If you weren’t aware, I am a queer woman. However, even the word “queer” makes me a bit uneasy. It doesn’t feel right for some reason that I can’t fully explain. It’s not completely me.
This is the feelings I and many people who prefer not to label their identities (whether sexuality, romantic orientation, gender, etc.) have to go through. I will be writing about my personal experiences so I would first like to claim that although I am not straight, I am a cis woman, so I can only talk about my experience as a not straight individual.
I grew up in a very conservative society, where words like “gay” were insults and people who did not act like who they were supposed to be were often bullied. There were instances where “different” (as deemed by society) kids in my school would have their bags thrown from the third floor and have their things stolen just for fun. I remain anonymous largely for this reason, to protect myself.
Anyway, on to labeling.
I never really felt that common conception of “I always knew I was different and then I found out that I was (insert sexual orientation/romantic orientation/gender/etc) and that explained everything!” I don’t have anything against people who went through that, of course, but my environment growing up never allowed me to ever to think I was different. And so, I was very secure in calling myself heterosexual.
A while after that, after lots of blog scrolling and in depth conversations with my then friends, I started to realize that I wasn’t only attracted to men. Being a cis girl, I was always predisposed by my parents and my school and everyone around me to be attracted to only men. However, that wasn’t the case and I was very confused for a while. I was wondering if there was something wrong with me.
And then, I started reading up on it. Slowly, I began to understand that I wasn’t straight and never was. I just thought I was because there was no room for anything else in my environment growing up. At that point, I wasn’t really well-versed in the labels used in the community. I adopted the label Pansexual for a while, being out to a select number of people.
However, Pansexual didn’t really feel right. When I read about people’s experiences and their moments of “oh yes! That’s exactly what I am!” it made me feel uncomfortable with labelling myself as pansexual. I wasn’t pansexual because that didn’t fit in my identity.
I just started calling myself Not Straight for a while after that, not really sure what label fits me. It was hard to find a community of people to relate to when I couldn’t decide on who I was. It was difficult. At this point of my life, I already knew a few LGBT+ people. One of my closest friends until this day identifies as pansexual and she told me something along the lines of, “If you don’t feel comfortable with any label, that’s fine. You can just be yourself.”
The concept of not describing myself as anything scared me at first, but then it started to make sense. There was no word currently that described who I was, so why should I settle for a close fit? There was no requirement that I had to have a label. No one was asking me for it aside from myself. It was terrifying, to say the least, but for the first time in a while, I found myself comfortable with that fact.
I don’t need a word to be me. I’m not straight. I’m not gay either. Nor pansexual nor bisexual.
I’m just me.
I’m me and that has been the most freeing label of all.
Note: I am ok with being called queer if needed but I would prefer to be unlabelled.