“My childhood did not prepare me for this. I grew up in a restrictive, desperately religious home and, while I would like to say that it was mostly a good thing, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t. I’m still healing the scars clawed into me by religion years later. Because I was so deeply rooted in religious conservatism as a child and teen, the idea that I might not be straight didn’t even occur to me until I was 19 (and even then, only as a fleeting thought).
“I was in an abusive relationship with a man, which I ran from by moving three hours from home. In this newly chosen place, I fell in love with another man and lived my life as his girlfriend for another five years. Toward the end of our relationship, I started to realize that I didn’t feel the absence of attraction toward women as seemed socially ‘appropriate.’ I realized, slowly but surely, that I was definitely not straight.
“Being a progressive, confident (or so I thought), in-charge woman, I was immediately perfectly okay.
“Kidding. I spent many hours crying to a few high school acquaintances over the phone who shared with me that they were openly gay, and I owe them a debt of gratitude I’ll never be able to repay.
“Ultimately, I came to terms with the fact that I am pansexual over a long period of time, and one day I simply knew that I had always know. That night, I told my long-term boyfriend, thinking he would be happy for me, that I had learned this thing about myself and that I was beginning to fully understand and accept who I was. Instead, he became very angry, leaving me at a table at a restaurant in tears wondering what I’d done wrong.
“He left me about two months later, and, while there were many issues with our relationship, I will always wonder if this may have played a role. Since the end of that relationship, I’ve learned much more about myself and truly come to terms with the fact that I can be attracted to any gender. I think there will still be days where it causes a twinge of shame because of my upbringing, but my experience motivates me to ensure that no one, especially my children, ever has to face that shame.”