“I felt as though society wanted me to fit into a neat little box, and it left me feeling like I had to choose”
BY SOPHIE DE BOLLE
I don’t remember the first time I realised I was bisexual. This was maybe because it wasn’t a single moment, but more so a process of realising who I was as a person, how my sexual orientation fit into that, and how I fit into the world around me.
I realised that I was attracted to more than one gender when I was young. What I didn’t realise then, was that I wasn’t the only one in the world and that there was actually a word for how I felt. Instead, I felt lonely in my realisation. I didn’t see anyone around me who was attracted to more than one gender, so the only logical explanation became that something must be wrong with me and that I would have to find a way to get past this “phase”.
Thus, my search began. Was I straight? Was I a lesbian? What would I become? I felt as if everyone around me was either straight or gay, and there was a mounting pressure to “pick a side”. I felt as though society wanted me to fit into a neat little box, and it left me feeling like I had to choose. I didn’t even understand myself yet but felt like I was standing at a crossroads with a huge sign overhead saying: “Pick one, and pick now!” It was incredibly isolating, and it made me feel like my own feelings weren’t OK or normal, like I had to fit into one category or the other with no room for anything in between.
What I didn’t know then was that this was the beginning of my journey of self-discovery. I had the incredible fortune of stumbling upon stories and insights that resonated with my experiences. These little moments of connection came from various sources, like snippets I saw on TV, or snippets of conversations I overheard. In school, there were discussions about the diverse forms of love and relationships. They taught us that different families could exist, that people could love each other in countless ways, and most importantly, that there was no one-size-fits-all approach to love.
It was a revelation, a beacon of light in a world that often seemed to have rigid rules about what was “right” or “wrong” when it came to matters of the heart.
When I entered secondary school, I found something that changed everything: community. I discovered that I had peers in school who felt the same way I did, and everything they told me, I soaked up. Learning from them made me realise there was a word for how I felt, that I was bisexual too. In these moments, I realised I was not alone but that I was part of a large group of people: the bisexual community.
The courage of others to come out made me braver. Not only did I learn about myself and my identity, but I also learned that by sharing their story, a person becomes stronger. The pressure to “choose” faded away and was replaced by an overwhelming sense of freedom. I learned to embrace my identity as a bisexual person and my sexual orientation became a source of strength and authenticity.
I am fully aware that the road to self-acceptance and self-love is not a straight line, as it wasn’t for me. However, I’ve also learned how to increase the strength I have by telling others my story. Volunteering as an ambassador with Just Like Us, I tell my story in schools, giving pupils the representation I never had. I’ve learned that we as bisexual folks have this strength as a group, as long as we keep talking to each other and sharing that strength. Today I feel proud to say I am bisexual, but I also feel proud to say that I am part of a group of bisexual people who have found their voices and are unapologetically embracing their identities.
Others communicating with me has allowed me to embrace my bisexuality, and it’s a reminder that when we share our stories, we empower not only ourselves but also those who may be struggling to find their place in a world that often oversimplifies the complexities of human sexual orientation. Therefore, every day, I remind myself that if I continue to communicate and share, I can support other people and we can all celebrate the beautiful diversity that bisexuality brings to our lives and the world around us.
Sophie volunteers as an ambassador for Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity. LGBT+ and aged 18 to 25? Sign up here!
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