I went to an all-girls high school. I hope I don’t have to explain that the school wasn’t the making of my sexuality, but perhaps it helped to be in an environment where girls became sisters and shared feelings more readily.
It took me a while to come to terms with what I was. It happened all of a sudden, when a friend was speaking of a mutual friend of ours, saying she was bisexual. It’s as though the cogs in my brain suddenly fit together. Now I suddenly understood what it was that I felt for her all those years. She occupied my thoughts, unrequited, every day for 5 years, it was only years later that I was able to move on sufficiently to be able to sustain another relationship.
I went to my formal dance in my final year of school, taking no date, because there was no girl (or boy) I wanted to take, but instead having fun with my friends. I then went overseas for a year, working and traveling on my own, which was the most incredibly self-assuring experience. I returned to Johannesburg, happy to see my friends, and started to let myself love again. Since then, there have been girls for every feeling, some who soured me, but made me stronger. Some who have boosted me up, but couldn’t last. I had no blueprint for how this was ‘supposed’ to work, but then met and have been with a wonderful partner who I have been with since.
I have been far more privileged than most in South Africa; while my parents were uncomfortable with my being gay, my brother said, “And so what?”, when I came out to him. I have not been hurt, threatened or worse, and this cannot be said for many LGBTI people in South Africa. We have a stunningly inclusive constitution that doesn’t translate to real equality on the ground. I am grateful every day for my life with my girlfriend and my ever-more-accepting family, and that I am safe.