I Guess You Could Say This Is My Coming Out
By Landon Funk
There are some things that I treasure about my personality that are directly attributed to growing up in the South. Other things not so much. For example, I am an expert at using “bless your heart” correctly. You never want to say it as a compliment or term of encouragement and endearment but to completely and totally disrespect someone else. Granted, we should respect everybody. Still, how frustrating is it when your partner or brother or anyone else tries to be helpful and ends up ruining your perfect vision? Bless their heart.
On the other side of that spectrum, growing up in Nashville before it was the hot place for hipsters and millennials was not the best. It was conservative, Christian, and white. My parents did an excellent job of incorporating social justice, politics, and liberal thinking into our household. But still, there is only so much they could do to expose me to the “real world” when the real world that I lived still held antebellum values. I grew up using “gay” as a synonym for stupid and played on golf courses that had slave walls running through the middle of them. Compared to my time at Princeton or in Los Angeles, my childhood and teenage years were colored with conservative whiteness.
When I was seventeen, my family and I drove to Anderson, South Carolina for Thanksgiving. The small town contained a whole lot of nothing, but it was home to my grandfather. My two brothers and I piled into the backseats of our family’s enormous black SUV, and my parents rode in the front – and to pass the time, I pulled out my iPad 1 and watched Black Swan, an Academy Award winning film about a disciplined ballerina that slowly loses control. The protagonist lands the lead role in Swan Lake and is tasked with performing the roles of both the black and white swan. However, she struggles to grasp the vigor and excitement needed to play the black swan, and her director encourages her to go home and “touch herself.” And she does.
And as if the instructor was speaking to me, I did too – once we got all the way to my grandfather’s house of course.
Before this, I had touched myself in the sense that I often played with my pubic hair, but I had never touched myself for sexual pleasure. It felt great, but I didn’t achieve an orgasm the first time. To be quite honest, I didn’t know what I was working towards, only that I wanted to become less uptight. If it worked for Natalie Portman in the movie, it might work for me too.
As I started to experiment with self-pleasure more and more, I started to pick up on celebrities talking about their sexuality, especially my then – and lets me honest, my current – idol Lady Gaga. She was able to talk about being sexually attracted to both men and women with such openness and grace and still talk about her faith. It was like she knew completely my situation: a young woman wanting to explore sexually but stifled by the Christian culture drowning the world in which I lived. I was a confused teenager exploring her sexuality for the first time, and here was a woman that was able to express exactly what I was feeling.
Lady Gaga told me that it was okay to be attracted to those who identify as women as a self-identifying woman, and she helped me find the courage to Google and start watching lesbian porn. If Lady Gaga didn’t think it was wrong to be interested in women, then I wasn’t going to stifle my desires any longer. I would watch videos on PornHub or YouPorn or LesbianVideos or any other platform and touch myself, but this time I would reach a climax. I remember the first week I achieved an orgasm: I thought it was the most incredible thing that I had ever experienced… and I simply could not get enough. I masturbated whenever I had a free moment. It was liberating, but I still felt like I was Eve in the Garden of Eden, dirty and discreet.
I started to see women differently – as potential partners – when I walked down the street or the aisles of the grocery store. It was weird, and I felt this overwhelming sense of shame. Homosexuality was not only “stupid” but also a sin. My parents had told me that if they had a child who was gay that they would support them, but they would be so sad because that child would have a hard life. I didn’t want to have a hard life. So, I hid my sexual attraction because that was the easiest thing I could do for everyone in my life except me.
It was easier to explore when I finally got to college because everyone was having sex with everyone. It was easy for me to pass off a DFMO – “Dance Floor Make Out” for those of you whom I did not go to college with – with a woman as just alcohol-induced fun. College let me explore sexually, and I had a number of friends that held my hand as I explored.
To this day, I have never had a romantic relationship with a woman. Sexuality and romance are two very different things. You can be sexually attracted to one, two, or many genders and only be romantically attracted to one and vice versa. I have found that I am bisexual and heteromantic, and that’s okay. My sexuality does not define who I am nor does it limit who my romantic partners can be. In fact, it is just the opposite. I feel free – even if I am a little anxious for this piece to go live for the whole world to read.
I am a person. A person who identifies as bisexual, heteromantic, and a woman. How fucking cool is that?