Coming To Terms With My Bisexuality: A Life’s Journey

3/30/2017

From a very young age, even before I found out about sex, I would “fall in love” with both men and women: or rather, when I was very young myself, boys and girls. I would watch Disney films and imagine myself as a princess who finds her Prince Charming. I would fancy male classmates and daydream about fairy-tale weddings. But I also became romantically attached to female friends. I was unsure what to make of this until well into my teenage years when I first heard the word “bisexual”.

As an eight-year-old in school, I once heard a boy in school call a group of girls “lesbians.” I asked what it meant, and as soon as I found out, I started wondering whether I was lesbian. After all, I fancied male classmates, but also female friends. Faced with this new word, “lesbian,” I was unsure what to make of it. Surely I couldn’t be lesbian, since I mostly fancied boys? But then why did I also like girls?

As soon as puberty came along, I found myself becoming aroused by naked female and male bodies on TV. I put this down to puberty and thought it would all blow over after my hormones had settled and that I would continue falling in love with men (as I frequently did) and marry a man when the time came, and that would be that. I suppressed my romantic and sexual feelings for women and didn’t dare tell a soul.

When I was fourteen, I had a secret online relationship with an American girl. We would talk every day for hours, send each other presents and love letters in the post, and imagine our future together. She had already established her lesbian identity, but I was still hiding the fact that I fell in love with girls as well as boys from my family and friends. I would tell my friends and family all about my male crushes, but the female crushes were always secret. For the first time in my life, after meeting my then-girlfriend, I was seriously thinking about sexuality, homophobia, and discrimination, because before then, I’d never been sure exactly what I was. Was I straight? Lesbian?

At the time, I didn’t know that there is an “in-between”: such is the toxicity of heteronormativity and mononormativity (society normalising the idea of only liking the “opposite” gender, and when confronted with lesbian and gay people, normalising the idea of only liking one gender: the “opposite” gender, or your own gender, not both or more than one), biphobia and bi erasure. I would certainly have benefited from knowing at a young age that it’s okay to be attracted to more than one gender. I would have realised I am normal and not the only one. But nobody ever spoke about bisexuality in society.

It wasn’t until my mid-teenage years when I first heard the word “bisexual.” Even then, I didn’t automatically admit to myself that I, too, was bi. Because of biphobic stereotypes about bisexual people, I assumed that I, a virgin, could not possibly be bisexual if I had never slept with anyone. I kept telling myself that I’m straight and that it’s just my hormones that make me feel aroused by naked women. But it wasn’t simply about sex. I also continued to fall in love with women. Again, I suppressed this for a while, until finally, when I was fifteen, I admitted to one close friend that I am bi, but I still pretended to be straight for almost another decade.

For the next nine years, I continued pretending to be straight, hiding my romantic and sexual attraction to women and focusing on the men. My bisexuality was something I had finally made peace with, myself, but I hid it from the world. It was my deepest secret. Everybody assumed I was straight, and I let them.

At the age of twenty-one, however, just before my twenty-second birthday and graduation for my Bachelor’s degree, I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Death was a real possibility: in fact, I had more chance of dying than surviving, since my cancer was so advanced and aggressively growing. After intensive chemotherapy and the most difficult months of my life, I went into remission and decided to do more of what I love. I’m a keen linguist and language lover, and until then I had only known English, Persian, French and some Kurdish and Hebrew, but as soon as I was out of hospital and before the hair on my head started to grow back I signed up for Spanish, Italian, Polish and Swedish (and later German and Arabic) classes. I love travelling, so I started visiting as many countries as I could afford to. Barely recovered from my chemotherapy-related sicknesses, my body still frail and sickly, I went to Iceland with friends in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. My two biggest loves in life are learning languages and travelling, and since cancer made me realise that life is short and I could die at any moment, I began to do more of what I love, straight away.

With this new lease of life, I also decided it’s high time to come out. And so, in March 2016, at the age of twenty-four, I finally came out to my mother and the rest of the world on Facebook with this message.

After coming out, my mental health improved so much. Just before coming out, I was suffering from one of the most awful times in my life regarding my severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. I had considered that I would be better off dead. But coming out felt like such a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I could now be myself 100%. I had nothing to hide from society. As the saying goes: “I’m here; I’m queer; get used to it!” Coming out worked wonders for my mental health. And so, I began dating, being open to dating not only men, but also women and non-binary people. I am currently in a relationship with a wonderful man, but I am so vocal about my bisexuality both on Facebook and in the “real world” that I will not let anyone for a second assume that I am straight: I am bi, and I remind everyone constantly!

It’s been a long journey getting here, but I am so happy to be out and 100% true to myself. Just a year and a month ago, I was still wearing my “straight” mask, but now, I am an out and proud bi woman and I couldn’t be happier!

Kimia Etemadi
A British-Iranian Jewish woman living in Manchester, England, Kimia is a language enthusiast who can get around in 11 languages. A cancer survivor, OCD and anxiety sufferer, crazy cat lady, and vegetarian, Kimia has recently finished her second Master's degree.