I fell in love with a woman for the first time when I was 9 years old. She was a primary school teacher, and even though back then I never really put much thought into it, I definitely had some kind of crush. A few girl crushes followed, until at 11, I remember writing in my diary: “I’m in love. And I know that might sound fun, but I’ve fallen in love with a girl.” I’d had crushes on boys in my class before, I’d been flirting with them, but definitely still believed them to be from another planet at that age.
I’m very blessed to have grown up in a non-religious Western family that has always been open about homosexuality and would never deny the possibility that my brother or me might come home with a partner of the same sex one day. It was something I definitely could have talked about – had I wanted to. The thing was: I really did not want to talk about it.
I guess I was kind of accidentally outed back when I was 11 or 12 and had a thing going on with a girl I’d met online. We’d be texting all day every day (in the days before smartphones this meant my phone bills went through the roof), and I’m pretty sure my parents would have noticed the typical smile that’d appear on my face whenever I received a message from her. It was all beautiful and nothing hurt - until the day her extremely homophobic parents found out about us. Her mum went full hysterical, to the point she printed out all the “vulgar” texts we had sent each other. Furiously, she had driven to my parents house to discuss what their daughters had been doing. Our (pretty embarrassing) messages spread out on the dinner table.
She forbid me to ever contact this girl again. I remember my friend actually got sent to therapy to talk her out of those gay thoughts, and that her mum recommended my parents to do the same.
But like I mentioned – I’ve grown up in a very open minded family. This mom’s attitude shocked them way more than anything me and this girl had texted each other did. I was absolutely heartbroken and devastated about losing her. But instead of ever asking me about being with a girl, my parents supported me through those very dark days of my first heartbreak. I’d been with a girl, and it just was the way it was. No questions asked.
In the years that followed there’ve been many crushes, there have been girlfriends, there have also been boyfriends. Though I can’t deny that the nature of those relationships are very different, I have never preferred one or the other. Only in my twenties I got to realize that I fall in love with certain people – not gender. I don’t feel sexually attracted to men’s or women’s bodies in general. I’ve always fallen in love with a specific person – whether they’re male or female, or anything in-between.
But I’ve never really had any kind of “coming out.” No big moment to live up to. No nerve wrecking words that were heavy on my heart, no desire to tell my family about my sexual preferences. And I know I’m in a very lucky position, cause I’ve always known it wouldn’t be a big deal for my parents. But the thing was – it never was any big deal to me. I felt like the people I fell in love with never defined who I really was. Not once in my life have I really identified as lesbian, bisexual or anything else on the spectrum. I always felt like coming out would make it an unnecessarily big part of me, when it really was not. Somehow it always lingered in my mind how people would mention something about an acquaintance I’d never met and immediately added “she’s a lesbian” to her name. Like it was all she was. Like it helped me painting a picture in my head of what she was like. Even though they didn’t mean to put any judgment in those words, I felt such an aversion to the way being gay seemed to define a certain identity. At least it did to the “outside world.”
In the past few months I’ve been close to a girl that is been openly gay for a long time, and that told me more about this gay scene that I could never in any way relate to. She told me how she realized she was into girls and how she immediately felt like really living it. She cut her hair short, would be wearing tomboyish clothes and applied for a job in a gay bar. She had been so excited to find people like her. Living every cliché that’s hiding behind the words whenever someone gets introduced as “a lesbian”. For her, it really did become her identity. For her, it felt like coming home.
Last night I watched a show that mentioned the silent gays and in those words, I found something I could in fact relate to. I had never been a fan of all the extravagance that’s somehow part of the scene. I never felt like the prides I’ve been to in my life reflected who I was in any way. I’ve never been rocking the rainbow flag, or mentioned my sexuality whenever it wasn’t necessary.
The gender of my partner does not define who I am. Even though my sexual preferences are technically part of my identity, it’s something that I never considered to be relevant enough to come clean about. I might show up with a girl one day – and then it is the way it is. No introduction needed. This is the person I chose to be with. She happens to be a girl. And still then, I’m the exact same human being as I’d be with a man. I’m still just Eszti. And my heart is still as full of love.