Most of my favorite computer games have always involved some form of clue-hunting, or piecing together fragmented information to find the solution to a logical puzzle. Now that I think of it, however, to some degree these games involved a bit of hand-holding, where the game would restructure itself to present the clues more clearly if the player was having difficulty. If only there was some mechanism like that for us in real life.
Though I might have loved these types of games, I often struggled to piece together certain information in my own life. I was often very good at hiding things from myself, but every now and then there’d be a few clues left out for me to stumble over.
I guess compulsory heterosexuality was enough of a thing that in my never-ending quest to be that perfect kid growing up (to whom, I don’t know) I wouldn’t acknowledge the possibility that I was anything but straight until my adult years. However, I remember there being more than one occasion that there would be a girl who I just really really wanted to be friends with and couldn’t explain why.
One such girl in my middleschool was a kind-hearted fashionista who dressed as goth as you could get away with while attending school in the “Bible Belt.” One day I got paired with her on a class project. My socially awkward preteen self stared at the floor and spoke in monosyllabic utterances until we were dispersed. Go Steph.
Feeling alone and isolated in multiple contexts when I was sixteen, I wandered into a neighborhood church and ended up converting to a fairly conservative form of Christianity that didn’t take well to anything but the decidedly straight and narrow. During this time I remember hearing about LGBTQIA issues only juxtaposed with depictions of fire and brimstone from the pulpit.
About five years later and fifteen months into the closeted realization that I was definitely not straight, I distinctly remember the preacher railing against the Supreme Court marriage decision while I silently cheered the news from the church pew.
During the time that I was as committed as I could possibly be to this hardline set of ideologies, I remember waiting for the shower water to warm up in the basement of my old house, pondering my university peers’ fascination with nailing down their gender identity. “What’s the big deal?” I remember thinking, rather haughtily, “I don’t even think of myself as having a gender.”
It took me until fairly recently, in a moment of overwhelming darkness, to realize that thoughts like those were not insignificant, and I have come to the personal realization that they in fact have a monumental bearing on -to be blunt- how and whether I want to live my life.
If someone had told me back then that I would leave the church to live my adult life in relative acceptance of myself as a bisexual, nonbinary person, who dabbles in the goth subculture and holds a smattering of different beliefs from a few different sources, a squelched part of me would have been quietly thrilled. The other part would have sworn a humiliated blue streak and possibly punched that person in the face.
This was the part of me that believed “things don’t get better, they get different.”
I can now say with certainty that I am happy that my personal truth won out, and that I am now able to accept who I am and live a life more aligned with the burning I had felt all along in my soul. Things can get better, but sometimes we have to look for the clues that life is leaving us.