Posted in Blog

Embracing my True Self… and Alex Strangelove

I have so much to write about, so much more pressing events, as I’ve been away and also been super busy with Uni. I’ve also started working, part- time! But more on that later.

I feel like this post has just been burning up inside of me.

Since I came out at a lesbian, everybody has had something to say about it, especially considering I was seemingly straight my entire life before coming out, and more so that my first girlfriend happens to be trans. Even my girlfriend doubts that I’m gay, because according to her I’ve “never tried it with a real girl before” (these are her words by the way, not mine. I see her as a real girl, which is why I’m still with her after coming out).

But here’s the thing, I know who I am. I’ve always known it. Having to pretend for so long drove me crazy. I went to a girls’ school, where I was attracted to my friends, but because everybody in a girls’ school takes the piss out of lesbians, I never admitted my feelings to anybody, not even my closest friends. I even remember masturbating in my secondary school best friend’s house, during a sleep over, while thinking about her. I felt so ashamed. It didn’t help that I was born into a Catholic home and had to endure a strict Pentecostal upbringing, where I was taught that relationships were created to be “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”.

So as soon as I went away to University, I lost my virginity to the first guy who showed interest in me and I didn’t stop trying to prove my straightness to the world after popping my cherry.

alex-strangelove-netflix-before-after

(Image source)

I’ve just finished watching Alex Strangelove, a new Netflix film, about a boy, Alex, who realises that he’s gay during his senior year in high school, while dating his best friend (a girl). He tries and fails epically to lose his virginity, because he’s fallen in love with a guy. He then breaks up with his girlfriend and because he’s still in denial about his sexuality, he goes to a frat party immediately after, to try and hook up with the first girl who shows interest in him. He also plans to sleep with as many girls as he possibly can once he goes away to college, in a bid to run away from his true identity – a gay man. This resonated so much with me, it was unreal. Many of my friends were so shocked when I came out, and are still in denial about my sexuality because of the simple fact that I used to go on about cock so much. I would talk about loving it and wanting it – especially when I first broke up with my ex-boyfriend two years ago. I even went on a shagging spree after our break up, hoping to leave behind my confusion. I actually find cocks repulsive and each time I had sex with a guy, afterwards I would feel soiled, but I buried the feelings deep inside of me, hoping that they wouldn’t resurface.

When my current partner and I first got together, the attraction for me was that I was falling in love with my best friend. I didn’t know that my partner was transgender when we first met, but I remember feeling like the attraction wasn’t like anything I had felt with any guy before. It felt feminine.

So when friends also say to me, oh perhaps you’re pansexual (attracted to a person regardless of their gender), again, I cannot agree.

What I love the most about the film, Alex Strangelove, is why critics have commented on how the film dismisses or erases bisexuality, I disagree. It targets the notion that people carry that if you’re struggling with your sexuality, or suddenly “appear to be gay” then you’re probably not, which is dismissive and hurtful to people like me, who are trying to come out to their loved ones and closest friends, only to be greeted with this retort instead of open mindedness. And no, embracing bisexuality or pansexuality is not a sign of “open mindedness” when you are deliberately dismissing homosexuality. When Alex tried to talk to his best friend about his feelings for another guy, his best friend also dismisses Alex’s feelings as “just a man crush”. The amount of times I tried to dismiss my feelings for other girls as “just girl crushes” I cannot even begin to count.

When my partner eventually told me that she was transgender, it was a huge relief. I’d guessed, but I was also relieved to discover that I had in fact fallen in love with a woman, who just happened to be living  as a guy when I met her.

I can only imagine how different my life would’ve been, if I’d been as brave as people like Alex who came out in their younger years. In the finale of the film, there is a montage of YouTubers, who like Alex, post a “coming out” video to the world. They are all young people – either in their late teens and some possibly early twenties – and they look so happy and liberated. I really wish I had been true to myself, not worried about what my mother would think of me (considering we’re no longer talking, it really wasn’t worth pretending to be straight to keep her love and approval) and saved myself a lifetime of heartache. It was awesome to see a young black girl in the montage too, which brings me to my next point. Loads of people claim that it’s patronising to say to somebody that they are brave for coming out. Bitch please. When you’re black and queer, you’re risking everything to be who you truly are. If that isn’t bravery, then fucking shoot me in the minge. 

To anybody reading this, who is afraid to live their true life, please know that I am here for you. Don’t break your own heart to please a world that doesn’t give a shit about you. Show yourself the love you deserve by living your true life.

xoxo

 

Posted in Blog

A Week in Wonderland

It’s been an energetic week!

