How being Queer Affected my Mental Health

It’s complicated to try and divide how being Queer vs how societies perceptions of being queer affected my mental health. Because honestly, being attracted to other girls, in and of itself, hadn’t been a problem. The feelings surrounding trying to keep it hidden, those have fucked me up. I think on some levels they still do, there is an instinct to keep myself hidden that is at least partially to do with genuinely going through my adolescence hyper aware that I couldn’t be seen to like girls.

I don’t think that’s the case as much nowadays, I know some of my readers are going to say ahh that’s because I hang out with affluent, university educated people or something but to be honest, yeah for all I live in a university town, I work with a massive cross-section of society and bigotry is different across class and financial backgrounds but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist when people become rich. Genuinely, homophobia is weird now, as long as you’re going to fit in to some idea of where you should be (hello respectability politics) then the simple fact that you fancy another girl isn’t a grounds for attack in a lot of places. Not the way it automatically was everywhere when I was growing up queer.

Of course, I’m not trans, and transphobia has gotten more overt and horrific. That does make me worry about The Jellicle, and there’s a background level of worry that is beginning to be constantly present as we move through life.

I did worry that there was something wrong with me, not weirdly enough, for fancying girls but because I still fancied boys at the same time. I’ve written a lot about how much of an idiot I feel like I was as a teenager for just not knowing that bisexuality was a thing. I’ve also written about my doubts regarding the phrase; “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” – whilst I was happy to rebel, to try something new (only it wasn’t really new because I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s UK so there was always some sense that I could just do things even if I was a girl, even if I wasn’t connected) , yet bisexuality was apparently beyond me. It didn’t matter that I felt it, what loomed large was the tiny cartoon in the Usborne sex book that my mother gave me as my intro to puberty. The tiny cartoon saying that some girls liked girls and some girls liked boys and here was I thinking “but I like both…”

That brings me to my underlaying feminism, the idea that as a woman I can’t let the side down, I’ve got to keep pushing otherwise I’m not doing my best for all the women who have fought and died so that I can have any inch of freedom and the idea that by continuing to fancy men I was somehow being socially conditioned away from being a lesbian. Oh how prevalent that idea was within the lesbian communities that I initially interacted with, that notion that we needed to be the ebst lesbians we could be because somehow we were respresenting our community, there’s never any time to live because you might be letting your community down. That’s a massive impact that being queer has had on me but to be honest so has being a woman and my consciousness that I need to be the ebst I can be or I’m letting everyone else down.

I think the idea that I’m letting people down probably does partially spring from being queer, not being straight was in some nebulous way letting my family down, and so I’d better do the best I can with what I’ve got in order to make it up to the universe or something.

I love being Queer, I love the sense of connection it gives me, I love the feeling of falling in love with a woman and watching in her eyes as she loves me back. I love being held by women, I love the sense of sapphic longing that you can lean into. But living as queer in the society that I have, moving around the world where I’ve been at risk of physical violence and discrimination, that’s also left scars, some deeper than others.

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