My Queerness + I.

by Shelby D.

When I was about four years old I realized that maybe I liked girls as much as I liked boys. It never fully registered because I always just thought I was naive and strange, but that feeling I always got in my stomach when another girl would brush my hand remained there throughout my adolescent years.

I remember being thirteen and all of my friends were starting to question their sexualities. This is the same time that being bisexual was becoming a trend—and it pissed me off. I had friends walking around saying they were done with boys and ready to date girls, but two days later they would be walking around the halls with a new boyfriend. One day they were gay—the next they were straight—and who was I to tell them who they were at that time in their lives?

Who am I to tell them who they are now?

During that time, though, when being bisexual was becoming a “thing”, I was struggling even harder with my sexual identity. It would be something that I would battle with until I was twenty two years old.

Turning fifteen helped me realize many things about myself; I was a horrible liar, I was growing even more overweight, and the boyfriend that I had held onto for the last three years was never going to change. But the one thing that I had realized about myself was that I was indeed bisexual, and it felt amazing to own it.

I have never been the type to be quiet about my identity, and I hope that is something I carry with me until I die. That is something I have to thank my mom for. You see, my mom identifies as lesbian. That fact alone has made many people question not only my existence, but my own identity as well. And with so many people wondering if her being gay had any influence on my identity, I began to question it myself.

I had embraced the bisexual identity for over seven years. Over this seven years I would stand up for myself and my community that it is more than possible to love more than one gender, and that you are certainly not going to hell for loving who your heart wants to love. I also spent a good amount of those seven years educating myself on the LGBTQA community—I mean, that was my community, wasn’t it? Shouldn’t I known everything there is to know about my people?

Well, I got a lot more than I originally had sought out.

Over the summer of 2015 it hit me that something was really missing from myself. I had just returned back to school after a year and a half off and I was finally taking classes that I was in love with. A few of these classes talked a lot about gender identity, which led me into a training program on how to be a better ally. I was already involved in the LGBTQA club on my campus, so I thought this would be a great opportunity. It ended up being a lot more than that.

I learned about what it meant to be two spirited, pansexual, demisexual, aromantic, and so much more. I found myself correcting people on terminology and verbiage when it came to my community, and I was so proud of myself! This effect lasted over the summer, and it left me wondering if maybe labeling myself as bisexual wasn’t the right fit for me at all.

Did this mean that I was a fraud? Did this mean that my experiences before this revelation were invalid and that I was just as fake as my friends in middle school? I had so many questions but not enough answers.

I finally accepted the fact that being pansexual was who I was, and saying that out loud felt one hundred times better than when I came out as bisexual. Everything felt natural and on course. Of course, when I told my friends there were all very accepting of it because they had already been used to my previous identity and they were always going to support me no matter what. When I told my mom however, in a long text about how I knew this wouldn’t be a big deal for her, I was surprised to hear how confused she was.

“I think you are just very passionate about this community and you are very loving”, she would say. “I’m just very confused, I don’t know what this means.”

It took me a very long time to not let her response bother me every time we would discuss my identity. I had spent so much of my life questioning if I really loved more than one gender because my mom was the same way, or if that was who I really was. But I knew who I was and why I identify the way I choose. Being queer and/or pan is so much more than the sexual attraction. It’s about the connection you share with others and the mind within the person. And that is what I have always been about.

I could give a shit in regards to the genitals you were born with; just be a decent human being and let me love you. Simple as that.

There will always be people that exist in this world that think those who identify as pansexual are just another breed of bisexuals trying to say that appearances don’t matter. As if we are secretly shallow creatures. Well, maybe your neighbor Susan is secretly shallow, but not me. My queerness uplifts me. My queerness is more than another fill in the blank. And my queerness is more than a debate on Fox News.

My queerness and I keep each other alive—without it I wouldn’t where I am.