Friday, July 6, 2018

Blogger: To quote Diana Ross “I’m coming out.”

It is pride in Budapest this Saturday, July 7th 2018. I decided to share an interview that a friend of mine did for one of her classes with a bisexual girl in regards to her sexuality on November 2, 2016. This is the transcript of their talk. I asked permission from her to share it, to share this story, because it might help someone one day – took them a long time to get where they are today, and I know that many can and will learn to love who they are just the same way. 
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Interviewer: One thing I wanted to do before the ‘actual’ interview is that there’s a possibility to choose a fake name, because I wouldn’t like to use Interviewee1, Interviewee2, etc… and I thought you’d like to create a fake name for yourself.

Girl: That’s nice. I’ll stick with [my name] for your assignment. Actually this is a good experiment because I have never so far represented the LGBT community, cause (pause) I just didn't.
But I remember back in high school I had a best friend who, uhm, who was gay. (Laughs.) And we kind of parted ways for a lot of reasons … but, uh… The thing is that in the end I realized that it was a good thing that we did, because I kinda hid behind him. And well my first love was ahh… a teacher of mine actually… (giggles) who was twice my age.

I: And… a woman?

G: Yes. And I was kind of like: “I’m sure she’s the only one, and this is just a phase”. And so I kind of hid behind my best friend in a way because I was like, “If I’m going to the Pride parade it’s because of him, because I want the equal rights for him. And if I stand up against homophobes, it’s because of him. I want to be good to him and so on.” And it’s not his fault; he never knew he kind of shielded me from this. I realized I was doing that to myself just so I wouldn't actually have to commit to anything or, or… or be true to myself. And I remember the very night when there was another girl who kind of got my fancy and I was like “Oh, well… this was not a phase clearly.” (laughs). So nice try but we lost that match. And after that, yeah, I was kind of forced to find myself. But I was really lucky because I ended up in an environment among university friends who not only didn't care, but some of them were people themselves who have come out. So it was like “Nothing wrong with that!”, and I remember my very favorite teacher at university, and I had a talk with her about this, so I came out to her as well. I remember she was like “But you can tell [when I look at you]”. I laughed looking back, because I've reached the point where I don’t care: I’m okay with me and if somebody’s interested they won’t be scared to let me know. She told me she’s so happy that the English/American Department is so open, and that she has the power to stop anybody who wishes to share hateful comments. So I actually was super, super lucky to have ended up with ELTE at the time of my life when I had to understand me, recognize myself really.

I: How old were you when you started to realize that it’s not just a phase that you’re in?

G: That’s a terribly long story actually, and I am sure I will get lost in all the details I want to include so help me back on track sometimes.

I: OK.

G: In elementary school they always said that “Oh, teachers in high school won’t give a sh*t about you, they no longer care!” And that never happened to me. Same thing they said in high school too: “University teachers won’t give a sh*t!”. Never happened to me. I do know those kind of university teachers who don’t give a sh*t, but that’s a good thing because I’m a perfectionist. I thrive to be my best self, and I found that those teachers who don’t give a f*ck, give 10%, so I allow myself to give the same amount of sh*t they do, so I wouldn't really go overboard and do much more than it is needed if they don’t care anyway. However, when I find those teachers who do care, I will also put in more. And then… about my sexuality, there was a vampire hunter book series, Anita Blake, I don’t know if you know it, I hope you don’t…

I: No, I don’t.

G: Lucky you! That was “the thing to read” when I was in high school everybody loved that. It was a very good crime novel until the 13th book, because then it turned into a porn series and we just all quit reading it. Because it literally lacked all the characteristics we liked about the first ones, but the reason it got to me is that it was a brilliant mirror to contemporary debates on sexuality. So basically what you have in it are vampires who are rioting for human rights, as in equal rights. And people say:

“- But you’re dead, why would you want human rights?”
- But we are among the living at night.”

And it was actually a perfect reflection of the struggles of LGBT society today. For example, one of the guys is a werewolf, and he is a teacher. And if people would find out he’s a werewolf, he’d be kicked out of the school. I do know cases where a teachers were fired because they were gay, because they might transmit it to the children or something… so what should they do?

So the point is that this book was a very good critique and then the same problem just came to my mind: that being a bisexual teacher if I would have a problem, for example, if I were to teach at ELTE, or any smaller university or college in Hungary, I’d have no problem whatsoever. Nobody would care about my business and students either wouldn't really get invested, or just gossip, but who doesn't? They’d be like “Hey, I think she’s a lesbian.” and I’d be like “Ohhh, we’ll never know.” And you know why that’s funny? They’d be 50% right, soo…. (both laughing loudly).

