Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Sophia Graham. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com.
Before I was queer, I thought I was happy. I was marrying my best friend, I was doing a PhD on something I was deeply curious about, and I had a wonderful group of friends. Then I met her, and it was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I went from a world in monochrome to glorious technicolour. She brought this wonderful, harrowing, and profound change in me and my experience of everything. I learned to love more deeply than I knew was possible, and to hurt more intensely, too. The chemistry I felt with her was undeniable, and the connection. I ended my engagement weeks before the wedding, and shortly after started dating her. It was a 2 year rollercoaster of off again on again relationship. We actually had relationship therapy to work out how to break up. We needed it.
That relationship – and the time that has passed since – convinced me that I knew very little about myself. I was very comfortable going along with the flow, saying the right yes’s and no’s for everyone else but never bothering to check whether they were right for me. I said yes to monogamy, to heterosexuality, to straight sex, to marriage. Then I stepped into my life less ordinary. I was undeniably queer, and was horrified that I didn’t know that until I was nearly 30. I started to question why I’d been so keen to go along with what I thought others expected of me. Of course, I had a lot of excuses. I grew up in a country where homosexuality was criminalised (and still is), and I had internalised some significant biphobia from my mother who told me that bisexuals were the reason that straight people were getting HIV – just as my uncle was dying from AIDS. Then there are all the ordinary reasons. We are taught to be terrible at standing up for our own limits, boundaries, and desires. From having to hug unpleasant relatives when it’s the last thing we want to do, to being told that our emotions are inappropriate and that we shouldn’t express them. Learning that I was queer made me question all of that. It made me realise that what I want is far too important to ignore. If I want to be who I really am, if I want to live a life that is meaningful to me, then I must put my own needs, desires, and boundaries at the centre of what I do. After all, if I can’t treat myself consensually, how can I ever hope to have relationships that centre consent?
It is now a decade and two careers later. I work doing something that I am passionate about and that brings me joy. I have many important and fulfilling relationships in my life, and I’m proudly bisexual. All of it started with butterflies in my stomach, and realising that I needed to pay attention to what I wanted for myself, not just what I was supposed to do. Creating a life for myself that is intentional, authentic, and fulfilling has meant learning and practicing self consent. Not just in the bedroom, but in every aspect of my interaction with the world. Now I know I’m happy, except when I’m not. Either way, I know I’m myself, and that’s important.