what being a lesbian means to me

written by Katherine

she/her

Growing up in a strict religious household (parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses), I never questioned my sexuality. This was due to being told that homosexuality is a sin, and therefore I was never around someone who was a part of the LQBTQ+ community. It was only when I was 16, after I had left the religion, that it occurred to me that I wasn't straight. I had been told that a bisexual female friend had a crush on me, and after kissing her in a game of spin the bottle, I started to think about how I felt towards women. (Yes my sexual epiphany can be summarised by Katy Perry’s song ‘I kissed a girl’) I initially thought that I was bisexual, but as time went by my preference for women grew until I realised that I identify better as a lesbian. 

When it came to coming out, it was definitely nerve-wracking, but I was lucky that most people were fine with it and accepted me for who I am. Unfortunately my parents weren't. I discovered on that day that my mum already knew as she had secretly read a notebook, which I thought was hidden and had forgotten all about, that had letters going back and forth between me and a past girlfriend. However, it came as a shock to my dad. His words were “This is not what I wanted for you” followed by an argument with my sister, then him sitting in the garden alone for hours. If I remember correctly, he kept saying that if I liked men before, then I'll go back to liking them again. My mum has always seemed more accepting than him, but I have discovered that that is just due to her not wanting to cause arguments, and that unfortunately her views are largely the same as his.

They have slowly and gradually got better and more accepting over time, but still after having been ‘out’ for roughly 6 years, and now engaged to my girlfriend of nearly 5 years, they still say that they like us separately as people but don't approve of us as a couple. They are glad that I'm happy, but would rather that I was happy with a man. They have clearly stated that they will not be attending our wedding, which is something that I have grown to accept, as I wouldn't want people there that don't approve of our relationship and think of it as their loss and not mine.

I am now very confident in who I am, and comfortable in my own skin, but it took years of self discovery to get to this point. I did have bisexual friends, a gay cousin, and later on my now fiance, to talk to when I was figuring out what was right for me, but I do think that having the support of a group like Queer Street would have helped a lot too. The fact that I shop in the mens section because I prefer their clothing options is something that took awhile for me to feel comfortable saying and doing, but having a good community and friends who supported me allowed me to do it with confidence.

I know everyone says that it will get better, and it’s easy to believe it won’t, but it's so true. I would never have thought that 7 years down the line from discovering that I liked girls, that I could get to a place where I feel comfortable and even confident in who I am as a person - but I am - and I’m now the happiest that I have ever been. Yes it took struggles to get to this point, but it was definitely worth it. Being a lesbian doesn’t define who I am, but it’s played a big part in shaping me through the good times and bad, and I’m so glad that this journey has lead me to where I am today.