When I was younger love seemed so simple. The movies made it seem so easy. You meet a prince, he falls in love with you, you get married and live happily ever after. I always dreamed of the day I would meet my Prince Charming – or, more accurately, my Prince Eric – and be swept off my feet, falling hopelessly in love. I didn’t think about how to maintain the relationship, I didn’t have to. I was a kid and the way I saw it, you just sort of… Lived together.
When I was nine my family traveled to America. One night we had dinner with a friend of my mum’s, Mick. Mick lived with his partner at the time, a man. Being nine and oblivious to the concept of homosexuality, I didn’t realise that they were together. I thought they were house mates. It wasn’t until years later that I connected the dots and went to my mum saying “Mick is gay, isn’t he?”. I didn’t have a problem with it, even then. It was just a fact of life. My father, however, has a big problem with gay people. He uses a lot of hate language towards them, which honestly makes me sick. So, I was raised hearing that it was wrong and unnatural, when it was acknowledged at all.
The idea of me liking girls, however, wasn’t something I even considered until I was in year eight. I developed a little crush on one of my friends. It didn’t last for long and in my mind I made up ever excuse not to accept that it was a crush. I didn’t like girls, I liked boys! I dated boys! That was that. You either liked boys or you liked girls, those were the options! Right? Nope.
Year eleven brought around the State Drama camp. I met this girl called Georgina. She wasn’t beautiful in the traditional sense, but I thought she was stunning. I was painfully shy and she was the most talented girl there. She asked me to be partners in class one day and was so nice and friendly that I couldn’t help falling for her. She was just so down to earth, so easy to talk to, and so talented. I never saw her again after that week, but she was a turning point in my life.
It was around that time that I learned of the term “bisexual”. I thought, “Hey, I’ve had crushes on girls. I must be bisexual!”. I still thought it was that simple. But I didn’t want to tell everyone, to ‘come out’. I spoke to one boy in our friends group who is bi, then I spoke to my mum. The conversation went like this: “Mum, I think I might like girls.” “Yeah, I thought you were that way inclined.” And that was sort of it. It hasn’t been brought up since. But I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being bisexual.
That was five years ago, and ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what I am. I know you don’t need to put labels on things, but I like labels. They help me simplify things. See, I’ve known for years now that I fall for girls. I’ve known for even longer that I fall for boys. But I’m not sexually attracted to girls in the same way I am guys. Physically attracted, yeah, but not sexually.
So, it wasn’t as simple as I thought.
I thought that if you’re bi you feel the same way about boys and girls, but that’s not the case. Sexuality and romance are so personal, I doubt anyone works the exact same way as anyone else. It’s more like a spectrum than “gay”, “bi”, “straight”. Trying to figure out where I fit on this spectrum has been really difficult for me, and has bothered me for a long time. I want to know exactly who I am, and having something this important in my life that I’m so unsure about is deeply unsettling.
At the start of this year I joined my university’s GSMA (Gender and Sexual Minorities Alliance). I was so scared going to the first meeting. I was terrified that somehow my father would see me there and find out what I was, even thought I didn’t know what I was. I was scared that one of my friends would see me. I was scared that I wouldn’t fit in. I was scared that I was straight and that I wouldn’t belong. I was just plain scared.
I shouldn’t have been, of course. They were welcoming, friendly and fun. I liked fitting in with the group, I felt like I belonged there. But I still didn’t have the answers about what I was. I filed myself between Bisexual and Questioning, and just sort of hung out there. It was okay, it didn’t matter what you were in the group, as long as you were polite, friendly and willing to joke around.
Part way through this year I encountered another term. “Bi-romantic”. Someone who is bi-romantic is romantically attracted to both males and females (as well as other genders), but not necessarily sexually attracted to both. Yes! I thought, that sounds like me! And it did. And does. I fall in love with people no matter what their gender is, I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am. But I’m not really sexually attracted to females. I find them beautiful and attractive, but as I said earlier, it’s different from the attraction I have to males.
But, unfortunately, figuring out that I’m heterosexual and bi-romantic didn’t make everything easy like I thought it would. Instead, it just made me more afraid. What if people find out I like girls? Will my friends think I’d perve on them? Would they judge me? What if my family found out? These are all things that freak me the heck out. I think a few people are aware of my sexuality, but I keep it hidden from most people. It’d like to be open about it, but I’m scared of being judged, being teased, being isolated.
And that sucks.
Because right now I am falling for this amazing girl. She’s beautiful, smart, funny and we get on really well. She likes things I like, and talking to her about them makes me feel so alive. I want to hold her, to kiss her, to take her on dates. But I’m also too scared. It’s not just the fear that she’ll reject me, although that is ever-present, it’s that if we walked down the street hand-in-hand, people might stare. That if I took her as my date to the work Christmas party, people would think I was weird. That I couldn’t have her around to meet my family because of my father. I’m scared because I still can’t fully accept that I like girls, even though I like her so much.
When I was a kid, I thought love was straightforward. The older I get, the more complicated it seems. I’m hoping it’ll start to go the other way after a certain age, that it’ll start to seem more and more simple. I hope that one day we’ll reach a place where the LGBTQI+ community won’t have these fears. Most of all, I hope that one day I can call this girl my girlfriend, and be brave enough to walk through the mall holding her hand.