I knew I liked girls when I was 10 years old. But I refused to believe it until I was about 16. It was very hard for me to come to terms with my sexuality for many reasons. First, the adults in my life refused to talk about sexuality and this made me feel like my feelings were "wrong." This also made me feel bad about wanting to explore who I was. Second, although I knew I liked girls, I still liked boys, too. And no one ever told me that was okay. I felt like society needed me to chose and yet again I felt like my feelings were "wrong" because it was hard for me to chose.
So when I was a senior in high school, I started dating my first girlfriend. This was a very exciting and liberating time for me and I was very lucky to have the love and support of my family and friends. However, people I knew and some people I didn't know decided to label me as a lesbian. At first, I didn't care. I embraced this label and was just happy that I was out of the closet. But then I started thinking that the word "lesbian" didn't really describe me. But by then it was too late. Everyone in my life already knew and I really didn't want to have to come out again. So I just let it go. I kept my mouth shut and forced myself to forget about my true feelings. Well....that didn't last for long.
After about 3 years of pretending to be a lesbian, I decided enough was enough. I finally embraced my bisexuality and it felt really good. I was able to freely and openly talk about my attraction to girls and guys. BUT something still wasn't right.
Side note: gender and sexuality are different. If you didn't know this or this confuses you, please spend some time with Google and educate yourself. (Preferably before you keep reading the rest of this article. Otherwise you might get a little lost.)
So, I met someone and was immediately attracted to them. They were cute, funny, and very nice. I soon came to find out that they identified as a non-binary individual and used the pronouns they/them/theirs. This was not my first encounter with someone who was non-binary or gender queer, but it was the firs time I was ever attracted to someone who identified that way. So what did that mean for me? It means that I am pansexual.
According to Merriam-webster, pansexual (adj.) is characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation. Speaking from my own experience, this means that I'm just attracted to people-regardless of what's in their pants or how they identify. Once I had this realization, it was like I could finally see in color. All my life I wasn't living like my truest self. But once I found out that there was a name to how I felt and that there were other people in the world who felt the same, I was so relieved. Also, bisexuality and pansexuality are REAL identities. We are not just confused or in the middle. Our feelings are true and valid.
Sexuality is fluid and is on a spectrum. This means that who you're attracted to can change and that is OKAY. If you are struggling with your sexuality, take all the time you need. Do not feel forced to "decide" if you don't know. If you have already come out but you think you need to it again, do it! You only get one life and you should be able to live it as who you truly are. Don't let anyone decide how you feel, only you can do that.