Rainbow flags make me sad. They’re reminding me of a life I could have, but probably never will.
I was 14 when I realised that I’m attracted to girls, not in the way society allowed. At the same time, there was something magical about the dream of finding your own Mr. Darcy. So, it took me four years to stop being torn between Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean and accept that I am bisexual. The process of understanding my sexual orientation was complicated because I grew up in a religious Catholic family. The worst things a homophobic person could say are still heard in our house to this very day. This atmosphere was fuelled by the fact that we lived in a country where it is illegal to have same-sex relationships, and to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community is dangerous, even now.
Through the ages of 14-16, I was drowning in a sea of denial. I convinced myself that I couldn’t stop staring at my friend’s lips because I was just a really good friend. It wasn’t because I wanted to kiss her, but because she was wearing lipstick of a beautiful color. I was angry at what I heard at Sunday services: a woman is made for a man, and a man is made for a woman, and there is no other option. I tried to bargain for God’s forgiveness, promising that I would not take any action. My fantasies would remain in my head. And in return, He would not punish me for my sins.
Later, depression captured me in its furry paws–I don’t remember my life between the ages of 19 to 21. I was terribly scared to come out to my family. But despite my fears that they might send me to some religious camp where they would ‘correct’ me, I didn’t stop teasing them because my depressed brain simply turned off the instinct of self-preservation.
I have emphasized many times that of all the Marvel characters, I only like the female ones. There are only women on my posters (and Harry Styles). And finally, I never said I have a boyfriend or that I would like one.
But my acceptance stage didn’t come as I expected. My story’s happy ending would’ve been coming out, but none of my relatives and parents know about my sexual orientation to this day. And I made peace with that.
I’m not coming out to my parents any time soon because they’re the most unaccepting people I know. I don’t feel safe. Chances are, I never will. And we all know that every time we’re talking about sexuality – safety is a key.
So, if you’re out, my attention is all yours. I’m grateful for your posts, stories, poems, music. I’m grateful to you for being so brave and honest. Thank you for making bold choices in fashion so I can see you on the streets. If you’re holding your partner’s hand, and you see a strange girl smiling at you, that’s probably me. You can come and say hi. If you’re not out, I’m here for you. You’re not alone.
I see you, even if you’re not ready to be seen. Ever. You’re not missing out. You’re living your life in your unique, not-dictated-by-any-one way.
But it’s okay to stay in the closet. I know it may sound controversial in the context of our friendly-accepting-student-tolerant atmosphere. After all, is this not what activists have fought for throughout the decades? We have support groups, thematic meetings, clubs, parades. We have gay Tiktok, Troye Sivan, and Lady Gaga (God bless this queen).
It seems that in 2021, no one should stay in the closet. But reality has its own thoughts on this matter. Be safe, stay strong, and come out whenever you are ready.