I wish I remembered when I first realised that I’m not straight, but the reality is, I don’t.
There was no great awakening, fanfare, sudden realisation or cinematics. My sexuality would not have made for a good coming-of-age film plot or inspiring open letter to young questioning youth. It just happened, to the extent that I hardly even realised it had happened. But, it did happen. And this Pride month, I want to talk about it.
So hello, my name is Megan, I’m 19, and I went to my first Pride this year. Whilst the night may have ended in Klute like any other Durham Sunday, the rest of the day was filled with undeniable feeling of gratitude. I was lucky enough to be able to spend my day wrapped in a pink, purple and blue flag as I marched alongside my college and so many others from the university and local community. I had the chance to dance in the streets, watch people of all genders love and be loved, and be outspokenly proud of myself and the people I love.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. I’m 14, confused and alone. I really fancy Hayley Williams, and find the pretty girls at school attractive in the same way I find boys attractive. But I’m not gay! Internalised homophobia and casual schoolyard comments led me to believe that being queer was undesirable, something other people were. So, I pushed it all aside, tried not to think about it, and carried on.
Fast forward to around year 11. I’m starting to find my feet in life. I discover Pretty Little Liars and it’s lesbian character arc, Troye Sivan on YouTube and the gay side of Tumblr (or is all of Tumblr one big gay space? Anyway…). Coupled with a new-found awareness that bisexuality is a valid label (thanks YouTube) and a number of my peers coming out I began to become more comfortable with who I am.
And then I dated a woman. I think it was pretty out of the blue to most people, as at this point in late 2016 my bisexuality was still largely irrelevant to my everyday existence. It wasn’t a huge secret, I just didn’t feel the need to bring it up. So, most people in my life discovered I was bisexual at the same time that they discovered that I was in my first relationship (nice one past me).
Coming out to my parents was, naturally, awkward. In fairness I didn’t take the best approach; telling my Mum I was starting to date a girl whilst she was driving me to a house party at 60mph. She was, unsurprisingly, pretty shocked, although I think that was more because I’d told her as she drove at high speed. Sorry Mam. I then sunk the best part of a bottle of peach schnapps, cried a bit with some friends, and got on with it.
My Grandad’s reaction is, to this day, my favourite coming out reaction I’ve ever had. “Megan’s got a girlfriend? Well I’m not that surprised. *sips pint* Nice weather we’re having today.” I shit you not, my nearly 80 year-old Grandad’s reaction to my sexuality was on the same level as his reaction to a bit of sunshine. It didn’t matter to him who I loved, and still doesn’t, as long as I’m happy.
That relationship soon ended, but throughout it I came out every single day. I had some homophobic comments here and there, some catcalling peppered in, but thankfully, my coming out experience throughout my life has been largely positive.
My relationship with my own sexuality has changed a lot from how it was in the early days. Even when I’m not dating women, my bisexuality comes at the forefront of my identity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not “Hi, I’m Megan and I like girls and boys” when I first meet someone, but it usually comes along quite quickly. That’s not to be controversial, or over-zealous, or make people uncomfortable, but because I see it as something that defines me. After hundreds of years of queer oppression which still continues today, for me my relative freedom to express my sexuality is really important. It’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not even safe for everyone, but for me, it’s something I am unashamedly proud of.
So for me, Durham Pride was the culmination of a lot of years of difficult decisions, changing outlooks and personal development. I spent it with the best bunch of amazing humans and I sincerely hope that we’ll all be together again next year to celebrate ourselves once again.
“One day we won’t have to come out of the closet. We’ll just say we’re in love, and that’s all that will matter.”
-Megan, writing in the early hours of the morning to the sound of Courtney Barnett’s Aussie jams