People have often asked me why I’m not straight, and I like to tell them the following: When I was four years old I sneezed and no one said “bless you” and at that moment the devil entered my soul.
Of course the journey to discovering my sexuality was not nearly so simple. It was, and still is more like the yellow brick road; long, winding, Judy Garland is probably involved somehow, and it’s been very, very confusing. I believe in confusion.
I first identified as an overly enthusiastic straight ally, but ever since I had my But I’m a Cheerleadereque realization that I am not straight, I’ve been quite confused as to just how I wasn’t straight. There was an overwhelming amount of pressure to choose a label, but there have been some figures in my life who simply accepted me as who I am with no pressure to find the right words to describe myself, mainly friends who are as baffled as I am and family who love me unconditionally. One such instance of acceptance that I can recall came last summer. I was on a road trip with my aunt. She was giving me her old car, but because she lived in Boston and I in Springfield, getting the car to me was a bit complicated. I flew up to Boston, and we drove the car back together. This meant a solid 18 hours of quality time with my aunt, and that’s just counting the driving. The subject of conversation varied wildly, from college plans to my friends to gender inequality in STEM fields. My aunt is an engineer, what else would you expect? After a lull in conversation my aunt asks me “Are you asexual?” I was taken aback by this question. I told her no and asked what made her wonder if I was. She told me she saw me post something on Facebook about the A in LGBTQIA standing for asexual, not ally. I cannot recall having ever posted anything like that, but that didn’t stop me from going off on a long speech on why it is more important to include asexuals over allies.
Her next question was a rather obvious one. “If you’re not asexual, then what are you?” I shrugged and told her I wasn’t really sure, except that I definitely wasn’t straight. She nodded and accepted my answer. She reminded me that I’m young, and that it’s just fine not to know everything about myself. This may seem like a small thing to some, but to me it was a massive reassurance. It validated me in a way that is far more important than the validation that would be provided by finally finding the word to describe my sexuality. As much as others may criticize me for being indecisive, experimenting with my sexuality has given me an insight into who I am as a person. Being confused has been what’s pushed me to educate myself about things I otherwise would have known little about, and even more importantly, I am still loved for who I am by those that matter despite my confusion. This I believe.
This I Believe Illinois is an essay program for high school seniors to share their perspectives as they prepare to enter adulthood. Each year, a panel selcts ten submitted essays to be recorded by their authors for broadcast on NPR Illinois. Since 2007, the selected authors also deliver their essays at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise where the students receive scholarships from the organization.