Pansexual: not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.
Aly’s story is beautifully written, and exemplifies the importance of having a support system in place, no matter who or what it is.
She, like Caie, launched right into it without any prompting, and I couldn’t have made this sound any better if I tried.
“I knew something was wrong the first time I watched the comedy-action movie “Sky High” and fell in love with the villainous lead, Gwen. For the next year I kept the movie on repeat, telling myself and my mother that I simply adored the storyline. Yet I would sit right up in front of the tv, admiring her face, watching her lips as she spoke, pretending she was flirting with me.
It was about this time that I had my first crush on a real-life human: a boy. Now, this was incredibly confusing for me because I had never, not once in my eleven years, found a boy cute. I used this crush to convince myself that I was absolutely, completely straight.
I was twelve when my mother got married to Andy, a sweet, sarcastic man she had been dating for a few years. I had never met my biological father, and the only man I ever considered a dad passed away less than a year before, so this new expansion was an odd adjustment. My little family of three: my mother, my aunt, and my grandfather expanded to twenty people that summer. All of which were Christian.
I had been raised Christian by my mother. My aunt was a self-proclaimed “Jesus-lover” who lived “for Him and through Him.” My grandfather attended Bible college and followed every word in the scriptures. Because of this, I was taught three things from a young age: God is almighty and all-powerful, I must never question the authority of God, and homosexuality is a terrible sin.
Christianity was shoved down my throat before I could read the children’s Bible books that were placed in front of me. But don’t get me wrong, I am not against religion.
I was fourteen the first time I committed that which I had come to believe was a terrible crime: I kissed a girl. A nice, beautiful girl that was my best friend before she was my first kiss. I was somewhat infatuated with her- soft skin, silky hair, slightly chapped lips. But the rush of an intimate moment was quickly trumped by suffocating shame. I was sure, without a doubt in my mind, that I was queer. Since her I’ve kissed five people- three girls and two boys, and with each caress my shame is diminishing a bit more, but I fear it will always remain.
I never planned on telling my parents unless it was necessary, and definitely not until after I moved out. I imagined bringing home a girl I loved and going “surprise,” having her hold my hand and tell me it would be okay. I never imagined it being so lonely. I was in the truck with Andy in March of 2015, it was 9pm and we had just dropped my then-crush off at her house. I had kept so many secrets over the years. I had hidden a near-crippling depression, a period of self-harm, a year and a half long abusive relationship, and my sexuality for so long that, unknowingly, I had begun to lose myself in the lies.
“I have something to tell you that I’m afraid to tell mom.” The words were like a cough hurtling out of my mouth with little control.
“You’re pregnant,” Andy said, and the accusation was so absurd and ironic that the words “I like girls” tumbled into existence so quickly that the amusement hadn’t worn off before I realized what had happened. He ran a red light in sudden silence. The ride home was shock, and regret, and waves of rage cascading off of him. I stared at the tattoo on his arm of my six year old face and wished he had known me at that age; maybe remembering my innocence would make him less angry. Maybe it would make it worse when I told my mother.
And I did, because I had already dug myself in a hole- and I was afraid if I left myself in it Andy would throw the dirt back in over the top of me before I had the chance to crawl out. My limbs were shaking as I rolled out the yoga mats after I got home that night, teeth were chattering with cold despite the raging fire.
I was teetering like a branch in the wind during tree pose when I started crying, and when I collapsed to the mat, only then did my mother notice something was wrong. Her eyes were red-rimmed from “medication” and I knew she was not sober, and at least whatever reaction came to follow would not fully encompass her rage.
I don’t remember specifics from that point on. Every second that came to follow felt like the moment you tip a vase- and watch in horrific slow motion as it makes its way to the floor. When I broke into a million pieces on the yoga mat, sobbed to my mother about how I was a disappointment, and watched the adoration fade from her eyes, I became stuck in that slow-motion fall. I think I am still there today.
Her lips became a thin, flat line that night, and remain that way over dinners and family movie nights, any time a friend comes over. But she has gotten better. Although sleepovers are banned and she believes, whole-heartedly that I have made this choice- she has gotten better. She still kisses my cheek and tells me she loves me. But I am not sure my mother will ever be proud of me again.
I told my aunt three months later while staying at her apartment, a terrible decision because she is the person I have always been closest to in the family. When I confessed that I am pansexual to her, she shut me out. At one point she screamed at me, “Why can’t you be bisexual! It’s easier to understand but it’s still wrong.” I wonder if I would get a similar reaction if I told her I am an atheist.
So despite my family not approving of my sexuality, I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I’m so lucky to have found support- in friends, and within the community. I have started a Queer-Straight alliance at my school that actively provides a safe space for queer and questioning students, and I can proudly say that I am Queer. There will always be discrimination around me- in my home, in my school, from strangers. And while religion may have hurt me, do not read my story as a bash against Christianity- if your God gives you hope and comfort in your struggles, embrace your beliefs.
Looking back, as much as leaving the closet was a harsh and terrifying experience, I am so glad that I no longer have four walls closing me in. If you are in hiding, I hope that you can find a safe space, or the strength to openly embrace yourself. I am so glad that I have.”
Aly’s story, I feel, can serve as a beacon of hope for young closeted teens who are struggling with the potential consequences of coming out. She gives them a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, to look forward to and reminds us all that things can and will get better.