Since I’ve been taking control of my mental health and Epilepsy, I’m beginning to feel more like me again, which I never believed would happen in a million years. I have more energy, which is astounding, because having spent a year planning my time around low energy levels, to suddenly being able to do more than one thing in a day, is just… unreal.

Did I tell you all that I’ve changed antidepressants? I demanded it. The old ones were killing me and nobody was helping me, so I contacted my GP after doing some research and asked to be put on Fluoxetine and I’ve been self-medicating (slowly increasing the dose myself).

I’ve also been reducing my Zonisamide and I’m currently still taking 750mg of Levitracetam, which the Epilepsy team want to take me off of, however I’ve been thinking A LOT about this and as they stop my tonic clonic seizures completely, plus my energy levels are currently great on this dose, I’m going to stay on this. My consultant is the type of guy who wants “a one drug for all seizures” type of fix, but I’m not a guinea pig – I’m happy to try a low dose of another drug and see what that does for my focal onset seizures, but I’m starting to realise now that low doses are the way forward. I remember a few years ago, when I was on double the dose of Keppra, and it turned me into a psycho and I almost lost my job. But when I cut the dose in half and was taking Oxcarbazepine, my mental health improved as did my energy levels (this is when I was running three times a week and cycling to and from work). Anyway, I have an appointment coming up. Again, I’ll be in control!

So anyhoooooooo, the weekend was Easter Bank Holiday, therefore I wanted to party. I found a Lesbian bar in Soho called “She Bar” – this was a my first time at a Lesbian bar… and I LOVED IT!!! My outfit was a little over the top – my girlfriend described it as a wedding dress:

 

LOL!

Perhaps I see it as a metaphor for moving into a new period of my life, a healthier, happier, energetic period. It was also freeing to be around other women like me, with no idiot men in the way trying it on and just having a little boogie.

On Wednesday, I went to my first meet up with the Lesbians of Colour Book Club. LOVED IT! I’ve always felt more of an affinity with older women: they don’t take bullshit and I don’t like to deal with bullshit, therefore my lasting friendships have always been with older women (my surrogate mum, my mentor from The Open Uni). So when I saw that the majority of the women in attendance were older women, my heart soared. The book of conversation was Sweetheart Sputnik by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Awful book. A typical male author writing about women and their lesbian relationship:

Epic fail. However, the conversation as we savagely ripped it to shreds was intellectually stimulating and chucklesome. Afterwards, we went out for dinner and made plans to meet up next week for a social get-together, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve also been listening to the Mostly Lit podcast, to gather some inspiration for books to recommend for reading, as everything I’m reading at the moment is pretty heavy (Black British History, Civil Rights, Mental Health, or Medical Apartheid… yep, pretty heavy!)

Then yesterday, I went to my first Yoga class in about two or three years. The school is called Mindful Movements and they’re based in the Islington Arts Factory. Yesterday evening was a dynamic candle light drop-in session, which I found through the “Meet Up” app (also how I found out about the Book Club actually); it was the candle light aspect that enticed me, regardless of the warning that although beginners were welcome, the session was pretty dynamic. And intense it was! Like I said, this was my first class in two or three years; I’ve just reclaimed my energy; Don’t forget that last year I was bedridden! However, I made it through the session and I am incredibly proud of myself. It was breathtakingly spiritual, which is one side of Yoga I always used to find uncomfortable, however as I engage more and more with spirituality, Buddhism and meditation (I’m actually going to my second meditation class next weekend, also found through the Meet Up app), it’s definitely something I’m embracing as part of an exercise regime. The featured image for this blog piece is a photo of myself and the session instructor Hana Saotome, who was so welcoming and encouraging! And I didn’t even get an uber home!

Other than that, I’ve been working on my MSc, arguing in the discussion forum. For some reason in this class, I seem to be the only person who believes that Freud is not only racist but sexist. In my last class, all of the women hated him, however in this class the women seem to think the sun shines out of his bum bum, even though he clearly hated women. One of the women in the Book Club asked me:

“Don’t you want to just do what you need to do, agree with everything the Professor says, get the grades and get out of there?”

I told her no way. I can’t do that. I’ve never been that kind of person, and I’m not about to change now. She admired me for that.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

Coming Out

Last weekend I came out to my family – my uncles – with my partner by my side.

My sexuality is something that I’ve been struggling with since a very young age (possibly around the age of ten years old), and something I didn’t want to admit to myself or to anybody outside of myself, especially growing up within a Black Caribbean Christian home. My mother and I had often had heated conversations about homosexuals (not me), which had often left me in tears while she aggressively quoted scripture at me. I knew what was right and I definitely knew how she felt.

