By Abby Alexander
It’s safe to say there’s a perception that most of us are straight, right? While this may not actually be the case, it’s usually what we are led to believe. So, you can probably see why I naturally assumed that I was heterosexual for nearly 18 years.
Of course I was straight! Sure, I was unnaturally obsessed with Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2 when I was 10, Kylie Minogue when I was 8, and had absolutely no interest in One Direction or Justin Bieber. It was obviously just a #girlpower thing, and definitely not a ‘I kinda want to touch her boobs’ thing.
During my schooling years, I had no interest in dating. My week was jam-packed with dancing, a part time job and catching up with homework. I just didn’t have the time to date or be interested in boys.
Clearly this was why I had made it to 18 without kissing a boy. I didn’t have time to find one to kiss. I was so busy with other things that were more worthwhile, and I kept thinking that there was plenty of time for that in the future.
My cousin is gay, but I definitely was not. Two gay cousins in one small family? Surely we had filled our quota, I thought.
That was until May 2015. It was two months before my 18th birthday, when my new friend Carla asked over the phone if there was any chance I might not be as straight as I thought I was.
At first I laughed, and told her of course I was not gay.
She asked if I had ever had a boyfriend. I said no.
She asked me if I wanted a boyfriend. I said no.
She asked me if I wanted to kiss a boy. I said no.
She reminded me that I was nearly 18 and that I should be wanting to kiss boys behind the bike sheds left, right and centre, and I said I wasn’t interested.
“Why is that?” she asked. I listed all of the above reasons. It was then her turn to laugh then asked me if I was sure I wasn’t gay.
“I tried really hard to want to kiss a boy, but even when I imagined locking lips with Zac Efron, I wasn’t that interested.”
What followed were potentially some of the weirdest and most surreal days of my life, as I slowly opened myself up to the possibility that while the majority of the population may be straight, I might not be part of that demographic.
I thought about the weddings I had imagined—how I had carefully planned my dress, my bridesmaid’s dresses, the table settings, music, a flash mob—but not once had I planned for an imaginary husband.
I tried really hard to want to kiss a boy, but even when I imagined locking lips with Zac Efron, I wasn’t that interested.
I called Carla back a few days later, freaking out big time. She listened to me on the other end of the phone, as I blurted out things like, “I have only thought about dresses for my bridesmaids”, “I don’t like chest hair” and “I don’t even want to kiss Zac Efron!”
Carla was silent for a minute, then she said, “I really think you might be a lesbian.”
I started cry-laughing. Then I thought about the times it has crossed my mind that it would be pretty cool to kiss my girlfriends. I had always brushed it off—surely it’s normal to fantasise about kissing friends while you have all those pesky hormones running through your blood? Apparently it is, but not to the complete exclusion of the opposite sex.
According to the Department of Human Services, 11 out of every 100 people in Australia identifies as being sexually or gender diverse. More than that, people who identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community are three times more likely to experience mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. These are statistics that will not change until we are more open to alternative sexualities and gender identities.
Here is the thing that no one tells you about being gay—you don’t always know. And while being on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum is not fully accepted into our Aussie culture (#sayidodownunder #gaymarriage #pls), it’s not always easy to figure it out for yourself.
But banding together, supporting your queer friends, and making exploration okay makes it a little bit easier.