I’ve come out three times in my life. When I was 18, I shaved my head. I was away at college, of course, and when I came home for spring break, my mother gave me a long appraisal and asked, "Are you a lesbian?" This was a question I’d asked myself many times over the years. Most people I know from my generation spent time questioning their sexuality, and I did my fair share of this as I was coming of age in the late ‘90s. I’d always felt like there was something different about me, dating back to all the intense "friend crushes" I’d develop on girls, but I also had crushes on boys all the time, so I decided I couldn’t be gay. "No." She asked me again a few days later. We are not, nor were we ever, in the habit of having these types of personal conversations. Again, I said no. Finally, right before I left, she asked once more. "Are you a lesbian?" "Yup." "No you’re not!" she said. "Then stop asking." I went back to college, and my time there was interspersed with several experiences with women that were too intense to be written off. I’d reflect on these events with curiosity, but I also had a boyfriend in college whom I loved dearly, so I filed the other experiences away to be considered at a later date. We broke up after college (kindly, in the best breakup of all time), and it was the first time I guessed that I might be bisexual. Part of this came from knowing myself better as I got older, and paradoxically, part of it came from my now-ended relationship, which had given me the support and confidence to explore myself in an honest and loving way. I still hesitated to label myself because I hadn’t "figured it out" or "decided." I also wasn’t sure what bisexuality looked like in practice, or what it was supposed to feel like, because I didn’t have any bisexual role models to look up to. My feelings felt amorphous, which drove me crazy, because I wanted to pin myself down — to know myself fully. I also wanted a convenient way to declare and market myself.
My feelings felt amorphous, which drove me crazy, because I wanted to pin myself down, to know myself fully.
My relationship with my ex had felt so real and so right. That, coupled with a total disinterest in men at the time, made me conclude after much reflection that I must be gay.
Calling myself bisexual felt like a betrayal of the sum of all my relationships — the real feelings I’d shared with women.