Dear young bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer or questioning girls:
Hi there. You’re around 10-13 years old. We probably share common experiences: the stress of school, you’re more than likely slap bang in the middle of puberty and you’re most likely on a (frighteningly awkward) journey to find who you actually are – and a part of who you are includes your sexuality.
You probably look at boys, girls and people of varying genders and think, “Hey, they are pretty cute.” You wouldn’t mind kissing or dating them. While many of your female friends develop crushes on the cutest boys in school, you perhaps think the girl sitting next to you in English is cute, too. Which is odd, because everyone is into one gender or the other, right? Wrong.
Figuring out that you’re neither straight nor gay/lesbian can be a long, hard process. I initially thought I was straight because I was into boys, and thought that if you liked boys, then you’re straight. Granted that was because I experienced a lot of bi-erasure, with people around me defining sexualities as either “gay” or “straight,” conveniently leaving out all the other sexualities that include attraction to more than one gender. But, while I thought I was straight, I was so confused: if I liked boys, and was therefore straight, then why was I developing crushes on girls? Why could I picture myself in relationships with both? The answer was that I wasn’t straight. Unfortunately, I didn’t know it until I turned 17. But you may know now, or may figure it out kind of “late,” like me, and that’s fine too. Different people realize their sexualities at different times of their lives for many different reasons.
I was confused when I thought I was straight… but when I figured out I was bisexual, I was sure and happy in realizing the reality of my sexuality. But most people will call By Andrea people who identify with bisexuality, pansexuality or fluid sexualities “confused.” And because you’re young, they will also most likely brand you as “attention seeking” or as “going through a phase.” If you are confused, that’s perfectly okay. What’s not okay is for people to dismiss you because you are young and queer. Just remember that the only person who can define your sexuality is yourself, and if your labels change over time, that’s perfectly okay too. And remember: your dating experience does NOT dictate your sexuality. You can be pansexual and never have had your first kiss. You can call yourself bisexual and have only dated girls, or queer even if you’ve only dated boys. What you call yourself is up to you!
You may not be ready to come out yet, and that’s perfectly fine. Coming out, especially to parents and family, can be scary and even dangerous. Only come out when you are ready, but have someone who knows and to whom you can talk about it. Whether it’s one best friend, a few close friends or all of your friends, having good friends you can trust and talk to make all the difference in the world.
You’re young, and about to conquer puberty and high school and along the way find out who you are. There will be confusing and hard times and some of those will be about your sexuality. Talk to people you trust about your issues. Find out what you love and honestly, it will get better.
Andrea is an 18-year-old bisexual woman currently living in a small university town in South Africa. She is a first-year Journalism student majoring in Journalism and Politics.