By Chiquita Violette
Back when I was in kindergarten, there were some cute people who made my heart race, but I did not know the term for liking both the girls and the boys. Surrounded by all these pretty faces, there was much to like, however, my greatest loves were lunch and recess. I miss those simpler times, free of politics, less about responsibilities and niceties and more about midday naps and swings sets.
In seventh grade I had a secret crush on my bestie from my athletics class. For two semesters, joined at the hip, we commiserated over our impossible coaches screeching that we were not fast enough, that we missed goals and lacked team spirit. I knew then that we would both forever hate sports. What I did not know was that – despite the many conversations about the guys that we liked – she had a secret crush on me. Fifteen years later, we confess and laugh at ourselves, commiserate some more, feeling twelve all over again.
When I was in high school my close group of friends and I discussed to what percentage we might be gay/bi/ straight. My fluidity made it difficult to answer this query. I announced myself as 15%-20% bi, getting a “That sounds about right” response from my friends. In my head, I thought I was closer to 60/40 or 50/50, but I was not certain how much truth my friends could handle. The bell rang and lunch was over, enough soul searching, time for fourth period.
When I was questioning my identity five years ago, I discovered Bi Any Other Name in its bold red and black cover on a shelf in my favorite bookstore. I confirmed my bi identity and came out to my best friend. I did not know how many times I would return full circle to this book: I passed it on to a questioning friend who later confirmed her bisexuality; I met a contributor who befriended me and gave me the opportunity to work with her at a major LGBT conference. This marvelous individual also helped me get to the conference!
At the conference, I met one of BAON’s co-editors. In one of the bi-themed sessions we made a group video and she asked me if it would be okay to use the video as part of her LGBT curriculum. I could not say yes fast enough. star-struck, I just wanted to shake her hand. I had no idea that watching us make that little video impressed her so much. I never saw any of this coming when I decided to start turning that first page.
Today, I am no longer an uncertain and questioning LGBT youth needing someone to look up to or seeking out others like myself for reassurance that it is okay to be myself. I now have LGBT youth looking up to me. I have a responsibility to encourage them to speak up, support them if they need it, offer wisdom from my own personal experiences and help lead them to see their own personal greatness. I have to show them that they have every right to just be and that being true to oneself and one’s personal integrity is one of the keys to peace and happiness in this chaotic world in which we live.
And tomorrow? I am forever uncertain of what it will bring but retracing my steps makes me look forward to happy times in the future.
Chiquita, 27, is a “too cool for school” bi activist residing in Dallas, Texas.