*Names and specific details changed/left out due to confidentiality*
I still remember the day it happened.
“Mom, Dad, I think I’m bi.” The cracking in my voice wasn’t hidden by the bustling of the Mexican restaurant we were sitting in.
Their reply: “Row, you’re 13 years old. You shouldn’t even be worried about that right now. If you still want to be bi when you’re older, then that’s fine.”
That is not what one wants to hear after expressing their sexual confusion to their parents.
I thought they were right. Maybe my unhealthy obsession with Scarlett Johansson was normal. So I repressed it. The thoughts, feelings, same-sex crushes – all of it. That was until Grace came along.
I was a junior in high school, and she was a freshman. She was 5’11”, played basketball, and was openly gay. Grace and I sat next to each other in Spanish, and we were good friends.
I envied her.
I envied her style, athleticism, and ability to like and be liked by everyone. More than anything, I envied how open she was with her sexuality and how utterly happy she was, even for highschool standards. She was kind and funny and everything I wanted to be, despite being a few years older than her. On this particular day, we were hanging out together in our shared free period, and she was telling me all about the new girl she had been talking to that week.
When I asked her how she did it, how she was so open and unafraid of who she was, I will remember her response forever.
“Stop running away from who you are; run towards that person instead.”
It’s easy to do when you have an accepting family, so I took her statement to heart.
For the next year, I carried that statement with me and blindly stumbled down a path of self-discovery towards what I hoped was blissful queer happiness. I knew I liked boys. I had had boyfriends and crushes in the past, so what was this insatiable infatuation I had with women?
I did loads of research, took Buzzfeed quizzes to see what level of queer I was, and even talked to people anonymously on chat sites about their own experiences. I knew in my heart what the answer to my question was, but it was hard to come to terms with the reality. When I had expressed my concerns as a child, I was brushed off by my parents and made to seem like it wasn’t a big deal.
Everything changed after Kairos, a “self-spiritual” trip the senior class does every year. I was super excited to participate. No one knew what it was due to its secrecy, but one thing everyone knew for sure is that no one leaves the weeklong trip without crying at least once.
It was the third night of Kairos, and we were listening to a classmate – one of the leaders for this specific trip – talk about the hardships in her family life. Her parents were generally accepting but disapproved of the fundamental aspects that made her who she was.
I’m not sure why it was this specific moment that made everything click, but suddenly, everything made sense. Thousands of gears working against each other finally fell into place and began moving in a well-oiled machine. The disapproving parents, the fear of being who I was, and the lack of support; it was like listening to your least favorite song on repeat, and I was sick of it.
“I’m bisexual, and I am done hiding it. Hate me, love me, I don’t care, but this is me, and I like me,” was what I told my parents when I got back from the trip. I didn’t let the image of the similar conversation we had in that Mexican restaurant years prior run rampant through my head; this is what I needed to do.
They merely smiled and said, “If you’re happy, then we’re happy.”
It’s been about two years since then, and yeah, I’m pretty happy.