What My Sexuality Taught Me About My Mental Health

Author: Madeline Selena Brown, Prairie View A&M University student, Class of 2020

The day I realized I might be a bi-sexual teenager may be a day that is burned into my soul. It was the second to last day of my 8th grade year, the day before my “graduation” or ceremony (whatever you might call it), and days after all standardized testing. I sat in the back of my English class on the floor with my friends, a movie was playing, and we were playing a game, probably truth or dare. The result of this game ended in my first kiss… with a girl, and my second kiss with a girl, and then my third kiss with a girl. A day that seemed like entertainment for everyone else had my mind really twisted.

I dated my first girl the summer after my freshman year in high school. I was 15 years old, just lost a grandfather and was in love. I told no one about her, not my best friends, my teammates, my family, no one. I’m not sure if I was ashamed of her or if it was more about me being genuinely confused about who I was a person. We didn’t last due to a list of reasons: all from being young to me not truly knowing who I am.

I hid my sexuality for a list of reasons. I didn’t want to be seen as confused or some heightened sexual being or have someone tell me I’d be damned to hell because I’m living the life that has felt right to be. I didn’t announce to the world that I was about of one of America’s most targeted groups. A fear of going outside and a fear of being seen differently.

My lifestyle comes with the higher risks depression, anxiety, and substance abuse because the fear of never feeling included and hated and prejudices. I’ve personally dealt with drinking issues and smoking to deal with things that society told me was wrong. That constant pressure to hide who you truly are in a society of people who sees your life as wrong, disgusting, disgraceful can destroy someone from the inside out.

So to not come out as a Bisexual teen, I became an LGBTQ+ ally. I watched from the outside at people who lived and loved their sexuality freely. I went to pride, I confronted homophobes, I took care of my people, show some type of face in that part of my community and it wasn’t enough. On top of the stress in my life, my non-related depression and anxiety issues, the pain of faking who I was to show some type of face was killing me inside. I was living, not sure who to love or how to love. And then I realized that I can love him and I can love her but most importantly I have to love myself, take care of myself.

I realized that being one of the 5.5% out bisexual women in this world doesn’t mean I have to be one of the 60% of LGBTQ+ who will suffer from my mental illness due to my sexuality. I realized that my sexuality doesn’t define who I am and I won’t let it decide that for other people as well.

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