I first had feelings for a girl when I was about six years old. I remember a conversation I had with my friends in year 1 or 2; I was arguing that it was normal to kiss your friends who were the same sex. I told them I and my best friend Caitlin kiss all the time, and she sort of begrudgingly agreed. To prove it I pecked her on the cheek. She didn't look uncomfortable exactly, but she wasn't into it like I was. It felt natural to me, completely normal, and I used to think I was just being friendly and affectionate.
Now I realise that was young, gay me, and that's why none of my straight friends agreed.
In year 4 or 5 I had a 'boyfriend', just like the majority of my friends in school. As with all primary school relationships, it consisted of nothing more than occasional hand holding. I thought I liked it, simply because society told me I liked it. Society told me that girls love boys and boys love girls and that's the end of it. However, I found it much more boring and pointless than my peers apparently found it. Looking back now, it was definitely a sign.
Fast forward a few years to secondary school, and I started realising that I just wasn't as eager to get a boyfriend as all of my friends were. I had a friend that would purposely walk past a boy on the yard and swoon every time he looked at her. She loved it. And I just, didn't. I thought the deal was that you had to pick a nice looking boy and try to get them to go out with you, and that was that. That was how things were supposed to be. But I didn't connect with that at all. I told myself I just wasn't ready to have a boyfriend, and that the feelings would come soon. Nearly five years later and I still have yet to be romantically interested in a boy.
I became really attracted to my best friend at around year 9. I remember wanting to hug her whenever I saw her, I wanted to play with her hair and to touch her face. It was such an innocent and childlike romance but it was romance none the less. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't know how - I wasn't really aware that same sex couples existed. I thought we were just close. This girl later came out as bisexual, and we are currently dating.
When I was fourteen, across the span of about a year and a half, some serious traumatic events and abuse involving a boy have led to me not only having many mental health problems, but completely pushed me away from the idea of ever having a boyfriend. (This is a whole other story). I knew I was interested in girls - I thought I was bi - but after I got in a safe place and started my life again I realised that I could never, ever, be with a man. Despite the flashbacks and fear associated with the trauma, I still had no real feelings towards boys and no desire to have a boyfriend. I could only picture my future with a girl. It's the only scenario that still, to this day, feels completely natural. That's the word I most use to describe it. Natural. Whereas the thought of being with a boy sounds alien and uncomfortable. Always has, always will.
Despite what people might think, my bad experiences with men have not caused me to be gay: the feelings for woman were always there from the start. It's hard to tell people this story, because there will always be some homophobes who want to invalidate me by saying "of course she's a lesbian after what happened!" But no. Sexuality is chemical, not physical, and is rarely ever affected by life experiences.
It didn't take me long to figure out, in the grand scheme of things, some people realise they're gay well into adult hood. So I suppose I'm lucky.
So that's it - how I realised I was a lesbian. I hope this helps someone to think about their own experiences, and sort out any confusion they might be having.
Just remember to take it slow, and that there's no hurry to put a label on yourself :)
- Ailsa x
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.