CWs: LGBTQIAP-phobia, threatening behaviour, verbal abuse
I’ll be attending my second ever Pride celebration this weekend and so I thought I’d write about a little something that’s quite close to home for me. I tend not to talk openly about my sexuality unless its asked about and unless those questions are respectful and genuine. However when I saw so many of our #queerbloggers talk about their experiences for this month’s ‘Coming Out’ theme, I thought it was about time I told my story.
I knew I wasn’t just interested in boys from quite a young age. I would see women on television and think they were beautiful in a way that I didn’t yet fully understand.
As Katherine Hockley said in her piece, ‘00s Music Videos & Their Role In My Bisexual Awakening’, “… it made me feel guilty and “bad”, because it was ingrained in my head that culturally I should only be getting turned on by men. As a kid who was already unpopular and a bit weird, anything else that could make me different could not be a good thing (or so I thought)…”
Growing up surrounded by images of sex and heteronormative relationships as many of us do in the Western world, it became quite apparent to me that I had feelings that weren’t so widely represented in the media.
In my teens (at about fourteen years old) I fell in love with two girls, one after the other. They were close friends of mine but I was completely besotted and wanted more. I still don’t know to this day if they reciprocated those feelings but I remember mine and boy, was I obsessed! When they each told me for different reasons that we would never work out in a relationship, I was so hurt. I couldn’t see the problem with openly expressing my love for them but I think they weren’t quite sure if they could be with me romantically.
My mum knew, but I did affirm her suspicions one day and told her how I felt about those two girls in my life. I was very lucky in that she was really supportive and told me that she loves me no matter who I love, as long as they make me happy.
News about my ‘tendencies’ began to spread around the school like wildfire and it wasn’t long before the bullying started. I remember sidling up to the only other ‘out’ person at my school and her and I were in a relationship for about a week but the abuse was just too much.
I was told I was disgusting… I was spat on… I ‘should be shot’… I’m a ‘dyke’… I’m a ‘freak of nature’…
I was assaulted regularly and there wasn’t a huge amount I felt I could do at the time. A few close friends stuck up for me when they could but often I’d be targeted when I was on my own. Even after being a long term relationship with a cis boy, there was still a lot of homophobia (despite me not identifying as a lesbian) and bi-erasure. I couldn’t understand it – I was comfortable with who I was, why did it bother them? Why did they feel the need to treat me that way and why couldn’t they understand?
I still haven’t had an ‘official’ committed relationship with anyone who isn’t a cis man yet but that’s not through any active choices in adulthood. The people that I have developed strong feelings for and stayed in relationships with at this point in my life have been cis men but my feelings for women, non-binary and trans people haven’t gone away. I wrote a piece for Zusterschap a while back about having my queerness erased because I’m in a ‘hetero’ relationship, and how frustrating it is that many people, even those inside the LGBTQIAP community will still deny that I am queer.
They deny me of the support and belonging that I so desperately needed when I was younger.
They deny me of feeling that I can speak or write openly about my identity.
They deny me when they say that I didn’t have to ‘come out’ so I don’t understand the struggle.
Many young people are still questioning their sexualities and gender identities and it is so important if you can speak safely and openly about these things to do so. Although it’s improving, accurate media representation for LGBTQIAP people and relationships is still sparse and globally, there are still abuses of people’s basic human rights and freedoms because of their sexuality or gender identity.
A lot of straight people ask me, ‘how can I best be an ally to the LGBTQIAP movement?’ I always say the same thing: ‘being accepting and treating people with fairness and kindness, regardless of their identity’.
It’s also important not to erase someone’s experiences. If they want to tell you about their coming out or any other personal experience then as an ally, you should respectfully listen and try to understand.
Finally, amplify queer voices! We have a Queer Bloggers Network now for anyone who makes content in the community or for it. To do more than that you should comment on posts, RT links, share news on Facebook, watch films and vlogs… Get that content out there. The only way that true understanding of one another is reached is through education and respectful discussion.
Hopefully one day, we won’t have to ‘come out’, because we will be seen as people and not for our differences.
Do you having a ‘coming out’ story that you’ve shared?
Do consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQIAP community?
Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.
If you liked this post, you should check out:
‘You Can’t Be A Feminist If…’ – crushing myths about ‘all modern feminists’
my queerness erased – I talk about being in a ‘hetero’ relationship and why I’m still pansexual
drag on a dime series – I copy looks from your favourite drag queens for cheap!