- Growing up in a small town, I was ashamed of my sexuality.
- A year after I married my husband, I finally came out to him as bisexual and then pansexual.
- As a pansexual person, I worried that I wasn’t queer enough, so I had to find my own queer community.
As a teenager, talking about your sexuality was not easy. In my small hometown of Monmouth, UK, the default was straight. There were only a few openly queer people in our town, and they were perceived as “other”.
I performed for the first time in the 1990s when I was 14 years old. I confided in a friend that I had a crush on a girl at school. It was so long ago that I can’t remember if I used the word bisexual or if I just said I liked girls and boys. But I remember my friend’s reaction: shock, disgust, horror and laughter.
I wouldn’t leave for another 15 years, and that time it was for my husband.
I started dating my husband in college and kept my sexuality a secret
in 1998 I moved to Sheffield for university and in my first semester I met the man who is now my husband. At the time, no one knew that I was also interested in women. I wasn’t ready to come out to the people living in my residence hall. My sexuality just seemed irrelevant. I appeared straight to the outside world: I was a cis woman dating a cis man.
We got married in 2005. I still hadn’t exposed myself to anyone, including my husband, although I mentioned that I found celebrities attractive. I felt guilty about revealing a part of my identity to those closest to me, but my previous experience of coming out made me wary.
When our son was born, it seemed like there were even fewer opportunities to accept my sexuality. Parents at the school gates, colleagues at work and new friends I made heard the words “husband” and “son” and thought I was straight.
At the age of 20, I finally told my husband the truth
One night I was very drunk watching TV with my husband. Dita Von Teese was a guest on a show we were watching, and my attraction to her led me to blurt out, “I’m bisexual.”
Heavy silence. My husband then said a very simple but thoughtful word: “Okay.”
I assured him that nothing had changed; I still only wanted to be with him. His reaction to all the information was so forgiving that it made me want to share my sexuality sooner. Inspired by Von Teese, we booked tickets to a local burlesque show next month.
Encouraged by my husband’s positive reaction, I came out to my closest friends. It was a much more positive experience than my previous attempt to come out because I was selective about who I told and lived in a more diverse area. My big reveal was well received and I felt accepted by people whose opinions mattered to me.
Later I read Juno Dawson’s This Book Is Gay and realized that I’m not bisexual, I’m actually pansexual, which just means I’m attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender. When I told everyone about my new identity, there were more questions, but that was to be expected. Pansexuality isn’t really talked about in the media or general pop culture. I didn’t blame people for not knowing about pansexuality because I hadn’t heard of it myself.
Ever since I’ve been asked about my sexuality, I’ve always said pansexual. I even added pink, yellow, and blue hearts to my social media bios to represent the pansexual flag.
Although my husband and friends accepted me, I worried that I wasn’t gay enough to fit into the queer community
Once I had a label that represented me, I wanted to be more involved in the LGBTQ community. What surprised me the most was that even in one of the largest cities in the UK, opportunities to meet other LGBTQ people were limited. The bars and clubs were the main point I didn’t like.
Even though pansexuality falls under the queer umbrella, I was afraid I wasn’t gay enough, especially since I’m in a straight relationship.
I turned to the strange media. Shows like Queer Eye and It’s a Sin gave me a sense of belonging, as did the LGBTQ literature I bought from Gay’s the Word, a London bookstore.
Seeing strong LGBTQ communities on my TV screen and in the pages of my favorite novels ultimately led me to seek out my own queer family. Finally, I joined Rainbow Blades, Sheffield United Football Club’s official support group for LGBTQ people and their allies. It’s been quite a journey, but I know the friends I’ve made through Rainbow Blades will be friends for life.
Best of all, my husband and son come to meetings with me and proudly wear pins to show that they are LGBTQ allies—my allies. I finally found a place where I belong.