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I rarely use the term ''gay'' to describe myself, even after being in a same-sex relationship for five years. It's not that I don't feel an affinity for the terms ''gay'' or ''lesbian'', I just don't really think too much about my sexuality and how to define it. It just is.
I think my sexuality has always been fluid. Although most of my adolescent relationships were with boys, my first flirtation was with a girl. That said, I only ''came out'' when I was 22.
There was a defining relationship. I became enchanted with a girl I worked with, who pursued me mercilessly despite believing I was straight. We flirted for months before either of us got up the courage to really define what was going on.
Before I met my partner I had had a few really difficult relationships with men and wasn't very happy generally. Her impact on my life was immediate.
It was the first time I'd really been pursued by a woman who wanted a relationship with me. I didn't spend much time at all wondering what it meant or who would care. I just knew that she was making me happy, excited, and that I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible.
Making our relationship public wasn't much of a shock to anyone around us; we never tried to be covert about the flirting. Putting it on Facebook and sharing our lives with our friends and colleagues felt natural.
I think there was some surprise from our colleagues when we made it official, but we didn't encounter negativity. A good friend sat me down and very seriously told me that this was common, that people's relationships and sexual preferences were fluid and I should go with the flow. I was surprised - it didn't occur to me to be concerned and I was confused about where she had got the notion that I wasn't OK with the situation.
It took me a little longer to come out to my parents, but I wasn't concerned about a lack of love and support. My reluctance to share the details of my romantic life was to do with my aversion to inviting my parents into it, rather than being about the gender of who I was dating. The time came when I had to move home briefly. I had told my mum that I was expecting a guest but I wouldn't need the spare bed. She calmly, nonchalantly, called out: "Darling, are you in a lesbian relationship?", while stacking linen in the hallway closet. I told her "yes" and that was it, no further discussion needed.
My housemate, an international student from India, who had never met girls who liked girls before, was convinced we were playing a practical joke on him. But when we assured him that we weren't, he was supportive. Another friend immediately requested a tutorial on "how to" lesbian sex. We directed her to Google!
I don't feel that I've ever held back who I am. My coming out was incidental to my relationship and wanting to share my happiness. My life isn't that distinct from anyone else in a long-term committed relationship. Since coming out, I'm more conscious of diversity and the poor representation of people like me in mainstream media.
With a few exceptions, it's not easy to find a movie or a TV show with interesting, complex lesbian characters.
The expectation to ''tick the box'' is pretty boring. I don't feel that ''lesbian'' really describes me, and obviously nor does ''straight''. I admire the bisexuals proudly reclaiming the term and staring down those who would have you believe it's just for the confused. I could argue that my reluctance to self-assign a label is a political statement; that my sexual identity need not comply with the parameters defined by others.
But the truth is, it doesn't matter that much to me. I don't spend much time wondering how to define myself to others or how to justify my relationship. I've always figured that all anyone needs to know is that I am in a relationship with someone who makes me laugh. I show my partner public affection without hesitation. We love each other deeply, and share our lives with unreserved humour and trust. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what to call it.
As told to Effie Mann.
- FFX Aus
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