I sat on the edge of the bed and told my husband that I needed to talk to him. I’m sure that is no phrase any partner wants to hear. I looked into his eyes and said, “How would you feel if I told you that I was not heterosexual?” He looked panicked and asked if I was a lesbian and wanted to leave him. In the era of self-exploration, people are coming out of the closet after years of committed relationships. So, I understood his worry. I explained to him that yes, I am attracted to women as well as non-binary and transgender. My goal for this conversation was not to express a desire to leave him and pursue other relationships. But it was a moment of clarity and revelation for me.
For the longest time, I believed that because I chose to be in a committed heterosexual relationship, my sexual attractions to other genders were not valid. So why did it matter if I was not leaving the marriage? And why didn’t I know this sooner? I had explored my desires with females as a teenager. Yet, I wrote them off as “being a teenager.” I do not feel as if I forced myself to fall in love with a man. It felt natural, just as natural as being attracted to a woman. But I grew up in a world that we didn’t discuss sexuality. Women married men and had children. To say that I went down the path of least resistance would seem to invalidate my marriage, but there was no other option.
I searched for my identity or what I was supposed to do with my life in my twenties. There were so many times in my life that I felt lost or incomplete. I blamed it on having mental illnesses and that everybody is clueless in finding their purpose in life. How can my sexuality be the key to finding my life’s purpose? It won’t change my day-to-day life. I’m still a stay-at-home mother. Isn’t that my purpose, my children? I couldn’t understand how my identity in loving another person held such an influential factor in who I was. Like most things in my life, I pushed it to the back burner. This constant seeking had to be more than accepting my sexuality.
I focused on motherhood. No matter how lost I was, I knew I was a great mother. To me, there was nothing more validating than raising my children. As they grew, the more I understood that parenting was political. It mattered even more what the world was like now that I had children. Sustainability. Fight against racism. Equality. Human rights that I recognized that I was too ignorant because of my privilege. With all these issues (and many more), I could see the impact through the eyes of my children. And one of those was their sexuality. If one of my children was queer, why would they have to come out of the closet? Persons that are heterosexual aren’t forced to hide. Would they be bullied so much that it would cause them to become depressed and commit suicide? I began to recognize that I avoided many of these issues because I believe it didn’t matter to me.
As my children grew, I began to educate myself in Human Rights issues which included LGBTQ+ rights. And I felt like the world did too. People began to push harder and harder to be seen and heard. Social media became an essential resource and platform. It’s quick and easy access to education and awareness. I felt as if I wasn’t in a bubble of secrecy of sexuality. Voices need to be heard. And I discovered I was one of those voices.
This flash flood of information at my fingertips allowed me to learn that being queer can be more than being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. I did not know there were other types of sexual orientations and gender identifications along with male, female, and transgender. One of the terms stuck out like a neon sign as I read the definition. Pansexual: a person that can form relationships (physical, romantic, emotional) with any person regardless of gender identity. This was it: the word that described who I am.
The outpouring of recognition bombarded my mind. I knew that I felt an attraction to a person, not because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but because of who they are. And here it was in black and white, the identification in my sexual preference. But, even with finding this, I kept this a hidden secret. I’m not sure if I wanted time alone with this awareness or if there was an underlying fear. I pushed for Human Rights as they were being threatened in a toxic political race on the sidelines. I had open conversations with my children, debated with family and friends. I was a queer concealing myself as an ally.
Like so many people during the pandemic, I joined TikTok to find humor in the sadness and a way for human connection. Soon, my feed was filled with other women questioning their sexuality. Some were joking because of the “thirst traps” from lesbians. Yet, there were mothers in heterosexual marriages and posting videos asking for advice. One mother’s video was heartbreakingly surreal in her plea with herself that she did not need the validation of exploring outside her heterosexual relationship to identify as pansexual. And that’s when it clicked for me. I can proudly accept my sexual nature while in a heterosexual relationship. My decision to be with a male does not invalidate who I am.
I am pansexual.
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