By: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer
Despite having a wonderful group of friends and resources that help me accept myself, I have not had an easy time navigating my sexual identity. Throughout high school, I spent time trying to put different labels on myself. But I wasn’t sure they fit me quite right. While I recognized in others that sexuality was fluid, I could not assign that same leniency to my own journey. I desperately craved a label that suited me. I knew I was queer but had not gotten very far from that realization.
I have always put the process of discovering more about my sexuality on the back burner. It seemed more like a burden to express this part of myself, and to look any deeper would only hurt me. Something that still affects me is a conversation I had with my parents a few years ago. My parents were talking about a family friend who had come out as bisexual and was in a relationship with their significant other. They described her sexuality as an indicator of her promiscuity and indecision.
Though they claim to be supportive of gay rights, my parents still treat queerness as a punchline. I grew up with comments from my family about how gay our waiter seemed, and was expected to laugh because it was harmless to them. I was “allowed” to have a girlfriend, but my parents ultimately expected me to marry a man and give them grandchildren.
Instead, I explored my sexuality in quieter ways, looking for role models in the media. I strongly rooted for Quinn and Rachel on Glee growing up, because I deeply related to the repressed gay subtext that I saw in Quinn’s character. I was also infatuated with Haruka Tenoh/Sailor Uranus from Sailor Moon. She had a beautiful relationship with Michiru Kaioh/Sailor Neptune, one that I admired and would learn to use as a model for my own relationships. The crooning voice of Haruka’s voice actor, Megumi Ogata, also sent butterflies to my 11-year-old stomach. Looking back, I didn’t take my attachments to these characters seriously because they were just characters, but they were a part of one of many moments where I learned I was not straight.
I really started trying to define my identity almost as an act of defiance against the heteronormative ideals my parents presented before me. When I was in high school, I thought that I was pansexual, because I did not want gender to affect my romantic or sexual attraction to the people around me. Of course, just because I did not want gender to affect how I experience attraction did not mean it didn’t play a factor in how I experienced it. After this, I thought bisexuality was a more fitting label for my sexual identity.
But there were still so many internal biases about my sexuality that troubled me. I had to admit to myself that I was scared of claiming who I was when I was still wondering if I was “bisexual enough.” The more time I spent not knowing who I was, the more I was consumed with guilt about my place in the LGBTQ2+ community. At 20 years old, I had not experienced a committed romantic relationship, though I had held crushes for long periods of time.
“Can my queerness really be valid if I haven’t been in a romantic relationship?” I asked myself this constantly. I know now that when I could look at a woman and a man, I recognize that I feel different kinds of attraction to them, but it generally does not go beyond that. I spent so many years denying that I might identify on the asexual spectrum, because I assumed that it was a normal part of a relationship. I now recognize that experiencing sexuality as a secondary factor to a relationship is something I see in myself, too.
Learning how I can change my labels as I develop has been both a humbling and safe journey thanks to how much more information I have today compared to when I started wondering about my romantic feelings. I am still so young, and to be absolute about my identity would be great, but to be confused is also okay. From campus resources like the Women’s Centre and Out on Campus to my friends who listen to my circular thoughts about the validity of my queerness, I am so thankful for having a strong support group that accepts my journey.