When I was in elementary school, there was an afternoon where my older sister approached me and said, “Do you know what a lesbian is?” I said that I didn’t know, and she told me that it’s a “girl who likes other girls.” I felt like my world had shifted. The fact that I could put a word to what I felt made my heart race. In my excitement, I later told my mom about this new piece of knowledge. She asked where I had heard it from, and I told her that my sister told me.

I didn’t know it then, but a few years later I realized that my sister had gotten in trouble for introducing “lesbian” to my vocabulary.

It’s already difficult to grow up non-cishet and piece together what your identity is, but it’s even harder when LGBTQ labels are treated like dirty words, inappropriate for children. My identity felt so wrong and out of place when I was young, and this was only furthered by the fact that I had no one I could talk to in real life about it.

Years after the incident with my sister, I found myself immersed more on Tumblr than with people at school. I learned online the identity that actually fits me—bisexual—and felt so wrong for it since it seemed that there was no one around me who was truly like me. Of course, you don’t have to use labels, but it’s hard to know what exactly you are when you don’t even have the vocabulary. 

The moral is, it’s okay to research into different identities as you grow and realize who you are, especially if you don’t have a supportive community around you in your real life from a young age. You should never feel gross or wrong just for identifying as something outside the accepted norm.

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Katy Doherty (contributor)

Katy (she/her) is a contributor to MyUmbrella. She is from the Boston area, enjoys artsy hobbies, and currently studies Media & Screen Studies and English at Northeastern University.

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