At age 16, someone I trusted spread a rumor throughout my circle that I was gay.
This was news to me, but apparently people seems to be convinced right away, due to my touchy nature towards the same sex (I'm a cuddler) and apparent closeness to a certain androgynous female (let's call her Tav) whom I considered my best friend at the time.
I denied it like hell, of course, but it put so much stress and uncertainty into my psyche and my friendship with Tav that I vowed to myself at 17 to prove to this person what my sexuality actually is.
And now, at 19, after two strange fallouts with both of them and an arduous recheck of most friendships I’ve still maintained, I can finally say that the person was…..
I am queer.
And not only will I not come out from the closet had she not 'accused' me of being in it, I probably wouldn’t have even been aware that the closet existed at all.
Because despite my reluctance at being called queer, and how strange and terrifying it felt at that time, the incident got me thinking about how I, myself, viewed sexuality and the spectrum, and about why I felt so offended to be called so.
In a society where being heterosexual is a birthright and norm, where the word 'homo' is intended to be spiteful, as if the bearer of that label is lesser, someone who is suffering from a 'disease' that will inevitably spread; in a High School where I saw close friends breaking apart because one of them didn’t fit the sexuality norm, it was insulting and scary to even mull over the possibility that I am gay.
Because the homophobia from all around me is already internalized.
And looking back at it now, I wonder how many other kids were there, in Indonesia, and in a harsher circumstances, who realized much sooner than me that they favor something different from everyone else and had to restrain and limit themselves in fear of the prejudice.
I wonder why it has to be that way.
So the 17-year old that I was went into a simple research, curiosity peaked, and it dawned on me that sexuality is not a straight, rigid line. It differs from a person to another, fluid and varied and there should've been no shame at all to love another person the way you want to love them. There should've been no shame to identify or not identify yourself in one of the labels. There should've been no shame to keep an open mind and not just accept the homophobia fed to you since a very young age. There should’ve been no shame in being honest with yourself and everyone around you.
Some might say that I am able to think that way because I’m young, I’m still experimenting with the world and what I want, some might even say I’m justifying myself from the accusation that once had destroyed my self-esteem – and bits and pieces of those conclusions is indeed true.
But I also know that I refuse to be offended anymore if anyone decided to call me gay. Because the word is not a hurtful one. It never has been. Gay is synonymous to happy, and never again will I see it otherwise.
So I reevaluate myself, settling on a label that I felt right in, something that I’m most comfortable with (pansexual – because why limit your capacity to love), and I can safely say that it's been the most liberating thing I had ever done. It gives me the freedom and capacity to look back with an open mind of how I had always admired a girl’s aesthetics alongside men’s. How every relationship I had ever been in with the opposite sex had never felt right, how I felt stuck with what I thought was a cold heart, wondering why I was unable to feel the things other people were supposed to feel when they were “in love.”
And now, with a loving, brilliant girlfriend by my side who makes my life brighter just for existing, and a new set of friends who chooses to support me no matter what, I find myself happier, stable, and nicer.
Sure, it is not easy being queer, especially in a world where there is still so much prejudice on the matter. But I learned to accept the difficulties anyway because it's better, healthier, to be honest than not.
And I find myself wanting to thank the person who had made rumors about my apparent gayness. Because without her I probably woud’ve never found the courage to take control of my life, broaden my horizon, and be honest with myself. As much as my self-discovery story is a strange one, I am endlessly grateful that it happened.
I hope, in time, she would feel compelled to broaden her horizon, and not think of the word ‘gay’ as an insult anymore.