Hey guys! Today I have another identity-related post. ICYMI, two weeks ago I posted My Pronouns and Gender Identity – What are Yours? and I was so happy with the comments and feedback that I received!! I was actually really nervous about that post but I’m glad it resonated with the people who read it. Today I have another topic I’d like to cover: sexuality
Now, there’s a chance some of you guys might have heard the story already but because I estimate a very low percentage, I’ll start from the beginning.
Am I Straight, Gay, Bi, or Pan?
I want to say I didn’t struggle to figure this out and that I just knew instantly but the reality was different. When I was growing up, it was a given that you were straight. Nobody wondered or questioned, and if you happened to be gay…well, it wasn’t very pretty. If you were male, you were considered “not masculine enough” and “effeminate” and you were called so many derogatory remarks. If you were lesbian…well, I’m not sure. The concept seemed to not exist in the world I lived in. It seemed like if someone was gay, 100% of the time, it was associated with men. Honestly, in some places, this is how the world still works
So yes, I was “straight” up until around my second year of college.
When I say “straight” I mean that I was questioning. This happened around eighth grade when I met my two best friends at the time. I really admired them but one of them specifically always caught my eye longer than anyone else I knew at the time. They were smart, quirky, beautiful, and just…they made me wonder. However, I didn’t let myself think too much about this because I had a sense that it was “wrong”. I would just think to myself, whoever they marry will be so lucky. My thoughts never strayed too far from this (
actually, I have to admit that I often wondered if our hangouts would be similar to what they would do with their future husband). I often found myself looking at them, enjoying their company to the point I wanted to monopolize it, I often did things I didn’t particularly enjoy just to spend time with them, and overall, I hoped they wouldn’t find all of this creepy. I guess it’s a good thing we were best friends so it may have come off as okay
My first experience touching another girl, however, was much earlier
When I was in elementary school, I had a really good friend that would go swimming with me at the local park. I loved hanging out with her and then one day, as we were in the bathroom, we both went into a stall and took off our shirts and bra. At the time (and even after), I didn’t think much about the incident. We were both young and curious about a woman’s body. My family didn’t talk about topics like these, preferring to leave it to schools to educate us on our biology. Not to mention that all of my crushes around this time and even later, were all guys
Still, this moment really marked me in terms of my sexuality in the long run because, while there was curiosity in what a woman’s body should look like, I also distinctly remember being attracted to a woman’s body in a way that wasn’t entirely innocent
In high school, I met a group of super diverse friends and the feelings I’d been ruminating over started to take form in exploration. I had friends who were lesbians and bisexuals and even met a few gay guys. I had never really believed that any of this was possible. After all, straight was the only orientation I knew about and being gay in a positive way only really existed in my fanfiction binges.
Again, this moment of questioning was still present but I didn’t act on anything. My crushes were still mainly guys and while I started to pay closer attention to girls – how certain clothes accentuated their features and how pretty they were – I just assumed this was normal behavior. I mean, lots of girls told each other they were pretty, so why were my thoughts any different? In hindsight, I also realize that I was a girl in a Mexican family and my parents had certain expectations of me, mainly, that I would marry and have children
High school ended without my thinking too much about sexuality
Being in college was a very unique experience for me for a couple of reasons. One, I learned that all the teachers who said college was harder than high school were pulling my leg. Two, I had to start over in terms of friends and grades and accomplishments. And three, because I was starting over, I had more time to myself, which led to thinking about what made me ME. Of course, the friends bit was a bit tough. I’ve been very shy, especially since I hit adolescence and now that I was an adult changing environments and knowing nobody, I (sadly) closed myself off
I focused really hard on my grades and finished up in a decent spot. I eventually transferred to a four-year university, where I met so many new people, concepts, and continued to grow
I was first introduced to pronouns around my second year at this new university. I was in an art class and one of my classmates said they would like to be referred to as “they/them”. Our teacher asked them to explain a bit and I was really grateful that they did. I had heard the term a couple of times online but I had no idea about it
I also learned about the LGBTQIAP+ community and their club. I often wanted to go but I always talked myself out of going. What if people didn’t accept me? Since I wasn’t technically gay? Was the LGBTQIAP+ only for gay people? I wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to offend anyone for going to the meetings. But there was also another reason. If I went, it would be like admitting that I wasn’t straight or, as society had taught me, I wouldn’t be “normal” or “right”. I was still confused and not ready to “come out”
Going to these meetings would be public. People would recognize me and associate me with the LGBTQIAP+ community (but would they? The campus was huge, did people even pay attention to this? I convinced myself that yes, they would notice). I was afraid but I also noticed that I always looked at their fliers and always felt the urge to go. Did I ever end up going? Unfortunately, no.
