Here’s a topic I never thought I’d write about. I guess I never really thought it’d apply to me in this way. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a huge ally for LGBTQ+ rights. It has always been something I’ve felt passionate about, but no different to how I’m passionate about supporting all minority groups in society: people of colour, disabled people, women etc. I’ve just always wanted to help people and make the world a better place because why wouldn’t you? So, despite being a huge ally, I never really questioned my own sexuality.
Discovering my sexuality
I guess uni opened a lot of doors for me, introducing me to such a wide range of people. And at the same time, it introduced me to different versions of myself. Versions of myself I’d never seen before. Versions of myself I didn’t even know existed. I think uni really enabled me to learn about myself without any constraints. And thinking about it now, I think that’s exactly what I needed…
The first time I consciously questioned my sexuality was during my first year of uni. One of my friends – who is always joking about everything – made a joke about it. He walked into the kitchen, where I along with a few other of my friends were, and said: “what’s the difference between Chloë and my t-shirt?” Everyone looked at him blankly and then he said: “my t-shirt is out the closet”. Everyone laughed, including me, but I also felt slightly uncomfortable, and I suddenly felt very confused.
Despite that probably being such an insignificant moment of the year to everyone else, to me it was pretty significant. I wouldn’t say I thought about my sexuality a lot after that, but it definitely crossed my mind a few times, and of course more than before. I remember one of my friends at the time coming out as bisexual shortly after. She was a very confident girl and said it really casually, almost as a passing comment, and I remember thinking that I was too and I wanted to say it there and then, but 1) I didn’t want to steal her thunder, and 2) I just couldn’t.
To my annoyance, the whole possibility of me being bisexual made me feel uncomfortable, so I just stayed ‘in the closet’, I guess. The weird thing is though, I didn’t even consider myself ‘in the closet’ at the time. I didn’t really understand what I was feeling, or the relevance or validity of it. It was all very confusing. I felt wrong for feeling it, but then I also felt wrong for feeling like it was wrong. So, I wasn’t only beating myself for being bisexual, but also for beating myself up for it in the first place.
Anyway, yes, I was right. I’m bisexual. I guess I subconsciously thought about it more and more after that, but then not a lot at the same time. I’m a very open person, so if something that significant was on my mind I definitely would’ve spoken to someone about it, or at least written about it, but I didn’t. I think I actually partly ignored the whole thing because it confused me and made me feel uncomfortable, and I thought ‘I would know by now’. But why is there a time limit? I was only 20 anyway. I’ve still got a hell of a lot of time to learn and understand who I am. This has taught me that there really is no time limit when it comes to life. Everyone grows at their own speed. You don’t look at a flower and wonder why one has bloomed before another, do you?
Coming out. It’s a funny thing because it’s basically telling everyone who you want to get with, which is only really your business anyway. Now, although coming out can be a beautiful thing for some, it can also be tragic, and even life-threatening, for others. You know, I do long for a world where ‘coming out’ isn’t necessary. We don’t come out as ‘straight’, so why do we come out as gay or bi or trans? Of course, I understand it isn’t necessarily ‘the norm’, but we should just be able to love who we love without any questions asked. I always say that I hope my future children can just bring someone home, no matter their gender, and tell me they’re dating them. As long as they’re happy, I’ll be happy. I really don’t understand the issue people have with who others are in love with. I really don’t understand the issue people have with something that simply doesn’t affect them.
However, despite me being so accepting of other’s sexuality, when it came to myself I wasn’t as accepting. I don’t know why, but the whole thing made me feel extremely uncomfortable at first. Actually, I think I do know why. If you think about it, we are brought up being told who we should be attracted to. From a very young age, we are expected (and even somewhat indoctrinated) to ‘like’ the opposite sex. As kids, girls are asked if they have a boyfriend; boys are asked if they have a girlfriend. Boys and girls playing together get asked if they ‘like’ each other. So, heterosexuality is forced upon children from a very young age. We are told who we ‘should’ like to the extent that our brains consider this as the norm when we go through puberty and start forming sexual attractions. I think one of the main reasons I didn’t realise I was sexually attracted to girls as well as boys until recently is because my brain ignored this because it is socially expected for me, as a girl, to like boys.
