I am not straight
So, it’s Pride Month! A time to celebrate queerness and individuality and everyone’s journey through understanding their identity. We didn’t want to do some half-hearted, queer-batey piece of writing that felt insincere and impersonal, but we still want to bring queerness into the spotlight and celebrate it unapologetically.
I’ve been trying to think of the best way to approach this topic for a while now, because of all that I’ve mentioned above. It’s really important to us as a charity that everyone feels represented in all of our media.
I’m Hannah by the way, the founder of /help. And I thought the best way to be sincere is to talk about my identity as a queer woman. No strategically conceived waffle about empowerment and self-love and all that. Just me, my life, and complete honesty.
I’ve had a long list of identities that I’ve used over the years because basically, I know I’m not straight. Over the course of my life I’ve found every type of person attractive. When I was younger, I didn’t really think much of it. Seven year old me thought that Nala from the Lion King, and Princess Jasmine were hot, but so were Jack Sparrow and Scar… I wasn’t really exposed to queer people at that age, so I didn’t really understand it. Hell, I didn’t really even think about it.
When I got into secondary school, I still wasn’t really thinking about it. I liked everyone, so I just explored my interest in men because that’s all I had really known and seen represented. I had heard a few homophobic comments thrown around by other students, but my friends and family were all pretty liberal and accepting. At around age 14, I ended up becoming friends with a girl who identified as bisexual and it was the first time I had ever really talked about sexuality and the possibility of anything else. This girl had researched quite a lot and introduced me to an array of labels and identities. It felt exciting to see this whole other world that I realised I was probably a part of.
A few weeks after that, I was sitting in the car with my mum waiting to go into an after school club. I had butterflies in my stomach and I was sweating. I wanted to come out to her but we had never really discussed sexuality before. I knew she would be supportive but I was still terrified to say it out loud. I got myself together and took a deep breath and proclaimed that I was heteroromantic, homosexual, and polyamorous.
My mum had no idea what any of those things meant, let alone what they meant together. But she sat calmly and asked what they meant. I explained that I was attracted to men but probably not sexually and that I was just generally attracted to women. As well as that, I realised that I may be interested in having more than one partner. My mum had no idea what that meant but was supportive. After that, nothing else was really mentioned about it, but she never treated me any differently. I kinda left my perception of sexuality alone for a while because those labels didn’t feel like they fit me.
The next time I thought about it was while I was at university. I was good friends with multiple openly queer people and realised that I definitely was attracted to women. I was always terrified of coming out though. It even took me ages to come out to my gay friends. Most people didn’t know my sexuality and I never told them. I didn’t feel ashamed but I also didn’t feel safe. I was quite a closed off person when it came to relationships, so it actually got to the point where I thought I might be asexual.
That ended up being inaccurate because I started to date someone. It was my first long term relationship and I was generally pretty happy. I was fine being monogamous for a good while but after a year I realised that I felt quite trapped and that I had lots of love to give (apparently 14 year old Hannah had kinda nailed the identity without realising it). That relationship came to an end because of other reasons, so I tried to fully embrace my identity.
I recently actually came out on Twitter and told everyone that I thought I was a lesbian and not pan (the label I used if anyone asked). Once again, I figured out that that wasn’t true and that I liked men too, but I felt too afraid to retract that statement. When I shared the original tweet, I was an anxious mess. I felt like the world was going to reject me and that I was forced to use that label until the end of time because I had announced it so publicly.
That brings us to now. Honestly, I don’t know how I identify. I simply know that I love everyone and anyone… at the same time? Confusing, I know, but I don’t feel like I really feel like any of the labels.
I wish I could say I’m out loud and proud, but I’m not. I am genuinely terrified about how the world perceives me. I have already dealt with the repercussions of being a woman in this society and it has left its scars. I’m scared that I’ll be targeted for who I am. I know I must have some form of internalised homophobia because I try to make everyone comfortable by not talking about who I am.
So what is this whole article about? If you’ve read this far you’re probably thinking that this isn’t really screaming PRIDE. And you’re right, but I want to be proud and I want everyone else in this community to be proud too. I want those who are feeling like me to know that your feelings are valid and that you’re not alone. I know it’s scary, I’m literally typing this article terrified about the fact that I’m going to post this. But if I can do it, you can too. This world isn’t perfect, nowhere near. But nobody should be ashamed and apologetic about who they are, including me. So, world, I can proudly say
I am not straight
And that’s okay.
Written by H_L_llama