For the past four years of my life I have known that I wasn’t straight, and it was only until two years ago that I figured out that “not straight” was simply “lesbian.” Now I knew that when I came out to my family it wouldn’t be bad – my dad’s brother is gay and my mom’s best friend is a lesbian. They already support the LGBT+ community so I was safe. The thing that kept me from coming out any time soon was advice given to me years before: Before coming out to anyone else, you must come out to yourself fully. That way, no one can make you feel bad about who you are.
When I first thought about buying plastic canvas, it was to stitch a keychain or zipper pull in asexuality spectrum colors, probably in a demisexual pattern. My demisexuality was solid ground, and I felt ready to wear its colors and symbols. It didn’t occur to me to stitch something in aromantic spectrum colors, at least not for myself. I would I have told you I was very alloromantic, that I’d had numerous crushes, that I had crushed on people easily for a decade.
I was busy teaching a session about British Values the other day and I felt like a fraud. ‘It is British to allow everyone to be exactly who they want to be!’ No. If you are a teacher as old as me (cough cough) you will remember teaching under the discriminatory legislation, Section 28. I was a confident, young, gay teacher in 2003. I’m still all of those things but just not that young now. If I had told my students that it was okay to be gay I could have been dismissed, arrested and potentially thrown in prison.
I recently befriended a quirky transgender high school student named Bee. He’s a 17-year-old high schooler from a rural town up north, and just as insane as I am. Bee came across my Facebook profile through mutual friends. After I accepted his friend request, we soon got the ball rolling when we found out we had many mutual interests. For example, like me, he too enjoys binge watching political dramas and documentaries like The Crown and Madam Secretary. He also likes reading One Direction fanfiction. And in his spare time, he dabbles in fanfiction writing.
When I was 10 my mother asked me why I thought Unclear Billy always brought guys and never a girlfriend with him for birthday celebrations and holidays. Of course I had no answer, I was a kid and it never entered my mind to ask why. All I knew was he was my favorite uncle, he was crazy and fun and would tell our mother every time he came to visit that he had to go pick up a gallon of milk and then he would let us drive the car to the market to pick it up. At the time I had a crush on a boy named Bobby.
I was 16 when I realized I’m not entirely straight. Being Indian & getting raised in a religious house environment, you rarely question anything regarding your identity. Thankfully I was raised in a neutral way though. Never forced to dress a certain way, behave like a specific gender etc. Until one day I was watching One Tree Hills & I accepted the fact that I’m in love with Peyton Sawyer. For the next year, I decided to explore my sexuality & eventually come out to some of my close friends. (I’m still not out to my family except my sister.)
So went my proclamation. The time was late 2003. I was 19. I had been living in my first apartment for less than half a year. I had dark hair to the middle of my back and spikes on my leather biker jacket. I wanted to play bass in a black metal band. A friend of mine knew the only local band to play in that style at the time, and wouldn’t you know it, they needed a bassist.