I did, for many years, think I was inadequate – probably not the only teenage girl in the world to feel a bit different, I know. In any case, something had always been off, and I never really gave way for it to surface, because I was secretly scared.
When I mention her name, stereotypically enough, you will know what I am on about. So, let put it this way: I admired Kristen Stewart a LOT when I was younger. She was – definitely – the picture on my phone’s wallpaper for a while. I watched all her interviews, her “funny moments” compilations and my favourite movie scenes over and over. As a 12-year-old, Twilight was just a cool movie, and the lead actress happened to be “cool” as well, which made me want to watch all her movies!
I remember at some stage I tried to fake a crush on “Jacob” by having a shirtless picture of him on my phone – so sorry for objectifying you Taylor – but it was not the same buzz. I continued living my adolescence, having crushes on actors, having crushes on boys, and clandestinely watching Natalie Portman’s interviews, Kiera Knightley’s…
Getting straight to the point – no pun intended – I knew I was gay when I was about 14. However, just the thought of going against the entire heteronormative environment around me would make me sweat. Nervousness and shivers stopped me from exploring this idea. This way, it never developed, I pushed it down, buried it deep inside of me, to a point I even forgot about it for a while.
In school, there were so few people I knew that were openly gay – I can barely remember any now – and I was not going to be that person, was I? Disrupt the status quo in my life? Nope! I was pretty confused too, to be honest, so what if it was a phase, and I wanted to take it back? So many questions also made me delay the process of revealing “my secret”.
When I was 17, I cut my hair short (a cute pixie cut) and was living my best life, it was something I had always wanted to do! At times, though, I felt rather masculine, because short hair is promptly associated with being a lesbian, and I felt EXPOSED. Though, I don’t think anyone suspected (did you?). I had a boyfriend and all, but felt manly regardless, like my body was disproportionately big, and I didn’t have a feminine walk, and I just felt wrong.
Most of my fear came from thinking about what others thought of me, I guess. I didn’t know whether people could tell by looking at me. And this is something I raged about, stereotypes, judgements, categorising people by their appearance, in an attempt to defend the oppressed minorities. I was defending myself, always testing the waters to see what the reaction would be “in case I was one of them”.
When I moved to Ireland, it was like a fresh start. I knew absolutely nobody, and I felt like I could be myself more authentically and freely than in school, where things and friends had been the same for years, and me too. In two years, I developed into a completely different person, closer to who I wanted to be.
I started wearing clothes that represented me better, in which I felt comfortable! Yes, yes, I was and am the girl wearing a different flannel every other day, and I do wear jeans and oxfords more than skirts and dresses – not just to raise the conventional gay flag, but that’s ME! I just like them better. I was still Flavia, focused on college work, working part-time, the same person people knew years ago, but now free from the one thing that set me back in terms of my self-expression and my love life.
When I came out, there were, luckily, no negative reactions from my parents or my friends. I am privileged in this regard since many people get in trouble for loving who they do. This is why I used to be so vocal, I feel that it is unfair, and sad that the LGBT+ community has so many tragic stories. All of the time, I was claiming my spot in the community. Happily, my story turned out better than I expected.
My point is, 17 May marked The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and I can say I am proud to be in a long-term relationship with the most amazing woman I know, and that I see a bright future for us as a same-sex couple. I shared my story because it can be hard sometimes to understand that we are fine, and not inadequate. I wish to send good vibes to all that are going through a hard time figuring out your sexualities and genders, and to assure you that you are good enough, and worthy of love.
If you wish to support the LGBTI+ community in Ireland, please consider donating to BeLonG To, a national organisation providing support for young people.