For Lesbian Visibility Week, A Lesbian and Her Laptop will be releasing a series of 8 lesbian guest posts all week long! This post by Liv explores the intersectionality of lesbian, nonbinary, and ace identities. Read all identity posts here.
It’s lesbian visibility week, and I’m planning on posting pictures on Twitter with my lesbian pride flag, lesbian-themed Captain Marvel shirt and my lesbian, asexual and non-binary pride pins on my jean jacket. It might seem easy, I live in the country that was the first to legalise same-sex marriage, and almost everyone I know is supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. But becoming this confident with who I am wasn’t easy at all. It was a rollercoaster full of self-doubt, confusion and anxiety. Because in Simon Spier’s words: “Announcing who you are to the world is pretty terrifying.” Love, Simon (2018).
I never considered not being cishet until I was 14. I remember a moment in my Thursday morning German class, where I felt really uncomfortable in the feminine clothes I was wearing. I looked at the other girls in my class and just thought, “I wish I could feel and look that feminine and be comfortable with it.” Yet at the same time, I thought, “It’s normal to not feel feminine every day, right?” A few days later I found a Tumblr post about a specific non-binary label that described exactly what I was feeling. That’s the moment I realised I’m non-binary.
But with time passing I forgot about it. I did buy more clothes that I felt comfortable in, but being non-binary didn’t seem that important. It was my own little secret. And besides, I was fine with being called a girl – and I still am. The only words that feel and felt icky are ma’am, woman, lady… Mostly more mature and adult feminine words. So, after reading that Tumblr post, I just continued living. There were things going on at home; at the time, that all seemed more important than my gender.
And then at age 15 I heard myself think, “I wouldn’t mind if she kissed me” during a biology class, while staring at my first ever girl crush. I never realised it was an actual crush until two years later, I kept convincing myself that what I was feeling was just normal best friend stuff, that I was curious, but I think deep down I knew it was love. I kept thinking about her, wanted to be with her every day and I kept looking forward to going to her place just so we could watch the latest episode of Pretty Little Liars together in her bed while giving each other massages. The feelings faded when I switched classes into the fourth year of high school, so I barely saw her anymore. But those feelings never fully left.
This might all seem like I was handling it just fine, but I spent nights awake asking myself why I was feeling this way. Why couldn’t I feel like this towards boys? Was there something wrong with me? What would my parents say? Would they kick me out? I didn’t have any resources, and I didn’t know where to look for them, but I really needed them. I needed to hear that what I was feeling was okay. It was normal. There were words for what I was feeling. And I would find people who would accept me and love me.
Into the new school year – the fourth out of sixth year in high school – I met a lesbian for the first time. She was in my geography and economics classes. And I immediately fell for her. She was so proud to be herself and I desperately wanted to be like her. We grew close, she quickly noticed I was struggling with my identity, and after a while, she kept pushing me to come out to people. But I wasn’t ready yet. I didn’t even know what I was. I was trying out the label bisexual since the beginning of that school year – which meant telling my online friends and my cat, but looking back I realised I was still trying to hold on to a ‘normal’ version of me. A version where I could end up marrying a boy and fit the perfect image that I always saw in every movie.
She and I never became a thing, though I did tell her I liked her two months before my 16th birthday. Her response? ‘You should come out to your parents.’ And so I did. (I came out to my parents when I wasn’t ready. And I was unsure of what would happen.)
I came out to my mom on the same day. I remember walking out of school to my bike and just standing next to my bike for minutes, because once I would get on my bike to go home to my mom, it would be real. There would be no going back. One of my friends saw me and asked me if I was okay. She was one of the few people who knew I wasn’t straight. After a short conversation of me telling her I was scared to come out, she suggested going with me. It meant a lot to hear her say that. After calling my mom first to ask if it’d be okay if my friend joined for dinner, and her saying yes, we grabbed our bikes to go to my mom’s place. We ordered Thai food since my mom was later than usual because of work. Once she came home and the three of us sat down at the dinner table, I started to feel anxious. My heart started racing when I said the words, ‘Mom, I have something to tell you.’ And then there was a silence. My mom was waiting for me to tell her, my friend looking at me with eyes that say, ‘it’s okay’ and me trying to find courage to say one sentence that would change everything.
My mom was surprised at first, but just a few weeks later she told me it made sense. It makes sense that I’m not straight. I really needed to hear that.
From that moment I started letting myself look at girls more. I actually allowed myself to experience attraction. I didn’t talk about it to anyone, but it felt good. I actually felt something. And so I quickly realised that I’m a lesbian. I never felt attraction towards boys, and I never will. I came out as a lesbian shortly after my 16th birthday in April. Eventually, I didn’t even have to tell people at school anymore. They just knew.
Realising I’m a lesbian felt like coming home. Everything I did as a kid, all the characters I liked, the books I read, everything started to make sense. But still I felt different from other lesbians. I felt like my attraction to women wasn’t as sexual as others, it was just romantic. At first, I thought it was normal. I was 16, I didn’t think people were already thinking about sex. Then after realising that people in my class were definitely talking about sex and wanting to have sex, I started considering being on the asexual spectrum. I saw a Tumblr post which explained multiple orientations on the asexual spectrum. And again, at first I tried holding on to the label which was the most ‘normal.’ For a good six months, I kept telling myself I was a demisexual lesbian. I thought I could still experience sexual attraction, it would just take a while. But after thinking and overthinking and reading about other people’s experiences of being on the asexual spectrum, I realised I’m asexual too. I’ll never experience sexual attraction, I just experience romantic attraction to women and woman-aligned non-binary people.
Reading about other people’s experiences helped me the most on the path of figuring out who I am. When you read something that a person you don’t know went through, and your mind immediately goes, ‘hey, I feel like that too’, you get overwhelmed with a feeling of relief. You aren’t crazy, you aren’t weird, you’re not trying to be special. You are a person worthy of love. And there are words out there in the world that explain exactly how you feel. Sometimes it just takes a while to find them.
Liv is a Dutch non-binary asexual lesbian, is majoring in communications in university and has five cats. She fights for Elsa x Honeymaren rights.
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