Coming to terms with my sexuality at a young age - my experience as an LGBT+ Australian

It took me sixteen years to even acknowledge that my sexuality was anything other than straight.

It had never bothered me & I’d just dismissed feelings I had towards other girls as normal crushes. When I met my best friend I couldn’t ignore the conflict that I was facing every day, trying to ignore my feelings as I got jealous over her own crushes towards other people.

I was absolutely oblivious about her feelings & I was struggling hard with my own.

My Experience Coming to Terms With My Sexuality

Discovering Myself & Coming to Terms With My Sexuality

When we finally got together I never considered myself as bisexual, I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t think my feelings would last. I felt like I was going through a phase - I thought I’d already settled on my identity when I was really still coming to terms with who I was as a person. 

I got nervous in public, worried that people would stare at us holding hands.

Sometimes people did - they still do - but my own self-consciousness & social anxieties was only fuelled by something that would make me stand out in a crowd. Australia’s public opinion on marriage equality would comfort me somewhat, but the political stance of our leaders & our lack of any option for legislative change always made me worried about the people I’d walk past.

Did they support who I was or oppose it? Would they glare at me, or yell at me if they could? I’d get anxious when I’d get near some people, pushing my girlfriend off my arm and walking beside her as if she was nothing more than a friend. 

The Injustice of Inequality

Then I started getting angry.

I used to think about how it was unfair that the world made me feel unnatural when my straight friends didn’t need to announce their sexuality or their relationships to everyone they knew. I was bitter that they didn’t have panic attacks over telling their parents, & that they didn’t have to tearily bombard their older brother with massive news the night before an extremely important English exam.

I was jealous that their sexualities didn’t seem to disrupt their lives as much as mine did, & yet I was simply assuming that they weren’t going through something similar themselves. 

The Biggest Changes Have Been internal Ones

It’s been years now, but I can only see how I’ve changed over time when I think about my own confidence about myself.

Sure, I still suffer from a range of social anxieties & mental health issues, but I’m not ashamed of being attracted to both guys & girls. I’ve had many people try to put me down; call it a phase, tell me I need to choose one - my own father asked me how long until I would get over it when I’d finally gotten the five seconds of insane courage needed to tell him the truth about my best friend.

But now I have enough confidence in myself to worry about other things instead, because I know that whoever I end up with is going to make me happy regardless of how they identify. I see my friends going through the same questioning & nervousness that I once did & I constantly want to tell them that it gets better; it gets so much better to finally feel secure & unashamed about who you are. 

If There's One Thing I Know, It's That It Will Get Better

I see them hiding who they are, panicking when more people find out like I once did.

But eventually everyone finds out, & it doesn’t really matter what people think because those who matter don’t mind. I’ve found a support network that I didn’t even know I had, people who I can talk to about this regardless of how they identify themselves. I enjoy being able to talk about my relationships with my friends, listening as they talk about boys & feeling no different when I talk about boy & girls, too.

I now rush to show off my girlfriend, rather than hold her hand in my clammy ones whenever we walk through the city. I don’t care what people think anymore - I was nervous once, then angry & bitter, & now I’ve reached a point where my identity makes me happy to stand out in the crowd, as long as my girlfriend is holding my hand.

Learning to Be Me

I don’t have faith in any religion that things are going to change, but I have faith in people who accept who I am, and fight for me in a way that can only be done together. I’m grateful to friends & family & many that I barely know for making me feel “normal”, & I’ll forever be grateful to the girl who was patient as I stumbled through the first few months of my first proper relationship.

Although these last few years have at times been stressful & hard, I’ll never change a second if it meant that I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today. 

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About The Author - Claire Miller

Claire Miller is a young Australian student living in Victoria. As a part of coming to terms with her own identity, she has been a part of & supported groups & campaigns for LGBT+ rights. 

She hopes to one day establish her own organisation or group that can assist young LGBT Australians with a range of services, as she can see the inequalities between the heterosexual & non-heterosexual young adults within Australia.

One organisation that is currently providing such services is MINUS18, of which Claire has taken part in various events.

Please donate to Minus18 here.