Hey APC, my name is Tyra Hughes and I am a sophomore at West Orange High School.
From a young age, I was surrounded by a heteronormative idea of love. In the movies I watched, to the books I read and even the relationships that my family members had, I had only ever seen love as being between a man and a woman. That lack of LGBT representation made it incredibly hard for me to understand and accept my sexuality as a sophomore in high school.
Our society has always set straight as the default sexuality of the human race, and so when I first began to question my own sexuality- I was confused and felt a whirlwind of emotions engulfing all around me.
The moment that I knew I wasn’t straight was at school when it was a partially chilly day for October. I had underestimated how windy it would be that day and had headed out for 6th period outside without my jacket. As I stood shivering and huddled with a group of my classmates, I noticed myself looking around and waiting for my crush to come to class. Suddenly, she started zipping down her jacket and emptying her pockets.
I had no idea that she was about to give her jacket to me, but she did. I remember feeling stunned, and as I walked on the track, I tried to convince myself not to over-romanticize the fact that my crush had given me her jacket. I tried to deny the fact that I liked the warm feeling of wearing her jacket, and that I wouldn’t mind it if I wore it for a little longer.
With each day I saw how this was the average crush, except the crush, was on a girl and not a boy. I noticed myself laughing too much and smiling too much around her, and feeling butterflies in my stomach each time she looked in my direction.
When I first realized that I liked both girls and boys, it was hard for me to talk about it with my friends and family. For a while, my sexuality was just my little secret, but I still told my friends that I liked a person without revealing who it was through pronouns. A part of me felt as though my friends might have looked at me differently knowing that I was bisexual.
Coming out has been very different for me each time that I have done it. The first time I told my mother that I was bisexual, I was excited. We went out to dinner and before we left, I packed my bag with pictures of the girl that I liked and told my mother to ask me about my crush. I told her everything, every moment that led me to the realization that I liked this girl and I was eager to answer all of her questions. At first, my mother was stunned and it took her a couple of seconds to process, but I knew that she would still love me the same. Eventually, she began to ask a lot of questions. I remember her asking, how do you know for sure that you like girls if you’ve never been in a relationship with a girl or a boy?
I tried my best to explain to my mother that sexuality isn’t always about sex, sometimes it’s more about the emotional connection- and that’s what I felt for my crush.
When I came out to my sister, it was the night before she left to study abroad in Paris. I remember a couple of weeks before that night, I sat down on my bed and found myself unable to move from it. For five nights straight I just couldn’t bring myself to come out to my sister, and eventually, days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months and the night before she left, I realized I had to tell her. Even then, I couldn’t even bring myself to say that I was bisexual; I ended up writing it down on a piece of paper with a picture of my crush and I attached to it.
My sister gave me a big hug that night and she told me that she would love me no matter who I liked. It felt like a burden off my chest to have finally told her.
Since coming out to some of the closest people in my life, I have joined my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA club) and I really enjoy being apart of an inclusive community where we can all talk freely about our identities. Each day, it gets a little easier to embrace who I am and who I am attracted to. I’m glad to have come this far when just months before, I couldn’t even admit my sexuality to myself.
Self discovery has been a major factor of my sophomore year of high school. I’ve learned more about myself than I ever would have imagined. I look forward to learning more about myself and learning to embrace who I am, not only as a 16-year-old high school student but as a bisexual, black young woman.