“Whenever I talk about bisexuality around my family the word sits dirty in my mouth”
BY IRENE PAZ
The first person I ever came out to was my best friend in high school when I was 16. With it came an acquiescent feeling of relief, but I also felt scared. Scared that somehow, now that I’d manifested it into the universe, people would know. People meaning my parents.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bigots (for the most part). They’re actually quite open-minded when it comes to other people’s sex lives, just not their daughters. Probably a consequence of my dad walking in on me and an ex in a highly controversial position once. Either that or the way they were raised in our conservative, third world, traditional country.
Of course, this didn’t happen. They didn’t know. After I told my friend I felt compelled, for reasons unknown to me, to awkwardly and uncomfortably say “But don’t worry you’re not my type!”. She wasn’t even bothered by it! It was absolute word vomit. But that’s how uncomfortable I was with my own sexuality.
I’m unsure as to where my refusal to accept the fact I liked women came from. Maybe its the negative conversations the boys in my year had about girls that were butch or even just different. Maybe its the way my mom would hurriedly change the channel whenever there were lesbian contestants on Next. Or the general, very puritan attitude they had towards sex. Even straight sex! I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend until I was 15, and even then we were only allowed in the living room where my dad would walk past every half hour to make sure we were a good foot away from each other. The way they dealt with the aforementioned controversial position incident made me feel like I could never, ever go to them with anything to do with sex.
Maybe it was my grandmother telling me masturbation was a sin and I was going to go to hell if I ever did it. Or the way the very effeminate and closeted gays of my year would cry after school, because children are evil. Whatever it was — and it was probably the amalgamation of all of this — I’d internalised all of these things to the point I’d agonise for days whenever I found a girl attractive.
Eventually I grew out of the horrible age of 11 and started reading up on bisexuality, lesbianism, and what it really meant to be queer. It wasn’t just porn. It wasn’t dirty. I wasn’t going to go to hell. Who would’ve thought!?
I’ve become increasingly liberal when it comes to sex. Moving to the UK only further cemented my belief that my sex life was not actually determining of my self worth, something people in my school and in my country in general relentlessly fought to make me believe.
I started identifying as bisexual. I ticked that box whenever I was filing forms out at the sexual health clinic or applying to MAs. I started kissing girls and openly talking to friends about it. I began to unlearn the negative connotations I had of bisexuality and lesbianism. I stopped seeing it as a fetish or a PornHub section and realised that was just the way I was born.
Regardless of this, and as grateful as I am for self-acceptance and the fact I gave myself sex-ed (otherwise I pity the repressed, sexually frustrated virgin I’d be if I’d listened to my grandmother), I don’t think I’ll ever come out to my family.
I used to think I never would because they didn’t really need to know about my sex life, but that was before I realised I could love other women. For a while I told myself I only would if I ever had a serious relationship with a girl. Though this has yet to happen, it’s probably the closest version to the truth there is.
But I doubt I’ll ever come out to my family. My parents could be fine with it. I’m almost entirely sure they would. Most of my family, too. I have a lesbian aunt. They still love her. She still gets invited to family dinners, and her girlfriend, too. Only one relative gave her a bible and crucifix the year she came out, and she was a distant relative anyway. Surely that must be a record.
Anyway. I don’t think I ever will because it would lead to a lot of uncomfortable conversations I don’t want to have. “Why didn’t you tell us? How do you know? Have you ever actually been with a girl?” Now I know for a fact, that really is way too much detail about my sex life.
Whenever I talk about bisexuality around my family the word sits dirty in my mouth. My jaw goes tight like when you have really sour lemonade. I shift in my seat and avoid looking at anyone in the eye. The feeling of shame and discomfort that evolved from their casual and perhaps mostly unintentional bigotry comes back every time I’m around them. I’ve been close to telling my mom a couple of times, whenever its come up in my writing and I want her to read it. But I can’t. I delete the text and bin the email.
Maybe one day if I ever fall in love with a woman it will be different, because I’ll be able to say, “Look! Its not just about sex! I’m not just sleeping with a girl, its not dirty because it’s love!”. Maybe! Crazier things have happened. But unless that scenario ever comes to fruition I shall remain a closeted queer to those I love the most, not because they’d love me any less, but because I’m fond of not feeling dirty.
Does it sadden me? Sure. Sometimes it does. Especially when my mom asks me about boys, or when my dad jokes about my aunt. I love them. And they mean well, but this is a part of my life I’ll never feel comfortable sharing with them, but just like I learnt to be okay with who I was, I’m sure one day I’ll be okay with this, too.
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