I: And that makes you happy.

G: Absolutely, yes. Getting back to my teacher… I sat down and had a talk with somebody about my feelings and they said: “Yeah, you’re in love with her.” And I was like “I’m not… what???” And, hahaha, and at a certain point I sat down and I was like: let’s think it over, let’s open that door. I had not realized the amount of denial I was burying myself under. And then the [imitating gasping] started and truly ... if I had ripped out my heart with my bare hands it would have hurt much less than it did at the realization that “Oh, boy! I have fallen in love with this person who in the meantime had grown to hate me”. Because not knowing exactly what the f*ck was going on with me, me included, I was behaving very irrationally, weirdly even at times. I remember my gay best friend went:

 “- No, you’re not in love with her.
- Trust me I am.
- Ok, but can you imagine yourself with her?
- Yes…
- Oooh, okaaay…”

He was clearly shocked, but not more than I was at my ability to admit my true feelings to myself out loud finally. High school sucked big time from that point on.
 So one thing I learnt from this was that I would never ever again approach something not knowing what I want or who I am.

I: Mhm, I get it.

G: If somebody finds its way to my heart, they kinda gonna stay there forever. Just giving an example: I fell in love during my bachelor years, and it wasn't meant to be between us, but if she’d call me up tomorrow with needing some help, I’ll be there. I’m like that. And I don’t feel bad about that. I like being me, I don’t… most people abuse somebody’s help, that’s not a very nice thing to do, but it still happens. But why would I have to feel bad about helping them? They should be the one to feel bad about abusing it if they do.

I: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

G: So I wanna be okay with me, I don’t really care about what bad karma is. What was your question?

I: When did you realize you were bisexual?

G: Oh yes! Told you I'd forget... It was 2012, precisely, I took my friends to Rome and we were out one night at a restaurant and there was this one waitress called [name], and I thought that she is super cute, and super nice and “Oh, f*ck… this was not a phase!”. And this was the year after, after I finished high school.

I: Mhm. So it took quite long to realize this…

G: Yes, yeah.

I: Or rather to accept that this was not a phase.

G: Not just accept, you need to understand, that for almost six years I had no feelings for other women.

I: I see.

G: So two years was f*cking denial that I had feelings for someone of my same gender, but the next two years was sheer pain. Followed by another two, where I did not run into them finally, but I had all of these questions that kept me sometimes up at night and I ended up being unable to move on. I just… It was hard to cope with me while being unable to understand me.

I: Yeah, yeah, that’s true.

G: In the end, distance kind of helped but really the fact that… That’s where I kinda realized if I do put somebody into my heart they stay there, is that no matter how much time passed, without us actually talking it was still kind of hovering over me.

I: Mhmm, I see.

G: And this second girl, uhm, let’s call her Leila. The difference with Leila was that she was on board with talking to me about my feelings, my thoughts, and that way this time around I didn’t have this crushing feeling of unresolved issues. I didn’t blame her for not picking me, over the other one. I mean when you have feelings for somebody, you do not pick and choose, it doesn’t work like that. You don’t decide your feelings.

I: Do you think it’s important for people to know that you’re bisexual, even if you’d be with a guy?

G: I think it’s important, because people have to realize that this is something you’re born with. It’s not like… I hate it when someone says that this is a choice. Who would choose to be spit on, or to be hated? Who in the right mind would do that? And I remember I had a teacher who was very Christian and she went “But isn't that a choice?” and it was genuinely something she believed growing up in a church, she didn't even take the time to think it over. She was in no way one of those bigoted idiots who skip through certain chapters of the Bible when it displeases them; she just never questioned it having grown up in a society so religious. And then, to quote Diana Ross “I’m coming out”, she kept on loving me for who I am, because that is something she also took seriously, to love everyone as equals. And it was so nice, she was sorry for asking this question. But I think people should ask it: because most of the time it’s just the fear of the unknown.

