I’ve always prided myself on being sure about my identity, and the things that make me, ‘me’. I knew that I was a twin who likes guitar music, who was a bit shy who wanted to be a writer. Ultimately, many of these facts haven’t changed, but it would be absurd to think that we’re all the same person we were aged 9. Of course there were weak moments as a teenager when, desperate to make friends, I tried out clothing that now makes me cringe.
Then at 18 I realised I’m quite extroverted, and in overcoming adolescent anxiety, became the one who was friendly and could chat on with strangers happily at university.
As teenagers we spend lots of time pigeonholing people into subgroups or types, desperate for the thing that gives us a locus of self to move around. Graduating from university, having spent 3 years living independently and feeling wholly myself, I was confident I had done a big chunk of my most dramatic ‘changing’; I knew I would evolve in inumerous ways, but I was sure the core pieces of me were set in stone.
Then, at 21, I realised I might be gay.
21 is relatively young within the queer community to be making these revelations, but for me, it felt late. Graduation was meant to be a rounding off; having ‘found’ most of the elements of myself, I could spend the rest of my life exploring them. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was thrown a huge curveball. I’d of course known that dating had often felt ‘off’, but I’d assumed it was them, or me, or some other extraneous factor. I spent time researching, watching hundreds of coming out videos, trying to work out how people ‘knew’ these things. A huge part of me felt sure, but another huge part was terrified.
Being a lesbian looked so foreign and scary; so unlike my ‘identity’. I decided that it surely couldn’t be me – I grew up with crushes on Alex Turner and River Phoenix, had experienced a loving straight relationship and fundamentally, could spot a good looking boy.
I also didn’t really see myself in any of the ‘lesbian’ stereotypes I’d seen in the media. I’m not always firmly masculine or highly feminine, I don’t own one flannel shirt (currently) and I don’t listen to Hayley Kiyoko. Almost as soon as the feelings came up, I shoved them straight back down. I avoided thinking about girls, I read tonnes of heterosexual dating guides and threw myself into tinder and bumble.
A year later, after many dates with men, a switch was flicked. I realised I couldn’t bring myself to fake it anymore, and I knew that even if I tried to ignore my feelings, they would come up over and over again. I imagined myself unahppily married to a man, feeling stuck and guilty, and knew I couldn’t do it.
Now, at 22, I’m being honest, not only to the world around me, but to myself, and coming out as gay.
When something about yourself changes, it can feel incredibly daunting. There’s lots of questions; how much does this change? Should I come out? Should I make a point of not coming out? The important thing to differentiate, is that this isn’t necessarily a change to you. My uncertainty dating men and my desire towards women aren’t new, they’re simply realised.
As humans we are built up of billions of tiny unique details; some of them, being good at sports, are easy to pick up on, and people around you encourage you to check up on it. Something like queerness, is made up of a variety of combinations of feelings or lack of feelings that often even grown, grown adults don’t pick up on. (I only consider myself 1 ‘grown’).
In a world that feeds us narratives of what is expected of us, it’s so natural to not question the same-sex option. My gayness has always been a part of me, but without representation and lexicon and introspection, it’s only recently that I’ve understood it.
We exist in a constantly-shifting world, which can be confusing and unnerving but also eye-opening and revelationary. Allowing yourself to shift with it, is one of the biggest acts of self-care out there (although a whole packet of biscuits to yourself surely can’t hurt).
An article by Kate McCaughey
Kate is an English Literature and Theatre Studies graduate from the University of Leeds. Now living and working in the North East of England as a writer, Kate is Passionate about current socials inequalities and focus much of her work on LGBTQ+ issues, class and women’s rights. These range of skills in copy editing, zine editing, spoken word and theatre makes Kate an incredible addition for Proudly.Blog.