Feminism | Posted by Caitlin Templeton on 12/28/2016

I Fall In Love With One’s Soul, Not Their Gender

On being pansexual.

On being pansexual.

When I looked into the eyes of the first woman I ever liked — loved, even — I felt like I finally understood the famous words attributed to Edgar Allan Poe: “the eyes are the window to the soul.” I didn’t just see her, but myself; I saw a reflection of my own soul within hers. It was like a breath of fresh air — or maybe it wasn’t even that. Maybe I was just then breathing for the first time. And, my god, I didn’t even know how I was living before.

But as seemingly simple as my realization for my love for her was, realizing that those feelings meant I was also pansexual wasn’t easy at all. I didn’t wake up one day and decide, “Today I’m interested in women as well as men.” In fact, when I first realized that I could have feelings for a woman — real, raw feelings — I drank so much alcohol I threw up.

Heterosexuality was the assumed norm in the small Tennessee town in which I grew up. It was all football, sweet tea, and church on Sundays. I dated men all throughout high school and college, and it wasn’t until I was out on my own for the first time that it even occurred to me that I could be anything other than straight.

But then I met her, and I realized I could.

After that night of crying and drinking so much I couldn’t walk, I realized that I’m pansexual, that I see people for their heart and their soul rather than their gender. I realized I don’t care where someone comes from or who they might have been in a past life, but only see the person they are now, standing in front of me — man or woman.

“I can’t have feelings for a woman, can I?” I thought that night. “What will my family think?”

My father is a Trump supporter who casually says things like “that’s so gay,” mocks other races, and calls me a “sensitive liberal.” My mother is grieving the loss of a child to cancer and I worry she would view me — her firstborn, her miracle — coming out as another loss. My grandmother is racist and homophobic: She still frequently uses the “n” word and belittles “the gays.”

I want my family to know that I am still the daughter to whom they gave birth, the granddaughter they once ecstatically welcomed into their family. I am still the daughter my father carried around on his shoulders, still the granddaughter with whom my grandmother laughed. I hope they do not belittle me because I think differently than them, do not shut me out because I wish to see people for their souls rather than what’s between their legs. I hope they do not hastefully run in the opposite direction, but instead learn to love this version of me the same way they always have. I want them to read and educate themselves as much as possible, to acknowledge that the world is changing every day, and it’s about time to follow along.

Through this experience, I’ve learned there is no “right time” to come out. Those struggling to publicly claim their sexuality should know that they will likely just have to feel the fear and do it anyway. They key is not to let the fear become part of you.

Of course, for some this fear is more imminent than others. If you feel unsafe at home, at school, or at a workplace because of your sexuality, please reach out to a professional — like the hotlines and resources provided by the Trevor Project and It Gets Better.

I remember what it was like to be in denial about my own sexuality, so I only hope that those still in similar positions find it within themselves to love — not only themselves, but everyone else, too. There is nothing more satisfying than finally realizing and exploring your most authentic identity and truly loving it. As Anaïs Nin once said: “My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my talents, my flaws, and to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am.”

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  • Luka Magnotta @ at 8:01 pm, December 29th, 2016

    Enjoying someone’s company without worrying about the race or gender of the other person is called being an adult, it is not a snowflake sexuality, Jesus.

  • Genia Stag @ at 3:33 am, January 3rd, 2017

    I think you missed the point, Luka. She had/has real, honest feelings for this woman. That is not called being an adult: if it was, the majority of the population would not be labelled straight. Please don’t undermine this girls feelings due to lack of knowledge on your part.

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