I have been lucky enough to have a mostly positive experience in terms of discovering and accepting my sexuality and I want to share some of this to hopefully inspire other members of the LGBTQA+ community with my story. Sometimes it’s just nice to have something relatable to read even if it’s not directly depicting issues you are facing.
My story starts in my early teens (circa 2004) following a move mid-way through my third year of high school. I’d had “gay” experiences before, from the age of 8 or 9, but my journey holds most significance when I was 14 and had just started a new high school near to Portsmouth. I somehow found myself in with the cool kids of the year, we’d hang out in a storeroom and wear our ties as low as possible and our shirts half tucked out under our blazers – this was quite a contrast to my previous school where I had not necessarily fitted into any specific group let alone with the cool kids, despite being in my hometown.
The girls resonated with me differently here; they were cool, and had a “badass” attitude that I admired. It was in this group that I discovered my first taste of having “feelings” for another girl (I’d previously had physical encounters with girls in my youth but this could easily have been disregarded as messing around, or exploring, not necessarily scrutinising my sexuality). These feelings I was getting were later cemented by the discovery of the late night C4 program Sugar Rush – it was the first lesbian content I had seen in the media and I was OBSESSED – I’d stay up late to watch it in my bedroom; volume as low as possible so I could hear it but my mum couldn’t. At first, I couldn’t work out why I was so obsessed with the program and the characters. I found myself wanting to be Kim, the main character, who discovers she fancies Sugar, and I later realised I wanted to be her because I also fancied her (Sugar).
I didn’t do anything about the girl in my school. It wasn’t a case of being too afraid as I didn’t even get past the stage of infatuation to consider it was something that could be pursued. I just put it down to it being her and some sort of confusion in my mind of her being super cool and me wanting to be like her, despite this experience coinciding with my new found TV love – maybe I just admired these girls.
I’d forever been into boys, or at least behaved as though I was, chasing them and enjoying the attention I got from them. I was always involved with a boy, from around the age of 10-11 I would have a boyfriend or be deciding which boy I fancied, and following no action from my secret girl love, I started getting involved with the boys at my new high school. I don’t know if I was just doing this to fit in, or if I genuinely liked them, but my priority was to be liked and not endeavour on something that would make me stand out even more beyond the fact that I was already the new girl.
It wasn’t until moving back to my home town, and starting my third high school that I has my first lesbian (with feelings) experience.
Did this affect my mental health?
It’s hard to say. The repression of my thoughts and feelings at the time (and thus not being authentic to myself) may have had a negative impact, but by the nature of repressing feelings, and being the age that I was and without a strong awareness of mental health at the time, it just wasn’t an option for me (or didn’t feel like it was) to explore this beyond my initial thoughts.
I didn’t speak to anyone about these starter thoughts about girls, my school peers, I felt, would have ridiculed me and I would have been excluded from the group as quickly as I’d become part of it. I couldn’t afford that being so new to the area – ultimately, I didn’t know any of them well enough to talk about something so personal, that I wasn’t even sure of myself.
In the next part I will talk about my first lesbian relationship, also at high school, and what it was like to have such an intense and hidden relationship in my mid-teens.
The point of these short stories is to provide anyone who reads them with an honest account of my experiences in life as a gay woman, both in how it does and doesn’t affect how I live my life, and to provide something (hopefully) positive and relatable for any member of LGBTQA+ who might be struggling.
I’m Kiera, a 31-year-old woman working in digital marketing. I have many life experiences that I believe if shared might be able to help those who are struggling with sexuality, relationships and mental health. I am working to become an advocate for women both in their personal lives and professionally and hope my positive and strong outlook can provide inspiration for women and inspire more leadership.