I finally admitted my sexuality to myself one night during pre-drinks in my second year of uni. One of my friends mentioned that a couple of her friends thought I was attracted to girls and I instantly felt a bit uncomfortable. Then I sat there and reflected on it logically and realised that they were right. We went out that night and I drunkenly told my close friends that I was bi, kissed a girl and then messaged some of my close home friends to tell them too. I think it just hit me and felt right whilst also feeling wrong, but I suddenly wanted to tell the people close to me. So, I did. It’s probably because I was drunk, but I felt like it needed to be said there and then. It’s weird as it both seemed like a big deal and didn’t at the same time. As expected, my friends were all completely accepting about it. I remember some of them reassuring me that it was okay and thanking me for telling them, but also emphasising that I shouldn’t feel as if I had to. I definitely was still in denial at this point because I remember I kept stressing that I only liked girls 20% and I wouldn’t date a girl, but just get with girls. Funny that as a few months later I was dating a girl and now I’d say I’m definitely more into girls than guys. It makes me laugh now, but it’s also sad how ashamed I was and how wrong it felt at the time. Fuck society.
After I’d told my close friends, I told my sisters who barely seemed to bat an eyelid and were more amazing than I could’ve ever imagined. Next was my mum. Despite knowing she’d be fine I was scared to tell her, and I didn’t know how exactly to go about it. You see, you’re never really told how to ‘come out’; it’s not something I ever expected having to do. I must add though, no one hasto ‘come out’; no one should feel obliged to anyway. I’m pretty open with my mum, however, so I felt that I should tell her. And several months later, after I’d spoken to girls on tinder and started dating a girl, I did just that. And my God, she was amazing. Like many of my friends, she said she wasn’t totally surprised, which always makes me laugh because it’s funny that a lot of the time the people closest to us know before we do. I’ve felt so comfortable talking about it at home in front of her. She even went out of her way to research bisexuality, which honestly made me so happy. So, yeah, I really am so lucky to have such a supportive and understanding family because unfortunately that isn’t the case for so many people. If you are struggling with your sexuality or gender identity and could do with some support, please see some of the services/helplines available below:
LGBT Helpline (National Switchboard) – 0300 330 0630
LGBT+ Foundation – 0345 3 30 30 30
MindOutLGBTQ Mental Health – 01273 234839
Gay Support Mosaic Youth – 0800 161 5428
FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) – 0845 652 0311
Making sense of sexuality
You’ll be glad to hear, about a year and a half later, everything makes a lot more sense. I have learnt to understand and accept my sexuality. I am becoming more and more comfortable with it every day and I would even go as far to say that I finally am proud of it. Because this is me, and I can’t change that. Now I realise that my initial feelings were normal, and my initial discomfort was a consequence of the emphasis on heteronormativity that exists in society and my own internalised homophobia as a result of this. I also now realise that there isn’t such thing as ‘too late’ when it comes to these things. There really isn’t a time limit; we all learn and grow at different rates and that’s completely normal.
The thing about sexuality is people seem to think it’s as simple as you like a certain group of people and that’s that. When, in reality, it’s a lot more complex than that. People don’t realise that sexuality is a spectrum. This means that sexuality ranges from heterosexuality to homosexuality, and there are a number of completely valid sexualities in between these. The use of a spectrum to explain sexuality is also useful as it highlights that sexualities aren’t black and white, and people often fall in between them rather than directly on them. In addition, people are likely to understand their sexuality more as they get older and therefore where they fall on the spectrum might change over time. And that is absolutely normal.
So, if you’re feeling unsure or uncomfortable about your sexuality right now, that’s okay. And before you start beating yourself up for not knowing exactly how you feel right now, take a moment to remember that there’s no time limit. You have all the time in the world to figure it out. You’re not supposed to have all the answers now, trust me. For now, sit back and relax. And if or when you’re ready, you can decide to learn more about your sexuality and/or tell others, but at the same time you shouldn’t feel obliged to.
People often talk about the importance of loving yourself, but what they fail to address is the parts of us that we’ve been taught not to love. Whether that’s by our families or society, it can make loving ourselves ten times harder. Sexuality is one of those things. Being attracted to the same-sex might feel wrong to you right now but remember that doesn’t make you an awful person. Unfortunately, we’ve been brought up in a homophobic society, so it’s completely normal to feel like that. It’s just important to challenge this way of thinking in yourself, the same way you would in others.
Every day since I realised I was attracted to girls, I have been fighting against that internalised homophobia, and I assure you, it’s definitely worth the fight! Every day I’m learning more about my sexuality, understanding it and finally coming to terms with it. It was a long, confusing road with a rainbow of emotions, but I’ve definitely come to terms with bisexual me, and it’s safe to say she’s pretty amazing – even if I do say so myself!
An article by Chloë Morgan
Chloë is a recent English graduate from Loughborough University who is currently seeking employment in the journalism industry as a content writer. She is extremely passionate about her voice in a positive way to help others. For work enquiries, her contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and her LinkedIn.