I: Yes. Some people just might think that I’m gay because I’m hangin’ around people who are known to be gay. And they are surprised when I say no, I’m not. It’s not an infection I could catch from any of them… But I think it is important to know someone gay to really understand things. I was 16 when I met my first gay friend, who’s a guy, and my viewpoint of the whole thing changed a lot. I started to explore his lifestyle and what it means in his life to be gay. And when reaching a certain point in our friendship, he opened up about his identity, and I was absolutely okay with it. Though, I had questions which have been answered by him for me it was no longer mysterious or “the unknown”. But it’s important to have experience with someone, or just to talk to someone, because if you only know heterosexual people, you cannot really understand that it’s the same thing, the same life, just with the exception of falling in love with the same sex.

G: See, that’s the kind of thing with many of my friends. They have no prejudice about anything. In high school, when you grow up with people who are open to talk about their sexuality, or just feel that there is no need to hide it, you just think, OK, it’s completely fine. But again, you have to be in that environment, you have to have someone like that next to you and help them feel safe.

I: But it is also important to have some time to yourself, to experiment if it’s a phase or not.

G: No! It’s never just a phase. When someone says it just happened in college, or so, there’s a reason for it. There are two reasons, in my opinion: One is curiosity and the other is love. Love is in the brain, love is something you cannot control, you can be 100% in love with someone and still not be attracted to them. The other is curiosity, which yields experimenting, but calling something a phase is a cop-out. I am not saying that everyone has tendencies, they don’t. Some straight people are just straight, the same way that gay people are just gay, not bi or pansexual. But today we have a term for almost everything, and you might not like labels but they help you as much as they help others to understand you.

Being bisexual… You always read statistics on how being bisexual is lower in guys. I just don’t believe that. I’ll tell you why. The thing is, first of all, lately more people have come out as bisexual. Second, I do believe that it is their environments fault: Think of one guy, let’s call him George. George has a girlfriend whom he loves and is genuinely turned on by, but he always ends up checking out another guy’s butt at work constantly. He will never act on that interest solely due to the happiness of actually being attracted to his girl and not having to fake it. He will recite “no homo” to himself for a long time, will get over the guy one day, but if George grew up in an environment where gay is a pejorative word, he will never act on his interests.

When you think about this, if two girls kiss: “Haha, you’re drunk”. Two guys kiss: “Uuuh, you’re gay”. And I think this is why there are less bisexuals men who are proudly wearing this label, cause it’s really hard to find someone who’s even open enough to find out what they feel for the guy at work, after these judgments that surround them.

I: Yeah, somehow lesbian girls are a bit more accepted. Actually I had this question, how did people react to you coming out?

G: First, if you follow me on facebook you probably already know. Second, my coming out experience in the family was super good compared to what I know. We still have little battles to fight in this department, but I don’t mind. My dad was like: “We’re not the kinda family who cares about this kind of things”.

I: But it’s interesting that you’ve said you have a big family and you’re the only one to come out…

G: Yeah, I came out to my cousin on her wedding when she was drunk… that was hilarious. She actually suspected it, and as I said, I don’t really hide it anymore. She thought one of my best friends was my girlfriend because of her short hair… so that was also a funny discussion (laughs).

I: (Ironically:) So speaking about stereotypes…

G: The short hair thing? Yeah, that's super sad. I also told my brother and he was like: “Cool!” and I went “Did you hear what I said?”. (Both laughing.) I remember when I told my mom what was up and she was like “What did you think we were thinking when you hung up rainbows in your room…” (laughs). Burns by your mother are truly the best.

I: Did you have any surprising reactions? Who were more accepting?

G: In my family again or in general?

I: Oh, in general. I mean in the close surroundings, like family and close friends, and so on… But I guess lots of friends just knew it from the start.

G: (Laughing) Haha, burn.

I: No, come on! For real.

G: All friends reacted well, so it was very positive in that regard. Sometimes people were surprised when we talked about it and they were like “Oh, you play both teams!”, because they all thought I was just a lesbian (laughing), not even straight, gayness was assumed immediately. So then again we go back to the question of labeling and I do think that is important, because I think statistically so many people feel alone and, and, and can’t really come out. I think there has to be a voice for them to say 'No, it’s cool, do come out! You’re not alone, there’s so many of us'.

And I’m lucky in retrospect that I’m bisexual. I don’t really feel that I was born in the wrong body or anything like that. And I do have moments when I’m in front of the mirror and I’m like “I’d hit that”. (both laughing).

I’m happy with who I am, and I have many battles to fight, but none with myself and that is the most important step. I hope many will understand that and first stop and take care of themselves. Family, friends, love, labels… everything comes after that.

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Check out my photos of the Budapest pride parade here:

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