Girls like boys. Boys like girls. That’s what I was taught. Gay is bad. Bisexual is lying to yourself. Pansexual doesn’t exist. Kissing a boy’s cheek was love, but kissing a girl’s was being too friendly. These are the ideals that I was taught as a young child. I was in the fourth grade, when I realized something was “wrong”. I met her. Her beautiful long black hair, and smile that could lighten up a room. She was beautiful and perfect in every aspect of the word. My fourth grader heart wanted to be with her, but girls love boys not girls. We could only be friends and I was unhappy with that.
It’s sixth grade, the girl grew up and so did I.
I met a boy. Tall, smart, handsome, strong and he was perfect. We were perfect, but as all middle school relationships must do, we broke up. Seventh grade, I couldn’t help but love the girl again. My strict Christian family reminded me that my feelings were wrong. My family was homophobic. My dad once said of my brother, “My boy better not be gay.” These words tore me up inside and reminded me to be afraid of my own feelings. I was wrong, girls can only like boys.
Eighth grade came, boys and girls came and went. I took a label, Pansexual. Pansexual is seeing no gender, just love. We should not be afraid to love whomever we wish. I finally gathered the courage to text my parents that “I am pansexual.” I felt a weight lifted off my chest, then my mother responded that she did not believe me, “You’ve loved boys all your life.” I was overcome with emotions. My father said “We’ll talk about this when you get home.” I planned for every situation. Just not my mother’s real reaction. Though I realized, of course she did not know, I never told her about crushes of girls. I opened up to her and she started to realize my true sexuality.
That summer, I went up to see the conservative side of my family. My grandmother even cautioned me to not tell or discuss my sexuality with them. I felt like an embarrassment to her and ashamed of who I am. I felt trapped back in a closet that was dark and cold.
I couldn’t help but ask if this was always going to be my life? Will I always have to hide my sexuality?
June 12, 2016, was just another relaxing day at the pool for me but not in Orlando, FL. In Orlando, FL, Pulse Nightclub, a gay club, was attacked by fear with a loaded gun. In total 49 people were killed and 53 additional were injured in what was described as a terrorist attack against the LGBT community. Just like that, we were all scared again. Fear seemed to go hand and hand with any sexuality that was not heterosexual. We were all reminded that though we have progressed the “fear” of something different could still destroy lives. We were reminded in that moment that we are still called out on the street, kicked out of our homes, and harassed at work/school. Today I walk the halls of my high school and hear people calling each other ‘fag’ or saying ‘yo you’re gay’. Words used to describe us were being twisted. Turned into insults and turned negative.
These experiences have taught me to have faith in myself and be strong. The only way to silence the “fear” in others is that we all need to come together and communicate our differences. I took a stand with my family and challenged them to see me and accept me for all that I am. Through this communication and open mindedness my mother, father and I have bridged this gap and are healthier together. Most importantly I learned that my name is Haley Lynch and I am pansexual. I wear it with confidence and will not be silenced anymore.