My dad and I sat down on the side of my bed. He told me it would be okay; it would be okay- awesome in fact- if I would end up having a goth phase in my life- or, anything else, really. I was 8 then and I always knew that if I wouldn’t be straight my parents wouldn’t have a problem with it. The problem didn’t turn out to be my surrounding. The problem turned out to be me.
Okay, that is not entirely true. Being gay is socially less accepted than being straight and while growing up I don’t remember seeing anything other than a girl falling in love with a boy on television. I did not read anything about it either and I didn’t know anyone who was gay. For a long time, I wanted nothing more than to be ‘normal’ and being gay did not seem to fall under normal.
Why do people want to be normal? So that they can fit in and be liked and loved.
There is one particular moment from when I was 13 that I clearly remember. I was walking through a hallway in my secondary school and passed this girl who had two friends with her. She was talking/laughing in the kind of confident way that she always did. In class, I averted my eyes. As the teacher started to talk, I nearly buried my head in my arms. No, you are making things up. I mean- It’s totally fine when two girls kiss but not me, I’m not like that. I like boys.
It ended like that. I liked boys and that was all.
Without realising it, I completely buried the possibility of me being able to like another person of the same sex. I started to look at boys even more because I desperately wanted to like someone. At some point I suppose my friends noticed that I was staring at one boy in particular. I don’t know who set it up, but we ended up going on a date and during the date I kept on thinking: I really want to like this boy. It didn’t work out in the end. Neither of us felt it… I guess. But no big deal, right? Maybe he simply wasn’t the right guy. However, I didn’t want to date anymore and my interests in boys dropped down to zero. I didn’t even like actors or singers or fictional characters anymore. I didn’t understand how my friends were able to be drooling all over these ‘hot men’. Every time someone asked me about romance I answered: “I don’t like boys,” then someone once replied, “Maybe you like girls?” and I shrugged my shoulders. It did not occur to me at all that I could be liking girls. By then, I was convinced that I might not be able to love.
Graduation came after which I entered a new school where I met two new boys. The difference is that they approached me and did so at the same time. They were so incredibly nice and warm and open and accepting. They were interested in me. But how do you know when you like, like someone? It was obvious that they knew, but I felt super confused. I figured that I could find out whether I liked one of them by going on a date, but I couldn’t date two boys at the same time? That wouldn’t be fair to them. I was starting to freak out because I ended up feeling nothing at all for either of them. Eventually, I decided that I wouldn’t try it out because I didn’t know who to choose.
By that time, I was 16 and my friends had received their fair share of Malou and her boy troubles. In the next year, there was another man; one who sent me a lot of pictures throughout the day and I started freaking out in the same way because I didn’t feel anything. Boys only annoyed me. They didn’t seem to get me and there is this one thing that every man seems to have that continued to irk me. I have vented it to my friends so many times. “Boys are so… fjeiughesfnakfjwaiuh,” x 100. I ended up cutting all contact that I had with any male friend because I started to hate myself for not being able to like them even though they were nice. I needed rest and once again started to come to terms with spending the rest of my life alone.
A little while later, I came across a status of one of my online friends on Skype. It caught my attention because it said something about her and her girlfriend.
Wow, she has a girlfriend. That is actually possible?
I messaged her. She was very open and happy to answer any of my questions. We started to talk more frequently and as time passed I got more and more accustomed with the idea of two girls being together; so much that I started flirting with girls. I even began to like someone. Even though I was able to like someone, I did not feel comfortable with the term ‘lesbian’. I loved being able to feel this way, but the name scared me. Although it started to become more obvious to my friends it took me about a year before I dared to call myself a lesbian.
It was the best morning of my life. I woke up, opened my eyes and thought… hey, I’m a lesbian.
There has not been a single friend that responded negatively. All this time I was the only one in the way of accepting myself for who I am.
After my decision to call myself a lesbian I often doubted whether I didn’t make a mistake. I know now that I am not mistaken because when I look at girls I get that wonderful feeling- the feeling that I didn’t and do not get when I look at boys. I truly believed that I wasn’t able to love and it turns out that I can. This isn’t normal happiness. I feel immensely grateful for being able to love and it fills me with a tremendous amount of joy.
I always say that I like girls and some people have asked me why I don’t just say that I’m a lesbian. I think I don’t because I’m not a label and I don’t really want to label it. Loving another girl is love. I only want to love. (However, I do use the word lesbian nowadays because it is quite convenient.)
Another question I’ve gotten is: How do you know you don’t like men if you do not give them a chance?
Let’s replace ‘men’ by ‘woman’ and ask yourself the previous question.
Once I accepted myself for who I am the world became so much lighter. There is no way to describe the wonderful feeling I got after being honest like that. I know everyone else who went through something similar knows it. It feels like a victory, the way you feel after you’ve won a sports match. The only difference is that this feeling is lasting. You are who you are and no one will ever be able to take it away from you.