I remember that around this time last year I was desperately searching for labels that I could relate with. I think everyone does it during their teeny years. You’re suddenly dumped out of the safety of being a child, but you aren’t defined enough to be an adult. And suddenly you’re aware of the people around you! And your body! It’s a bamboozling time for the best of us.
I think back last year my preoccupation was a label for my sexuality, because I was out of school and 18 and meeting people and meeting boys and non-binary people and meeting people who had values that aligned more closely with mine.
I remember being incredibly excited and relieved when I found the label ‘Pansexual’. Finally something I related to; something I felt like could describe how I felt. Pansexuality to me is essentially being sexually attracted to people in a way that isn’t primarily determined by their sexual anatomy and/or gender. It was a revelation!
I told my brother and my close friends all on that day, and then my uncle (really the only close member of my extended family; like, he’s been my emergency contact for everything since I was born, and he’s my godfather. Also he happens to be gay), and then finally my parents. I was scared to tell my parents, actually. I think because you hear all those horror stories with parents, and because mum is pretty conservative and has said some dodgy things over the years about gay people, and dad would definitely have told mum if I told him.
But eventually one night I told them while they were working out something with the home loan, so they didn’t really pay attention. I’d spent about 2 months deliberating over telling them, and working it up in my head, so when they sort of didn’t react at all I was kind of upset. I guess I secretly sort of wanted to be able to relate with people who had hard ‘coming out’ experiences, but I couldn’t. But also I was very excited about it, and it felt like a Big Life Thing and it was like they were a bit ambivalent. Actually dad said something about girls having closer boundaries in their relationships with friends, so it was probably just excess emotional energy from the excitement of making a new friend in Courtney. It kind of turned out to be true in that case, but it still ticked me off a bit.
Mum still says dodgy things, but she’s really made an effort to understand, which I think is really important. Sometimes she still still says things like “he decided to be gay” or “when you became gay” or things like that, but I’ve realised that it isn’t in a malicious way. I think it’s easy for us to forget that some people haven’t grow up having any alternative to heterosexuality (and it might not even be that that was because they were in a homophobic environment), so they just genuinely don’t understand. And in that case, forgive them, I think.
Like, pretty recently actually mum asked my brother whether he felt uncomfy around gay men. To be fair, we were talking about how it’s awkward when you don’t know quite whether someone likes you in a romantic and/or sexual way. But she asked because she wants to understand, and I respect that, and I forgive her (it’s still something I have to do consciously, though).
I moved to ‘Panromantic’ pretty quickly, because I realised that I actually hadn’t really felt any physical and/or sexual attraction towards anyone. And that’s perfectly okay. A bit awkward sometimes, and I have yet to meet someone with whom there is common attraction that isn’t looking for a sexual and/or physical relationship. But some day it will happen!
The equal marriage plebiscite has made me consider my attachment to organised religion. I think I want out, honestly. I always thought I’d be able to just kind of ignore the people in the same denomination who have views I disagree with. But I think I can’t really. I mean, the Anglican diocese gave $1 mill. to the ‘no’ campaign, and our rector supports this. And those people were producing some really disgusting things about something that is biologically coded in us, and that money should have gone to something where it could have helped people in need, rather than some dumb campaign. And I can’t stand by that, but do I have to reconsider my personal religious beliefs because some of the people I share a label with are bigots?
I still haven’t decided, and in the meantime there are way more people who’d be hurt if I said I didn’t want to be a Christian than not.
In terms of the labels, I’ve decided that I’m just going to be me, and not worry anymore about what/where I am. It is very nice and such a privilege to be content enough with myself to be able to make a decision like that. I’m proud of myself! It’s so strange and so wonderful and I only want it to continue! I’m still learning – I hope I will never stop learning. I am so many good things: we all are! I love you!