A story of coming to terms with your sexuality and yourself Clare Martis
I didn’t think being queer would “happen” to me.
What I mean by this is that I grew up with the image of queer people as somehow alien or other. I barely saw queer people represented in media, and when I did, they were nothing like me. So the logical conclusion to draw from all of this was that I wasn’t queer. I was just me. Of course none of these thought processes were as conscious and clear-cut as I’ve written them here. Back then they were unconscious assumptions neatly filed away in the back of my mind; not yet exhumed or examined.
But of course things didn’t stay that way. It started with my idealisation of girls in primary school. In Year 5 or 6 I had a dream that left me tight-chested and panicked, where I made out with a girl in my year and then Whoopi Goldberg came in and told me it was okay to be gay. (Actually a true story; I have weird dreams.) By the end of primary school there was a small part of me that knew I liked girls, and a much larger part of me that was terrified of this and what it could mean. So the glue that had stuck that file in its reassuring place in the back of my mind had begun to loosen, but it wasn’t ready to come unstuck just yet.
High school was a process of self-discovery. I remember sweatily rushing to the toilet, mid-movie, with the hot, sick realisation that I might be gay. I honestly can’t remember what the movie was. It might have been Happy Feet.
I remember a sleepover with a girl I liked in Year 9 and feeling like my body was ablaze lying next to her in bed. I remember smiling to myself on the way home the next day when I felt like everything made sense, at least for a moment.
I remember breaking up with my boyfriend in Year 10 because I had to figure out myself and my sexuality. I remember two weeks of learning that marriage was between a man and a woman in religion class in Year 12, and the sobbing coming-out it precipitated to my best friend. I remember telling my Dad I wasn’t straight on the way to school, and him picking me up with a bouquet of flowers that afternoon.
I remember pure freedom, and the knowledge that university would be different.
And university was different; in ways both expected and unexpected. At this point I had largely accepted that I was queer. I was ready to go to uni and meet and date girls. I had watched every coming out video ever posted to Youtube, and all the ones entitled, ‘How do you know if you’re gay?’ To quote a Youtuber from one of these videos, “if you’re watching this, you probably are”. But things don’t always go to plan.
For a long time I had operated under the comfortably-vague banner of ‘not straight’, ‘pretty gay’ or ‘queer’. That was what seemed to fit me best, and I liked the wiggle-room it afforded me - the ambiguity. But I was still under the assumption that I would probably end up with a girl. So it was a surprise to me when I meet someone at a party that I suddenly wanted to know anything and everything about - and they were a guy. At the time I wasn’t really sure what this meant, but I knew I liked him. So I let it happen. Long story short; I came to really like him, I had my heart broken, and I learnt a lot.
But this experience brought things into question yet again. Who exactly did my sexuality encompass? Did I like guys enough to date them? Would that be fair to both them and me? Or had I just not accepted that I was exclusively attracted to girls?
From then until now I went on some dates with guys and girls, I saw some people, and I started to get more of a feel for what I liked and what I looked for in a partner. I went on exchange to Japan with the plan of being single, only to meet the person who would become my partner and the love of my life - they also happen to be a guy.
So what’s the point of all of this? Am I magically straight now because I have a boyfriend? Nope, not at all. I’m now at a point in my life where I fairly comfortably identify as queer/bisexual. But it wasn’t always this way. The point of this is that coming to terms with your sexuality is a journey and a process. Some people have always known their sexuality, whilst others need time and experience to discover theirs. Some people will never have a definitive label for their sexuality. All of these processes are completely normal and valid.
There is no right way to do this, nor is there a time limit. Fuck that. Allow yourself the time and space to process this part of yourself and figure things out. Know that there may be times when you feel broken, invalid, unsure, or afraid. I know I did. These feelings are normal, but they aren’t fact. Most of all, know that you are not alone. You never have been, and you never will be. I’m with you, I’m cheering for you, and I support you. You’ve got this. Clare is an aspiring teacher. She likes to sing and play piano, and she studies Japanese. She hopes to use her experience as a YPN Committee Member to make things easier for queer young people in Western Australia.