Growing Up Queer

When I was seven years old, I loudly proclaimed, “Boys have cooties!” in protest to my friend shoving a little blue piece of plastic next to my pink one in my miniature LIFE car. I refused to allow the game to force me to marry a man. My parents, being accepting and supportive, offered up “You know you can marry a woman, right?” Not having considered that as an option before, I proudly plunked down an identical pink plastic person aside my own and carried on my merry way. I played LIFE that way for a few months until I registered that my friends were giving me odd looks. Out of social protection, I went on to quash that side of myself. I remember growing up with that memory of marrying a girl in a board game replaying incessantly in my head, flinching with shame. I just wanted to be boy-crazy like everyone else my age. When I was thirteen and had my first crush on a boy, I had never felt more relieved. I exhaled a sigh of content, assured that I was indeed “normal.” For a couple of years, I went on to continue to believe I was straight, only occasionally remembering the LIFE incident and always pushing it back in the deep, dark depths of my mind. I thought to myself, I know I like boys, so the LIFE incident must have just been a fluke; just me taking the childhood concept of “cooties” too far.

woman leaning on door looking out onto the city Photo by Kinga Cichewicz from Unsplash When I was seventeen, I had the opportunity to go on a trip that changed my life. On that four-day trip, I met a girl who went on to become one of my best friends in the world. The first night I met her, it felt like we had known each other for years. I distinctly remember a conversation about sexuality coming up and her looking to me for confirmation that it was a safe space for her to share her truth. From her, I learned about the concept of bisexuality. Growing up, I had always thought you either liked boys, or you liked girls. I thought it was mutually exclusive, hence my constant struggle and confusion. Everyone I had known who identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community was very upfront in their self-presentation, so I frequently told myself that I couldn’t possibly like girls too since I didn’t care to be so bold about it. My friend that I met that trip left a huge impression on me, changing the way I viewed sexuality forever. She taught me that bisexuality is real and that it’s possible to be quietly queer, while still owning your sexuality.

Love is Love mural art Photo by Yoav Hornung from Unsplash I never had any desire to make a big show of “coming out” because I feel that sexuality is fluid, ever-changing. While “bisexual” seems the most fitting for me at the moment, I don’t particularly want to box myself into a label and stick with it for the rest of my life. I especially hate that only people who identify as “not straight” have to make a big deal of it. If you’re reading this and also struggling with your sexuality, I encourage you to take a step back and wonder why you feel such pressure to label yourself. It’s human nature to change your likes and dislikes throughout your life, so why not apply that same method of thinking to sexuality? Why can’t we all just love who we love?