Everyone’s coming out story is a little bit different. Some LGBTQ people know they’re queer as young as five years old; others can’t confront their truth until later in life. I lived the first 26 years of my life thinking—assuming—that I was completely heterosexual. But then I encountered funky-patterned, short-sleeve button-ups and realized that I wanted to have sex with women.
It was summer 2016. I’d been on a series of mediocre dates with guys who were all nice enough but I never really clicked with. Then, one hot July day, I ducked into a Forever 21 to seek shelter from the heat and saw something that would change my life forever: Rows and rows of short-sleeve button-ups in the men’s section, undoubtedly marketed towards high-school boys. I slipped one on, looked at myself in the mirror and immediately knew the truth: I finally looked like “me” and also I needed to go down on a woman stat!
Blue! Pink! Polka dot! Wacky pastel zig-zags! Covered in pineapples, pugs, hearts! I stood, awestruck, feeling the gravity of the moment. I knew everything would be different from here on out. “Wow,” I uttered aloud, frightening a hoard of 14-year-olds. “I’m super fucking gay.” I whipped out my credit card and began the rest of my life as a queer woman.
If there’s one thing we can say for certain about sexuality, it’s that it’s a spectrum. Some queer women prefer their pinstriped button-ups from Madewell or J. Crew and others insist on discovering theirs in targeted Instagram ads for online stores like Wildfang. Me? I’m a simple girl. I want my bright yellow, bumblebee-print shirts made for freshmen in high school. No one should have to put their sexuality in a box, but please box that shirt up for me because I need! All I’m saying is it’s important to know yourself and what you like.
Sometimes I shake my head remembering all the time I wasted wearing clothes made for adult women, and also sleeping with men. But until that fateful afternoon in the thunderstorm, how could I have possibly known I’m a giant fucking lesbian?
Did I discover kooky short-sleeved collared shirts, or did kooky short-sleeved collared shirts discover me? That’s impossible to say, really. But the important thing is, that day in the Forever 21 tween boy section, I discovered myself.