I think we can all agree that this year is a mess. Well-formed plans are a mess, emotions are a mess, hard-fought goals are a mess. Resolutions that were set months ago during the hopeful turn of a new year have been tossed aside. Anticipated celebrations during pride month were cancelled, plans that were pushed back to the end of the year are now next year’s plans. It can feel wrong to shift focus from the events of this year towards yourself, but learning to embrace these things you love, whether it is pride-related or not, is such an important part of embracing your sexuality.
Growing up, I had a slow start when it came to embracing my passions. I have apologized for being too loud, for being too excited about something that my family or friends thought was weird, for being queer. The life of a southern Catholic is rooted firmly in tradition. We are defined by softball games on Fridays, mass on Sundays, and family dinners every other night of the week. I was encouraged to become friends with certain groups, preferably those in our church community, and stick to the road most traveled. It was emotionally exhausting to fight. I am sorry for anyone who has had to have this battle with family or friends. It is terribly heartbreaking and wears you down to the core. I lost battle after battle with my parents and “friends” until I was just a shell of myself living out the life that I could tell everyone else wanted for me.
I stopped embracing life in general because I wasn’t getting acceptance from anyone around me, and eventually, I just stopped accepting myself. My whole personality revolved around hating things and being sarcastic and depressed. The first piece of my personality that I stopped embracing was my sexuality. And once that happened, I felt like I couldn’t truly be myself anymore, I wasn’t safe to be myself, so I stopped embracing the rest of me too. I stopped writing. I stopped being passionate. I stopped trying to find a community that accepted me.
If I can offer any advice, it’s to spend your life with people that encourage you to be yourself. The past couple of years of being away from the suffocation of my childhood home and recognizable faces has done me wonders. It’s unfortunate that remaining closeted in your sexuality can lead to the rest of your personality being closeted as well. It was not a connection I made until my partner encouraged me to have more personal pride in my sexuality and who I am. I found that as I opened up more to bi communities, I also opened up to other communities with shared interests— writing communities, gaming communities, anime communities. All of the interests and loves of mine that I had stifled for the sake of my family and friends’ (and to a degree, my own) comfort.
Typically, every year, I center my New Year’s resolutions around my pant size and personal achievements, but this year my goals were a little different. I decided to make resolutions to embrace the things I loved, in order to try and be more myself. I challenged myself to bake and decorate a batch of cupcakes every week, to write 1000 words on most days of the week, to sit or walk outside more (and not for weight loss purposes). Despite the year that we’ve had, I think it is the most successful I have ever been at keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions. And when I am completing these goals and tasks that I set up for myself, I feel the most ME, the most Lindsey, that I ever have.
It’s not always easy to embrace who you are after years of being put down or trying desperately to be someone else. One of the most difficult parts of embracing the life I want is feeling like I have to explain it to friends and family and people who thought they knew me and recognize the shift in my behavior. I worry that they think I have been lying to them— “Oh no, I know I said I wanted to be a nurse and have a big Catholic family like the one I grew up in, but I don’t want those things after all.” It feels like I am taking back years of words I said and claims I made.
One of the most beautiful messy things about being bisexual is how willing we are to love anyone and everything. My acceptance of my sexuality has been a rollercoaster of emotions and memories and experiences. But I have found that during the times in my life where I accept who I am the most, I am also embracing those other things I love too. I actively look forward to and plan for what kind of cupcakes I am going to make each week. I use my writing time to tell queer stories, and getting out of the house has kept me sane during the pandemic. And since I can be proud of all of these things that make me uniquely me, that pride extends to my sexuality as well. It’s one of those things that makes me, me.