Elessar Younglove (They/She/Fae)
My name is Elessar Younglove. I’m 23 years old. I’m a Taurus, I’m bisexual, and I’m nonbinary. My pronouns are they/she/fae. And I’m gonna give a trigger warning for internalized homophobia/biphobia, regular homophobia, bullying, suicide, and sexual assault.
I should have known I was queer when I dared Charlie Prohaska to kiss me. I was 15 and it was her birthday party. Whenever I’d watch movies, if they played truth or dare something big would happen. And I remember thinking that it was a win-win situation. If she backed out I could tease her. If someone made fun of me, I could call it a joke. I dared Charlie Prohaska to kiss me because her real name was Rachel; but she cut her hair and changed her name and she didn’t care that we went to a Catholic school. Didn’t care that we were quizzed on the sin of our existence.
I didn’t think she would kiss me. I don’t think I’d thought that far ahead. But when she did we just moved and it wasn’t bad and no one laughed at me. My best friend might have stared at me in surprise. But Chelsea wouldn’t hurt a fly. Chelsea even said she’d missed it. Like it was something exciting, instead of gross. Charlie smiled and said we could do it again. And we did. We were outside in the grass and our parents weren’t there. And I never wanted to stop kissing Charlie Prohaska.
Chelsea and I used to talk about queer topics. We’d say that if the other one turned out to be gay that we would never judge them. I said that I was curious, but I wasn’t gay. I said that I’d thought about kissing a woman, being with her. But I didn’t know there was another way. I just knew that my school debated gay rights like it was a philosphy question, a quiz, a chance to make highschoolers feel stupid for saying that one man and woman from the Bible couldn’t dictate what sexuality should be for everyone.
I stood out as a kid. I was loud and goofy and clumsy and scatterbrained and I didn’t always say the right thing. So I tried to say the right thing. I tried so hard. I wasn’t an easy child to raise. I have a learning disability, and I got picked on, and boys would tell me how lucky I was to have a boyfriend. One whispered in my ear, asked how far I had gone with him, asked if I had gone down on him. As a teenager, I never felt comfortable around boys. At least, most of them. There was this pervasive sexism in Catholic school, where popular guys dictated who was liked and I was made fun of for sitting like a man with my legs open, like I wanted something. They said I was ugly compared to my older sister and stupid compared to others students. That I stared too much and talked too much and tried too hard. And the people that felt bad for me thought I was a weird, misguided little straight girl so they pitied me. And I knew if I couldn’t even be that they would hate me. So I pushed liking girls down as far as I could. Because I didn’t need another reason to be made fun of, and I’d seen my own friends make fun of girls for being lesbians. Gay was a dirty word, and I desperately wanted to be clean.
Until I met a girl at 19 and she was kind and funny and so beautiful. She told me that she was bisexual. I said… that I thought I was, too. But I couldn’t say the word. I was so afraid. I was terrified of letting my family down. Terrified of being a constant disappointment who had to take pills and see a therapist and couldn’t have razors in high school. I was so scared. And eventually I forgot how to be anything else. The girl I liked was gorgeous, but I knew she couldn’t like me. Until… it turned out she did. And I was so happy. Until she said she was leaving, and that we couldn’t be together. That she wasn’t out yet and she was transferring to a university and I didn’t– I didn’t know what to do and my medication stopped working and I didn’t want to keep my sexuality a secret but I wasn’t attractive or a good weight or smart or successful and I– I wanted to stop letting my family down. So I tried to be perfect. I spent all of my time trying to make up for the fact that I was bisexual. Until my meds stopped working and I was always sad so I switched to sertraline and having panic attacks became normal until I was standing on a bridge.
Someone wouldn’t let me go. And I was scared and angry and so, so hurt. So desperate to be something I wasn’t. And when I finally told my parents it was a bargaining chip because my mom was angry at my older sister, Joey. She was angry at her because I talked about moving to Ann Arbor and she thought Joey was turning me against her and that I was leaving, and she didn’t understand it wasn’t about Joey or her or my dad, and she threatened to kick Joey out of the family and I said that wasn’t right and it wasn’t it and she asked me what was it. What was I talking about? And I got scared and I started crying and I didn’t want to tell her but she had my dad on the phone and she never stopped asking.
I tried to explain with other people. Tried to use an example of people I knew who were queer. When I came out it was silent. Until my mom wrinkled her nose and said, “So you’re gay too now?” She didn’t mean it. She was just surprised. She apologized instantly. She gave me a hug. And we cried because she had cancer and I didn’t want her to die with a stranger. Someone that wasn’t me.
Things got better, though. My mom’s cancer went away, and I stopped taking sertraline and started adderall. I got into the University of Michigan and I was finally ready to be myself. But the thing was… I didn’t want to string people along.
My deepest fear about bisexuality was that people would expect me to marry a man. And, while I liked men, I just couldn’t see that happening. I hated the idea that my family would have to wait with bated breaths as I strung them along with hope of normalcy. I thought I wasn’t giving men a fair chance. So I tried talking to them at bars, having a drink and approaching them and pretending I wasn’t realizing how afraid I’d always been. I thought if I got drunk enough I wouldn’t care if I talked to a guy. I wouldn’t be scared of whispers in my ears or being shoved against a wall.
So I went out with a friend or two and I drank. I drank and drank until I was stumbling around the bar, admiring the view of it. I said hi to a man there, and… I’ll never know his name, or why he did what he did. But he didn’t ask and he didn’t stop when I pushed him away. And it wasn’t my fault because I just said hi. That’s it. So why did he think it was okay to grab my mouth and push me against a railing and push his hand into my pants and scoop me out from the inside like I was some piece of meat?
I was so, so hurt and angry with myself for always making my life so difficult. Always finding myself the victim and never being strong enough to stop people from hurting me or calling me names or throwing things at me. I stopped going to class for a while because nothing seemed worth it anymore. I kept going to therapy, but I was so angry and a part of me hated myself because I had always been afraid I’d be assaulted. I thought I was weak and stupid and I didn’t think I would live to graduate high school and if I did it’d because I was selling myself on the streets. So when I did get assaulted I thought, “Well, you got what you wanted.” But I didn’t get what I wanted. I thought love was a lie and that I was disgusting, and it took me a long time to heal from that and sometimes it still hurts but– it wasn’t my fault.
And I found out that love isn’t scary. Love is resting. Love is kind and patient, and she asks if you’re comfortable and she doesn’t question your gender and she doesn’t put her hands on you without asking. And when she does touch you it’s so, so gentle. And you never thought you could be loved this way, and you want to go back and tell yourself that you aren’t dirty or greedy or slutty or sinful. You want to go back and tell yourself that you will have a girlfriend who makes you lunch on long days. And she’s so brave and funny and she doesn’t think having ADHD makes you stupid. She could never think anything like that because she loves you. And you just try to make her feel as loved and as safe as she makes you feel.