I spent many years like this, falling somewhere in the in-between. It was very clear to me by the time I was at university that I was no longer straight. Straight meant that I wasn’t attracted to women and I was. But was I gay? I’d never been in a relationship with a woman but I had been with a man. Was I bisexual? What did it mean to be bisexual? Was it a requirement to have at least gone out with a girl before? I wasn’t sure and I wasn’t inconsiderate enough to get a girlfriend just to tick off a box
Then my trip to Japan in 2018 happened and it really made things clearer.
By 2018 I was already labeling myself as bisexual but not publically. I would like to say that I would lie about my sexuality but the truth is that people just assumed I was straight. I have never gotten any sort of comment implying I was otherwise, possibly because, as some people have mentioned, I don’t appear interested in the subject of relationships and sex. Guess that’s a good cover for my questioning butt!
But on my trip to Japan that year, I remember two moments that made me pause and finally pushed me to find a label that fit me. Interestingly, it took my leaving, though temporarily, the country I lived in and the family and expectations that surrounded me to finally confront and accept this reality I kept pushing away
One moment was when one of my classmates yelled out in an Izakaya (bar), while some Japanese students were with us, that she was lesbian. It shocked me that she would be so comfortable declaring that and it shocked me, even more, when things just continued normally. Everyone kept eating, drinking, laughing, and being playful. I had always assumed that something like this would shift the atmosphere, that people really cared about something so personal. And perhaps that IS the case elsewhere but with our little group, it seemed so normal. As for her being gay, it wasn’t a shock to me. I’d “suspected” she wasn’t straight (ha, that makes it sound like she was hiding it but no, I just didn’t want to infer as many others had about me) but I hadn’t known where she fell on the spectrum. I’d heard a few comments about a previous girlfriend and her bestfriend kept passing some comments about…well, how I liked to hang out with her
The other moment happened later on the trip when it was just a handful of us. Someone mentioned that the majority of our class was gay and started listing off the people that weren’t gay, which amounted to very few people. They mentioned me on that list and in my head, I was surprised by how I wanted them to ask me, that I wanted an excuse to say that I wasn’t straight, that I was probably bisexual. I knew they wouldn’t make me feel bad and even though we’d only known each other in the classroom and spent two weeks together in a foreign country, I trusted this small company
But there was also a sense of experience that happened on this trip that made me feel like this
Yes, I’d had thoughts about my bestfriend before and I had the moment in the bathroom with my childhood friend, but this trip to Japan was the first time I’d actively been thinking about a girl and wanting it to go somewhere as myself
I wanted the hints and callings of my names to be more than just friendship. I wanted to be able to hold her arm, hug her, and just spend my time listening to her. I wanted to take pictures with her and just…I was crushing HARD. So yeah, maybe I was inwardly cheering and screaming whenever her friend would make side remarks about us. I mean, it was a close friend of hers cluing me in that I wasn’t just imagining things?! Did things ever go anywhere? Aside from resting my head against her shoulder/back and a very nice hug, no. We did spend a lot of time together and I enjoyed her company but then we came back home and sort of split ways
She interacts with me whenever we see each other on campus and yeah, maybe she makes my heart constrict, but that’s about it. I’ve always been a bit passive in relationships so I knew nothing would really happen unless she took the first step
Where does Pansexuality come in?
