I was always in tune with my body as a kid and teenager.
Sometimes I fought it and hated it and sometimes I tried to ignore all the discomfort of the changes it was experiencing. But it turns out all that time spent thinking about it and worrying about it and worrying about it and worrying about it and worrying about it helped me as an adult.
I was a dancer and did dance training but I certainly didn't understand my body and fought against all the discomfort of the changes I was experiencing. I didn't really explore my body, even though I wanted to and was very curious about it.
I was curious from a young age but it took me a few years to find the courage to explore myself, and then explore myself with the boys I dated in high school. I never felt ashamed about my sexual dreams; it was a Big Deal in my small hometown when all the boys in my grade started giggling about porn, but I never watched any because I was scared of getting caught. Instead, I remember having a lot of active dreams and waking up with the memories of these wild fantasies that I would go on to think about for years.
For a while it was always boys in the dreams, but eventually it started to be about girls too. I don't remember exactly when, but it felt natural enough to me. I remember not questioning it, which looking back at it, is pretty odd. I was 12 when I heard the word 'bisexual' on MTV. It excited me. I didn't tell anyone until I was 15. I'm grateful to my little 12 year old self, for being blindly curious and for loving love, no matter who it was with.
Growing up, I was always taught to lead with kindness and respect. There was no hate in my household and in my heart. Sexuality was never discussed because it simply didn't have to be.
When I came out was probably the most and only time I've ever felt oppressed for my sexuality. I am very fortunate for that now that time has passed, and for coming out on the other side with strong and loving family relationships. I am also very fortunate to be alive in this time. Many people outside of the cis-hetero normative binaries have and still face adversity every single day for being brave enough to be themselves, just existing out in the open.
I have many privileges (white, straight "passing", cis "passing", living in New York City) that allow me to walk through life un-oppressed. In high school and college.
the most oppression I have faced has come from straight, generally white, men who have felt that my sexual preferences exist to benefit them. I have had experiences in which these men expect me to make a show of my sexuality to fulfill their fantasies...
Fortunately it did not take me long to be able to smell out these men before they can even approach me.
I have to protect myself, physically, as do many other women, womxn, AFAB, femme, and other queer folks. I hope to use my voice help stand up for other queer folks and to protect and advocate on behalf of them.
The biggest thing I have learned since coming to college is that in order to learn, I must be willing and open to listening, to accept faults, and to be willing to put in the work. I grew up in a small town, sheltered and supported, and mostly white. Coming to college, I discovered things in myself that scared me. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by people that have been patient and generous with their experiences and perspectives. In order to grow, I must be willing to make mistakes. I must be willing to voice opinions and misunderstandings in order to gain new perspectives.
I grow through kindness, respect and love. I must have the courage to face discomfort and to know that in dealing, there will be healing.
Growth takes time and I will fight to give myself, and to help make for others, the time grow.