soon as I asked myself “am I bisexual?,” I already knew the answer and by then felt too free to turn back. Coming out was the most liberating process I’ve experienced, but my journey isn’t over and I still have to figure who I am and what impact I want to have on those around me. In and out of the closet, social media has allowed people like me to share stories, offer support, and give hope to others. Although I feel alone sometimes I’m watching myself morph into a self-assured adult, breaking down my barriers one at a time.

Doing this as a young, Black bisexual woman, what does that mean for me? Where can I find love? How should I live day-to-day? How should I style my hair? How do I approach the opposite sex? The same sex? Can I still do my taxes the same? I haven’t fully answered these questions and on some days, I don’t feel like I’ve fully accepted who I am. I grew up in a household where being gay was seen as abnormal. As a young girl I was told to wait for marriage before even thinking about sex and desire, which made these forbidden themes all the more attractive. I didn’t want a man to marry me and allow me to have sex. I didn’t necessarily want a man. When I started feeling a certain way about women, however, I realised those dated ideas I had been taught were coming back. Maybe I was too scared to teach myself any different. Returning to safer online spaces taught me that sexuality was more complex than “boy goes with girl.” I was allowed to like more than one gender, or no gender. This finally made more sense than the simple formula I had always known.

My first crush was Keira Knightley, her character in The Duchess defied social convention, had a political career and a passionate affair -- all to the annoyance of her husband. She commanded a room and inspired me not only to love but to live freely despite the opinions of others. After watching four more times I knew I liked women as well as men. Rejection from my family was no longer holding me back from being honest with myself. This newfound confidence pushed me to learn more about the community I wanted to be a part of.

Seeing other people bullied for their differences made me afraid to publicaly embrace my own. This brought back feelings of self doubt and loathing. It discouraged me from speaking out against people who would never accept me. Now I make sure I stand up for myself and others, but I know I can never speak for everyone and shouldn’t. At times I want to project my voice so much that I forget to amplify the voices of others. To do this, I’ve held forums for marginalised people to receive support and speak freely. I’ve focused on sharing others’ experiences with communities that otherwise might not hear them.

It can be hard to stay resilient when I return to the very institutions that raised me. I feel physically drained by constantly having to challenge homophobia. The determination to live my life how I see fit is what kept me strong as a child, but suicide statistics for LGBTQ+ people shows that for many, avoiding barriers is not possible. Looking back at myself as a young Black girl -- confused, reading about being gay in secret -- I want to tell her she’ll understand and feel understood one day.

Right now I feel comfortable in who I am and who I love. I’m a constantly changing person who occupies so many roles: I’m a sister, a friend, a student, and so much more. Accepting my sexuality has only heightened my appreciation of who I am and made me feel more complete. I am a Black bisexual woman and there is no other person exactly like me, yet in the LGBTQ+ community I can still find friendship and guidance while giving the same to other people. I’m looking forward to continuing on this journey and proving there are no rules to love, only connections you make on your own terms, with people you want around you.