Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Dude, I'm like so bisexual

Hey, so, before we all start throwing purple and blue streamers around, let me clarify a few things. No, it that doesn't mean I am on the way to gay town, hanging around waiting for the right man, I'm just curious or trying to seem edgy. I genuinely enjoy both men and women. 

It has taken me longer than I would like to admit writing this. Almost as long as it took me to come out I suppose. The biggest difficulty I found was trying to pinpoint when I 'came out.' 

What even is coming out? How do we decide when someone is out? Is it the moment they publicly voice their sexuality? Is it when they start to tell people? Does one have to tell a select number of people to be considered 'out?'

Am I even out?!

What I soon realised was that I had been coming out every single day for as long as I can remember. I also realised that my coming out story was no different to anyone else's. All of us have experienced that self-doubt, fear, anxiety, awe and wonderful happiness mixed with a plethora of other emotions that self-discovery encompasses.

One thing I found very hard throughout this coming out period was finding the words. Was I bisexual? Pansexual? Bi-curious? A-sexual? Lesbian? Femme? Futch? Tomboy? Even now I am unsure what word I would use to classify myself within this ever-growing community. So let me reintroduce myself:

Her Royal Highness Lady Harriet Portman Who Likes Men and Women in a Bisexual way most days but sometimes women more as she is a gay gal but loves herself every single day like the true narcissist she is. 

Yet throughout this process I have been desperately trying to find others in my situation. From visiting bookshops like Gays the Word to going on Tinder and Meet Up and online forums to try and find those that I could relate to.
So here is for all the girls in the UK, in their twenties, who may or may not identify, who are trying to find the words to express how they fee, I hope this inspires you all.

The Coming Out Saga:
Volume 1
You are 18 years old. You have been in a relationship with a man for 3 years. He was your first boyfriend, the first person you had sex with and the first person you envisaged a future with. During this relationship, you have grown and changed. Through sex, you have realised that there is more out there, you realise you really want to act on your love for women. You meet a girl; her name is Ellis. She is beautiful. She has amazing curves; thick red hair and she makes you laugh. You start to fall in love with her. 

One night, you are walking home with your best friend and boyfriend, you are drunk, you have embarrassed yourself at a bar wearing gold hot pants and ordering cheap whiskey. Needless to say, your liver is pickled at this point and while you are arguing with your boyfriend, you scream at him,

"I'm gay you fuck"

Naturally, your best friend is shocked, and your boyfriend is far from pleased. You call things off.
But your hometown is far from diverse, you may quite literally be the only gay in the village, let alone. You and Ellis drunkenly kiss at a party, but you are so drunk you have no memory of it. So, you do what your best at; men. A string of one-night stands and you start dating a guy in your friend group. He is the definition of macho man. This is what you think you need to straighten yourself out.

Volume 2
You have been dating the macho man for 2 years. You are at university in London, yet no one else in your social circles is gay. All the girls you have a crush on are very comfortable in their straight sexuality.

-A right of passage for queer women everywhere 

You start having wild sex. You feel nothing through having sex with men so the wilder it gets the closer to feeling you get. Eventually, you break up, you tell your friends you like women and you start to try and date girls. Your friends at university are also very shocked and don't react favorably to you being gay. Apparently, you never seemed the type.

So, you start dating men again, because it's easier than trying to deal with being gay in a straight world. You meet a guy. He's different, for the first time in a while you feel confident in being yourself around him, you feel sexy and strong and powerful and vulnerable all at once. You fall hard and fast for him, and he for you. Then you begin to peel back the layers of each other and you're eventually faced with something you didn't want to see.

You'll try to deny this for a while now.

Yet you remember the person you fell in love with, so you spend the next few years hunting for them. They appear every now and then, but you've been together for 18 months now and whilst searching for the face you love most; your own face has faltered. You become weak and haggard and there is no life in your eyes anymore, it is as if your spark has gone.

By the time you realise you can't love anybody without loving yourself, it's too late. 

It’s been five years since you first came out. Five years, numerous one-night stands, two relationships, one full-scale mental breakdown, 150mg of antidepressants a day and four counselors. Five years of losing those that you love through your own inability to fight.  Five years of waiting. Waiting for what?

You decide it’s now or never.

Volume 3
You go away for a weekend- back to your mum’s house. You ask her how she would feel if you were gay and she tells you she doesn't care as long as they have good manners. Not quite what you expected but you go with it, she helps you see that it’s time to move on to the next chapter, that you can't keep re-reading the same story in the hope something new will happen.

You go home, and you tell him it's over when he asks why.

You tell him you're gay.

You phone your friends-your true friends and they are elated. They are so happy you are finally out and not hiding anymore, but if only it were that easy. That night, it hits you, you become so scared, not just of being alone but being gay. You worry that people won't believe you, that you will be rejected or told you aren't enough. You really panic that this isn't you and it's all been a huge mistake, add in the weight of homophobia, knowing that there are some people out there that will hurt you for what you are, it all becomes too much. So you find your now ex-boyfriend and curl up next to him, he holds you while you cry it all out and you realise it will be the last time you are held like this for a long time.

The next day the panic sets in. What if you're not gay? What if you are throwing a relationship away with someone you love for nothing? You don't want to be gay, you never did. You want to marry a man and have his children and for that to be your happiness. You want that "normal" life so badly it hurts. You almost talk yourself into making it possible. 

But then a little voice in the back of your head goes; Oh honey no.

You call Switchboard

The wonderful counselor on the end of the phone helps you realise that sexuality is fluid and how you feel today might be different tomorrow and that it's perfectly okay. He also helps you realise that the only person in charge of you is you; that no one can force you to make a decision that is yours alone to make. So, you head home and you and your ex talk, you agree to give it one last go, but soon you both realise that this isn't right and that the spark has gone. Things end peacefully; you begin life again.

It's now three months later.

You've come a long way since those days of uncertainty. For every good day there is a bad day and for every bad, a good, but you are okay. Your sexuality is fluid and you are dating men and women happily. No matter what part of the LGBTQ community you want to belong to, first and foremost you belong to yourself.

Some days you are Gay, some days you are Bi and others you are A-Sexual. 

But every single day, you are YOU and that’s the best label to be.

Love, HRH xoxo

The number to call for Switchboard an LGBTQ+ helpline in the UK; 0300 330 0630 10am-10pm every day.
Instagram: @thelastredhead_
Twitter: @hrhportman
Wordpress: @thelastredheadH. R. H Portman, aka The Last Red Head, is a strident bisexual, intersectional feminist who doesn't hate men and likes to wear lipstick and lingerie for herself. As her name suggests, she is one of the few natural redheads in the world and since Prince Harry's engagement, her namesake will no doubt be put in the next Census statistics.
As a result of graduating in the wrong century, She has been negotiating the perilous seas of millennial life. From writing about the graduate lifestyle to mental health to feminism and of course, books. (She needs to use her very expensive Combined honors in Creative Writing and English Literature somehow).
She is from the Shire but currently resides in South London in a desperate bid to shake her Norfolk accent.

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