In honour of Pride Month, we caught up with some of the contributors here at Nonchalant to ask about their personal experiences when they began to question their sexuality and what it was like for them ‘coming out’ to friends and family.
1. I was late to the coming-out party
“Growing up I was the little girl with the short hair and camo gear, climbing trees with my boy mates. Fair to say that when I told people later in life I was gay they weren’t really too surprised.
From the age of around 12, I got incredibly obsessed with good looking famous women. I would look up every detail about their lives, I thought I wanted to be like them but turns out I wanted to be on them…
I grew up in a relatively small town in the early 90s (fuck, I’m old). Back then there wasn’t much visibility of Lesbians. Girls mostly kissed each other to get lads attention (I didn’t want to be one of those girls) and the words Lesbian or dyke were thrown around as insults. I always thought that maybe everyone felt the way I did and just repressed their feelings and got on with life with a man as that was ‘normal.’
I had a boyfriend from the age of 16 we stayed together until I was 22 (yep, really repressed those feelings). When we broke up I did what anyone does after a breakup, ran off to another country, a country as far away as possible it seems… Australia. Byeeeeee.
Whilst there I had my first lesbian experience on a farm (I drove a tractor bitchhh, sorry just had to get that in). After that, I was like, ‘well this feels so much better/way hotter.’ I was 24. It was all a secret though because she was straight (which made it so much hotter). I then came out to my best mate over there (on my 25th birthday when I was high af) and just from then on was open about my sexuality.
Coming home I was confident in who I was and my sexuality, I told my friends first, who were all very understanding. I then told my Mum and Dad. I was hungover and had lost my passport etc, did not remember getting home, so I just thought…well it can’t get any worse! They had the best reactions, Dad said that he would love anyone I love and gave me a hug. “
– Anon, 33
2. Bi the way…
“Being aware of my bisexuality isn’t something that’s new to me, it’s something that seems to have followed me for the entirety of my adult life (and perhaps some of my adolescent life too). Yet, being totally accepting of it only happened about a year ago. And it’s only since then that I’ve started to feel comfortable identifying with myself as bi. Not because I was ashamed, far from it, but because I wasn’t sure if I actually believed I was.
Throughout my teens and early twenties, I addressed this topic on multiple occasions. I’d attempt to confide in someone I trusted with ‘I think I fancy women’, and I repeatedly received the same reply, over and over: ‘It’s probably just a phase’ or sometimes ‘Are you sure you’re not just a closet gay?’ – And believe me, I asked myself this question, time and time again. But, when you’ve reached your late twenties and you still can’t decide whether you prefer men or women, you start to realise that it’s not ‘just a phase’.
I first decided to explore my bisexuality at 21, after ending a long term relationship with a guy. I did what most other single, twenty-somethings were doing and downloaded (what was then) the new dating app, Tinder. I was setting up my profile and paused when I reached the preferences section. I flicked back and forth between the options ‘Men’ and ‘Women’, until I thought ‘fuck it’ and selected both.
But, just as it seemed I was accepting my decision not to decide, I started to get the sense that I didn’t belong. To girls I dated, the response I got when telling them ‘I’m bisexual’, was as if I was actually saying ‘I’m straight’. To guys I dated, more often than not, their first question was ‘would you be up for a threesome?’. I remember one guy telling me that all it meant was that I was a ‘greedy slut who can’t make her mind up’. Apparently I wasn’t ‘gay’ enough for some and wasn’t ‘straight’ enough for others. So, it seemed the easier option was just to just say I was straight.
It wasn’t until I came across the term ‘Bi erasure’ that I started to realise that this was actually a thing, and I realised that through not owning my bisexuality, I had been just as guilty – or perhaps even more guilty – of Bi erasure than anyone else, and I knew I had to change this.
I’ve not really had a ‘big reveal’ as such, but I now feel much more comfortable and confident speaking about my sexuality to others and I will never again pretend to be straight, just because it seems like the easier option.”
– Anon, 26
3. Hunt the lesbian
“Sitting here now, approaching the age 25, coming out seems so long ago. The reality is less than a decade ago. I was the first girl (although I suspect not the last) to come out at my all-girls private sixth form; yeah it spread like wildfire that there was a ‘lesbian in the midst.’ I still remember my friend coming up to me and saying ‘we’ve found you on the HER app, but it says you’re a lesbian, are you?’
At this point I never questioned why seven seemingly straight girls had created a profile on a queer dating app, rather I just felt my heart fall out my vagina. Being gay was never something I paid much mind to, a friend asked me if I would sleep with a woman age 14 and my answer was, ‘yeah if the occasion arose.’ I never really had crushes on girls but I remember growing up fascinated by the notion of two women being in a relationship. By the time I was starting to fully figure out my sexuality, YouTube was rife with lesbian couples, and it wasn’t long before I started to think ‘this is what I want,’ I didn’t want to be Cinderella, I wanted to be with Cinderella.
Lesbian was a scary word to me, and truthfully I sat with queer for far longer, preferring its ambiguity. Maybe it was because of the overt sexualising of lesbians in modern culture, or perhaps it was because when I came out, a girl I thought was my friend would play ‘hunt the lesbian’ at lunchtime. Spoiler I was never actually a suspect due to my red lipstick and feminine demeanor (woo femme erasure.)
Since dating my fiancee, I’ve realised that lesbian does fit me perfectly, I’m a woman who loves all other women (well now just the one.) I’ve also learned that coming out never stops, whether you’re in sixth form, university, at work, planning a wedding, or even out and about, you never stop coming out, you just stop caring about coming out. “
– Anon, 24
If you have enjoyed this instalment check out the other instalments in this series.
Love Team Nonchalant xx