When I was growing up, I often turned to my mother for relationship advice. We had our differences, but we were close, and I valued her opinions. However, I also found myself grappling with many of the things she said, because in all of it one thing was clear: for her, the only kind of acceptable sexual relationships are monogamous, heterosexual, long-term commitments.
We first started having these conversations when I was around 14 years old, which was also when I first started to question my sexuality. From the start, I had some questions about this concept. What if I did not want to sleep with men at all? What if I did not feel interested in the marriage-and-kids thing?
A few years later, after two failed relationships (with the same wonderful person) and a lot of angst, I was fairly certain about two things: 1. I was pretty darn queer and 2. I wasn’t cut out for monogamous, long-term relationships at the time. I did not feel comfortable within a relationship, no matter how awesome my partner was. It made me feel smothered, it made me feel responsible for someone in ways I wasn’t ready and willing to be responsible, and it made me feel like I had to choose one side of myself and lock the others away for later.
Here’s the thing: While I had a tough time coming out to my mother about being queer, I always knew that it was perfectly okay for me to be queer, and that if my mother couldn’t accept that, it was something that she needed to work on. I understood, from the start, that being queer wasn’t a pathology, it wasn’t a character flaw, it wasn’t the result of a dysfunctional childhood or the consequence of having grown up without my father around for much of the time.
My sexuality didn’t have a root - it just was, and that was okay. I also understood, without anyone having to explain that to me, that my sexual orientation did not taint me, and it did not ruin me for anyone. If anyone was ever going to look down upon me for that, then it wasn’t someone that I would want to be with, anyway.
I was not blessed with the same understanding about my second realization.
Read the rest from Scarleteen volunteer Joey here as she talks candidly about her own experiences with sex outside long-term, committed romantic relationships.