The equal opportunities section on my job application stares back at me, scrutinizing my character in a couple of tick boxes.
Something scratches at the back of my brain and I hesitate in selecting the term I’ve used to describe myself since I was fourteen.
Yes, I’ve been attracted to men and women for as long as I can remember.
I’ve never been the Q in LGBTQ+ because I was never really questioning.
I was lucky to grow up in an open and understanding family so I never really had to “come out”.
My mum knew I wasn’t straight, as naturally as she knew my favourite sweets or how I liked my hair brushed.
I was the friend in high school who girls kissed when they were drunk because they knew I wouldn’t judge them.
My sexual orientation wasn’t a conversation I had until university and then, I naturally gravitated toward bisexual. It was the obvious choice.
Until it wasn’t. Brief labels turned into deep discussions on gender as a social construct and my horizons were opened to a whole world of orientations I had never thought of before.
If I’m being honest, I was incredibly confused.
But there was one thing I was certain of. I was attracted to people in a way that to me felt gender-blind.
Bisexual just didn’t feel like it represented me.
There I was, questioning my sexuality for the first time in my life at age nineteen.
Next came gender.
I’ve never been a tomboy or a girly-girl. My friends describe my style as my “personality of the month” because it changes as quickly as the weather.
Gender seemed to me as inconsistent as my sexuality.
Then, a friend of mine was described as “butch” because of their short hair and I was livid.
I was able to float between subtle masculine and feminine on a day-to-day basis without questioning, but they were categorised in a passing comment.
I really began to hate labels.
I thought back to my teen self, idolising One Direction and obsessing over Harry Styles.
His sexual ambiguity is magnified into a scandal in some interviews, when frankly, it’s nobody’s business how he identifies.
I realised I felt the same and it clicked.
Queer. The umbrella term adopted by many in the LGBTQ+ community.
It didn’t feel like a label. It felt liberating, like I was stepping out of the tick box for the first time.
Queer is a controversial topic though. Previously used as a derogatory insult, now a reclaimed diverse description of sexual orientation.
But isn’t it technically a label? I guess you could argue yes but for me it felt like the ultimate rejection of heteronormativity.
It meant different, separate, but it also meant part of a community.
I felt empowered by its ambiguity, instead of marginalised by a label.
Finally, I felt like I had an identity, not a category.
Featured image credit: outrightvt.org