It was my first time away from home after being in the closet for many years, so it was wonderful and freeing to finally be able to take this step and find a companion. After a couple of months together, Jim confided in me that they were non-binary. I took no issue with this, obviously. I didn’t even think much of it. It seemed to be everyone else that seemed stuck on it.
Why do you say they’re a lesbian then?
So you’re not a lesbian, you’re pansexual?
Why do you call them your girlfriend? They’re not a girl.
I spent a lot of time thinking it over at the start of our relationship. Am I pansexual? I don’t feel attracted to other genders enough to be pansexual. Is Jim a lesbian? They always just said they, “just go with whatever other people call them,” but what if it’s wrong? Shouldn’t I call them my girlfriend? They said they don’t mind but it doesn’t fit the rules. But that’s what I came to realise: the ‘rules’ just don’t fit.
A lot of the labelling and language system surrounding the LGBTQ+ community wasn’t built to accommodate those outside the gender binary, despite our long history of breaking the binary. Because non-binary identities can vary so widely, it’s not fair to try and fit them in a box. Jim doesn’t mind me calling them my girlfriend, but I know other people might want something more neutral. Someone dating a non-binary person may identity more with a bi/pansexual label, some may not.
We’ve been together two years and in that time, I’ve learnt not to stress about it. I’ve learnt not everyone needs to fit into its neat little box, especially something which aims to break out of boxes. If someone were to ask me, “So are you actually a lesbian?” I think, at this point, I’d just ask ‘does it matter?’
Courtney is a 22 year old gay disaster who enjoys cooking, Killing Eve and pretty dresses. You can find her on Twitter here.