“My sexuality is my business”

I remember clearly when I first started to question my sexuality. I was 16, just starting sixth form, and I borrowed The L Word off my friend because I’d heard it was like Sex and the City. I got quite into it, and was particularly fascinated by one of the characters. After a while I realised it wasn’t just a fascination – I actually fancied her. Surely not?

Before then I’d never thought of myself as anything but straight, and had entertained crushes on boys for much of my teenage years; however, I’d never actually had a relationship with a boy beyond a few weeks of holding hands with someone I was briefly set up with aged 14. I always thought it was because I was unpopular and terrified of any kind of intimate contact. But when I started watching this ridiculously glamorous over-the-top drama about lesbians, it was as if a light had been turned on in my head. It all seemed to make sense. But at the same time it was very, very wrong – no, I couldn’t possibly be gay. For one thing, I was sixteen – don’t most gay people know they’re gay by the time they’re teenagers? (I know now that this isn’t always the case.) Besides, being gay is something that happens to other people, isn’t it? Maybe it was just a phase.

My newly-discovered Sapphic side was very difficult to accept. My usual response to any kind of anxiety is to get horrendously sick, and it became a regular thing to the extent that people started wondering if I was bulimic.  When one of my friends admitted to me that she liked me, I got really confused, didn’t know what to do and ended up telling her I felt the same, then going back on it and basically making a mess of the whole thing. I slowly came out to a few of my friends (and my mum!) as ‘confused’, which slowly developed into bisexual, and eventually when I started at my first uni (which I later left) three years later, I came out to people as gay. It’s an odd thing. People were very accepting – especially my parents, and I love them for it – but I couldn’t accept it myself. It didn’t seem right. From 17-19 I had a massive identity crisis: I had my hair cut short and freaked out every time I looked in the mirror, not recognising the girl staring back at me. I still fancied boys on occasion – so much so that I actually ‘went back in the closet’ when I left uni and fell for a boy I worked with. So maybe I wasn’t gay after all. It was so confusing!

A few years on, I wouldn’t say I’m 100% comfortable with my sexuality. People pick up on the fact that I’m very reticent about my love life (or lack thereof!) and then speculate about my sexuality behind my back. I can deal with that, but when it comes to them actually asking me upfront, I never know how to answer. I’m not a lesbian, because I do occasionally like boys too. I’m definitely not straight. But I abhor the term ‘bisexual’, not only because of its ridiculous negative connotations (which I know aren’t true, but also are so common that I can’t be bothered to explain them away every time I come out to someone) but also because it suggests some kind of evenly distributed sexual orientation. I’m not like that. I’ve tried describing myself as ‘nothing in particular’, but people interpret that as ‘unsure’. Jokingly I adopted ‘homoflexible’ because it seems to be the most apt. Honestly, I believe that a person’s sexual orientation can change from time to time. Just because I’d rather sleep with women doesn’t mean I can’t harbor an unreasonable crush on Alexander Skarsgård. I’m learning to stop trying to label myself and just accept that sometimes I fancy girls, and sometimes I fancy boys. As the prophet Shane from the L Word once said: “Sexuality is fluid. Whether you’re straight or gay, you just go with the flow.”

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