For anyone who hasn’t heard (don’t worry, I didn’t know about this term until semi-recently), pansexual means being sexually attracted to someone regardless of their biological sex, gender, or gender identity.
I knew this was me as soon as I accepted I liked both boys and girls and learned more about pronouns and gender identity. As for why I decided that pansexual (vs. bisexual) was the correct term for me, I have to give thanks to a cosplayer that I follow, as well as just my learning more about gender. I realized that while I did like boys AND girls (bisexual, the sexual attraction of two genders), I also liked people that fell outside of these two genders
The concept of coming out had always been a foreign one. I never really considered myself to be “in the closet”. It was just that nobody ever asked me about my sexuality, but I also let it slide because I was nervous about this aspect of my life
As for my family, I never felt comfortable talking to them about this. They were very traditional and had told me a million times that one day I would settle down with a man and have children. No matter how many times I said it wouldn’t happen, the idea was pushed onto me. Further still was how deeply rooted religion was. While my family wasn’t the type to go to church every Sunday and recite verses from the Bible, they considered themselves Catholics and believed in the whole man and woman idea. Add to this, I had often heard them express themselves not very nicely towards gay people and they always misgendered people (on TV shows)
I didn’t feel comfortable being honest to them so it was convenient that they never approached me on the subject. After Japan last year, I decided things had to be different.
A few days before New Year’s, I started opening up to my mom about certain things. All went…well. Not smoothly, but overall well. I took this as a sign that I could talk to her about my sexuality
Then it was a few minutes? Hours? I can’t remember at this point – from the New Year. My mom was changing and I was hounding her at the door. I told her to tell me when she was done picking out an outfit, which she didn’t, so I had to drag her back upstairs so we would be alone.
I stood before her and wondered how to tell her. I was really nervous. Out of both my parents, my mother is the most progressive. I figured that if things went well with her, at least I would have one parent that would really know me more closely. But how would I even explain pansexuality to someone who didn’t really accept genders outside of male and female?
I decided to tell her I was bisexual, which wasn’t a lie, but also not the whole truth. She asked me a few questions and then hugged me. She said she never would have guessed and that she was happy that I opened up to her about it. I know my case is way simpler and friendlier than many people have had to face. My father still doesn’t know because I’ve always considered him the stubbornest. I mean, he won’t even hear about the Big Bang or about the Virgin Mary not being anything but a virgin (she had more kids traditionally), how would he react to me?
Even now I feel very self-conscious because I KNOW that my mom knows. I think I also might have chosen the wrong time to tell her about it. We were super obsessed with this TV series that featured a lesbian couple and every time we would see scenes with them I would panic because is my mom remembering what I told her? What does she think? Is she going to be censoring herself from now on? Even now, four months into the year, I still feel a bit iffy talking to her about the topic but perhaps it’s more to do with the fact I never really talk about love interests in general. Not sure
Only The Tip of the Iceberg!
The sexualities I feel I have experience with are just a small portion of what orientations exist out in the world! Since I feel sexual attraction, my orientation ends in -sexual, but there are people who don’t feel sexual attraction. Also, I might have a pinch of demisexual, if that’s possible. My longest standing and strongest crushes tend to be on people that I have gotten to know, which is what defines demisexuality
I know there has been some concern? Discussion? Controversy? Over where people who identify as asexuals are in the LGBTQIAP+ community and it just boggles my mind! I mean, we’re all people and why should we discriminate each other over sex?
Welp! That’s all for this unexpectedly long post. I mainly just talked about my own experiences in sexual orientation and I left some cute graphics mainly to show everyone that my experiences are only a tiny minuscule portion of what is out there. Everyone is valid and I wish I could write an informative post about more spectrums, but I feel I’d just butcher something. Instead, I’ll leave that to someone else
If anyone is comfortable, feel free to share your own stories!