c/w: self harm, sexual shame
I’ve never been a “straight person.” I grew up in a small town of about 1,100 folks in the Midwest, think less cute Chicago suburbs and more Mayberry, but less friendly. Nestled on the edge of the Bible Belt in the late 80s/early 90s, it was about as accepting a place as you would imagine.
At a young age, I became pretty obsessed with sex. I remember stealing porn VHS tapes from my parents as often as I could. Snagging one and sneaking it to school in my backpack on a Friday to take to my grandmother’s for the weekend to watch it in her VCR when she went to bed. I’d watch them over and over again, studying them so closely.
When I was in fifth grade, I brought a couple nudie mags to school. Playboy or Hustler, I can’t remember now, but I remember the boy on the bus that I brought them to school to show. I liked him, not as a “boyfriend”, but just as this cool kid that I’d known since we started school. I thought he’d think the magazines were cool, and that I, consequently, would be cool for showing them.
I’d told the girl I sat by on the bus what I’d done and that I’d given them to the boy, I really didn’t think it was *that* big of a deal. But she apparently did. And so did everyone else. Not very far into the day, I remember being pulled out of class and sent to the office. The girl on the bus had told on me, and now I was in trouble. But not like, I’d vandalized something kind of trouble, I was shamed. Ridiculed. Why would I do such a terrible thing? What kind of little deviant I must be. Everyone knew. All of a sudden I went from being this weird kid from the weird family to being a full-on freak. A girl with dirty magazines full of *gasp!* naked women. I was dubbed a lesbian, a nympho and gross. Fuck, the names people called me – for years. This was in fifth grade, I remind you, and it followed me through my eventual drop from high school. It was such a small school that everyone knew everyone. I gained such a reputation from this act alone, that there were rumors going around my highschool that I was such a slut, that I’d gotten knocked up and my body ate my baby because I was riddled with STDs. As preposterous as it sounds I can still hear those words. Kids can be unbelievably cruel and ignorant when that’s all they know. I’d been a virgin when these rumors were making me cry and want to slit my wrists in the bathroom. I never understood why people hated me so much for bringing books to school. I genuinely didn’t understand why it was that upsetting. It was just naked people. But in an incredibly conservative country town? I would have been shamed less for bringing a loaded shotgun to school.
Getting older, and exploring, I liked girls and boys, and never thought I had much of a preference. It was a consistent struggle developing crushes on my girl friends as a young teen, and realizing early on, in my experience, that’s not how “most girls” feel. Honestly, I didn’t realize so many people struggled with that exact thing until I joined Twitter in my thirties.
I started having relationships with women after my first disaster of a young marriage when I was 18, she was quite a bit older, and I was in love. I never felt like I was gay, or a lesbian, I just never thought about it. When I met my second husband, he treated me like a token fetish, but in a shaming way. I was “allowed”, and encouraged to have girlfriends, but he never asked to be involved. He just encouraged me to go fuck them so he could confirm that I was, indeed, a “trailer trash whore” and he had the upper hand. I was so lonely and starved for connection that I went along with it. But I wasn’t just fucking these women. I had relationships with them. Friendships at the core, so they were an escape for me.
He had me convinced that I needed to date women because I could get something from them that I couldn’t get from him. He was partly right, I could get something from them that I couldn’t get from him but not because they were women but because they offered me friendship and kindness. Things I did not have in my marriage.
At 37 years old, I’m in a relationship with two men and I identify as pansexual and demisexual. While I’ve never felt straight, I’m not sure where that leaves me in the community and for Pride. I’m cognizant of the fact that I had a similar struggle with my mental health diagnosis. Accepting the fact that I had PTSD when “so many people had it harder”. Like my struggle is less valid.
Logically I know that because I never had a big ” awakening” or coming out that I’m any less queer or welcome in the LGBTQPIA+ community. It’s a standard I’ve applied to myself. An unnecessary “gay enough to belong” standard. I think it boils down to a self esteem thing for me. To realize that yeah, maybe I do deserve to join in the celebration. I’ve struggled with how I’ve been treated as a “not straight” person starting at a young age. I deserve to be here. I’m trying to accept and believe that.

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6 Replies to “Self-acceptance is fucking hard”

  1. Thank You for sharing. It is a shame what we do as children can have such a lasting effect on our lives. Its not just what we do but how others treat us for our actions as innocent as they may seem.
    All i can say as a male sub who identities as bi and lives in the closet for 50 years. You belong in the LGBTQPIA+ community. I sometimes wonder where i belong.
    love your blog and your openness.

  2. I’m so glad you wrote this! I’m sorry to hear what you’ve been through. I also went to a small high school where everyone knew everyone too. Small towns can be rough on youth. I was lucky that I didn’t experience the hate that you did but I never fit in.

  3. Thank you for this. I’ve only recently accepted that I’m bisexual. I’m older and have realized in later life that I am, and already I’m feeling “not queer enough”.

  4. I am an ally straight man in a poly quad relationship. I have to live on the closet with my extended family. We have our own fears with our three kids. (All birthed by my partner and her husband). Sorry about your bullying. That is rough and as I’m learning with my partner and her childhood traumas, late blooming ptsd triggered by new relationships can be interesting. (And not in a good way. ) I live your writing and addressing tough topics. Thank you.
    I was the

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