Happy pride month!!!
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, how could I not do a post about this?
I love the concept of pride month. I love that this month is solely dedicated to celebrating love and equality, but also its function as a reminder to keep fighting for our fundamental rights as human beings. A couple of weeks ago I was watching YouTuber Dan Howell’s coming out video, and was truly moved by his raw and emotional journey about his experiences with homophobia and learning to come to terms with his sexuality. I really recommend you go watch it if you have the time, it manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking somehow. So anyway, this particular video actually inspired me to write this blog post, as I came to realise that I’ve never ‘officially’ come out online. Therefore I thought it might be nice to finally share my story publicly. So here it is! My coming out story…
Now, like I said, I’ve never officially come out online before. I know a lot of people like to announce it on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. I think it’s amazing and empowering that people feel confident and comfortable enough with themselves to announce such personal things to the world. I guess I’ve just never felt the need. Maybe it’s the whole ‘straight people never have to announce their sexuality to the world, why should I?’ thing. I just want to be treated like everyone else, and I suppose I don’t want my sexuality to be something I feel I have to announce like it’s everybody’s business. Just to clarify, this is by no means a dig at anyone. I totally respect and admire people who come out online, as they are the ones helping to reinforce the fact that being gay is absolutely normal and nothing to be ashamed about.
I really related to Dan Howell’s YouTube video, especially the part where he explained that he doesn’t use a label to describe his sexuality. I am exactly the same. I have never strongly identified myself with a label. Why should I? There’s no rule saying I have to. I just don’t feel like I should have to put myself in a box if I don’t want to. On the other hand I totally understand why people do use labels; they can relate and bond with similar people in the community. It can also be exciting and even a relief to find a label that fits when you’ve always worried about feeling like you’re alone in who you are. Personally, I still don’t feel like I know who I am 100%, so why confine myself? I’m constantly changing, and I’m okay with that. So usually I will just label myself as ‘queer.’
I never struggled with my sexuality until high school. Primary school was such an innocent time, all I had to worry about was asking the person who made up the game at playtime if I could join in. Then high school happened, and that’s when all the hormones kicked in and all the girls started talking about boys, and I just felt like something wasn’t quite right. Looking back I feel like I did have genuine crushes on a couple of boys but the feelings I had for them certainly never came close to being as strong as the ones I’ve had on girls/ other genders. Looking back, I can remember having really strong emotions centered around girls since I was about 10, but always passing it off as ‘I just want to be really good friends with her.’ Oh how innocent and naive young Bekka was.
High school was such a homophobic environment. The fear of being called a lesbian was so strong it made me feel sick. I remember once being at a friend’s house and my friend was joking about how one in three people turned out to be gay and speculating on who it would be in our friendship group. I remember being so terrified, and praying that one person wouldn’t turn out to be me. I guess praying the gay away doesn’t work after all!
I’ve never really had a ‘serious’ boyfriend. Only the type you have in year 7 where you’d walk around holding hands for a month and then you’d get bored and forget they existed. I tried very hard to fancy my male friends, to feel something for them that was even remotely as strong as the way I felt about some of my female friends. Maybe people would say that I led these guys on in the ways in which I would talk to them and text them, but in my defense I was still trying to figure myself out, and I never purposely meant to hurt anyone.
For some reason (bi erasure), I constantly felt like I had to pick a side, straight or gay. The internal battles I had with myself daily were torturous. I wish I could go back and tell myself not to stress about it, because things will work out and you will be okay being exactly who you are. If only being queer was socially acceptable, then I might not have had to torture myself for so long. Of course no one I knew at school was out and proud until much later on. As Damien from Mean Girls says: ‘It’s social suicide!” But in all seriousness, school could be a very lonely and distressing time despite all the good memories I have from it.
I didn’t have my first kiss until I was eighteen. I’d had the opportunity with guys but I’d always shied away, convincing myself that I’d hate myself if my first kiss wasn’t with someone I truly truly liked. Oh how gay I was!
During high school I had two very intense crushes on female friends. To the point that I would get so frustrated that they didn’t feel the same way, that I would go home and write sad poetry about them. You can read them here on my old poetry blog if you like! I think most queer people can relate to having a crush on a straight best friend can’t they? Unrequited love really is the worst, especially when you know for 10000% fact it can’t and will never happen. You never lose that hope though.
It wasn’t until my last year of high school/sixth form that I finally accepted that I wasn’t straight. The first people I told were my younger sisters and they were totally cool, and for a long time the only people I trusted with my secret. I didn’t come out to anyone at school until my final year of sixth form. I remember asking my best friend to come to the toilets with me because I had to tell her something. When I told her that I liked girls her response was simply: ‘Oh is that it? Thank god, I thought you were going to tell me you were dying?!’ That’s why she’s still my best friend to this day.
After school finished I felt like I was finally free to be myself. I was scared of starting uni but also so excited to reinvent myself and finally address my sexuality. I joined my uni’s LGBTQ+ society, I went on dates with girls, and I met my now girlfriend, so I’d say my reinvention went pretty well! It was scary to finally be so open though. I didn’t tell my flatmates for a long time because I was scared they would judge me and it would be like school all over again. But thankfully no one made a big deal of it or treated me any differently for it, and I don’t think they realised how grateful I was for that. I found university to be generally such an accepting environment, and it did great things for me in terms of discovering who I was.
As far as experiences go, I can appreciate I’ve been lucky. All my family and friends have been very supportive of who I am which is so amazing and I never take that for granted, because not every queer person has that. I’ve only had a couple occasions which I’d consider to be homophobic abuse. I’ve had men shouting from vans when I’ve been walking down the street holding hands with my girlfriend. They would probably be extremely disappointed to know I was too deaf to hear what they were actually saying. I know I’m lucky to be saying it’s not happened much (even if nothing ever should have happened at all), because there are still countries where being gay is illegal, where gay couples can’t walk down the streets holding hands for fear of being killed. It sickens me that we live in a world where this STILL happens. That’s why going to pride means so much to me, because I want to march for my community, to walk with them in solidarity, and help represent those who have been silenced. Pride is a celebration of who we are, but we shouldn’t forget that it is also a protest.
I’d say this was my coming out story, but I’m still having to come out every day. I’m always going to meet new people: where I work, where I live. It does scare me that someone will say something nasty or give me a disgusted look if I tell them I’m in a relationship with a female. Sometimes I wish instead of ‘partner,’ I could say ‘girlfriend.’ I’m always going to be at risk of homophobia and discrimination for who I am, and that’s a pretty crap realisation to have.
So that’s the end of this post. I hope you guys found this one interesting and perhaps even relatable, I’d love to know if you did.
Thanks for reading 🙂