The mind of man, moreover, works with equal strangeness upon the body of time. An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length; on the other hand, an hour may be accurately represented on the timepiece of the mind by one second. This extraordinary discrepancy between time on the clock and time in the mind is less known than it should be and deserves fuller investigation” 

Virginia Woolf

Time in the mind

This idea of time, primarily how it relates to the LGBTQIA+ community, is something that needs to be discussed more. Both time in the mind, and the linear time that governs life in the external world, is massively altered by gender and sexuality. 

Heterosexual and cisgender people don’t put their lives on hold for years, in fear of coming out to family, colleagues and friends. They don’t remain unmarried because it’s frowned upon or illegal. 

Neither do they live weeks, months and years in the wrong body, because of medical and legal complications, or a lack of funding. Never having to explain who they love or what they identify as, life often unfolds very differently. 

Embracing my sexuality

I started with a quote from Orlando because it beautifully sums up my experience this month; I finally told my Dad I’m a lesbian, after years of worrying and working up the courage. The conversation was brief, but it felt like one of the longest, most monumental moments of my life. 

Building a life with a woman, bringing her to parties and events, sharing experiences and memories, was never an option when I was in my teens and early twenties. The threat of violence and disapproval is constant; something that is always in the back of my mind. 

I’ve been with my girlfriend since the beginning of the year, and already I’ve accomplished more than I could’ve dreamt of a year ago. I’m 26 and this is my first serious relationship; it was around 10pm on the 4th of January when I fully embraced my love for women, after I kissed her in public. 

Katherine with her girlfriend
Katherine with her girlfriend

It sounds a tad dramatic, but this kiss changed my life forever. Since then time has passed quicker than ever before, but it’s now filled with so many milestones, discoveries and breakthroughs. 

In Mrs Dalloway, the kiss shared between Clarissa and Sally is similarly a momentary gateway to alternative outcomes. Because of the year (1923) Clarissa is only able to acknowledge what I’m able to embrace for a few seconds. 

Woolf describes the kiss as:

“a sudden revelation, a tinge like blush which one tried to check and then, as it spread, one yielded to its expansion, and rushed to the farthest verge and there quivered and felt the world come closer, swollen with some astonishing significance, some pressure or rapture, which split its thin skin and gushed and poured with an extraordinary alleviation over the cracks and sores. Then, for that moment, she had seen an illumination; a match burning in a crocus; an inner meaning almost expressed. But the close withdrew; the hard softened. It was over—the moment.” 

Virginia Woolf

The surface of skin, signifying the shallow surface of societal expectation and convention, is not strong enough to contain her authentic emotions and desire. The realisation lasts only a moment but it’s strong enough for Clarissa to connect with her authentic self. 

It’s the perfect example of how the acceptance and acknowledgment of same-sex couples, changes the experience of time and moments like this one drastically. 

Growing with time

Time permeates every part of our lives; from birth to death it’s constantly affecting and shaping our identity. When my self-worth grew stronger, my experiences of time were forever changed. 

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

I believe everyone should pay more attention to their relationship with and experience of internal time, which is impacted greatly by gender and sexuality, as moments of growth and importance are mostly out of sync with the external, scientific time that can be oppressive.

An Article by Katherine Mills

Kat is an avid writer, researcher and storyteller, with extensive experience in publishing. Her dream is to write for a newspaper or magazine passionate about diversity, inclusion and LGBTQIA+ rights. She previously studied at the University of Sussex (BA) King’s College London (MA) and Renmin University of China. SLV Global mental health volunteer, KCL student representative and radio host. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter. For work enquires, please contact