Why I've Had To 'In' Myself To My Family

Somewhere in my parent's house there's probably a dusty banner emblazoned with the words 'Happy Coming Out Day!'
Publish date:
January 7, 2013
squeamish bikini, I'm not gay, bad gaydar

It started, I think, at university. No, I'm wrong, it started on a family holiday. I was 17 and sharing a hotel room with my older sister Becca talking about – I THOUGHT – our recently deceased house rabbit Bunji. “There will only ever be one man in my life, and that's Bunj,” I said.

Granted it was rather a sad attempt at a joke, but it was a joke. A few days later Becca informed me that she was honoured I had talked to her and that she and Mum had always had their suspicions and they were fine with it.

Fine with what? Somehow a conversation about a dead pet had been interpreted by my sister as me coming out as gay. I mean I like a tortured metaphor as much as the next gay but I tend not to be quite so opaque.

This isn't a re-hashing of the brilliant film But I'm a Cheerleader! (my mum rented it as soon as it was released – I should have known there were suspicions) in which I realise everyone was right and the only one with a dud gaydar is me. I knew from an early age that I was straight and that's OK.

Fortunately my family were always very supportive. I am extremely lucky that somewhere in my parent's house there's probably a dusty banner emblazoned with the words 'Happy Coming Out Day!'

Ashley has talked about people making assumptions about his sexuality before, due to his preference for a “pot of glitter over a pint of bitter.” I have met men who perhaps fall under the metrosexual genre and struggled to convince women of their desires. I had an intern once who I was convinced was gay only for him to be very vocal about the all the lady-crushes he had. But I have never met another woman who has repeatedly been informed she's gay.

Just in case my inning to my sister had been temporary, my mum took to sweetly and casually inviting me to 'bring a boyfriend – or girlfriend' on holiday with me. A couple of years later when travelling, having commented on the beauty of a new woman at the hostel, my alleged bisexuality was laughed at by another female traveller.

At university my feminism was interpreted as probably just suppressed lesbianism. Recently at a friend's birthday a gay woman wondered aloud if, as I claimed, I was straight then why I had not come on to any of the men present?

Oh crud, I could have fooled you all l had I not forgotten the first rule of hetero etiquette (or hetiquette if you will, and I do) to hump each man on the leg on entry to a straight club.

I don't mind and it is, perhaps, not a total mystery as to why people have thought I might be gay. I never had boyfriends as a teenager, (actually I don't know why I'm isolating my teens, I don't have boyfriends now in my twenties). Which might have suggested I wasn't interested in boys. I like to think it suggested I was the Not Interested party.

At university I was briefly involved with the LGB (apparently we didn't qualify for a T or a Q) society because my friends were members and I've worked as a volunteer for Brighton Pride. This month I will be attending Queer Yoga. It's true I am often where straight girls fear to tread. Or don't tend to gather at the very least.

Truth be told, I'm kind of scared of straight girls. I've never felt comfortable with them since all the girls in my year 7 class stopped talking to me, giving young me the impression that girls are bafflingly capricious and that I would never fit in with them. Since then the majority of my friends have been male, or gay women.

As I've got older I have met some fantastic straight women and realised they're nothing to be scared of. Necessarily.

I am also very shy, especially when it comes to conversations that go something like this: 'Hello, I find you attractive, shall we meet alone and glory in mutual attraction?' Because ARGH! If a guy says something to this effect I might have to actually respond with an accepting yes or a rejecting no.

This is far less likely to happen if I'm always at Brighton's premier lesbian night Traumfrau. If a gay woman mistakes me for a fellow gay woman I can simply say 'no thank you, for I am straight' and we can all be uncomplicated friends again. It means I'm sadly forever single but reduces awkward moments.

Having said all that - for all my heterosexuality is worth I would never turn down a date with Sue Perkins. Think of the cake.

Any other women (or men) out there who have encountered similar mistakes? Tell me on Twitter @SqueamishBikini.