In honor of National Coming Out Day, here is my story.
This issue is a big thing and this post is highly personal, so keep that in mind as I bare my soul over the Internet.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to females (as well as males), which really confused me when I was younger. The first person I felt physically attracted to was probably Olivia Newton-John. I remember watching Grease as a child and being attracted to Sandy (at the end of the movie when she’s in the whole black-skintight-sexy outfit), but of course I didn’t tell anyone about it (I was raised in a very heteronormative environment). On the other hand, I remember having a crush on the kid Anakin from Star Wars Episode I. But I was never attracted to boys with the same raw magnetism I had for girls, until I was in high school. I’m still not even sure if I can get as insanely attracted to males as I have been with females.
These feelings got even more confusing when I started attending an all-girls high school. During my freshman year, I found myself crushing on two different girls. (Disclaimer for all my high school friends: LeeAna isn’t gay and all the times I hit on her were just jokes, calm your tits) I didn’t really know how to feel about it, but I shared these feelings with my mom and best friend. They took it well, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to tell this to anyone else. I grew up on Guam, where it was normal (and usually socially acceptable) to call people “faggot” nonchalantly (as a synonym for “lame,” “pussy,” or “uncool”) and get teased for being gay. “You’re so gay” was a phrase commonly used to put other people down and it was understood that being gay wasn’t something you wanted to be. I knew better than all that, but I didn’t want to be rejected, so I never really accepted that I had feelings for girls while I was growing up. I continued to ignore these feelings and associated them with deep shame. Those words still hurt me to this day.
While going through adolescence, all my friends and I gushed over guys and celebrities (mostly Robert Pattinson when I was younger #Twihards). But what I didn’t tell anyone was that I was secretly attracted to hot girls with boobs way more than I was into guys. I’d fantasize about kissing my real-life female crushes more intensely than I did about guys I was actually dating, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone (not that I wanted to tell anyone about it anyway). In my later teens, I had relationships with guys that were deep enough so that I felt comfortable telling them openly (but not very seriously) about how I was “kind of” attracted to girls. I told them that “if I were into girls,” I’d marry Miranda Kerr because she’s insanely beautiful. Of course they took this extremely well (because what straight guy doesn’t love girl-on-girl action, amirite? *insert sardonic tone*).
Then with my most serious boyfriend, I told him how I actually had crushes on girls I went to high school with. I was too embarrassed to tell him their names, but I felt comfortable enough to be honest with him, and a little more honest with myself. I never admitted this to him, but one of the reasons I was really attracted to him was because we were similar in height and size (we could fit each other’s jeans) so it felt like being with a semi-androgynous person in my mind.
One of the most pivotal moments that helped me come to terms with my sexual orientation was when a friend of mine came out to me. From the first day we really became friends, I had those same confusing feelings for her that I had for other girls before. We connected so well and there was just something about her that was so interesting to me. I found myself wanting to be like her somehow, but I didn’t know why. Maybe she was just cool, maybe it was because she was pretty, maybe it was because I saw a lot of myself in her — except that she had this extra something about her that I couldn’t pinpoint right away. I told my boyfriend at the time about meeting her, and he asked me why I was acting so weird about her. I didn’t feel like I was being weird, but he had an uncanny ability to know exactly how I felt, so he could tell something was up even if I couldn’t.
I didn’t hang out with this girl much after that day, but we ended up seeing each other again months later, and shared a lot of our personal drama with each other. I told her the embarrassing, lengthy details of my recently ended relationship, and she listened patiently.
Then, she did something I didn’t anticipate at all: she came out to me. I was stunned. It made so much sense, and I felt stupid for not realizing it earlier. I didn’t just think she was cool or pretty, I actually liked her. What was most shocking for me was that I realized something, truly realized it for the first time: I wasn’t just attracted to females physically; the attraction was emotional, too.
I always knew it somehow, in a vague sort of way. I mean, all girls I know have “girl crushes” on Scarlett Johansson, Megan Fox, Olivia Wilde, Angelina Jolie, etc. So did I. But what nobody else knew was how much more deeply attracted I was to women, but I wouldn’t admit this to anyone. When my friend came out to me, she helped me to realize that it wasn’t just physical attraction I felt for females; it proved that I was drawn to something in girls deeper than superficial attraction. I didn’t just have “girl crushes” (which is a term I really resent — just call it a “crush,” because the term “girl crush” implies that it’s irregular/unnatural for girls to have crushes on other girls), I had real feelings.
After that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Maybe not about her as a person because I didn’t know her entirely that well, but the idea of her. The idea that I could fall in deeply in love with a woman someday. It was scary. And It still kind of is. My whole life, I had a plan at the back of my head, put in by years of being surrounded primarily by heterosexual adults. The only way I knew how to love was from what I saw my parents or older relatives doing. I always assumed I’d fall in love with some gorgeous (yet adorably nerdy) guy in college, then get married and have kids with him (the standard heteronormative game plan).
But what this girl did for me was open up a realm of possibilities. I wasn’t limited to the hetero fantasy I’d kept around for years — my dating prospects were no longer limited to the male half of the population. I could fall in love with a girl in college, maybe we’d be in the same discussion section for one of my literature classes. Maybe we’d click instantly and I’d love her like a best friend until she told me she wanted me as more than a friend. Maybe we’d try it out and end up falling deeply in love, get married (or not) and adopt kids. Or maybe not, but the possibilities were there and were real because I saw a person I thought I could hypothetically do this with.
The thought that my life might not turn out as planned scares the shit out of me. But at the same time, it’s beautiful. I have to credit a lot of this period of self-discovery to the friend who brought me to this realization (side note: I actually told her about all of this and she’s been super cool about it, and I appreciate her so much more for that). But even more so, I have myself to thank. Coming to terms with your sexual orientation takes a huge amount of courage. I saw this in my friend, in my other queer friends, and in one of my closest relatives who serves as my role model on our journeys through learning what it’s like to fall in love with a member of our shared gender.
The reason I wrote this long, revealing post was because I want to give everyone who may be struggling with this issue, the gift that my queer role models gave to me. They helped me find the strength to be honest with who I truly am. The courage to be honest with others about who I am. The love and support I needed to go through this period of self-discovery.
As my close relative said to me, how can you not let love screw you up if you don’t even know what sorts of loves are for you? Figuring out who you are and what you want is an important step to finding a real, rewarding love. I encourage all my family, friends, and readers to reflect on their own preferences and try to be honest with themselves, because it’s much more difficult to be happy with your love life if you don’t allow yourself to seek out the kind of love you actually want.
So thank you to all my fabulous queer friends who shared their stories and love with me, my straight friends who accept me for who I am, my family members who love me no matter what, and the douchey guys I used to like (for turning me off to the whole idea of only loving men even if they’re assholes); you all helped me on my journey to finding and loving myself.
And thank you, whoever you may be, for taking the time to read my most personal story. I truly hope that I can help you the way my role models helped me. And of course, I’d love to hear your stories too — add me on Facebook or post your comments below!
I’ll end this post with a link to Girls on Girls, because as I’ve come to learn, girls are fucking awesome (and so are guys).
P.S. Fuck you to the person I used to trust, who outed me to his friends — that’s not something you should do to anyone, no matter how open they are about it. You have no idea how much it can hurt to know someone is going around telling their friends about this deeply personal part of your identity. Don’t ever do it to anyone again. Bye.