- Growing up in a small town made me ashamed of my sexuality.
- Years after I married my husband, I finally became bisexual and then pansexual.
- As a pansexual person, I worried that I wasn’t queer enough, so I had to find my own queer community.
During my adolescence, talking about my sexuality was not easy. In my small hometown of Monmouth, UK, straight was the default. There were only a handful of openly gay people living in our town, and they were seen as “others.”
My first output experience It was in the 1990s, when I was 14 years old. I confided in a friend that I had a crush on a girl at school. It’s been so long since I can’t remember if I used the word bisexual or if I just said that I like girls as much as boys. But I remember my friend’s reaction: shock, disgust, horror and laughter.
I wouldn’t be back for 15 years, and that time was for my husband.
I started dating my husband in college and kept my sexuality a secret
I moved to Sheffield for college in 1998 and met the man who is now my husband during my first semester. At that time, no one knew that I was also interested in women. I wasn’t ready to come out to people living in my dorm. My sexuality just seemed irrelevant. To the outside world, I looked straight: I was a cis woman dating a cis man.
We got married in 2005. I had yet to come out to anyone, not even my husband, although I did allude to the fact that female celebrities were attractive. I felt guilty for keeping part of my identity closed off to my loved ones, but my previous experience of coming out had made me suspicious.
When our son was born, I felt like there were even fewer opportunities to embrace my sexuality. Parents at the school gates, co-workers, and new friends I made heard the words “husband” and “son” and assumed I was straight.
In my late twenties, I finally told my husband the truth
I was very drunk watching television with my husband one evening. Dita Von Teese was a guest on the show we were watching, and my attraction to her made me blurt out, “I’m bisexual.”
A heavy silence. My husband then said a very simple but thoughtful word: “OK”.
I assured him that nothing had changed; I always wanted to be with him. Her reaction to all the information was so laid back it made me wish I had shared my sexuality sooner. Inspired by Von Teese, we’ve booked tickets to a local burlesque show next month.
Encouraged by my husband’s positive reaction, I came out to my closest friends. It was a much more positive experience than my previous attempt at coming out, because I was selective about who I spoke to and lived in a more diverse area. My big revelation was well received and I felt accepted by people whose opinions mattered to me.
Later I read This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and I realized that I wasn’t bisexual but actually pansexual – which just means I’m attracted to people regardless of sex or gender. When I told everyone about my new identity, there were more questions to ask, but that was to be expected. Pansexuality isn’t really talked about in the media or in pop culture in general. I didn’t blame people for not knowing about pansexuality because I had barely heard of it myself.
So whenever I’m asked questions about my sexuality, I always say pansexual. I even added pink, yellow and blue hearts to my social media bio to represent the pansexual flag.
Although my husband and friends accepted me, I worried that I was not gay enough to fit in with the queer community.
Once I had a label that represented me, I wanted to get more involved in the LGBTQ community. What surprised me the most was how limited even in one of the biggest cities in the UK was the opportunity to meet other LGBTQ people. Bars and clubs were a focal point, which didn’t appeal to me.
Although pansexuality falls under the queer umbrella, I worried that I wasn’t gay enough, especially because I’m in a straight relationship.
I turned to queer media. Shows such as “Queer Eye” and “It’s a Sin” gave me a sense of belonging, as did the LGBTQ literature I drew from the London bookshop Gay’s the Word.
Seeing strong LGBTQ communities on my TV screen and in the pages of my favorite novels ultimately inspired me to seek out my own queer family. I finally joined the Rainbow Blades, Sheffield United Football Club’s official support group for LGBTQ people and their allies. It’s been quite a journey, but I know the friends I’ve made through Rainbow Blades will be friends for life.
Even better, my husband and son accompany me to meetings and proudly wear pins showing that they are LGBTQ allies – my allies. Finally, I found the place where I belong.