My coming out story, much like me, was quiet and unobtrusive. It was a long process consisting of growth, education, and deep self-awareness. I grew up during a time where sexuality, along with gender, was largely recognised as binary. I was never in denial of my sexuality, I slipped into heterosexuality quite easily and being attracted to men was organic, natural, and definitely right for me.
During my adolescents when I really began to settle into my sexuality, I found myself often imagining sexual relationships with women. This was confusing because I didn’t see myself wanting a romantic relationship, or even crushing on women in my everyday life.
This, coupled with inherent homophobia that any person experienced coming of age at the millennium, left my sexuality and ultimately myself unexplored. My internal homophobia stemmed from the variety of homophobic insults that were hurled at me in high school, an attempt to bully me that never really did work. I internalised, however, the idea that I would be seen as “lesbian” because I sported a short haircut.
“My sexuality would not be my own to define”
My sexuality would not be my own to define because it must be gay since I was on the swim team and spent a lot of time nearly naked with groups of women. This never shamed me; I didn’t find anything wrong with being gay so it didn’t do any damage to my self-esteem. It did reinforce my hesitancy to explore the bi part of my sexuality, however.
Fast-forward four years and my immersion into the Women and Gender studies academic arena. I began to learn about the vastness of gender, sex, and sexuality. It was here that I learned the vocabulary that describes me. I learned the term “Pansexual”, which means that I pay no mind to the sex or gender identity when choosing a partner.
I use this term rather than bisexuality in order to give agency to transgender individuals and any of those who fall somewhere between male and female on the “sex” spectrum.
My actual coming out, again reflecting my personality, came in the form of an email. This email included a meticulously organised set of definitions describing to my close family the different terms for gender (cis, trans, and non-binary) and laid out pansexuality and its impact on them and me. That they would have to be prepared for me to possibly date women, men, transgender people, and non-binary people.
“I began to think of myself as a queer woman and to incorporate this into my self-identity”
The most important coming out was to myself, I began to change the way I described myself. I owned my sexuality; I began to think of myself as a queer woman and to incorporate this into my self-identity.
I did not, unfortunately, come out publicly at this time. My internal homophobia stopped me. Bisexuality and pansexuality are often minimized, diminished and made invisible.
“We are indecisive people who can’t decide which gender we want”
We are not queer enough; we are indecisive people who can’t decide which gender we want. We are greedy. We are sexual predators or sexually promiscuous. I also was afraid to give any worth to the homophobic stereotypes that plagued my teenage years.
Eventually, I realised that I needed to live my life for myself and let any outsiders’ homophobia be their own and not mine. I wrote a blog post explaining everything and quietly announcing myself to the world, or at least those who chose to read it.
I hit the publish button, shared the post on my Facebook page and promptly took a nap as I always do when I want to avoid anything that scared me.
When I eventually gathered the courage to peek at the traffic the post generated, I was met with support and love. People I was close to that knew little about my sexuality at all were happy to be a part of my story, and those who I haven’t seen since high school where there shouting praise.
“Coming out is learning who you really are and then choosing to live your truth”
Coming out is not always a thing we know about ourselves since we can remember. It’s always within us, but sometimes we have to discover it too. Sometimes coming out is learning who you really are and then choosing to live your truth.
Edited by Ash O'Keeffe