I remember in my second year of University, one of my best friends and also my housemate gave me a ride home during one holiday, and my mother clocked him and decided that she “didn’t like him because he looked gay” and she didn’t want him back around her house again.

He wasn’t gay. My mother was just a religious, homophobic bitch.

Having attended a Catholic school, my friends were all religiously straight, including my best friend of sixteen years. We’d also spoken about homosexuality; I’d mentioned my celebrity girl crushes, however I always did so in jest… Rihanna, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Helena Bonham Carter,.. and my friend would call me a massive lesbo. I would also secretly check out girls. The guys I fancied in real life were quite androgynous looking and very unobtainable – there would always be a reason why I couldn’t have them, and I think I secretly wanted that.

However, when I met my current partner, a transgender girl, I could no longer deny my sexuality. In her I met my best friend and the most beautiful girl in the world. When we first met, I didn’t know that she was trans, but when I found out, the first person I wanted to tell was my oldest friend, who I naively hoped would be able to see beyond her religious upbringing and understand that up until now, my happiness had been compromised, because I was finally starting to accept my sexuality.

But she couldn’t accept it. I’m not sure if she was more freaked out about my coming out, or my dating a transgender woman, but my oldest friend couldn’t deal with it. We last spoke in June, which is when I told her and we haven’t spoken since. This broke my heart.

I also told another close friend – the one who I invited round for dinner and although she seemed to react supportively to this news, she was suddenly opinionated about my future career plans in a negative way, then blamed me for not receiving her opinions. And we haven’t spoken since. However, it was such a bizarre scenario that I think it was a reaction to my coming out.

Friends seem to treat it as a personal affront when you come out, especially when you’ve had previous relationships with the opposite sex. I felt like both friends were accusing me of lying because I’d had relationships with guys, and for also having not been completely upfront about my feelings. But when you’re struggling with your sexuality, the only person you really trust is yourself. Plus these were my most religious friends – I was hardly going to run to them with my struggles!

I have been frightened to tell anybody close to me since – most importantly my uncles and cousins. Friends you can replace, however family has come to mean everything to me again, especially after being so let down before by other family members.

 

What if they were repulsed?

What if they didn’t understand?

What if they didn’t want to understand?

What if after all of these years, I lost them again?

 

I told my cousins separately first, who were so warm and receiving. However, they are younger than me, and therefore a hell of a lot younger than their dads!

One scenario on constant replay in my mind, was the one uncle whose house I was going to for Christmas would be so disgusted that he would retract his invitation (well actually I invited myself) and I’d have nowhere to go for Christmas Day!

Last Sunday was the day… I was so stressed that I could barely eat breakfast. The Jubilee Line from Finchley Road to Stratford was as packed as a Black Friday trolley and I nearly threw up. I had the stupid idea to ask them all to guess what the announcement might be, to break the tension that only I seemed to be feeling LOL, which actually just built up the moment even more for me. But I did it and I also told them about my partner.

They were all so embracing, it was unreal.

 

I had a seizure during the meal and spilt tea all over myself. But I came out!

 

Homosexuality within Black culture is definitely a conversation that is transforming, especially amongst the older generation and that’s thanks to the younger generation bringing it up with their parents and getting them to talk about it. Two of my uncles who had had conversations with their daughters (my awesome cousins), both said that the conversations have stayed with them and that it had really opened up their minds to some new ideas. These two uncles in particular are older than the third and were teenagers in the 60s, which was a completely different world, where you couldn’t speak about things like this.

When my partner – who is German – was relaying her experiences with transphobia back home and how homosexuality is still regarded by some as a Mental Health condition, my uncles could understand this, because in the 60s, 70s and for some of the 80s, this was the mindset towards homosexuality in UK too, until the explosion of pop culture, with the New Romantics, and pop figures like Boy George and George Michael helped to break the stigma.

We also talked about the stigmatism of homosexuality back home in the Caribbean – particularly Jamaica, where according to my Uncles the times are changing; it’s the people who have to change with the times, which is usually the case with prejudice and discrimination.

I feel for the men and women back home, I really do. I wonder if the prejudice against homosexuality is more to do with power, (because antagonists like to hold authority over their prey) than it is to do with thoughts and feelings on what anybody is actually doing with their bodies.

My mother never gave a damn about what people did with their bodies anyway. She seemed to thrive on the power of religion and judgement.

 

Anyway, all I’ve ever wanted is to be loved unconditionally, and last weekend I realised that I’ve always had it and I always will. I loved it when my partner said to me that in my uncles I now also have three dads. 

It’s an incredible feeling.

And I have come out to a couple of other friends who have been incredibly supportive of both me and and my partner.

It’s great to finally be me.

Gay

 

XOXO