My sexuality has always been a touchy subject. As a kid, I felt compelled to hide it. I grew up going to CCD and church programs, and I remember quite clearly being told that Madonna kissing Britney was a sin. I remember this because I told my mother what I learned, and she corrected me.
“She’s wrong,” was what my mother said. “That isn’t a sin.”
And I was very fortunate to have that voice as a child, because it was the only supportive one around me. I remember hearing kids singing mocking songs – mocking in that they implied someone was gay, because gay was the worst thing to be at that age. In my head, I still hear those songs and I still hear my CCD teacher, and to them I am a freak and a sinner. It isn’t true, of course, but you tend to internalize these things when you’re young and impressionable. And I did. I still have those feelings at times and occasionally wonder if I’m a disgusting person. These parts of my upbringing led me to be ashamed of myself for having any same sex attraction, and shame is a hard thing to unlearn.
Yet I remember car rides where my mom blatantly told me she would love me even if I liked girls, and it confused me for a while (as I did not have a “crush” until much later in life). I would turn up the volume and we would harmonize together to the Backstreet Boys’ Greatest Hits album while the world passed us by out of the window, an unfriendly and hostile place to anyone different. In that car, I was loved for something I did not yet recognize. Outside of it, that very thing was despised.
Time passed. We had moved a few times. I started middle school and I fell in love with my best friend, a girl with smooth, dark hair and grey eyes. At the same time, a beautiful boy took my breath away the first time I saw him, with fluffy black hair and flashy blue eyes. I wish I could go back and shake myself into realizing what that meant, but you can’t do that kind of thing. I was confused by these feelings. I was confused because of the kinds of sentiments I had already heard.
Bisexuals aren’t real.
Bisexual guys are just gay.
Bisexual girls are just trying to get attention from boys.
Bisexuals just won’t pick a team.
In effect, someone like me, someone capable of attraction to different kinds of people, had already been told that I did not really exist. I had been told that liking girls was a pathetic attempt to attract boys. In fact, the desire for male attention is the excuse the middle two stereotypes rely on. I thought all of it was true because it was all I had ever heard. I did not have any good examples of people like me in the popular media. I could find years of love songs and shows and films about straight men and women, or tragedies about same-sex couples. In recent years, this has somewhat improved (the Bury Your Gays trope is getting the backlash it deserves), but there remains very little visibility for people like myself.
I have been nervous to fully come out in the lingerie community. I guess it takes me back to days in locker rooms where I made myself small to get changed, looking directly into an empty locker, keeping on the metaphorical blinders. There were rumors going around at the time that I was a lesbian and I was terrified to fuel them. I was already a weird kid, but the rumors made me feel even more out of place. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to take that part of me that liked women and ball it up, leave it in the trash, forget about it.
Sometimes when I blog, I am frightened that my lingerie obsession will look perverted, like I am somehow preying upon others. There are kids singing homophobic songs on the playground again; my CCD teacher is pronouncing the word “sin” again; I find myself looking into the locker again, afraid to turn my head even accidentally. But by now, you’ve all seen more of my nakedness than I would have predicted, years back, when I began my bra-fitting obsession. So I will be naked in another way, now.
I am pansexual. I do not identify with bisexuality because I think it’s actually a limiting term (this is just my personal definition, as I’ve heard others express different views on this). I am attracted to people all along the gender spectrum, and even those who have discarded that spectrum altogether. This does not mean I am literally attracted to everybody. Are you attracted to everyone you meet of the gender you like? You aren’t. That would be a horrible way to live. My partner is male, yes, but this does not change who I am and it does not make me “greedy” or indecisive.
My fears of being honest have been the shadow over me for a long time. There are friends I have had for years that I have not come out to, people who know me as a straight girl, people will only ever know me as a straight girl. But there are also friends who don’t know just how damn much I love lingerie, too.
For you, my dear friends, I have chosen to come out. I was lucky to have a mother who intuitively knew that I was different and always made a point to say she loved me for that. Not everyone has that privilege. If you have no positive voices in your corner, I accept you for your sexuality, be it same-sex, all across the spectrum, or asexuality.
My lingerie love is out of the closet, so I might as well be, too.