Queer – 1. Strange; odd. 2. (of a person) homosexual.
Weird – very strange; bizarre.
I used to be a girl-scout in elementary school. One time at the start of a new year, we did an activity where we wrote New Year’s resolutions to ourselves. I remember staring at the piece of lined paper for a long while, trying to think of a resolution that would effectively mark a new direction in my life; some way I could finally fit in. I felt the heat rush to my face, as I eventually scribbled down “I don’t want to be the weird girl”.
The idea that members of the LGBTQ+ community were “weird” had been ingrained into my head since a very young age. Besides the obvious dictionary similarities between weird and queer, members of the queer community often don’t line up with societal norms, and are therefore targeted for being outside the box. From an interview played to my class in fifth grade, where an author said “we lived with a woman who was always a little odd… she later married another woman,” to my mom seeing a middle schooler with a pixie cut, remarking “She’s weird. She’s a lesbian,” being queer and being weird had always been inseperable in my life.
The pressure I felt to “not be weird” had somehow managed to double in size; I not only had to avoid being outcast from my peers, but I also had to make sure I didn’t come across as “gay”. This internalized homophobia followed me for a very long time. My mom had hammered into my head so many times to “not look like a lesbian” that when the first time I met an actual lesbian, I was genuinely a bit frightened.
Over time, however, I started to meet more people, and began to see new opinions and perspectives. I slowly, but surely, started to become friends with people who identified differently than me, and through exposure to their lives and the internet, a lot of my internalized homophobia was quelled. Though… not all of it.
Later in middle school and early into high school, I felt the compulsion to make it very clear that I was absolutely, without a doubt, straight. Looking back, I was mostly trying to convince myself more than others. My sophomore year of high school was when I had my realization that I was definitely not straight. Some people’s epiphany moments are cinematic, beautiful, and heartbreaking; my epiphany? I was walking through the halls one morning, and happened to think, “yeah. I’d probably kiss a girl,” followed by “…oh shit,” followed by frantically googling the textbook definition of “bisexual.”
Coming to terms with my bisexuality was a long process. It took me around two years to not only accept it, but to feel comfortable with it as well. It’s something I’m still not entirely comfortable sharing openly, but I feel better and better each baby step I take. I have yet to tell my family, not for fear of being kicked out or disowned, but for fear of being asked “are you really sure?”
I know it’ll be disheartening to have my identity questioned after years of soul searching; however, it will be an enormous weight off my shoulders to finally be myself within my own home. When the photographer asks me which Disney character I want to marry, I’d like the freedom to just say “definitely Belle,” without having to catch myself since my mom is standing in the room.
I’ve often heard my parents say things along the lines of “we’ll love you no matter what.” A part of me hears that, and wants to believe that sharing this part of myself will go over perfectly; however, another part of me is more apprehensive, wondering “what happens if they don’t keep their promise?”
Just a few months ago, I was making a late-night sandwich in the kitchen. My mom was watching some cheesy dating game show on TV. The main contestant had to choose a date based only on their voices, and the dates were two men and one woman. Just as I was thinking how it was a welcome bit of representation, regardless of how bad the show was, my mom said, without any warning or hesitation, “She dates men and women. She’s weird.” Shocked, I stopped spreading the peanut butter, and stood there in dazed silence. I didn’t know what to think.
She had more or less indirectly told me “you aren’t normal,” and it dredged up years of anxieties about the need to fit in, and the worries of judgment for being myself; I just wanted to curl up, and hide myself from the world. Although I felt absolutely defeated, I knew I had to fight the urge to hide. So that night, I decided to tell some close friends that I was bisexual. Unsurprisingly, I was met with love and support, which thankfully helped to turn around that very upsetting moment into a more positive one.
Taking a look in the mirror, I know I’m not that girl-scout who’s ashamed of being different anymore. I’ve grown up into my own person, who’s self assured in her identity, and much more confident than I ever could’ve dreamed of being back then. I’m finally myself, and that self is bisexual. And if being bisexual makes me the “weird girl?” Then good. I like being weird.