Yes, I do write for an LGBTQ magazine. No, I am not a lesbian. No, I am not bisexual. No, I am not bi-curious. I’m straight. I’m simply an ally who found the perfect opportunity to grow as a writer. That’s what I told myself when I applied for a position with OUT FRONT. That’s what I told anyone whose curiosity was peaked when I mentioned the freelance gig.
It was early 2018 when I stumbled across the journalist job posting. Overlooking the consequences, I constructed an introductory email, attached my resume and favorite writing samples, and hastily sent everything to the magazine’s editor. I waited. And waited. And then I found the welcome email waiting for me in my inbox. At first I was thrilled at the opportunity to explore a new beat. Up until that point, I had almost exclusively covered fashion. But very quickly, I found that I had opened the door for people to question my sexual preference, a door that I had pressed firmly shut, wallpapered over, and barricaded a decade before.
Everything was so new writing for OUT FRONT. I learned the origins of popular slang like “snatched” can be traced directly back to people of color in the drag scene, and that members of the LGBTQ community are more likely to suffer from substance and alcohol abuse. I became so excited, and angry, and inspired by all of the fresh information that I didn’t have time to realize how being a part of the community was changing me, how being around folks who were so comfortable and proud of their identities was affecting how I felt about myself.
And then I met a woman, a local photographer, for an interview at a coffee shop. She had created a photo essay that captured what it looked like to be a lesbian. During her work, she found that folks were becoming less and less inclined to identify as lesbians and were choosing alternative labels like bisexual and so on. We discussed the possible reasoning behind this, her background as a photographer, how she helped her photo subjects loosen up in front of the lens, and the privileges that she was sometimes met with as a more androgynous-looking lesbian. We chatted for a while before I found that my face had become warm and fuzzy from flirting.
After saying goodbye and watching her leave the noisy building, I remained on my stool, puzzled. There was no way I could have a crush on another girl.
I experienced my first crush on a woman my first year of high school. I had known her from afar for a few years, and the never-ending shuffle of pubescent friendships finally brought us into the same group. She was playful, candid, fiercely loyal to the people she cared for, and one of the most unabashed lesbians in our grade. I attributed my affection for her to the closeness of our friendship and her crush on me. An innocent cuddle and peck on the lips were written off as a fluke.
It took months for me to acknowledge to myself that I had been attracted to the photographer, and many more months after that to admit that I had also been attracted to my friend. During this interim, I learned the word pansexual. Pansexual is defined as “the sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their biological sex, gender, or gender identity.” It stuck. Finding my word finally allowed me to feel sure of who I was and what I wanted.
When my editor approached me about writing a personal column, I racked my brain for ideas to pitch. How do same-gender relationships compare to their heterosexual counterparts in terms of relationship violence? Does the queer community also fetishize racial ambiguity? Before I could dig into any of these topics from an honest place, I decided that I’d first have to set the record straight. Or, in this case, not so straight.
Yes, I do write for an LGBTQ magazine. No, I am not straight. I’m pansexual.