One of the hardest things that I have ever had to do was accept the fact that I was different. I spent 7 years of my life squashing the tiny seed of difference that was planted in me. It took me 7 years to realize that if I had let that seed of difference grow and flourish, It would have taken me far less time to realise who I truly was. When I realised that I was bisexual, a missing piece of my identity was finally visible to me. And like most of my community, at first, I swept it under the carpet. Never to be seen, never to be thought of. I could never understand why I was always so lost, so sad. A dark cloud of sadness always followed me around–I wasn’t being true to myself.

The first person I came out to was my best friend, and I remember my voice shaking because I wasn’t sure what her reaction would be. For the longest time, I had internalized the homophobia that I had seen around me–gay jokes in Bollywood movies, erasure of bisexual people, and the fetishization of lesbians–I was almost sure that I would either be ridiculed or told that I was just confused. Instead, I found a companion, I found someone who had gone through the exact same emotions as I had. I found a family. I wish I could tell you that when I came out, all of my fears, my anxieties were gone. They weren’t. For a long time, the only person who knew I was bisexual was my best friend.

Despite the fact that I have had a considerably privileged and easy life, coming out and everything that came afterward was one of the hardest things I have had to go through. No one prepares you for the fact that you might be forced to come out of the closet because someone outed you, no one prepares you for the fact that the homophobia that you’ve internalized over the years gnaws at your self-confidence. For years, I couldn’t properly identify myself as bisexual, even to myself. It was like I had a dirty little secret that no one should know. No one told me that every time you meet someone new they will assume that you’re straight, heteronormativity runs rampant. At every point in your life, you will meet new people, and you will have to come out all over again. All of that internalized homophobia comes rushing back. No one told me that I would spend the majority of my adolescence hating myself. I wish I could tell you that this journey towards fully expressing your identity was easy. In fact, I still have not completed this journey.

It took me years to get to where I am today, to be as secure with my sexuality as I can, to drive out the internalized homophobia. And yet, there are times when people forget that I am not straight. They will often erase that part of my identity because it is more comfortable for them, it suits them. But I am bisexual, I am a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I am queer.

Whether you’ve come out of the closet, or you’re still there; this is for you. The LGBTQ+ community is a family, even if we couldn’t possibly know everyone who is a part of it. Our stories are important, our stories help others.