We’re All A Little Gay
Because today is about love (and consumerism), I thought it would be an appropriate time to tell the world I’m bi. By bi, I mean I like men and women.
Now, if you’ve known me for a while, you’re probably thinking, “Lilly, you were straight as hell in high school.” But what many people don’t know is that for much of my childhood I was sick to my stomach, terrified that I was gay. Unfortunately, that fear turned into depression at a very young age. But after a while, I learned to suppress it, a practice I continued well into college.
Looking back on it now, I find it strange that I was so scared. My parents are beautiful, supportive, compassionate people. I remember when I was around 8 years old, I told my mom that I was scared I was gay. I was shaking, crying hysterically. Being the amazing woman she is, she replied, “Lilly, it doesn’t matter who you love. We’ll love you no matter what.” Though that response has echoed in my mind since that night, at the time, it wasn’t enough.
Kids at school would call things they didn’t like, “gay.” Girls who kissed girls were “sluts” and “whores,” and clearly only doing it for the attention of boys. The slightest slip of affection between two boys was often followed by “faggot” or “no homo.” It was very clear to me, despite my family’s support, that “gay” was one of the worst things I could be.
I didn’t give my sexuality much thought after I started dating boys. I liked boys, and I fell in love with a couple. It wasn’t until college that I realized and accepted that I was also interested in girls. (I’m sure we’re all aware that you can’t keep any secrets from yourself when you’re a few shots deep.) After many gender and sexuality classes and several months of analyzing my childhood fears, I came to the conclusion that I am bi.
Now, for those of you who might not know what bisexuality is, stay tuned. Sexuality (meaning who one is attracted to) is a spectrum. “Bisexual” is one of many sexualities that can be found on said spectrum. While there are different definitions for “bisexual,” I prefer defining it as being attracted to my gender as well as other genders. However, bisexual doesn’t necessarily mean that the attraction is a 50/50 split. For example, if one is 90% attracted to men and 10% attracted to women, they can identify as bisexual. Although people don’t need to quantify how much they are attracted to whom, percentages can be helpful in understanding what bisexuality really means.
Unfortunately, bisexuality isn’t always accepted as a legitimate sexuality. Bisexuals are often considered “too straight” for the gay community and “too gay” for the straight community. Bisexuality is often associated with erroneous assumptions that people are just experimenting, confused, going through a stage, or are just undecided. Some people (even within the LGBTQ community) dismiss bisexuals as “attention seekers” and “sluts.” Some gay women are especially hostile toward bisexual women and bisexual men can be particularly isolated, as many women aren’t comfortable dating a man who is also attracted to men.
Bisexuals are also hypersexualized. Some people assume bisexuals are just sex-crazed and attracted to everyone they see. This is about as rational as saying every straight girl is attracted to every boy she sees. Some people think bisexuals are more likely to cheat. But just like anyone else, the likelihood of one cheating is linked to their morals, not their sexuality. These assumptions stem from insecurities and misunderstandings, not facts.
I’m proud to be bi. I think it’s beautiful that my biology allows me to love all people. I am also incredibly fortunate to have the family and friends that I do. But like many, my story started off a little on the rocky side, and I would do anything to save someone from being as afraid as I was.
To parents: The best thing you can do is stop assuming. Don’t assume your son likes girls, don’t assume your daughter likes boys, and don’t assume they just like one or the other. Let them tell you who they are. Most importantly, make sure they know that you’ll love them no matter who they love.
To everyone else: Call people out who use language that could hurt someone who is gay. If you wouldn’t let them say vulgar things about you, don’t let them say vulgar things about someone else. And (this is remarkably similar to above) don’t assume. Don’t assume your co-worker is straight. Don’t assume all of your friends and family members are straight. Ask, “Are you seeing anyone?” instead of, “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” While this may sound trivial, it could mean the difference between making someone feel safe or isolated. Finally, when someone tells you who they are, believe them. And if there is something you don’t understand, ask.
To those questioning or closeted: Know that you are loved. Know that no matter what people say — whether it is kids at school, friends, or family — there is nothing wrong with you. Know that no matter what, there is an incredibly supportive and loving community just waiting to meet you that cares about your health and safety. Know that you are exactly who you are supposed to be. Know that love is love, and no matter who you love, your love is extraordinary.
And if we’re being honest, we’re all a little gay.
If you would like to learn more about gender and sexuality, I recommend taking a look at Buzzfeed’s LGBT+ videos. Though they are far from perfect, they’re a good start (and a great way to spend an entire day on YouTube).