I Didn’t Know I Was Bi Until My 30s
Why did it take me so long to figure it out?
My first crush was an older boy in my church youth group who played Jesus in our tiny Passion play. I was thirteen and his sixteen seemed impossibly older and dignified. I don’t think he ever knew I gazed at him longingly from afar. But then, when Katy Perry’s music video for “Teenage Dream” dropped, I watched it once, and for days replayed in my head the scenes of Katy in her underwear, not understanding why.
I loved the playful subversiveness of Leigh Nash singing “There She Goes” in her sparkling crystalline voice. But I didn’t know that’s why I loved it. We played “Kiss Me” at every church youth event that year. Sixpence None the Richer was acceptable in Christian circles so I could listen to a girl singing about how she “just can’t contain this feeling” about another girl without any guilt.
When I played the Elder Scrolls RPGs, the in-game option of romancing and marrying an NPC fascinated me. And I immediately pursued a woman to marry (I was playing as a woman). I never even considered any of the marriageable male NPCs.
I’ve always loved stories of True Love™, like The Princess Bride, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella. For a little while, in my early teens, I lamented the fact that Charles was too old and William and Harry too young for me. I wanted a fairy tale kind of love, and that meant a prince (or a “prince of a man”).
I never had any inkling of interest in any of the boys in high school. I liked to joke that I wasn’t interested in a boy, but a man. And they were all so very immature, to be honest. Only two of them ever showed any kind of interest in me, and it was not healthy: they would whistle and shout catcalls at me whenever I walked by. This of course made me less than interested in them.
I volunteered at summer camp and, one year, I developed an intense crush on a boy who led an activity group with me. He was a few years older (looks like I have a type) and very kind. Also, pretty cute. I never said anything to him, though, and we lost contact immediately after that summer. I don’t even remember his name now.
In one of my university English classes, I sat beside a woman named Marilee. She was stunning, with long blonde hair and a ready smile. To my eyes, she looked like an elf from The Lord of the Rings. I was in awe of her beauty and I wanted to spend every moment I could with her.
Why did I see my crushes on men as romantic but not the ones on women? Honestly, I just never considered the possibility. It doesn’t help that I’m ace/demi and I don’t feel physical sexual attraction. And in the world I grew up in, of church and youth group and a small town school, no one ever talked about queer stuff unless you were trying to insult a boy by calling him “gay.”
Getting to know some LGBTQ people online and then in real life, and reading a lot helped me to first understand my own prejudices and overcome them, and then to see myself clearly for the first time in my life. And my husband’s unwavering support is a Godsend.
Sometimes, you just need time to “find yourself.”