Illustration provided by Ruby Walker
It was actually pretty easy for me to figure out that I like girls. I spent a lot of time in elementary school coming up with reasons to kiss my best friend Colette, ostensibly for “practice.” Then in sixth grade, I heard “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry, and something in that mildly homophobic anthem of bi-curiosity spoke to me. I did some googling, took a few “Am I Gay?” quizzes on Quotev and settled in with my results.
Bisexuality: It’s a really good way to be! You have lots of options. The flag is very aesthetically pleasing, and healthy loving relationships are beautiful no matter who’s involved. However, in recent years I have discovered that I am not, in fact, bisexual, because I don’t like men. And for some reason that was really hard for me to admit!
I think it’s because we live in a society (we live in a society) where women are socialized to base our self-worth on men’s desire and approval. So it was really difficult for my massively insecure little 14-year-old self to tell the difference between “I want boys to like me because it means I’m pretty/good/desirable” and “I actually like boys.” In a journal entry from June 2018 I wrote, “I only really feel comfortable around girls, but does that make me a lesbian? Is that little nervous thrill I get when men pay attention to me attraction, or do I just like to be desired?”
Anytime I had positive feelings for a boy I thought, “Ah, this must be a crush,” but when I asked my friend Evan out in ninth grade and he actually said yes, I felt terrible. All of the feelings I thought I’d had immediately drained away, replaced by a panicked, hollow, dreadful emptiness.
I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I liked guys in theory — I just hated it when they actually reciprocated. My “crushes” included fictional characters, long-dead celebrities and effeminate boys from my class who were definitely gay.
All of this being said, I think that a look into my diary entries and notes-app notes from when I was in denial might be useful for anyone else out there who’s feeling as weird and confused as I was. Psst — you might be a lesbian, and it’s OK, I promise. It’s OK if you have to wonder about it for a really long time. It’s OK not to know. You’ll figure it out eventually. And until then, please enjoy this glimpse into my repression.
In November 2016, I wrote a very passionate journal entry after viewing the movie Carol: “Not only was it explicitly a story about women’s love (which I automatically care more about, for reasons known) it was also beautifully designed and acted. Every frame was art … If I am bisexual, I must be one who prefers kissing girls. Nothing wrong with that. I love the way two women fit in each other’s arms. The idea of it rings like kindness and clear blue … When I fantasize about men I’m always detached … Like I’m wondering what an unappetizing ice cream flavor tastes like. Am I a lesbian? I’m not ready to be … I guess we’ll see how it goes!”
From January 2017, displaying very strong and not at all ambivalent feelings towards my male friend: “Did I always like John, or only when he wasn’t ‘available’ to me? … It isn’t quite a crush. I don’t idolize him. He’s just kind of goofy sometimes … I remember cuddling, and that was nice … I like who he is. I’m 90 percent sure rejecting him twice wasn’t the way to get that across, though. I just think he deserves someone who doesn’t make him second guess himself. I’m always in a state of almost loving him.”
In March of 2017, I wrote, “Just like I’d felt with another boy in eighth grade, the pining fell away into revulsion. When I enter a relationship, suddenly everything means something. I didn’t want expectations — I didn’t want to be John’s girlfriend. I didn’t want to be anyone’s anything.” It was really easy to ignore my lack of genuine attraction to men when all relationships were automatically so nerve-wracking, just by virtue of my teenage insecurities.
In August of 2017, I wrote about a female friend, “I have SO MUCH affection for Jane — it makes me confused. I know I’m attracted to her. This isn’t that pining-crush I’m familiar with though. I don’t feel insecure. I trust her … I really just like being around her — this is SO MUCH better than extended one-sided angst … All I feel is warm fuzziness.”
Here’s an entry titled I’M GAY? + Anxiety from October of 2017. “I typed this message on Friday, at 9:50 p.m.: I’m bi I just don’t want to date or kiss men. Wait, what? I wouldn’t be able to say, ‘I’ve always known I was a lesbian,’ but maybe I could say, ‘I’ve always known something was wrong with me.’ In one way or another, I’d always sort of known that.”
So there I was, finally certain of my sexuality! Or not. I still had a lot of doubts, nagging thoughts that would pop into my head every so often. What if I’m wrong? What if I’m not a real lesbian? These doubts continued even after I got to Trinity! Then I started to think, well, I’ve never tried to get with a guy. (If the frat boy I kissed at that one party just to see if I liked dudes is reading this, bro, I’m sorry for using you to assuage my doubts. #StillGay. #SorryNotSorry.)
For closing remarks, I’ll just come out and say one thing: Sexuality is not about what you can handle, what seems fine or what you can tolerate in order to feel desirable or worthy. It’s about what you actively want. It’s about what makes you feel warm fuzzies, makes you want to get closer, makes you so happy you have to giggle like an idiot and babble to all your friends. Maybe I could theoretically be fine with a guy, but why would I do that when there are so many wonderful women in the world? Lesbian love and power forever!