I Identify as a non-binary pansexual. I go by 'Lissa' and use 'they/them' pronouns. It's not that hard to keep up.
Living in a small suburban town in Upstate New York, you know everyone you grew up with. Everyone from my hometown knows me and, for the most part, they know I’m gay. It’s fairly normal for us here. After all, most of my friends are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum in some way.
Growing up in a small town was weird. No one was outright homophobic or transphobic, but certain events didn't sit right with me. Let's take that time in junior prom when a trans boy was first outed to the whole school by being nominated for prom king. It's moments like this that show my home wasn’t so inclusive.
"I identify as a non-binary pansexual individual. I go by Lissa and use they/them pronouns. It’s not that hard to keep up."
I remember the first time I felt prejudice directed at me. I was 15 years old and I identified as asexual, and then, eventually, demisexual. I was teased for saying I was asexual by all of my friends. Sometimes I look back and wonder if that was easier than where I am now. My identity as demisexual is where everyone seemed to have problems. For some reason no one liked the fact that I needed to have an intense connection to want to be with someone sexually.
So, I repressed that a bit, because falling in love with someone that didn’t think your existence was valid was hard. Throughout high school girls would come into my life, not to want to be with me, but to be a way to “experiment” with their own identity. I kissed a lot of girls, and I kissed some boys too. Neither felt “wrong” but neither felt “right.” I’ve had a lot of doubts about myself growing up, so I just rolled with it.
When I moved away from my small town, I realized it wasn’t me. I knew I liked girls, guys, and anyone in between. So, I kissed some more people since then, and I felt better about it. I had a lot of “almost” relationships and a lot of heartbreak, but it was okay. This is what life is like - losing people and finding better ones along the way.
In September of last year, one of my best online friends flew across the country to visit me. In the 5 days we spent together, I realized this is what existing is supposed to be like. I felt so confident about my own existence in those 5 days. After he left, it sparked something in me. On September 26th, 2018 I officially came out as non-binary. I treated it as more of a funeral for the person I was before, all of the hurt and heartbreak that person endured felt somewhat gone.
"On September 26th, 2018 I officially came out as non-binary. I treated it as more of a funeral for the person I was before."
I learned another lesson though; a lot of people don’t like it when you change. I lost quite a few people in my life at this time. I learned that I don’t owe anyone – anything. I learned that the most important person in my life is myself. So, what did I do? Exactly what I’ve always done - given love into the world, experienced the world that’s truly out there, and made it all about me, because that’s who it’s about at the end of the day. If someone can’t handle the parts of your identity that make you... well, they don’t deserve to know you.
So, my name is Lissa, I’m 20 years old, I’m queer, and my discovering my identity has shown me so much about the world and the people in it.
Kickass artwork credit: Tony Toggles.