ROYGBIV: Finding My Place in the Rainbow

My first crush was in preschool. His name was James and I told my parents that he was nice, funny, and he smelled good (the most important qualities in any significant other.) I remember holding hands with him on the playground and hearing all of our peers giggling in between whispers. When I would hands with my girlfriends, no one giggled or whispered. I thought every girl wanted to hold hands with her best friend in elementary school. It wasn’t weird; it was just what girls did.

I remember in middle school, after passionately arguing about gay rights at the dinner table, someone in my family asked if I was gay. I thought, “no” because I liked boys. I mean, I liked girls, too, but in the way that all girls liked other girls.

When I began dating in high school, I got butterflies when I kissed boys walking down small town streets, in coffee shops, in the school parking lot. I didn't think too much about the butterflies I would get when that girl would walk down the hall or when my girlfriends and I would braid each others' hair. That’s just what girls did. When, at lunch, my friends and I described our celebrity crushes, I didn’t think twice about gushing over Domhnall Gleeson and Emma Stone (I guess I just had a thing for redheads).

The first time it clicked in my head that I was bi was sophomore year of college. My roommates and I were in our apartment watching America’s Next Top Model, Jersey Shore, or some other reality show. I don't remember how it came up, but one of my roommates looked at me and asked if I was bi. There was no judgement in her voice, just pure curiosity. It made sense. 

At that point, I was dating my best friend from high school. He was the first, and only, person I was in love with. During our relationship, we grew up together. Part of that was my discovery of my sexuality. I found it so difficult to juggle my feelings for my S/O and the concept that, if I was hypothetically single, I would want to date people, not because of their gender identity, but because I was attracted to them in other ways. A year and a half later, we grew up more and grew apart. I will forever be thankful to him for not only showing me what being in love felt like, but also for supporting me during a time in which everything I thought about myself was changing. 

When I told my dad, he asked how I knew: “But have you had sex with a woman? How do you know you would like it?” I thought back to being on the playground with James in preschool. 

 “Did you know you liked girls when you were little, before you even had your first kiss?” I asked.

 “Of course! I think I always knew.”

 “I think it was the same for me, except it was much easier to hide that I liked girls, too.”

I went to my first Pride this year, about nine months after I came out. It was also my first date with a woman. I couldn't help feeling like I didn't belong as I walked up Locust Street towards the bar where I was meeting my date. She greeted me with a hug and a beer (the perfect combo). We talked for a while about being bi (she was, too!), but soon we were discussing our life goals, laughing about our favorite Netflix shows, and comparing pictures of our dogs. We danced on Locust Street to one of those intoxicatingly giddy pop songs with the colorful crowd. We held each others’ faces and kissed as rainbow confetti launched into the sky, and the setting sun reflected onto the glass skyscrapers. We were  surrounded by crowds of people who danced and kissed and celebrated love. I was proud of who I was and thankful that I had the privilege and support to come out safely. In that moment, I felt completely, and utterly myself.