by Emily Nakamura
I need to tell my story. No matter what my grandmother says. I just need to tell it, tell it, tell it. In this story there are so many sides that it’s sometimes hard to see the whole shape. I am going to try to let you see the whole shape now. This is a war story. This is a love story. This is my story.
I always knew I was bisexual. For as far back as I can remember, I liked both boys and girls. However, I didn’t completely come to this realization until I was in 8th grade. I remember the night so clearly that writing about it gives me goosebumps. I had spent the whole day at my grandparent’s house watching romantic comedies. The room was warm and lit by candles. It was like any other day. During what would be the final movie I’d watch that night (“The Breakup” with Jennifer Aniston I believe it was), the thought came suddenly and without warning. “Maybe I like my best friend.”
I remember walking into the bathroom and staring at myself in the mirror. Suddenly, I was no longer young and happy. I was old and ugly. I was changed, different. The candles had blown out, and I was plunged into a cold darkness. This put a dagger in my beautiful, traditional, heterosexual future as a woman. This was a dark burgundy event, like the death of a family member. Dark burgundy like the cover of the Bible I poured over that night. Desperate to find God in my small, adolescent bedroom, I prayed to him to take these feelings away from me. My family wasn’t even very religious, but I clung to that Bible and searched for answers because I didn’t know any better. I could have died then. A dark burgundy martyr’s death like that of Jesus Christ himself. In the words of William S. Burroughs, “I might well have destroyed myself, ending an existence which seemed to offer nothing but grotesque misery and humiliation. Nobler, I thought, to die a man than live on, a sex monster.” I was a monster, a sex monster.
This was something, I thought, so awful, wrong, and dirty, that I could tell absolutely no one. This was something so shameful; I didn’t even dare write about it. I would take this secret to my grave. If anyone found out they would hate me. My family would be disappointed. My friends would leave me. They would all feel so uncomfortable knowing the truth. I couldn’t have that. I couldn’t.
A year later, I had repressed these feelings so much that I thought I was now straight. Of course, I was terribly depressed, but at least I was a heterosexual. It was around this time that I learned about bisexual erasure. The irony was that I was also trying to erase my sexuality despite the fact I knew it was wrong do that. I felt guilty about that too. “Bisexual erasure or bisexual invisibility is the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, news media and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists,” according to the Encyclopedia of Women in Today’s World. Who would want to be bisexual with all this going on? Not me. Good thing I was a hetero now.
I continued to repress my feelings for girls, as well as boys, until it was impossible for me not to. By the time I was a sophomore, I stopped repressing my feelings. I just didn’t tell anyone about them. As far as everyone knew, I was straight. However, I still felt awful about it. I felt physically sick every time I was attracted to someone of the same gender. “Oh no, what if I’m completely gay?” I got sick every time I was attracted to someone of the opposite gender. “Oh no, I don’t want to be completely straight.” It was a constant struggle to see which out-weighed the other. It was a slow process every day. I was trying to run through water up to my waist. I could easily have drowned.
I told a few friends around this time, not out right, but by dropping hints here and there. Hints where I would “jokingly” call girls attractive, or bring up the topic of bisexuality. It became unspoken knowledge that Emily was bisexual. Although, any time someone vocalized this knowledge, my face would get hot and I’d deny, deny, deny. But they all knew the truth. They all knew.
Eventually, finally, it got to the point where I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care what people thought of me, neither my friends nor my family, I was tired of hiding. I became vocal about my bisexuality. It was me stepping out of that waist high water and onto dry land for the first time in my life. Some people thought it was strange. They still find it strange. Some of my family didn’t believe me. My grandmother thought it was a phase, she still does. It was just good to tell people. I cried a lot back then. That was good too though. It was good to get it all out.
My bisexuality is not a secret. It is not wrong. It is not dirty. It is not unholy. It’s taken me five years to come to this realization, but my bisexuality is beautiful. It is a part of who I am. That is my story. I tell it because I need to and I tell it because I can. I tell it to help others, to let them know that they are not alone. The night I realized I was bi was not a death. It was a step forward into a new and wonderful life. I can love anyone. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t.
Emily Nakamura is an 18 year old artist and writer from Florida. “Epiphany Essay” won a Silver Key Award in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ Southeast Writing Region-at-Large, and was a part of her Gold Key Writing Portfolio. She will be attending Stetson University in the fall, and will be majoring in art and minoring on psychology for a future career as an art therapist.
Photography by: Gessy Alvarez