For Bisexual Awareness Week, I have a series of guest posts scheduled every day leading up to Monday the 23rd. Buckle up for some bi visibility! This post by Alicyn McNally describes the first moment she acknowledged her identity, and how this moment helped her grow into accepting bisexuality. (Read all posts in the series here.)
I’ve never been too confused about my feelings towards people growing up. Even when first navigating labels and figuring things out, I always went through it with confidence and a go-with-the-flow attitude that I am still very grateful for. I never felt shame or embarrassment within myself, and every crush I had felt real and valid, no matter the gender. I’ve had small crushes and attractions to boys that I had gossiped about with my friends before, but I was about 15 when I started to develop real crushes and feelings, and most of them were for girls or friends of mine. I was never really confronted with labelling myself or acknowledging these feelings until a day I still think back to and remember vividly.
I struggled a lot with depression and anxiety around the age of 16, because of this I had to spend some time in the hospital. It was during this time in the hospital that I had my first confrontation regarding my sexuality that lead me to learning a lot about myself and my journey with bisexuality. It was an outpatient program that replaced school, and you would be dropped off at 8 am and picked up at 6 pm every day. The first day of my admittance, I remember sitting nervously with my dad as we filled out paperwork and waited to be called into the back. I remember watching the others in the program get in one at a time and walk themselves past the waiting room and into the hall. I made eye contact with few and avoided it with most.
Once I was called back and finally said my goodbye to my dad, the anxiety of joining the others, in what looked like a classroom, set in. The moment I walked through the door, my eyes surveyed the room of already claimed spaces, trying to find a place for myself. Before I could finish my round, there were two people sitting at a table in the back that immediately waved me over.
The girl sat with bright purple hair just past her ears, straightened to hell but in a way that made me feel comfortable in 2012. She was petite and had rings of eyeliner around both eyes. Her friend sat next to her, a little stocky with a friendly face; his hair was also bleached beyond belief. I looked down at the cobalt blue ends of my hair. I felt relieved but confused that they were so excited to greet me, the way they sat by themselves at the table in the back felt they had a barrier between them and the others in the room, and I was greeted into something special. The girl immediately asked me the normal questions you ask when you meet someone for the first time, such as my name, how old I am, where I went to school, and the maybe not-so-normal but expected question of why I was there.
After the quick set of questions, she looked back at her friend and again at me and asked, “What’s your sexual orientation?” I froze. What an uncomfortable question to ask someone. Sure, I’ve only felt strong feelings for girls up until this point, but I had never had experiences with anyone. I’ve had fleeting thoughts that I was a lesbian but was not ready to say that out loud, and how would they react? I stumbled with my words and got visibly nervous. I remember being aware of the time passing every second I thought about it and how weird that must seem that I couldn’t say “straight.”
I looked at her, at him, and back at her and said “I… I don’t know.” I was so nervous for the kind of reaction I would get, how my friends back at school would think it was weird to “not know.” How does someone not know something like that about themselves? But the girl with purple hair sitting across from me just giggled, and her friend scoffed. She went on to tell me they both saw me in the waiting room that morning and “Had a bet. See, we’re both gay, and I knew you liked girls! Zach said you were straight, but I knew it! It doesn’t matter though, because we knew we wanted you to be our friend.”
This was the first time I had met someone so confident and casual about sexuality. I felt relief. I didn’t second guess whether my answer was right or wrong, and I didn’t care how she knew that I liked girls. We moved from this topic to the next in a matter of seconds, and I felt at home.
I did become their friend, and through this friendship I learned so much about myself. As I was in this outpatient program, I grew within myself, dealing not only with the depression and anxiety that had brought me there, but coming to terms with how I felt about people romantically. Bre, the girl I met that day and spent some of the next 5 weeks with, ended up being my first kiss and helped me to be comfortable in my attraction with girls and not putting a label on myself just yet. It wasn’t until I had my first boyfriend a year later that I came out as bisexual and was able to do so confidently, knowing that there will always be that table in the back of the room to support me.
To support both the blog and the author of this post, consider donating $3 to my Ko-Fi page. In the comment of your donation, state the title of this piece “The table in the back.” You can follow Alicyn on Twitter here. Also here is a link to her Etsy page, where you can order a giant piñata of your face.