(Tree Lowrie)

It’s officially Pride Week here in Victoria, and it’s quite possibly my favourite week of the year (okay maybe second favourite – my birthday week is in August so that’s always fun as well).

Everything about this month makes me so incredibly happy, especially seeing all my queer brothers and sisters celebrating who they are. Whether you’re closeted or not, Pride is always a celebration of who we are, how far we’ve come, and how much further we need to go.

I’m truly fortunate to be in a position in which I can freely and comfortably be myself with very few repercussions.

I understand that I have a certain type of privilege that others don’t, and realize the amount of luck involved. So it is my mission to help out the boys, girls and everyone in between who do not share this privilege.

Growing up in a fairly open-minded household, I was always aware that girls can love girls and boys can love boys – and that’s okay!

Then, while in middle school, one of my friends came out of the closet as bisexual. When she explained that it means someone who likes both boys and girls, my little 11-year-old mind was blown! I was like, “You can do that?! You can like both?!”

Another friend said something that we now know is bi-phobic – at the time, we didn’t understand how problematic it was: She said, “I would never ever date a person who was bi, you could never trust them because that means there is twice the competition.” And I very blindly agreed.

Fast forward to 2011: Lemonade Mouth had just come out on Disney Channel, and Hayley Kiyoko played a punky, rebellious musician – and that was the first real instance in which I was attracted to a female TV character instead of their male counterparts.

I was so confused

I tried to tell myself that it was because she was so cool and collected and rebellious, and that I wanted to be like her – but there a knot in my chest.

The thought that “I like boys, I don’t like girls” kept running on repeat in my mind, as I tried to convince myself that that was the truth.

But the fact is, at that point, I didn’t know if I wanted to be her or be on top of her.

Classic bi problem, AMIRITE

Unfortunately, one of the most common things that I’d heard about people who identified as bisexual was that they were just “confused” or “greedy”.

It was ordinary for gay people to sneer at bisexuals claiming that because they can still be in hetero relationships, they can’t possibly be a part of the LGBTQ2+ community. There were also straight people saying that bisexuals had to choose one or the other – that they couldn’t have it both ways.

Fast forward to three years later, in my final year of high school: I was 17 and frequented parties fairly often. At that point I was dating a guy who thought it was incredibly sexy for girls to make out with other girls.

I remember having to take like five shots before I could even kiss another girl because of how nerve-wracking it was. But the fact is, up until that point I had been doing a great job of suppressing my bi-curiosity – and now I finally got to act on my natural instincts.

It never felt more right

When I finally kissed a girl, I melted.

It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before, especially after kissing plenty of guys and only ever dreaming of kissing girls. Every party after that, I got drunk and kissed girls, and with every party invitation it was all I looked forward to doing.

But I still wouldn’t admit that I liked people of the same sex as myself.

Baby steps

After graduating from high school, I moved to another city and downloaded tinder, (classic 2014 move, right?) consciously deciding to open up the settings to both boys and girls.

That was my first real step to finally admitting my true sexuality to myself. It was a terrifying, yet thrilling experience – I was swiping right on girls and never felt more free!

During this period, I just wanted to be in my own little bubble for a little longer, and decided not to reveal my sexual identity to my Dad or any of my friends back home.

I went on dates with a couple of girls, and it felt so normal – just being able to hold their hands and kiss in public felt like a breath of fresh air.

The first girl I ever dated is named Emily and she was breathtaking. We were both coming to terms with our sexuality, so we were both really nervous about it but also incredibly open with one another. On our first date I was so nervous, my hand was shaking when I went to hold hers.

We did end up sleeping with each other on the first date and it was sooo much fun! Because we were both fresh gays, we both had the same curiosity and the same nervousness. And although we only dated for a couple months, I’m still so so thankful for Emily.

Looking back, I really don’t know why I didn’t tell my Dad right away. As mentioned before, I come from a pretty liberal family and never hid anything from my Dad, but for some reasons I couldn’t say the words out loud. I couldn’t look Dad in the eyes and say “I’m Bi”.

Between 2014 and 2016, my love life involved dating both guys and girls. And if I was seeing a girl at the time, I would tell my dad that I was just crashing at a friend’s place for the night.

In late June 2015, I woke up to an endless stream of texts celebrating the fact that gay marriage was finally legalized by the Supreme Court in the States. Even though I’m not an American and have never been to the States (and gay marriage had been legal in Canada for a decade at that point), I still felt a HUGE sense of relief wash over me.

This was a big step for my queer brothers and sisters

I remember this morning perfectly: I remember walking out of my room and my dad greeted me like it was any other day.

We went out for coffee as we do on most days, and I remember looking over at my Dad and saying “Hey, so I got something to tell you.” And he looked at me and called me a Poopoohead, as my dad does.

“Dad, I’ve been feeling this way for a while now, and up until this point I was scared about how people were going to react – but I tell you everything. And I don’t want to lie anymore, I don’t want to lie about me anymore. I just want you to know that I like girls too, like how I’m supposed to feel about boys and I do. But I also feel that way about girls.”

At this point I was pretty much just word vomiting. I was literally shaking. My dad pulled over, and turned to me and said “Poopoohead, I know that you like girls. I’ve seen you check out girls before. You liking girls doesn’t change my mind about you, you’ll always be my daughter.”

Not gonna lie, I bawled

In the three years since that day, I slowly started coming out to other people, and started feeling more and more comfortable with my sexuality. Now it’s very common knowledge to my peers that I like both boys and girls. And that fact that I am dating a guy does not erase my sexual identity.

I’ve never had a bisexual role model to look up to, and that might be one of the reasons why it took me so long to really come to terms with my sexuality. This is one of the reasons why I never want to hide my story again. I want everyone – young and old – who are confused like I was to know that everything you’re feeling is completely normal!

So yeah, I’m Bi – and I’m loving it.

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