Vocalization

Artwork by Logan Hampsey

By Sabrina Lomax

I am ten years old: Avatar the Last Airbender is playing on Nickelodeon. I find myself enthralled by both Aang and Katara. I am young, so I don’t have the language to describe the feelings I have for both a boy and girl. I don’t really know what it means to look at both and feel the tug in my chest, the visceral feeling of a childhood crush. Subconsciously I tell myself, you like Aang and you want to be like Katara. 

I am twelve years old: sitting on my best friend’s (Roisin) queen-sized bed, the window open letting in the cool spring air, while my other best friend (Monique) rattles on and on about her boyfriend. I don’t see the appeal in dating. I don’t like the awkwardness of being someone else to appease another person. Roisin tells her there are cuter boys than her boyfriend. We’ve hit a new topic, cute boys. Both of them start listing all the cute boys and emphasizing why they’re cute. When they ask me I get tense, I feel uncomfortable expressing attraction. I like boys, I even have a crush, but I feel insecure about expressing my attraction. Why is it so hard for me to just swoon and shout about the boy I sit next to on the bus? They know I like him but I just can’t force the words out of my mouth, they get stuck in my teeth and the cracks in my lips. 

I am fifteen years old: I spend a lot of time on Tumblr. I watch a lot of anime and read more than I see my friends. My mom thinks I’m depressed. She thinks I spend too much time on the internet. But on Tumblr I feel comfortable. I can say an anime girl is cute and no one bats an eye, I can also still think the men in the show are cute too. Tumblr is where I discover the word bisexual. The word I needed when I was ten and confused as to why I liked both Aang and Katara. This word never leaves my Tumblr though. I don’t express it’s meaning to me to my parents or my sisters. As a woman, it’s more socially acceptable for me to think another woman is pretty, so I don’t have to admit to anyone what I’m feeling. 

I am seventeen years old: I am more comfortable expressing attraction to women. I joke with my friends about cute anime girls or celebrities I have crushes on. But I don’t say the word bisexual. I haven’t even kissed a girl, I haven’t kissed a boy either, so it feels wrong to label myself that way. Instead I dart around the word, I let myself vocalize my attraction to both genders but I never tell people I think I might be bisexual. 

I am twenty years old: I still consider myself bisexual. I’ve kissed boys, but never a girl. I’ve had very loose relationships with boys, but never a girl. I’ve been set up with men, but never with women. I tell myself I am bisexual despite this. But am I really? I don’t say the word out loud to my friends still. I don’t hide my attraction to either gender but I never explicitly say “hey guys I’m bi”. I’ve had no relationships with women so am I actually? I used to not tell people because I was worried I’d be judged. I still am worried about that, but now I worry people will think I’m lying. That I’m just jumping on the bandwagon of claiming bisexuality while still exclusively dating men. 

I am twenty-two years old: I am happily dating my partner who is non-binary. We’ve been together for two years now. I love them very much and imagine spending the rest of my life with them. I still view myself as bisexual but I still have yet to even kiss a girl. So I still don’t utter the word bisexual, again implying heavily that I am to people without the explicitness of outright saying the word. I still can’t seem to say it outloud. I can type it on the internet, and I can think of it, but I can’t vocalize it. 

I am twenty-three years old: A lot of my coworkers are bisexual. One girl has even been in a relationship with a boy for years and still claims bisexuality. I feel more comfortable telling people I am bisexual. But still, the word feels awkward in my mouth. I still overtly hint at it instead of just outright saying the word. I still feel uneasy uttering the word now, but at least the word leaves my thoughts now. I still feel like a fraud claiming the label, but at least now I am starting to be comfortable with this identity.

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