When I was a young girl, I truly believed I was straight. My family didn't go to church, nor were they especially religious in any way, but I did do bible study lessons which I received in the mail by an organization called the Child Evangelism Fellowship Mailbox Club (CEF). This was convenient since I didn’t get out of the house much. But it did make me the subject of ridicule by some who knew, who would joke, “You’ve got mail from Jesus!”
I considered myself an adamant Christian at the age of 8 and was strict about avoiding premarital sex throughout my pre-teen to young adult years. I honestly thought that being gay was a sin. Besides that, it didn't help that my own mother told me, "If you're a lesbian, I will disown you. God forbid you be something despicable like a criminal or a lesbian."
I had my first crush on a boy in first grade. His name was Joseph, and he was very cute, but he smelled nasty. During a class autobiographical presentation, he told everyone that he had a pet skunk, which explained why. I worked with him on one project and felt excited, but that was the extent of our association. I had several crushes on other boys throughout elementary school, but in middle school, I completely lost interest. (I mean, boys were gross. They would roll around in the dirt and not wash their hands. I’m a germaphobe, can you tell?!)
In high school, I had what I called a "Cuties List" of 10 guys who I thought were the hottest in the whole school, and it was my mission to talk to all of them and befriend as many as I could so that I could potentially enter into a relationship with one. I got to know more than half of them, learned that many were jerks, had failed relationships with two, and got slapped in the face by reality.
I remember during my junior year, there was a beautiful girl in my physics class. I was considered the smartest student in the class, so many of the struggling seniors would come to me during class for help with their assignments. Most only wanted to copy off of me, which I was fine with at the time since I understood they needed to pass in order to graduate. It was a bit annoying, but I shared my answers with them anyway.
But one of the seniors was so beautiful. I think she was Latine, maybe mixed with something else, I don't know what. But she had pale skin, long, silky, wavy, luminescent black hair, and big, dark, brown eyes. (A total Morticia Addams vibe) I would zone out and stare at her during class. I think she noticed and maybe was a bit weirded out or creeped out by it, but she didn't seem to care because she knew I was cool since I let her copy off of my homework. I thought at the time that I was just envious of her beautiful features and gorgeous hair. I had always imagined having long, straight, luxurious hair myself, so I convinced myself I was only admiring her appearance, nothing more. But now I realize that this was my first crush on a woman.
I had a best friend in high school who was bisexual, and she constantly asked me out, but I refused. I just wasn't into her like that, and I told her I didn't "go that way." We made out once because I was going out on a date with a mutual guy friend and wanted to perfect my kissing skills. I may tell everyone else I know that the date is where I had my first kiss, but the truth is that my first kiss was with her. I just didn't regard it as a true "first kiss" since I had no feelings for her and only did it to gauge my skills.
I dated a few guys during high school, had horrible relationships, and then resorted to dating sites online. I still had no luck and many uncomfortable experiences, all with men. But in New York, I had my biggest crush on a girl ever!
I went to New York for a summer abroad in college. While there, one of my classmates was this beautiful blonde woman, fair-skinned, thin frame, with sea-blue eyes and a short, perky hair cut that showcased her blonde locks. She looked like a supermodel! I stared at her often, whenever we were out on a tour or in between classes. She had a boyfriend, of course, who looked like a more muscular and rugged version of Ryan Reynolds, so I stayed away. But again, I just thought that I was drawn to her because I adored her looks. It wasn't until I started having dreams and fantasies about marrying her that I realized it was more than that. I had feelings for this girl, and she was super sweet and friendly. I really didn't talk to her much during the trip, but when I did, she was such an amicable person. I even spent my spare time writing a song about her! I told my aunt and grandmother, and they laughed it off, thinking I was joking around. I learned later that I wasn't.
After the experience, I went home to my cousins. I simply told them that if a girl asked me out, I wouldn't hesitate to date her and give her a chance. My youngest cousin threatened to punch me. I didn't bring up the subject again.
I pondered it for another year before I finally realized that I was pansexual. The prefix "pan" is Greek for "all" or "any," referring to any human, regardless of their gender identity or expression. Pansexuality falls under the bi umbrella. I know for myself, it’s more so based on personalities and aesthetics. For many of us, there is a bit of an emphasis placed on diverse genders and more androgynous traits or appearances. I started to notice that I was attracted most to cisgender men, cisgender women, femme men, and transgender men and women. But I still wasn't sexually active or willing to engage in sexual relations with just anyone.
This then made me realize that I am also demisexual. A demisexual is a person who cannot develop sexual attraction unless they have a deep, emotional connection with another person. The prefix "demi" means "halfway," referring to being in the middle of sexual and asexual. (It is a part of the asexual, or “ace” spectrum.) This rang especially true for me as I might think a person is good-looking, but I will not be truly attracted to them until I get to know them, become intellectually stimulated, and develop a strong emotional bond. (You could also consider me a sapiosexual as I am attracted to intelligence as well.)
So, I now know that I am a pan-romantic demisexual. (Some would call us “pan-demics,” ha-ha.)
I have come out to everyone I know and have since received acceptance and support. A majority of my relationships have been with men, but it is no longer because I am conforming to society's standards. I didn't choose to fall in love with them, but I did. I am happy that my sexuality enables me to not discriminate against a person's gender identity or expression and gives me the capability of falling in love with anyone. It wasn't until I understood this and accepted it that I was able to fully achieve self-love.
I know that despite how far we’ve come as a society, in the current political climate we’re in, not everyone is able to be out. It isn’t safe for everyone to put their sexual identity on public display. But I try my best to live authentically and unapologetically because I know not everyone can. For those who can’t let their voice be heard, let me be out, loud, and proud for all of us.