As a child, I was a tomboy. I have an older brother, and my mom often recycled his clothes for me, which I had no problem with. I liked to play sports of all kinds, and even though I had friends that were girls in elementary school, I found myself playing sports with the boys in my classes and hanging around them more often. I would mostly hang out with my brother and his friends during recess. Around the age of adolescence is when it's normal to see a social divide between boys and girls groups in schools. Looking back on my experience and comfort with boys growing up, I realize now it's not that I was more interested in them than other girls were, but that I was less. Yes, I liked boys, and I would have crushes on many boys I played with, but what I realized made me less nervous approaching them is that the girls made me equally nervous. For example, I was more uncomfortable and anxious during hair-braiding games with girlfriends, and I didn't understand why. Whereas my attraction to boys was easily understood at the time.
Going into high school, I fully understood this about myself. But, I was able to push those feelings aside, at least for a few years. Eventually, in my senior year, I felt that I had to be honest about my identity as a bisexual woman, and I told my friends. This is where another internal problem arose, finding myself in the community.
Though I grew up dressing more masculine, when I became a teenager, I fell into more "feminine" ways of dressing and enjoyed trying different makeup looks. So, at 18, as a woman who had dated several men and who often presented as more stereotypically feminine, at the beginning of my coming out, I felt sort of in the middle of the queer community and the heterosexual community. I knew I wasn't straight, but I didn't feel I could justify identifying with the queer community. One of my privileges in being straight-passing is that I am more likely to be accepted for my sexuality, but that comes as a double-edged sword because, in my experience, it came with implications from people that I told that I would only marry a man, for example. This confused my sense of self and disconnected me from the queer community and experience.
I started my journey not wanting anyone to know I was bisexual, then I transitioned to craving so badly to feel more a part of the LGBTQ+ community. So, I got involved. I found groups on campus that accept and uplift me, and I attended a Pride in Business conference this past year. I was inspired by so many queer professionals who proved that their sexuality was not a burden but, in many cases, an advantage. Since then, I have taken on leadership roles within clubs that focus on LGBTQ+ rights and representation, and I aim to amplify marginalized voices and make meaningful change. I want to push the message that queer individuals are leaders.
Today, I am proud of my sexuality and what I have to offer because of it. More than ever, society needs diverse perspectives to help shape a better future, and I am excited to be a part of the change toward that future. I plan to begin my professional career as a consultant one day. I am excited that I can provide a lens that is inclusive of and interested in uplifting the queer community and other marginalized groups.