What I Learned Coming Out as Queer in my 40s
“How the hell did you think you were straight?”
I hear this comment a lot from friends and myself actually. It seems completely impossible now but denial is strong. I found out I was queer at the grand age of 41 because I liked and dated a non-binary cutie and as I got used to clearly not being straight, I started to see just how queer I’ve always been.
What Being Queer Means to Me
Queer is the word I identify with the most. But I also describe myself as pansexual and bisexual quite interchangeably. I’m attracted to people across the gender spectrum, and I always have been.
I constantly realize thoughts I had and things I did that weren’t “straight.”
- I’ve always thought all people look good in suits. I now realize that I find all people hot in suits, not just men.
- Shakira’s dance moves weren’t all I wanted her to show me. The hips don’t lie, right?
- I always wondered why I found that scene in Romeo and Juliet where they’re looking through the fish tank at each other to be really arousing, as I never fancied Leonardo Di Caprio. In reality, I fancied Claire Danes.
To be honest, I’m having these revelations on a close to daily basis.
How My Child Reacted
My teenager scoffs at something I say all the time. They are 18 and have known their sexuality since childhood, and they’ve never been straight. But for as many times as they roll their eyes at me for loving on boobs or exclaiming my fave Madonna song has always been Like a Prayer, they also have sage advice and insights that have made this whole process easier.
They even helped me decide on my queer label. Over time, they’ve explained various things to me. I know about pansexuality because they have identified as pansexual for years. They’ve helped me understand the importance of pronouns, and most of all they answer any and all my questions. Even the ones I feel are stupid.
I’m not sure I’d be coping so well with the whole process if it wasn’t for my child’s support. However, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to discovering my queerness in my 40s.
- I know myself pretty well already. Everyone is a work in process, but at least I’m not working out who I am like those who discover their sexuality in their teens. That’s a very confusing time, with a whole mess of hormonal fun and games to deal with. At least I’m past that!
- I’m established. I am less likely to care if someone dislikes my queer self. I won’t pretend to be something I’m not, and I don’t have to hide the real me.
- I have a community around me. A lot of people who find out their sexuality in their teen years just don’t have any support and no one to turn to. Whereas I am surrounded by people who understand. In my family, in the erotica writing world, and in the BDSM scene.
Unlearning Straight Privilege
It’s quite hard to accept how much privilege I’ve had as a straight, white cis woman. I’m trying really hard to listen to the voices of those who’ve really had it hard and to amplify the voices of marginalized folk. I’m especially vocal when it comes to trans rights, especially with my child being trans.
Having to Catch Up
You know when you have those dreams, where you walk into a class late, and you don’t know where the class is reading from and all the questions the teacher asks are complete gobbledegook? I feel like that sometimes. Like all the LGBTQ+ folks have studied the manual and know it back to front and I haven’t even read chapter one yet.
Regrets, I’ve had a few. There are so many people I might have kissed, might have flirted with even, if I hadn’t been under the impression I was straight. How many straight-up sexy times have I missed out on because of my miscomprehension? Well, they wouldn’t be straight, but you know what I mean.
The moral of this tale – and I was a child of the ‘80s, all tales should have a moral – is that it’s never too late to discover who you really are. It might seem scary, it might feel like your world is turned upside down but life denying your true self is merely an existence. And I’m loving living my queer life now, there’s so much to explore.