Reflection on sexual orientation: Bridget Parker

“You just know.”

I was taught to believe that your sexual orientation is an answer ingrained in your head since birth, not a question.

But it is, or at least it can be.  We are not “straight until proven otherwise.” There is no higher power that bestows upon you the wisdom of knowing exactly who you are. I can name a number of times when I should have questioned myself a lot sooner than I did, but there was no pinpoint moment when I decided I liked girls in a non-platonic way. It sort of crept up on me while I was busy dating boys I only saw as friends.

Truthfully, I didn’t want to question myself. I could barely say the word “lesbian” out loud without cringing, my mind full of false perceptions of what it meant. There was a confusing cycle of seeing a cute boy and calling myself a fraud, then seeing a girl and thinking “nope, definitely gay.” I thought that to make a statement out loud, I had to have all the answers. I had to have a label, proof, and I needed to start wearing a lot of flannel.

The thought of declaring that I was different from most of my friends terrified me, mostly because I didn’t feel so different. Even now, I still can’t look anyone in the eyes and say, “I think I might like girls,” because then they might expect something from me, like an explanation, or worse, a girlfriend. You’d be surprised by how difficult it is to drop in conversation my bisexual tendencies while trying to sound nonchalant. When people ask “How do you know?”, the truth is that I still don’t, and maybe I never will.  

So what’s the easiest way to tell people you harbor same-sex tendencies? Publish it in writing, I guess.

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