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Sex + Relationships

Why I Had to “Come to Terms” With My Sexuality

I could easily write about how beautiful the sexuality spectrum is and how everyone should be allowed to love who they want, because that is true. Love is love, and that is that. However, instead of delving deep into that side of my thoughts about sexuality, I felt it would be beneficial to share the pure frustration, anxiety, and pressure that runs through the veins of those who are essentially forced to come out to the world about their sexual preferences. Because I can’t speak for anyone but myself, I will be sharing my story. 

I, unlike many members of the LGBTQ+ community, have an extremely supportive family — that is, my nuclear family. I’ve been close to my parents my whole life and I’ve never felt afraid to tell them anything except for the words “I am gay.” But why is that? I know they aren’t homophobic and I know they believe everyone should be treated equally regardless of race, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. So why in the world did it take me so long to say those words out loud?

When I was 12 years old, Teen Beach Movie, a Disney Channel Original Movie about a couple who end up getting sucked into a musical, came out. Everyone was head over heels for Tanner, one of the characters in the movie. I would watch that movie for weeks straight, trying to convince myself that I was attracted to this Tanner guy. And I remember talking to my friends, telling them how good-looking this man was and how I would totally date him if he went to our school. Shortly thereafter, I started wondering why it took so much energy to like this guy. Shouldn’t it be easy? Shouldn’t it be instinctual? What I didn’t realize quite then was that what I didn’t feel for Tanner, I most definitely felt for McKenzie.

Months after that, I started to realize that women in shows and movies were more appealing to me. Feeling something for them wasn’t something I had to force myself to do. However, every time a thought like that crossed my mind, I got nauseous. This, dear audience, is what we call internalized homophobia. I tried so hard to picture two women and two kids living a nice life in the city and it looked so weird to me. You know why? Because they don’t show two women and two kids in lifestyle magazines. They don’t show two women and two kids in TV shows or movies. They don’t show two women and two kids in cereal commercials. So how was I to react any differently to that picture in my head when society keeps telling me it isn’t normal?

Years after battling this, I went to a summer program in Boston for a couple of months. This was the first time that I met people my age who were openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual. I still introduced myself as straight if someone asked, scared that if I said “I am gay” out loud, it would be real, and my life would officially not look like the picture in my head. At the program, however, I met a girl. She was openly bisexual and that made it easier to let my walls down when I spoke to her. We hung out practically every day; one day, I told her, in confidence, that I was figuring out my sexuality and that I thought I was gay. Two days later, she told the whole program, breaking her promise to keep it a secret and outing me to people I didn’t even know. As you can imagine, it took me so long to say those words again.

I buried myself deeper in the closet than before, forcing myself to be in relationships with men and to talk only about men. It wasn’t until about a year after that summer program that I finally let myself be gay and be with women. And although my story had some difficult moments, it does not compare to that of the many members of the LGBTQ+ community who didn’t get a happy ending even after figuring out who they are. What about the people who didn’t have a supportive environment? The people who couldn’t talk about any of their struggles because the people around them thought it was a sin or a phase? Clearly, we need change.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community should not have to force themselves to believe they’re straight, work up the nerve to announce it to their family and friends, and grapple with who they are. We all need to play our part in normalizing noncishet identities and pushing for inclusion in our media and day-to-day activities.

Aria Narang

Columbia Barnard '24

Hi! My name is Aria Narang and I absolutely love writing! I am a singer/songwriter and have written over 50 songs and also have a couple of them out on Spotify! I am very excited to write for Her Campus!
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