As I am writing this, it is 1:32 a.m. on a Tuesday. It’s fall break. I’m spending the long weekend occupying the space I once called my bedroom, in an attempt to distract myself from the overbearing stress-monster that is my senior year of college… wishful thinking, right?
My family is sound asleep in the rooms that border my own and have been for quite some time now. I, however, am having trouble falling asleep but I’m not surprised. Could it be the cold brew I decided was a good idea at 6 at night? Or is it the never ending ‘to-do’ list sitting beside me on my nightstand, watching over me as I decide against tackling anything on it and instead watch an ungodly amount of shitty Netflix originals? Maybe neither; my mind is moving a mile a minute and I’m not sure I can pinpoint why.
As I find myself moving through my daily morning routine of scrolling through various social media apps on Friday, I come across a number of posts celebrating “National Coming Out Day,” a day for members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate who they are and to not be ashamed to live their truth, a day for them to ‘come out.’ And while I consider myself to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I struggle with the whole idea of ‘coming out’, for a number of reasons.
The biggest one: I don’t know what I would say if I were to come out. I’m not sure I fit into any of the traditional labels of the LGBTQ+ community (they don’t teach you about the spectrum of sexuality in grade school). For a young girl navigating her way through a huge public school district of about 10,000 kids, learning about who she was amongst everything going on around her was tough. This is where my confusion began.
As far as 12-year-old me was concerned, there was only gay, straight and bisexual. Even then, none of these labels seemed to sit right with me and who I thought I was. I wasn’t possibly gay, I had crushes on boys since before I could talk. I obviously wasn’t straight either, I constantly thought about holding my best friend’s hand and kissing her, not in a platonic way either. So I must be bi, right?
That didn’t feel right to me either. My whole life I had boyfriends, went on dates with only boys, found myself only having crushes on boys, etc. It wasn’t until later on, at the beginning of high school, that I started exploring the side of me that was attracted to girls. Even then, I chalked it up to being just a physical attraction, nothing emotional. Maybe I was still convinced I was straight or maybe my confusion clouded my thoughts on the matter to the point of denial.
It wasn’t until I fell in love for the first time, with a girl, that I knew for sure. This didn’t come, however, until about a year ago, nearly a decade after this quest to define my sexuality began. It sounds silly looking back; I now know that I am not straight and never have been, but it took something monumental like falling in love to happen to really convince my stubborn ass to stop lying to myself. I know for certain now I like girls, emotionally, physically, in every way possible.
So where did that leave me on this complicated mess that is the spectrum of sexuality? Maybe I still don’t know, and that’s okay. Sexuality isn’t something that is decided overnight or is concrete; it’s a journey, constantly changing and evolving. It’s taken me my whole life to come to terms with who I am, and I might still be evolving as we speak. I may not be straight, gay or even bi for that matter, but who says I have to confine myself in just one box? What if I want to be in all the boxes? Or jump around from one to the other?
As I accepted the fact that I may not fit in these boxes, I desperately searched the universe for a word to help both myself and others better understand my place on the spectrum (for simplicity’s sake). When I came across one label in particular and read the definition, I knew it was perfect: “An adjective used by some people whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual,” that’s it. The very ambiguity of the word resembles that of my own sexuality perfectly: not heterosexual. It’s wonderfully simple and vague and I love it because of that.
I am queer.