I’m From Arizona.

by emma v.

Never in my life had it ever once entered my mind that I could be anything other than straight. Straight was the default. Everyone was straight in Arizona, or so it seemed to me for a very long time.

High school rolled around and everything was the same as it always been. I dated a couple guys and I never enjoyed it. However, I never thought anything of it. So what? I didn’t enjoy dating these guys. It wasn’t until my junior year, when I was having a conversation with a couple of my friends, that all this changed.

We were talking about a girl in our grade, a very nice girl that everyone knew and with whom I’d had classes each year. “She’s a lesbian.” my friend said. “What?” “She’s a lesbian, everyone knows that!” She replied. I sure didn’t know it. Contrary to popular belief, there weren’t many lesbians at my all girls catholic school so this was actually the first gay girl I had heard about. How did everyone know this? How was I the only one in the dark about it? My friends moved on to other topics of conversation, but I was stuck. I couldn’t stop thinking about her being gay. Not that I thought it was weird, but more that my whole life had been void of gay people and this had caught me by surprise.

I remember my mom driving me home that day and I was still thinking about it. However, my thoughts had migrated from the girl to myself. I wasn’t questioning my sexuality but I was curious as to how I had never thought about whether or not I like women. Throughout the following months, I realized more and more that my lack of interest in men might not be personal to the guys I was dating. I also began to realize that I was really repulsed by men sexually. Women on the other hand, were a completely different story.

Months and months later I started to accept that I was possibly bisexual. A bisexual that would most likely end up with a man. Months after admitting to myself that I could be bisexual, I began to freak out. What if I was straight and I was just convincing myself that I was bisexual? What if I was gay and I was convincing myself that I still liked men? I was constantly thinking about this all being my mind playing a trick on me. I flip flopped from straight to bi many times during that year. But after I realized I could not get women off my mind, I knew I was attracted to them for real.

I came out to a handful of friends as bi. It felt good to tell people, but for some reason I still didn’t feel completely right. Completely myself. I think I knew deep down that I was gay but at the time it felt like such a constricting and dangerous label to have. If I was gay then I could not take it back. I would be shutting out men as romantic partners forever. I thought that was scary because my entire life until a year before that point had been me believing that I would end up with a man. I wasn’t afraid I was gay because I wanted to be with a man, I was afraid I was gay because I didn’t want to be fooling myself.

Near the end of my senior year, I finally gave my mind an ultimatum. I needed to stop being afraid that I was lying to myself and just follow my heart. It sounds cheesy, but all of a sudden, I knew. I knew that I could never be happy with a man. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with a woman. Being able to finally admit to myself that I was gay, was so freeing. I didn’t have to question anything anymore. I looked at old pictures of myself and laughed because I knew that in the moments that those photos were taken, I had had no idea that I was a lesbian.

High school ended and a sensation of even more freedom washed over me. I felt no need to hide who I was for fear that people might not think I was not funny, but weird. I came out to my closest friends as gay and everyone was amazingly supportive.

I feel so fortunate that in this one life that I have, I was born a lesbian. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel such an immense sense of pride and community that I could not be more thankful for.

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