Social pressures were very real in my school, this made it an extremely toxic environment for the students’ mental health. Kids were bullied and shamed for being “too thin”, “too fat”, “too flat”, “too curvy”, “too tall”, “too short”, “too nerdy”, “too feminine”, “too masculine” or just “too different” and the list goes on. There wasn’t a single student who didn’t struggle with the anxiety that ensued from the fact that it became impossible to exist as your true authentic self. In fact, it became close to impossible for us to make sense of our identities at all.This was one of the major reasons why the majority of the LGBTQIA+ students were either closeted, or never got a chance to explore their sexuality throughout their school life. For me, it was the latter.
Till the age of 17, I identified as heterosexual. This is what I believed at the time because the only people I was attracted to were boys. At 17, I was introduced to a girl, who was openly queer. That was also the first time I felt an attraction towards someone who wasn’t a boy.
I thought to myself, ‘So I like a girl, I guess that makes me bisexual?” I felt a few incongruent attractions after this, which only confused me more.
It was at this point that I realised that it made no sense to label myself if the way I identified myself could change at any time, depending on the person and how they can make me feel rather than their sex or gender. When I went to college, I stumbled upon the term ‘sexual fluidity’ and was instantly able to relate to it. I have never been comfortable with any label other than the label of having no label at all. I acknowledged that my attractions, orientation and desires are unpredictable and it no longer made sense for me to stick to a label to identify myself.
Coming out & Living Label Free
It didn't make sense for me to continually be “coming out” in attempts to form an identity. Why make a big deal out of it at all? Why deal with all that confusion and frustration when I can live a free and dynamic life instead?
There were a few people that questioned the way I identified myself. A few people made assumptions about me being bisexual. Some tried to convince me that I am pansexual when they couldn’t understand my fluidity.
When I got in a long-term relationship with a boy, I got an “okay, but you’re still mostly into boys.”
Maybe I am, maybe I’m not? Maybe I’m attracted to certain energies and maybe that could change with time too. All I know is that I am who I am and there’s no simple way to nail it down.
There is no reason for us to provide an easier narrative just for others to digest or understand. Why should we simplify something that is so complex just in order for people to feel more comfortable? Sexuality and gender identity are both extremely complicated constructs, so putting yourself in a box just for other people to understand you is only going to suffocate you more.
Coming out to others can be extremely difficult, but we often forget the struggle many individuals face before they can finally come out to themselves.
Some people think that your sexuality is something you are born with and hence you should know ‘what you are’ at a younger age, but the truth is that growing up in a heteronormative world, it can take years or even decades to figure out the identity you feel most comfortable with.
I always despised the concept of ‘coming out’, it made me feel like you owe people a heads-up if you’re not cisgender or heterosexual. In truth, there is no right or wrong way to come out to the people you are afraid of judging or not accepting you. Nor is there a right or wrong time for you to do it.
In my case, I told myself that the only way to feel normal is to treat it like it’s normal, because it is. I don’t owe an explanation to anyone but myself. I deal with it as it comes. I don't hide it or feel the need to announce it to every new person I meet.
Dealing With Loved Ones
Of course, it’s different when it comes to loved ones, especially your family. Nothing is worse than the thought of your parents seeing you differently. It can be nerve-wracking to think that your family has had a certain idea of you and how they see your future, and you fear that you’re going to shatter that image by telling them the truth, especially if they are homophobic/transphobic/biphobic.
It’s important to approach the situation with an educational perspective, question their opinions and ask them why they think that way instead of attacking them in attempts to change their mindset. The sad truth is that a subset of our society has been misguided into thinking that there is a normal and an abnormal when it comes to sexuality and gender, and it’s not going to be an easy way to change their mind about it. As frustrating as it can be, dealing with it with caution, care and sensitivity is the only way to go about it.
Your sexuality is yours, and yours only, and nobody else has a right over it. This is your journey, your process, and your life. Find support, surround yourself with people you can count on and remember that you are not alone.
I’m Sanya, 22 years old and my pronouns are she/her. I’m a visual artist and designer. I’m a graduate of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore. I am also a self-taught tattooist.
My favourite FAE product has to be Glaws in Transforming