When did you know you were gay?

“When did you know you were gay?” the question I dread the most. I always feel guilty when I think and talk about being bisexual because I don’t feel like I’ve suffered enough to have earned the label. I joined the party late. I’ve missed the awkward and often painful “This party is shit” part and arrived just in time for the jager bombs.

I never knew any gay people growing up. My only frame of reference for life was very much straight. I would go so far as to say that I was homophobic as an adolescent. Gay people were gross and “it” was weird. That was generally how being gay was viewed in the 90s. Or at least it was in the village where I lived in the Midlands. And as for bisexuality, well that doesn’t exist. It’s not even a real thing. They’re just gay people who haven’t come to terms with coming out.

I didn’t spend years trying to be something I’m not, I didn’t get bullied at school, I wasn’t scared of telling my friends or family. In fact, I came out to my Dad one day by saying “By the way Dad, I’m fucking a girl.” That was my exact turn of phrase and it was very deliberate. I had no fear. I was slightly anxious about the reaction but I didn’t worry about any long lasting negative consequences. I’m lucky in that my friends and family are very liberal. Lots of LGBT people are persecuted their whole lives, victimised and even murdered because of their sexuality. They spend years denying their truth and miss out on real, meaningful love as a result. I, on the other hand, had always dated men and been happy doing so. I’d had 6 long term relationships with men ranging in length from 18 months to 4 years before I ever even kissed a girl.

So did I wake up one day and decide I fancy girls? Well, no. It’s not a lifestyle choice, you can’t create sexual attraction if it’s not there. I didn’t think “It’s 2016, it’s trendy to be bi, I might give it a whirl!” I guess it was a case of timing. It may never have happened if I had been successful in actually maintaining a relationship with one of the 6 men. I met a beautiful girl who intrigued me. I liked the fact that the dynamic was so completely different. I had turned 30 and I had recently been very deeply hurt by man number 6. For the first time I was more open to the concept of the person than the gender.

“Do you prefer men or women?” Another question I despise. How do I even begin to answer that? Do you prefer sauvignon blanc or pinot? Well, they’re both white wines, they both get you pissed but they taste different. Plus, not all sauvignon blancs or pinots even taste the same so how can I pick one when I haven’t tried all the variations?

I don’t feel like bisexual is the right label for me but it’s the one I go to as a default. I guess I’d be more of a pan sexual if I had to choose. I couldn’t give two shits about gender biology or identity. It’s the person that matters. Sexual attraction is hugely important but it isn’t defined by body parts, it’s on a much deeper level than that. Does that person make you laugh? Can you talk to them about anything and everything? Do you respect them? Do you like them? Do you catch yourself looking at them and thinking how lucky you are to have them in your life? That’s what matters. People become beautiful and sexually attractive when you have all that.

I’ve probably learnt more about love and life in the last 3 years than I did in the 30 years proceeding it. I’m so happy none of the 6 men worked out because it gave me the opportunity to explore who I really am as a complete person. I had a wonderful relationship with the beautiful girl and while it wasn’t destined for forever, I wouldn’t be who I am now without her. So, 14 year old me, you obnoxious little shit: Being gay isn’t weird or gross and bisexuality is most definitely a thing. Being gay/bisexual/pan sexual is about love in the same way heterosexuality is.

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