Sometimes I wonder why I started questioning my sexuality. If it was because my father called me a dike when I told him I preferred stud earrings to hoops; or the few years my mother was half convinced I liked girls because my best friend was bisexual; or if it was when my doctor asked my sexual orientation and I hesitated. But then, maybe it was because I actually liked a girl.
Before then, my sexuality wasn’t in question. I had no interest in my sex. So I wore my stud earrings, spent every day with my bisexual best friend, and told my doctor I was straight. I meant it when I said it then, and I meant it every other time the words passed my lips.
It wasn’t until I met Dahlia that I started to wonder how true those words were. She shook up every belief that I had of myself, pulling me in, in a way that I thought only boys could. She was taller than any girl I knew and her hair was just as long; the deep mahogany color of an old desk. Her eyes were blue and brown and green all at once, and staring at them was like staring into the very center of the ocean. I could lose myself in her eyes, and I think I did.
I fell in love with her, or as in love as a straight girl can be with another girl. We were friends, and could have been more if it wasn’t for my conflicted feelings about her building a wall between us. For every stray thought about her eyes or the smoothness of her skin, another brick was added. For every time the silence of a million unsaid things filled the air between us, another brick was added. I knew Dahlia was gay, there was never a question about what she wanted. It was me who hesitated, who couldn’t figure out if I was simply enamored with her or if it was something more.
The wall grew, my confliction grew, my unease grew. The more time we spent together, the less I knew what to make of myself. I became two separate pieces.
98% of me belonging to me and the unwavering knowledge that I was straight.
2% of me belonging to her and the uncertainty of what that made me.
Gay? Straight? Bisexual? Was my mother right? Did my father have a point?
But, wouldn’t I have known by now if I was anything other than straight? Wouldn’t I have felt this for some other girl at some other point in my life? I didn’t believe that one person could change my sexual orientation, so I had to believe that this part of me had existed before her. I had to believe that she wasn’t the exception to genetic makeup. She couldn’t change me.
What I couldn’t accept was the fact that this part of me belonged solely to her.
I found myself staring at other girls, trying to figure out if I felt anything for them. I quizzed myself every time I saw a girl that I thought was beautiful, trying to pinpoint some kind of attraction that was similar to what I felt for boys or even what I felt for Dahlia. The artist in me always admired any beauty I saw, especially in people, but that was the extent of it. I couldn’t make myself feel more for my gender. It just wasn’t there, and that bothered me. I was sure that if I could call myself bisexual, I could move on from this limbo I was trapped in, I could stop stringing Dahlia along on the false hope that we could be more. Because it was taking a toll on our friendship, and that killed me. No matter what conflictions I had, I knew without a doubt that I needed her friendship. And I didn’t like hurting her. More than once, I thought of just going to her and saying “yes,” yes I like girls, yes I want to try this, yes I love you, too. And yes, I’m sorry.
I never did, though. I couldn’t make myself take that step. Almost like I was standing on the sidelines, I watched as we drifted apart. I watched myself scrambling for an answer like they were scattered puzzle pieces. I watched the friendship that I valued above all else fail because I couldn’t make sense of my feelings.
I regret that the most, the way it had to end between us. I don’t regret anything else from that year, not even the doubts that she brought to my mind. In fact, I would thank her for that. By forcing me to answer those questions, she brought a clarity that had been missing before.
Now, I understand that I’m not straight or gay or bisexual. I understand that it doesn’t matter, that I’m just me.
Brittany Clarke is a YA writer of nine years. She hates to read one book at a time and believes the cure to eluding characters is a good cup of coffee and a doughnut. On the days she’s not staring at a blinking cursor, you’ll find her sitting in the back of a movie theater and laughing louder than anyone else. You can follow her on twitter @balancingbritt or read her blog at www.balancingbrittany.blogspot.com
This post is a part of our reader submissions program. To find out how you can contribute to posts on the Gay YA, click here.