LGBTQ+ people have it hard enough without the societal pressure of having a constant identity. For a lot of people, including LGBTQ+ folks, their gender and sexual identity don't change throughout their life and that's perfectly okay. Some people, like myself, experience shifts in our identities, and that's also perfectly okay. Our identities are nobody's but our own, and we are the only ones who are allowed to label ourselves and put a name to things.
I remember being younger and up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, with my two best friends in the entire world. We were visiting one of their families and I had come out to these two friends months prior to this trip as pansexual, or the sexual attraction to any and all people, regardless of gender identity. It felt right, or so I thought it did. I had been holding it in for years, constantly calling myself pansexual (or sometimes bisexual, but that's a whole other conversation).
I came out to them because I felt like I owed it to myself to be honest with the two people I trusted more than anything. Of course, they were both incredibly supportive and we moved on with life.
Just months after coming out to those close to me, I learned about the term 'asexual' and the difference between romantic and sexual attraction. I remember laying on the floor with my best friends that night, ready to go to bed, and softly spoke, 'I think I might be asexual'.
It wasn't that I had never been pansexual and had only just learned the definition for asexual, per se, but it was more-so that I was acknowledging the fact that I once had been pansexual and that in that moment of my life, it was what fit the most. Between me coming out and that trip, something shifted in me. I don't know what it was, but it was hard to come to terms with on my own.
Now I am older, and I still struggle with those identities. As of right now, I choose not to think about it and simply just let myself... be.
There are people in my life who have experienced the same kind of situation. A close friend of mine, Brad LaPlante, a diehard music fan with a YouTube channel, has experienced shifts within his own sexuality. He and I, along with two other friends, had gone out to see the highly appraised film called, "Love, Simon". The movie focuses on the life of a gay teenager coming to terms with his own sexuality and the reactions of his family and peers when they find out. Brad had seen the movie multiple times before this and it was obvious just how much he related to the main protagonist, Simon.
In all the time I had known Brad, his sexuality had been bisexual. He was never shy about it and never tried to cover it up. Shortly after seeing "Love, Simon", Brad stopped replying to my messages. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it felt different this time; like he was trying to push people away to give himself space.
The day he messaged me back was the same day he came out to me as gay. Coming to the conclusion that his identity had changed took a toll on him that many people will never be able to understand.
Months later, he no longer identifies as gay. He got a lot of crap from a lot of different people for "changing" his identity and "lying" to people when that's not the case at all. He describes his sexuality as fluid, but his identity will never be enough for some people.
Right now, he is living his best life with people who love him and acknowledge that he is forever changing -- forever growing.
And that is what's happening to you, gentle reader. If you are experiencing an identity shift, there is nothing wrong with you. Whether it be with your gender or your sexuality, you are as valid as they come and you've got people to back you up. The fact that you once identified as something because that's who you were, does not invalidate your new identity being who you are now.
It's okay to say, "I was once gay, but now I'm bisexual. Me being gay doesn't change the fact that I'm bisexual and me being bisexual doesn't erase who I was when I was gay", or even "I once identified as a cis woman, and that identity was very important to me and my growth, but my gender identity shifted as I got older and now I identify as non-binary."
It's all okay. You owe nothing to anyone and your identity is not up for debate.
Now, it's time for you to embrace yourself and love your identities for what they are. It's time to live your life and love who you love.
Many of us are somewhere stuck in the middle, never knowing our own truth or calling ourselves by what we are. If you're staring at your computer screen, frantically searching definitions and trying to do some soul-searching, know this: it is better to not rush yourself, your own growth, or your own self-discovery. You are so young, gentle reader, and you've still got time.