Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Identity part 2 (how it feels to suddenly realise you're gay, when you knew you weren't)

Identity - noun

2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another:
3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is
4. the state or fact of being the same one as described.
5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time          

This is the second of 3 posts called Identity.

Part 1 talks about the effects finding out you're gay has on your marriage and your perceived future.
Part 2 (this one) will talk about suddenly realising you're gay, and how that feels.
Part 3 will talk about where I'll go from here, and also explain why I'm going to be all right.

For the purposes of explaining this, I will use skin colour as a metaphor. Y'all chill, it will be fine. Deep breaths.

It seems to be the most asked question so far: how did you not know? And I've found an allegory that seems to work quite well for the purposes of explaining. Let me begin.

So, imagine you're white. A white person in a white family with white friends. Some of your friends are black too. For that matter, some of your friends are other skin colours, that doesn't bother you, at all, but it's also not something you think too much about. However, as everyone in your family is white, and most of your friends are too, there just doesn't seem to be a reason for you to ask "am I black"? Why would you? Surely, you would know. 

None of these butterflies ever thought to ask "Am I a snail?"

You have friends, you go to university, you learn things and you read things, you have interests and hobbies, you get married and buy an apartment. This is your life, and you're quite happy with it.

Then one day you notice a crack in your skin. This isn't the first time. It's happened before, a couple of times, but as any other little blemish, you've just let it heal. This time it's different, though. You flip a little piece of skin aside and find a whole new skin underneath. You peel and peel and suddenly your whole outer skin falls of, and what do you know - you're black.

No one quite understands what has happened. It seems you were put in a white skin suit at birth, and it has grown with you. Your parents are shocked, your friends various degrees of surprised, but no one as surprised as you.

Now, this shouldn't matter. You're still you. You've done the same things, have the same interests and hobbies, your knowledge and personality is the same. It shouldn't matter at all which colour your skin is. But it does.

Most of your friends are cool with it, some aren't. Some of them are a tiny bit racist, some just don't know how to behave around black people. Most of your family is fine with it, but you wonder if they now doubt you really belong. 
The snail was a bit confused as to how she had kept herself flying all these years

Other black people aren't necessarily super comfortable with you either. You haven't had a black upbringing, you don't understand the struggle, you don't know which part of black culture you belong to and you don't know your roots. All you know is that your skin is black, and somehow that has dislodged you from belonging.

Now, replace white with straight, black with gay and skin colour with sexuality.
That is what it felt like. 

I just suddenly understood. The truth of me being straight had never been questioned, I just assumed I was. I got married, and I did (and do) love my husband. But not the way I was supposed to, I just didn't know. I attributed a wide range of emotions I never had, to me just "being like this" and "not so romantic". And then, I was kissed by a girl.

I am slowly reclaiming my life. Filtering friends through their reactions, giving them time, giving my family time, most of all giving myself time.

But who would have thought someone really would get under my skin..? 


  1. You'r writing is so good. And your metaphors! wow.
    And I can't say I know what you're going thru, but I can feel the feeling in the back of my...heart?
    It's where the feeling is, so we'll go with that.

    Oh, and the first post in this series was allso really great!
    Hang in there, (you're probably doing that allready)

    1. Thank you, so much =) and yes! Hanging in here ^^