Retrospective: A Decade of Queerness

By Clove Morgan

I was ten years old, sitting between plastic green bus seats, when the girl seated next to me told me she was bisexual. Being that young, the word was too big and too far outside my vocabulary to put two and two together and guess the definition. She debriefed me on what it meant to be bisexual: having a crush on a boy and a girl at the same time. It was a flawed explanation, literally elementary at best, but it altered the trajectory of my life from that moment forward.

My sparkly, hot pink, Justice-brand diary was my trusted confidante for the rest of the fifth grade as I mulled over the impending doom of middle school and a sexuality crisis. No one knew about my glitter-gel-pen revelations, and by the time I reached the sixth grade, I shoved them in a storage bin beneath my bed and to the back of my mind. I thought nothing of sexuality—girls—for the better half of middle school. I happened to be lucky; it didn’t plague my day-to-day life, and it should never have to for anyone. Sexuality and the experience of queerness shouldn’t have to be linear for validation.

Still, my teenage years wreaked havoc on my perception of romance. I grew up in a small town with girls in their boyfriend’s football jerseys and boys holding promposal signs for their girlfriends. Straightness wasn’t just the expectation, it was the standard. As nice as it was to go with the cutest guy in my friend group to my freshman-year homecoming, I really wanted to take my girl friend—take note of the space between those words, brutal. 

There is something to be said about the relationship between a girl and her girl best friend, who doubles as her crush. The romantic undertones and intimacy exchanged with a girl my age with whom I could share my deepest feelings and secrets is something entirely unique to queer, female friendships. It’s hard to put into words, but I still find myself wondering what we had. The chemistry and emotions were charged, but I wasn’t accustomed to the possibilities, and as I got to know them, I became equally aware of the consequences. At fourteen, we could only be girls together, and to be only that was enough. She was the catalyst for my coming out.

If I had to offer my advice to anyone coming out, it would be to do it in slow phases that start on the outside and work inward. It’s not foolproof, but it’s what I did, and even with the bumps, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I admitted it to acquaintances and friends, my sister, extended family, and finally, my parents. 

Though some reactions weren’t supportive or accepting, over time, my confidence in myself and my sexuality grew, and I didn’t feel that approval was a necessity. I was treated differently but was loved by those who cared for my well-being first. I was less afraid of cutting people off that didn’t respect me, I didn’t owe them my kindness or presence as long as they weren’t going to support me. Social circles change, it’s an inevitability, and it brings the gift of choice when it comes to who we want in our lives. My junior year was a tumultuous series of events that wrapped up with forced self-reflection as a result of the pandemic.

Though the circumstances were far less than ideal, I wouldn’t have such a strong relationship with my identity in the present if I had no time away from the world. Isolation in such an extreme isn’t healthy, but it taught me that taking a step back from everyone once in a while could help me become more in tune with myself. Over the course of 2021, walled inside of my bedroom, I had my first queer relationship. It was a short-lived, long-distance girlfriend, but it elicited some of the most intense emotions I had ever felt for someone.

In the past, I went through crushes on boys faster than my favorite Minute Maid lemonade. Most of the time, they were on some conventionally attractive, sporty guy in my grade that shifted from one to the next every few months. My crushes on girls, on the other hand, were almost always a friend. That was the case with my first girlfriend, too. We fell into each other, shared every interest and memory, and laughed together, but it fizzled just as quickly when our worlds opened back up again beyond the confines of our phones and bedrooms. The falling out was difficult, but ultimately a beautiful disaster as we took the time to grow into ourselves and become friends again in the present.

I moved on and into my dorm room for my first year in college and my first serious relationship with someone who happened to be transgender. I faced an entirely different kind of judgment then, one that was almost like a second coming out, as if I had to remind everyone that queerness extends beyond individualized sexuality and into the very existence of an LGBTQ+ relationship. My firsts were unconventional and frankly odd to the people and world around me. However, my relationships with women and other members of the community offered me comfort and understanding that I never had in my heteronormative endeavors.

While my experience is varied, expansive to some, and minimal to others, I am assured by the queer friends I made throughout the years. I always try to express my gratitude to them. Finding people who share similar feelings was instrumental in my growth. Moving away from a small town to a city, taking advantage of internet spaces, and connecting with my peers gave me the opportunity to forge a web of support and meet like-minded individuals.

Sometimes I’m still unsure of my label. I wear bisexuality proudly, but there will always be “what-ifs.” What if I’m lying to myself? To others? What if I’m not attracted to men at all? What if I don’t have enough experience to know for sure? I came to terms with the constant questions being normal a long time ago. Doubt plagues every facet of identity, not just sexuality. Time is always moving, and I’m always changing, and there is no use trying to rush to the finish line of personal discovery. The world isn’t going to come to an end if a nineteen-year-old girl doesn’t know who she is yet.

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