sexuality and that is related to demisexuality which is part of the ACE spectrum. In regards to demisexuality, I rarely experience sexual attraction, but that doesn’t mean I value sexual intimacy any less. It’s actually very important to me. The truth is, I’ve never glanced at people around me and felt an instant physical desire. I need to feel a connection and know someone before I can begin to feel a desire for them or enter a more intimate relationship.
In the end, I believe that attraction and sexuality are two related but separate parts of me.
I’d love to hear your story if you feel like sharing, and what you’ve come to learn on your journey of self-discovery.
Featured image Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash