I pretty much knew I was bisexual when I was around fourteen. Her name was Charlotte. I took her bra off in a tent by the seaside as our parents tended to a BBQ. We made out.
But I didn’t come out till I was about twenty, mainly because society had told me bisexuality was a phase, or that, as a woman who always wanted kids, being bisexual meant I would have to end up with a man to have a family. It was a long few years of wondering why I craved the touch of a woman as well as men, and if I was bisexual or a lesbian. It was a different world when I was twenty, a world that saw bisexuality as being promiscuous, or a step onto being a lesbian, where same-sex couples faced a drawn-out struggle to have a child as it was illegal for queer people to adopt until 2002. Several times people have just called me ‘greedy’ to be attracted to both sexes. To those people – go fuck yourself.
When I told my mum, she smiled and said, “I already know. I’ve known since you were a kid. I remember you snogging Charlotte in a tent at the seaside.” Turns out your teenage secrets are probably not secrets from your mum. I was lucky. A lot of people don’t have accepting parents, and I still have to keep it a secret around certain members of the family to this day.
I came out officially when I lived in California over a decade ago. I met a girl. We miscommunicated over our relationship – it ended badly. I didn’t read her signals well, thought she was straight and not interested in me in that way. I regret that, and it taught me that I need to own who I love and not be embarrassed that I wasn’t straight, that if I myself was more open about my sexuality, it would help the others around me – especially when they’re trying to tell you they fancy you.
Another thing that has bugged me, and has been a torment to me, is that people conceive bisexuality as something that needs to be a 50/50 split. Guess what? It isn’t. For instance, I prefer women to men, but I am due to be married to a man. It is not his gender I’m attracted to, it’s the person. I couldn’t care less what’s between his legs, as long as he is the brilliant person I fell so deeply in love with (and he is, and is proud of my pride).
Last year, a colleague congratulated me on our engagement by saying “I guess you’re straight again now!” Hearing this was a punch to the gut. It plagues me, gives me anxiety that that comment was made and how the world still has so much left to learn. It made me feel ashamed of myself, but then – I fucking found my pride.
Finding your Pride
I didn’t find my pride till about a year ago, and that’s due to the horror and sci-fi community. I wasn’t open about my queerness unless someone asked me.
But then I started to find out that most of my favourite writers were queer. I found that the writing community on Twitter was full of acceptance and encouragement. Then, I started reading fiction that existed in worlds with no homophobia, and reading a protagonist who is queer and in a sci-fi or fantasy world full of acceptance, made my heart fill and made me proud of who I am.
Normalising LGBTQIA+ folk is a big step to combating homophobia and through my own fiction and stories, I hope to make a huge impact in this along with the likes of Sarah Gailey and Becky Chambers.
This is how I found my pride, through fiction, through sci-fi and horror, through creating kick-ass lesbian astronauts and trans crewmates on soaring ships, through worlds that aren’t heteronormative and protagonists who love who they want.
It doesn’t have to have queerness as a plot point – it’s not a plot point in our lives once we’re out, so why does it have to be in fiction? Being queer shouldn’t define the character or their journey, it should just be their preference on who they fuck, or fall for – that’s it.
Anybody who has been through this experience will know what I mean. Coming-out to your close friends and family is often lovely and feels like a big warm hug with a dollop of affirmation (if you’re as lucky as me). But finding your pride is more about yourself, coming to terms with loving your sexuality and celebrating it.
I’ve come a long way in the past 18 months in terms of owning my sexuality, and all I can do is thank the Writing Community who have taught me that we’re fucking awesome and we should shout louder, so the people who need to hear it (as I once was), can hear it from someone who is proud to be queer.
We owe the next generation an easier world to come out in, so lets make it so.
By J. Askew – she/her
J. Askew is a Science Fiction and Horror writer. She enjoys exploring mental health issues, sexual identity, and disability through sci-fi and horror. She often shows weaknesses as strengths at the end of the world. She writes space operas, dystopian dramas and weird fiction, all steeped in plot twists and stand-out characters.