It’s hard to accept you are queer after growing up seeing how isolating it is. This concept, I believe, is hard for someone who isn’t a part of the LGBTQ community to fully comprehend. Often we are told that being gay isn’t a conscious decision; however, this notion of being “born this way” can be taken less seriously than it exists to be.

When I was 10, my best girl friend had a strawberry shaped and colored birthmark on her neck that she thought looked like hickey. I told myself it was an angel’s kiss, for an angel couldn’t help but take a bite of her smooth, caramel skin. After telling her my theory, she was weirded out. We stopped being friends.

In junior high, my classmate told me that when seahorses mate, the males are the ones who give birth. She giggled explaining to me how although I, too, can give birth like a typical woman, my lower sounding voice and “lesbian attributes” gave off more masculine vibes. Thus, my new nickname was seahorse. Understandably, I didn’t like being called this name. It also didn’t make that much sense. I remember nervously laughing along, while simultaneously attempting to slip in the fact that I couldn’t gay because I had already kissed, and enjoyed kissing, boys.

By the time I hit high school, I fully fell for a girl. Oddly enough, she liked me back and we began dating. The whole process, however, was far less simple than that previous sentence was. For over a year we were together and told no one. I spent hours each night silently crying, having to hide a huge aspect of my life from my family and friends. I feared judgement and isolation, but most of all, I feared people would think I was someone other than the person I was, just because of one small aspect about me. These contradicting thoughts confused me up until the point that I burst and came forward about it. To my great relief, pretty much everyone was okay with it.

In my sophomore year of high school, I started to become more comfortable with my identity. The all-consuming thought that had once made me so anxious now gave me a sense of belonging and pride. After digging for what seemed like forever, I finally found comfort in being bisexual.

Around this same time, I began to pick up on small ways in which the people around me also grew more at ease, though in the opposite direction. My mom told me that nowadays, it seems like everyone is swinging between dating girls and boys, simply because it’s “hip.” She elaborated by telling me how the fluidity of gender in my generation, full of all the wacky pronouns she can’t begin to remember, allows for it to become more natural for everyone to try things with people of any sex. Thus, I am probably doing the same thing.

To my mother, and to anyone else with a similar mentality, I ask you to re-read the beginning of this paper. These three previous examples are reasons why I am not, and why are bisexual people are not, following a trend. If it were a choice, I wouldn’t be here writing this. Why would I consciously choose to put myself into a larger minority, already being a woman in this society? Why would I make myself vulnerable and isolate myself from all of my majority heterosexual counterparts? The cliché of wanting to be invisible in high school is true. If you are a teenager or younger, straying from the mainstream is one of the most difficult things you can do. Who would voluntarily put themselves in that position, if it were not for a reason so important and true to them?

Without choice or solidarity in many situations, queer people lack some of the most basic, human desires of acceptance. This issue clearly continues to be prevalent, although it may seem indistinguishable in more liberal environments. Many people, such as myself, still struggle immensely to feel welcome enough to be their full selves all the time. It does, however, make me a bit pleased to think that my mother thought being queer was enough the norm to even be considered somewhat of a fad. In reality, however, commonality, not fear, is the driving factor of a trend.

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Victor van der Meer

Founder & Director of My Rainbow Net Pty. Ltd.

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