In recent years I have identified with feeling bi-curious. This month I have come out as identifying as bisexual or pansexual.
What I wish the world would be more open to is not assuming every person who identifies as a woman prefers a male companion; and vice versa. A woman loving a man is simply not the only status quo, and it never has been. Not to mention, there are non-binary people and more than two genders. Anything beyond a woman loving a man has only been hush-hush throughout history, and even now, because people who identify outside of being straight and cis face discrimination, judgment and even death just because of who they are. There is absolutely no shame in who you love or being who you are meant to be. No one should ever be exiled, bullied or harmed for who they love.
Something else I wish the world would assume less is that coming out as LBGTQ+ is not an invitation to be treated differently.
An insecurity I project onto my female friends who are straight is that they may assume I’m interested in them just because I’ve come out as being attracted to any gender. I wish it was understood that just like I am not attracted to every man I see, I am also not attracted to every woman I see. And furthermore, it doesn’t matter who I am attracted to; it is absolutely no one’s business except our own. I speak out about my sexuality because it breaks down walls of shame. While people should be able to come out in their own time, it is important to note that not everyone has to come out. It is our choice.
The fear of my friends being worried I’d be attracted to them is rooted in homophobia; it stems from a lack of acceptance. It’s like saying you’re ok with gay people, yet in the same breath being offended and appalled if your friend of the same sex was attracted to you. Just like being gay is not a sin, being attracted to your friend is not the worst thing in the world. It happens all the time for straight people, so why must it be met with so much judgement and shame when it comes to other sexualities? I wish I didn’t have to practice over-explaining to girl friends of mine that they don’t have to act differently around me now.
A painful experience I had as a teenager was when I opened up about my curiosity with my sexuality to my therapist at the time. My therapist always hugged me after every session. After that particular session, she did not hug me. It made me feel like I was undeserving of the love I received prior, which was confusing to me. Although it was a brief moment, a great feeling of rejection stuck with me. Experiences like this remind me that not every person is going to understand the nuances of sexuality. While my therapist indicated this distancing through not hugging me after that session, I understood after we talked about it that she was accepting of me and she didn’t even realize she hadn’t hugged me. It could have even been a subconscious distancing, which is what a lot of our society acts on in this day and age.
Subconscious distancing from LGBTQ+ people is comparable to racist micro-aggressions and the distancing or undervaluing of other marginalized communities today. There are micro-aggressions and racist undertones that persist in society, although people may not always be overtly racist, sexist, fatphobic, homophobic, etc. For instance, a white employer may be more inclined to hire a white candidate with the same exact level of education and experience as their black counterpart, just as they may hire a thin candidate over a person in a larger body — the list goes on and on. Racism and other discriminations are not always loud — sometimes they are subdued tones and subtle behaviors.
My therapist may have felt more comfortable hugging me thinking I was straight, and subconsciously did not feel as comfortable hugging me after learning something else. In some instances, I think subconscious behavior like this can be forgivable because we are often taught it. When we choose to unlearn discriminatory and judgmental ways, we relearn acceptance. We then can promote equality for all.
I later learned that my therapist may have distanced herself physically from me after that session because she was coming to terms with her sexuality as well. She grappled with how much she wanted to let on to her clients. I hold a lot of compassion for her now. We can feel very ashamed in realizing who we love in a world that is not always accepting. I appreciate the work she did with me on accepting who I am. I am thankful I had that type of support in my life when I was in such a vulnerable, shameful place.
I don’t want to be treated differently now — unless it means being made to feel more comfortable and welcome. I am the exact same person as I was yesterday.
If you asked me if your outfit looked cute yesterday, still ask me today. If you asked me to roll up your sleeves or zip up your dress yesterday, feel free to still ask me today. If you hugged me yesterday, still hug me today. Having a LGBTQ+ friend never has to mean you have to distance yourself — emotionally or physically. In fact, engaging with us just the same as before can help us feel safe and welcome.
Close friendships can be completely platonic. Hugging and physical contact must be normalized among friends. Not everything comes down to attraction or romantic relationships. It is healthy and natural to have platonic, physical contact with people we trust.
My hope is that people will work on their subconscious distancing urges if they ever come up. Being free to love who I love takes more than just me deciding to be open — it takes a village of open arms and accepting hearts.