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Sex + Relationships

I Labeled My Sexuality Before I Was Ready

I came into college thinking that I had to choose. I was 18, an adult, so surely I knew what kind of people I was into, right? When I got to USC, I had never been in any kind of romantic relationship. The closest I’d come was a kiss on a cheek from a girl I liked (and I spent WEEKS thinking about it). I was so embarrassed, and I assumed that everyone else was way more experienced than me.

In high school, I knew I wasn’t straight, but I didn’t really know what I was. As I delved into the world of non-heterosexuality, I learned that there were oh-so-many more options out there than what’s expressed in the LGBT acronym. I started to identify with demisexual, lesbian, queer, bisexual and pansexual. Of course, I kept these labels in my head, and never talked about it with anyone. I never felt very strongly about any label I tried, and it was deeply frustrating.

When I came to college, I had this expectation that everyone else would be way more experienced than me. I felt panicked, wondering how I could ever get anyone to like me if I didn’t even know what I liked. So, I decided I would call myself a lesbian. I learned from the internet that bisexual people were looked down upon in the LGBT+ community for being “too straight”, and I thought that if I labeled myself as a homosexual, I would have a better chance when it came to dating girls. I thought it didn’t matter if I liked some guys too. I seemed to be more attracted to girls, and bi is 50/50, right?

As my first semester progressed, I felt a bit more comfortable in my label, but I knew in the back of my mind that I was still attracted to guys too. I was able to push that thought out of my head for a while because I quickly fell for a friend of mine. I had such a big crush that I used it to validate my sexuality, and I would say to myself, “Hey, you like a girl, you’re a lesbian.” I finally asked her out after a couple months of building our friendship. She agreed, but the date went poorly. I realized that my feelings for her were clouding my judgment, and she and I would never work out as a couple. I was devastated at first, but I understood.

I had been so caught up in her that I stopped noticing other people altogether. Specifically, my best friend who had had feelings for me since we first met. He was a guy, and I’d come out to him as a lesbian shortly after we became friends. As we grew closer, I found myself getting butterflies and thinking about him romantically. I told myself that it was stupid and felt like I was fake.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that I liked him as more than a friend, and decided to accept “bisexual” as my label. I knew that I liked men and women, and that was ENOUGH. It really doesn’t matter which I’m “more” attracted to. I re-came out in this new label, and everyone was still accepting of me. It caused me a lot of stress to come out again, and I wish I had just never labeled myself in the first place. It would have been so much easier to wait until I was comfortable with myself. The pressure I was experiencing to come out was pretty much self-inflicted. I know now that sexuality can be fluid, and I don’t have to know exactly what I’m into. Really, I don’t even have to put a label on myself at all. There aren’t LGBT+ community gatekeepers in real life who will spot you as a “fake” and throw you out for questioning your identity.

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South Carolina

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