This is my 10th year anniversary of coming out as a lesbian. Some things have changed in this time and some have remained the same. I am still learning about being part of the lesbian community, about myself and what it means to be a lesbian within society. There’s no instruction manual but there are a lot of opinions on how a lesbian should act, look and how they should label themselves. People ask what type of lesbian I am, and I tell them I am just me; I don’t wear a label.
I remember I was young, maybe 11 when I developed my first girl crush. I loved spending time with her, and when I was with her it made me happy. I just wanted to be close to her. I had urges of wanting to kiss her, but I didn’t know why.
Growing up, I never interacted with someone who identified as a lesbian or had conversations on the subject. My first real exposure was from tv shows, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bad Girls. I had been always drawn to on-screen relationships, but watching lesbian couples falling in love, connected with me more than heterosexual couples. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way, I didn’t know who I could talk to about it, so I hid it deep inside myself, hoping it would go away. It affected me when they killed off Tara, one half of a same sex couple in Buffy. I cried for days and felt Willow’s pain and hurt at the world. Killing off lesbian characters is still prevalent in tv land and movies today, much to my disappointment. My poor heart can’t handle it.
It wasn’t until high school where I learnt more about other people’s sexualities and started questioning my own. Students I went to high school with, were open about experimenting with the same sex, some even labelled themselves as bi. I developed crushes on girls throughout high school but thought it was a phrase and I would grow out of it. I can’t like girls, it’s not normal, I am simply curious, that’s all. I became friends with girls who liked to experiment, we would catch up on the weekend and drink. After a few drinks, we would kiss each other, it was passionate and intense. I looked forward to those weekends.
Things became a little awkward when I developed feelings for one of my friends. She was the first girl I slept with. I would think about her constantly and we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. At first, I thought it was the alcohol which made us act the way we were but now I believe it was the chemistry we had. When I confessed my feelings, my friend told me I was only confused, and we were only having fun. Part of me believed her, I wasn’t a lesbian, I just enjoyed experimenting and I mixed that up for feelings. The other part of me, suppressed my sexuality, it was easier that way.
After high school, I concentrated on liking and dating guys. I had extremely low self-esteem at the time, so I thrived off males showing me attention. I received a lot of attention from the opposite sex, but they didn’t want to get to know me as a person, I was just an object to them. I felt I wasn’t being seen or heard; it was because I wasn’t listening to my inner self.
After a while, I met a man who did treat with respect and valued me. He was my best friend, and someone I felt comfortable being around but there was something missing from our relationship. We were in a relationship for over 2 years, when I fell pregnant with my son. Children weren’t on my radar, but I was about to become a mum. After becoming a mum, something inside of me changed but I wasn’t sure what. At that time, I was spending time with someone, a girl. I had known this girl for years, but more time we spent together, the more I couldn’t deny there was a chemistry I felt, that I have never felt with a male before. We were on the same level and I couldn’t suppress who I was any longer, I was a lesbian.
I was ready to be me, the real me. No more hiding or being ashamed of who I was. It was such a burden off my soul when I accepted who I was. The hardest part was telling my partner at the time, that I was gay and breaking his heart. It wasn’t something I set out to, but it wasn’t fair on both of us, if I kept who I was hidden. I was afraid of telling my family, I didn’t know how they would perceive me after I told them, but they accepted me. I know I am one of the lucky ones, I am thankful for that.
I have dated and been involved with a few women in the last 10 years, some still special to me. I have been lucky to be able to maintain a great friendship with most of them. There is one who imprinted on my heart and made me feel romantic love for the first time in my life. I could completely be myself around her. We fitted together, like she was my other puzzle piece. We would spend every moment we could together, without ever becoming bored and miss each other when we weren’t together. We loved each other but she wasn’t ready to come out as a lesbian, ending our love affair. Not all love stories have a happy ending, we don’t get to choose how our story ends. I wish her the best on her journey, and she finds the strength to be herself.
I just came out of a relationship, which I thought would last but it wasn’t to be. Navigating a relationship while being a parent is hard work. You are trying juggle the child’s need, the partner’s needs and your own and sometimes, you don’t get it right. It is a learning curve, one I wished I learnt sooner.
The proudest moment that I have had as a lesbian, is when Australia voted Yes to same sex marriage. I asked a girl out on a date to the announcement, and we gave each other a long hard hug after they announced the Yes verdict. It was a special day and a special date, a date I don’t think I will ever top.
The announcement was the highlight, the weeks before were a lowlight. Reading people’s comments about same sex marriage hurt especially comments stating it was unnatural. The abuse that it generated towards the LGBTQ+ community and myself impacted my mental health. Friends commented that LGBTQ+ people wanted too many rights, when in fact we just wanted basic rights. I felt misunderstood by my friends, all I wanted was the right to marry the person I loved, no matter their gender. During this time, I reached out to the lesbian community a lot more.
Even though, I have been out as a lesbian for 10 years, I still get asked by friends if/when I will be going back to men. My answer is always the same, I won’t be. It doesn’t matter if I have been unlucky with love with women, being with a guy won’t solve my relationship issues and make me happy. It will do the opposite; it will make me miserable. It makes me uncomfortable and disrespected when asked that question. I also feel disrespected when men don’t respect my relationship with a woman, when they hit on us, ask to join in and don’t take my relationship seriously. It’s a constant reminder that some men, just see females as objects and lesbianism as something to watch but not take seriously. Being a lesbian, I do encounter misogyny regularly, but it’s important to call it out when it happens.
I feel proud of how far I have come on my journey in realising who I am and my sexuality. So happy 10th anniversary to me, looking forward to many more anniversaries to come.
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