I always congratulated myself for the many interests that all contributed to the unique development of my personality in my “coming of age” years, like indie pop, colorful Converse shoes and jewelry-making. However, there was one thing holding me back from being my ideal self: my sexuality.
During my life, I’ve avoided exploring my sexuality fearing what I might discover, but I couldn’t hide from it entirely. I vividly remember watching shows with female protagonists as a child and not understanding my feelings towards them. Reflecting on these moments, I now realize I felt a surge of attraction — something I thought I should only feel for boys.
The confusion was nauseating. I used to constantly talk with my parents about anything and everything under the sun, but this new attraction to women was too uncomfortable to discuss, so I never brought it up.
Coming out to my family was unimaginable. I could already hear the phrase, “It’s just a phase,” leaving my mother’s mouth, so out of fear, I continued to repress my sexuality.
In my preteen years, I was more exposed to the LGBTQ+ community because I was allowed to watch young adult shows. The first real concept of “being queer” was introduced to me through Kurt Hummel, an openly gay character, on Fox’s TV show “Glee.”
There was an episode where Kurt suppressed his feelings for a male character Finn and instead tried to project those feelings onto a female character Rachel. Seeing a character struggle with their sexuality on mainstream television was an eye-opening experience after previously only seeing straight characters.
Through watching this character face the same issues I was experiencing, my attraction for women slowly began to sneak out from the hole I desperately tried to bury it in.
As my desires became a reality, I began a new cycle of denial. I had crushes on girls but suppressed them to make room for any minimal interest I had in boys, hoping it would overcome any feelings for girls. As I hid these feelings, I discovered a new feeling associated with my sexuality: guilt.
My guilt stemmed from my lack of openness about my sexuality, and I felt like I wasn’t prideful enough compared to those who freely expressed their identities. I admired those who could paint their faces with rainbows and dance through the streets, wishing that someday I could join them. I watched from the sidelines, fearful of not being accepted by those within my community.
Until now, I’ve been closeted. The word Pride had always felt ironic to me. I couldn’t understand how people were so proud of their sexuality while I was working so hard to hide mine.
Many of my friends are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, so having me as a “straight” friend was a sense of normalcy to them, and I liked it because it was easy for me. At the time, I figured that if I don’t fit a stereotypical gay image, which I thought meant dimming my femininity, then no one would take my sexuality seriously. I continued to reflect a stereotypically straight image by hyper-fixating on my femininity and keeping my hair long, blonde and curled.
After being a first-year student at Temple for more than a month and being introduced to numerous students, I noticed each person I met had a certain confidence radiating from them. Their Pride is powerful. Mine is still nonexistent. Everyone I’ve met is so open about their sexualities, yet I still cannot muster the courage to confess mine out loud.
However, I’m realizing that I don’t have to compare my growth to others. Everyone evolves at their own pace and accepting my sexuality is no different. I might not be 100 percent confident with my sexuality, but I’ll continue to work on that. I fight the constant battle of not letting my guilt get in the way of whom I love.
There’s no question that my mentality about my sexuality has changed as I’ve gotten older. While my guilt still lives within me, it’s starting to fade as I become more accepting of myself. As I enter a new era of my life in college, I think it’s only right to finally declare who I am:
My name is Jordan Sandoval and I am a pansexual woman.