Marina, 21, Atlanta, GA
Sometimes people have assumed I’m straight because of my appearance. I date both guys and girls, and I’ve worried that people would just think that I was straight. I’m not so concerned about it now, but it’s something that I thought about when I was newly out and not really sure how I fit in. I felt like I had to prove my queerness. I’m more comfortable with it now and sort of do whatever feels right.
I identify as queer. Depending on who I’m talking to I’ll identify as bisexual, but I think the word bisexual, to me, sort of means two genders, which isn’t necessarily how I see things. I understand two genders exist in society, but they aren’t inherent or necessary. I go by female pronouns. More or less, I identify as female. That’s how I was raised to identify and how people view me. I’m a linguistics major, so I’ve thought a lot about these terms.
Being queer affects many aspects of my life beyond just sexual orientation. I work at the Center for LGBT Life, and the queer community here is very supportive. Other queer students on campus ended up being a ready-made social circle for me. Through the Office of LGBT Life, I’ve met so many people I’ve really connected with. Almost all of my close friends are queer. Emory is my first experience with any queer community. I didn’t really have that in high school.
I was only out to my very, very close friends in high school. It wasn’t something I talked about. To make my life easier, it was something I kept to myself. I knew that when I went outside of Inverness, Florida, that would change.
I had my first kiss with a girl when I was 13. She was a close friend of mine and we had a sort-of relationship, and she’d also be dating guys publicly. I was like, “I’m not cool with being your secret girlfriend.” As far as I know she doesn’t identify in any way as queer now. She has a kid and lives in our hometown. A lot of people from my high school have kids. There was a group of kids in honors classes and they’re in college, mostly at University of Florida, but I’m one of the few who went out of state.
Neither of my parents went to a four-year college, and my sisters and I all did. My parents both worked a lot when we were growing up to support us. I can’t remember them saying “You have to go to college or do well in school.” but it was always assumed that you will go to college and you will do well in school.
My dad is Mexican and my mom is white and from the South, but I’m not really emotionally wedded to one thing or another and never really fit into either category. Before I came to college I didn’t necessarily have the vocabulary for it, but I’m used to not necessarily fitting into a box. From a young age I’ve always been aware of race and ethnicity and how these things played into my life.
I told my mom I was queer a year and a half ago, but I never came around, I guess, to telling other members of my family. I decided several months ago to operate like I had already told my sister. We both use Twitter a lot, and I’d tweet that I was going to Atlanta Pride and I’d link to various queer events I was going to, so I assumed she knew. But I just officially came out to my sister yesterday. On Twitter.
My sister told my mom, “Marina’s never actually come out to me. I know, or I think I know.” But it seemed to my mom like she wanted me to tell her. So last night I sent her a Twitter direct message being like, “Hey, Mom said you wanted me to tell you this but you probably already know, so yeah…” She wrote, “Haha. Thanks, I guess.”
As told to Diana Scholl.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken at Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 2010
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