By Kaliisha Cole
My mom and I walked into Spencer’s this past April with a couple of shopping bags in hand. I rarely ever felt the need to splurge on clothing. Any purchases I made for myself were typically reserved for books.
That day, I went into Spencer’s with one goal: find the Pride Month collection.
Rewind to last year around that time. I was in the same store with my two friends. I had seen a shirt that was a sheer black crop top with the saying, “It’s not a phase” in the bisexual colors. Part of me was desperate to take it home with me while the other part of me was embarrassed to purchase it. I held it close to me for a few minutes as my friends browsed.
On our way out, I made a split-second decision and hung it back up on the display.
What held me back? Was it because I was dating a guy and might be called a faker? Was I too worried about what my boyfriend’s family would say to me if they saw me wearing it? It was a bit too revealing for my level of comfort. Knowing I would have to wear something underneath to cover my boobs further influenced my decision. I might have looked great in it, but I could never wear it out beyond specific LGBTQ+ events or safe spaces. I asked myself: Why bother?
Fast forward to this moment where my mom and I walked into Spencer’s a year later in April 2023 and, front and center, there was a display of this year’s Pride Month collection. Some pieces were the same as before. Pieces were stamped with transgender, asexual, gay, and lesbian colors. My eyes didn’t take long to rove over the rainbow wall before seeing exactly what I had hoped was there. In the center of it all were shirts and shorts with the bisexual colors. My colors.
“They’re here!” I had exclaimed to my mom with a full-tooth smile on my face. I grabbed the shorts with Bi Pride hearts popping out over each butt cheek. I debated about the shirts for a while. The one I had seen last year wasn’t there, but the store had a few more options. I wondered whether they would have the Bi Pride baseball jersey in my size. I never wore baseball jerseys before. It had never seemed like my style.
I asked the green-haired attendant anyway if she could pull down a specific size for me. She departed momentarily to get her hook.
Returning, she asked, “What size are you looking for?”
“Medium,” I answered after a beat.
She accidentally pulled two shirts down. Thankfully, one of them was the size I had hoped they had in stock.
Thanking her, I admired the shirt in my hands. This was less revealing than any others I had contemplated before. Why did a baseball jersey appeal to me now over the generic ones representing the Boston Red Sox that I could get at nearly any store in Massachusetts? It was merely because this one was personal. I could express who I am through this compilation of colors, queerness, and stitches. The two-piece set took up $58 of my $100 limit for the day, and it was worth every cent. I went home with my assortment of outfits and threw the pair on immediately.
The jersey hung perfectly. stopping mid-thigh. The colors decorated my shoulders and biceps, and the colored bands of the shorts circled and hugged my thighs. The white sneakers I had bought from Forever 21 completed the ensemble. I threw on some music and danced in front my bedroom mirror for hours.
I sent pictures to my boyfriend who was at work. He was so excited for me. The desire to own clothes that would allow me to outwardly express myself was a constant topic of conversation between us. I hated to remove them from my body once he returned home. At that point it was 10 p.m. and time to get into my pajamas. With another second of hesitation, I probably would have worn them to bed. However, knowing that this set would always be there for me gave me enough reassurance that I could put them away for this one night.
I’ve never dated a woman. I came to the realization that I was bisexual in my freshman year of college. I drew many women in doodles, enveloped in each other’s arms gazing at the stars. I had a crush on many video game and cartoon characters in my youth, from Talim in Soul Caliber III to Musa in Winx Club. There was a friend in seventh grade who I would say was my first-ever female crush.
With my boyfriend, I feel accepted and safe. Feeling secure in my sexuality does not equate to my lack of female-dating experience. I can talk about my attraction to men and women without being judged for it with my friends and family who accept me wholeheartedly. I know who I am. I know who I’m attracted to. Something inside of me solidified from purchasing that jersey. In that moment I had felt empowered, not ashamed.
Kaliisha Cole is a Senior Bookseller and Bookstagrammer. She reads, reviews, and gushes over diverse Young Adult books and takes many photos and videos of them. She is a bi-racial bisexual and is currently navigating life outside of college.