“But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.”
– Anne Frank
TW: bullying and homophobic violence
When you try to deny how you feel, those feelings will swallow you whole. If you try to pretend to be someone you’re not, something you’re not, eventually the mask will crack. It always does.
I didn’t want to be queer when I was young.
I grew up in the shadow of the last years of Section 28, and went to a school where homophobic bullying was par for the course. The kids would bully anyone they suspected was queer. If you actually came out, they’d beat the shit out of you. Is there any wonder I didn’t want to be queer?
So I pushed those feelings down. Repressed them and repressed them until I’d buried them somewhere deep in the darkest corners of self-loathing that I only rarely peeked at.
But the thing about those parts of you that you repress? They come out eventually. They always do.
Feelings can’t be ignored.
For years, I’d catch my eyes lingering a little too long on girls I liked. That stunning girl in the year above. My female music teacher. Random women on TV. When my friends and I flicked through magazines and talked about which of the boys we fancied, I always found my eyes drawn to the girls instead.
I realised I couldn’t lie to myself any more when my then-boyfriend told me point blank, “I think you’re bisexual”. And I realised that I was. For all his faults, I have to credit him with this: he supported my bi identity from the beginning.
And then I had to work through all that self-hatred I’d cultivated through years and years of repressed desire. Because you don’t just flick a switch and go from “I can never show this part of myself to anyone” to “woo-hoo, queer pride, gonna go smooch some girls!” in three seconds. It takes time.
It took falling in love for me to fully be okay with my queerness. When I was with her, everything felt right. How could something so perfect possibly be wrong? Of all the things she taught me, perhaps the most important was how to be proud.
Because feelings can’t be ignored. Identities can’t be silenced.
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