June 20, 2024

Here’s how I finally learnt to embrace my sexuality, without fear or apology

It took a lot longer than it probably should have for me to realise that I might not be straight, and even longer to finally say the words: ‘I’m bi’.

At 22, I nervously began messaging a woman on Twitter who spoke very openly about her sexuality, asking her all about her bisexuality journey, and looking for some guidance. Soon after, she invited me along to an event she was hosting; a women-only screening and after party.

Mid-party, she found me and whispered in my ear to go outside with her. She took me round the corner from the party and told me how beautiful I was, while holding my waist and kissing my neck over and over again. Sure, I felt a little giddy about this unfamiliar PDA – but still, it felt nice.

That was the moment I realised I needed to explore my sexuality; that I wasn’t the ‘straight girl’ I always thought I’d been. That was also the moment I started calling myself ‘bi-curious’. Why? Because I didn’t feel ready to claim the more ‘serious’ term; to cement myself as part of a community who seemed so sure of who they were.

Did I need to have sex with a woman to cement my sexuality? Did I need to have a girlfriend? Did I need to go on a few dates? Did I need to fall in love?

Other than the bisexual woman I met on Twitter, who or what else could I look to for answers? Healthy, non-stereotypical Black love in the media was – and is – hard enough to come by, but Black queer love? Non-existent when I was growing up. It was never a conversation in my friendship circles or with my family. It was made very clear to me that my parents didn’t ‘get’ bisexuality when a dating show came on TV once, and the man told his date (a straight woman) that he was bisexual. My parents were visibly shocked, and couldn’t understand why these two people would want to date each other.

“What if he wakes up one day and decides he wants to be with men? ” my mum asked.

“Healthy, non-stereotypical Black love in the media was – and is – hard enough to come by, but Black queer love? Non-existent when I was growing up

So, it’s safe to say I wasn’t sure what bisexuality was supposed to look like. Typically, boy meets girl, boy woos girl, they fall in love, right? But what happens when girl meets girl? Who does the ‘wooing’, who makes the first move and how do you know when it’s a genuine, romantic connection and not a potential interest just being really friendly?

Regardless of the magnitude of questions and uncertainty, I was excited to explore new experiences. But my journey did not go as, umm, pleasantly as my experience with the woman from Twitter.

I needed a way to ease myself into meeting women romantically. I was used to being friendly and sociable and meeting new people, but this was different. How on earth was I supposed to know which women were into women, without explicitly asking? And then, which women were into femme women?

My usual night outs weren’t going to cut it, so enter stage left: queer events. LICK Events and Honeytrap became my go-to spots because they were both open, comfortable and most of all, tons of fun.

I’m no stranger to shooting my shot, so I was determined to meet someone new at LICK. A woman on a mission, I set my eyes on a stunning woman in a lime green dress. I’d come to LICK with my friends, but of course some women had come with their girlfriends, so I tried to be as observant as I could before approaching her.

The woman she was with seemed like a friend, so I decided to go for it, quietly planning my introduction while I waited for the ‘perfect’ moment. She was standing outside by the entrance of the toilets, so I went up to her, complimenting her outfit before I could lose my nerve. I then asked if she was single. As soon as she finished her sentence: “I’m here with my girlfriend”, said girlfriend (not the woman she was with earlier either! ) popped out of the toilets and asked her what was going on. The woman in the lime green dress quickly replied ‘nothing’, before they both hurried away.

Like the drama queen I am, I told my friends I was never shooting my shot with a woman again. Then, Honeytrap announced a sexy Christmasthemed fancy dress house party. I wore a red lacey teddy, with a Santa Clause hat and a fur coat.

I went alone this time and didn’t think I’d know anyone there, yet at the same event as me was a friend of a friend who I didn’t realise was into women. We locked eyes across the room and gravitated towards each other, quickly moving past the “you’re so and so’s friend, right? ” confirmation and into the buying each other drinks and flirting stage.

We decided to find somewhere a little more private upstairs and once alone, she kissed me. My first kiss with a woman. Taking advantage of the privacy, the kissing moved from our lips to our bodies and I asked her if she wanted to come back to my place.

About an hour later we were kissing in my bed and talking about where we wanted to go for our first date. That’s when I felt more confident to affirm my bisexuality. But that date never came. I made an effort to initiate but she wasn’t too receptive and we never spoke or saw each other again.

Disheartened, I decided to try dating apps, hoping women on there would be more serious. But of course, regardless of gender, absolutely no one is serious on dating apps!

I met one woman off of Hinge who was friendly but it was clear a romantic interest wouldn’t develop, and I matched with another who I still speak to one year later, but haven’t met to this day. Maybe the pandemic didn’t help; or maybe we’re just not that serious.

Several years, women-only events and dating profiles later, and I hadn’t been on one proper date or developed a genuine connection with a single woman. Did women just not like me?

Or perhaps if bisexuality had more positive visibility and discourse surrounding it – instead of the stigma that you’re just ‘confused’, or it’s ‘just a phase’ – it wouldn’t have taken me so long to be open about my sexuality.

While not for a lack of trying, there are no set societal rules to follow when it comes to how you feel about another person. I wish I extended my younger self more grace, allowed myself to fully enjoy my journey and like who I like, without questioning every single thing and wondering why I didn’t fit neatly into society’s pre-packaged definitions of sexuality.

So, if you’re finding yourself questioning your sexuality too, my advice would be: You don’t need to be experienced or ‘know everything’ (newsflash: no one does) to call yourself bisexual. Connections shouldn’t be forced or rushed. The best thing I did to explore my sexuality was to just put myself out there and be open to developing a connection.

But a connection with a someone of the same sex doesn’t have to end in a big gay wedding, white picket fence and adorable babies for it to be considered authentic. How you feel and treat people – with respect and honesty –are all that’s needed. Because of these realisations, I’ve never felt more at ease with myself and my sexuality, finally, at the age of 25. I won’t be approaching coupled-up women in bars anytime soon though.

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