I came out as bisexual in May 2015 while campaigning for Marriage Equality in the run up to the Marriage Equality Referendum in Ireland. I canvassed across Dublin in areas as different socioeconomically as you could get. And yet, the majority all agreed it was time to let Love be Love. Since then I have come to identify most with Queer. This is how I see myself. This is how I feel. Yes I am attracted to women and men. Transwomen, transmen and gender-queer humans included. To some this makes me Pansexual. To others, Demisexual. I’ve since learned there is an aspect of asexuality within being Demi, so I know it’s definitely not me. Bisexuality enforces a gender binary, I’m told. It’s part of the problem. But in the same way one is attached to their first of anything, whether their baby blanket, the beat up Honda they first drove, or even the grotty theatre where they shared their first kiss, so too am I attached to my first out label, my first foray into the land of not being straight, with all its rainbows and glitter and continued oppression.
My first kiss was with a girl. Tal. I was 14, Tal was my friend and it was a dare on the sleeping bags and air mattresses of Sammy’s garage sleepover. I dare you to kiss Clementine – with tongue! I was stoked. I had fancied Tal for so long. She laughed like it was gross as I tried to contain the beaming excitement surpassing my nerves. We did the dare. For so long people told me it didn’t count because it was with a girl. I didn’t kiss a boy until I was 17. I felt stupid and inexperienced. Society’s denial of my first kiss so deeply engrained in my psyche that while remembering the act, I completely disregarded the event as ever occurring. I have never had a girlfriend. Something people ask when they find out I am bi. So you’ve had sex with a woman? Why does that matter? We don’t make people wait until they’ve lost their virginities to claim they are straight. We just believe them. Because straightness is the norm. Queerness is still seen as just that, queer – different – confusing – so I must be confused right? Promiscuous. Having a phase. One foot in and one foot out of the closet. My closet hung with the shirts and rainbow ordered dresses of deep-seeded shame. I never acknowledged my feelings towards women as anything but indicative of severe perversion. At Catholic school we learned homosexuality was wrong. But I knew that was wrong. My parent’s numerous lesbian friends and my wonderful gay horse trainer showed me that. Gays were great. Straight people were everywhere. One or the other. How dare I be so greedy as to feel that tingle towards both. Just another of the menagerie reasons to hate myself. Steeped in self-loathing I couldn’t fathom a day where such feelings were not just known, not just celebrated, but introduced with flippancy for they no longer mattered. That day came in May 2015. Riding the Luas with Aisling and Katie, I asked in earnest for an explanation. We were headed to the FACE 2 FACE photo campaign. Our pictures would be taken and a blurb about why we partook would accompany our likeness into the eternity of social media. So why were they going? Why was I? They were bisexual. Katie also said queer. I thought queer was a bad word, I said. Not anymore she assured. It’s been reclaimed. But to be bisexual was something I couldn’t grasp. To be clear it’s not that I acknowledged my feelings for women and lied, or pretended they weren’t there. I shoved them so far down and clung so tightly to heterosexuality that my straightness threatened to burst under the pressure of dug in nails. Hearing their definitions, explanations and stories of all girls school crushes and no it wasn’t just for an absence of boys. The histories of their relationships going from guy to gal to gal to guy. How that was their lives and they lived them with pride and happiness and the same worries and fears of my own. Yet without the burning shame of self-ascribed disgust. And so I learned I too was bi. I too was queer. I called my parents that afternoon and cried in their love. Despite my newly accepted biseuxality, I entered into a two year heterosexual relationship. Only after its end did I finally embrace what I’d like to call My Queerness. No my desire to dress as a boy in third grade was not just a tomboy phase for it did not die out. It comes in washes of gender fluid inspiration bubbling from my core to embrace that which would stereotypically and societally be ascribed to the masculine. It is and has always been as if I assume a role. But instead of fiction, not on the stage for other’s amusement, I take on myself, in all my many facets. I trust in my truth and honor the feelings of who I am and want to be. In all the tritely cliche possible to muster, I say in honesty, my queerness has set me free.
©2018 Clementine Yost
June 19, 2018