Searching for Acceptance
It’d be dishonest of me if I told you that my life was anything but ordinary. I have a mom who goes above and beyond to provide for me, a step dad who treats me like his own blood, and a support system full of accepting friends. My life, from an outside perspective, is ideal. However, if you looked past the surface, you’d see a young woman struggling to find out who she is and where she belongs. You’d see me, trying to figure out how to survive without disrupting the peace my parents have created.
We’ve all struggled with adversities in our lives, but not all of us can say we’ve overcome them. I’m one of the lucky ones. That being said, I’m well aware of the challenges college students face, such as stress, loneliness and new overwhelming responsibilities. I’m not going to waste your time by writing some cliché story about being on the volleyball team or about my dog dying that you’ve heard over and over. Instead, I’m going to share a sentence with you that, a year ago, I would have choked on: I, Krystina Franks, am bisexual.
While staring at the word “adversity,” I struggled to figure out where I fit in between the letters. Then it hit me; the adversity that helped me grow most as a person is being queer in a traditional household. Over the years, I’ve gotten used to perfecting the way people see me. At school, I am this loud and proud bisexual who passionately states her opinion on issues related to equality. At home, I wear the term “hetero” tightly around me, careful not to let it unravel.
Growing up, I had always thought my family preferred one idea when it came to love, and that was “straight.” I used to watch my mom physically cringe when the topic of same sex marriage came up. I feared that she would do the same if I fell in love with a woman. I’ve listened to enough “you’re either gay or straight” rants that I could string them all into a novel. My older sister once kissed a girl and the entire family collectively had a heart attack. I wondered how many hearts I would shatter if I finally showed what I looked like behind the hetero sweatshirt they had all grown to love. And if I did that, I knew I’d no longer have the safety net of “straightness” to fall back on, which meant exposing myself to my small town. What if someone on the street saw two feminine hands intertwined and decided it was their duty to pry them apart?
I was terrified that someone would say it was a cry for attention. At just the age of 14, I had already seen what some people would think of me if I was honest. After all, my friends and I had been labeled as dykes from ignorant boys that hid in the safety of their outdated cars.
One misconception is that bisexuals are confused. But the day I told my best friend the truth, I was thinking as clearly as possible.
For my 16th birthday my parents took me to see my close friend who lived three hours away. That night, while lying next to her, all I heard was the way our heartbeats made music together. For the longest time all I thought about while trying to sleep was the term “dykes” and how I guess I was half of one. I would think about how my parents might hate me, and how my sister would uninvite me to any future baby showers. Somehow, that night it all stopped. I rolled over and shook my friend to see if she was awake.
“You’re going to hate me,” I began, my voice unsteady.
“I could never...” Her gentle tone rang through my ears as I prayed this was true.
“I think I’m bi.” I waited for her to flinch at my words, internally disgusted by me, but she stayed still. The only movement she displayed was the rise and fall of her stomach. For a moment, everything was still.
“Okay. I still love you, now go to sleep, stupid,” she whispered, letting a small giggle escape from her smile as she turned over to look at me before letting her eyes drift shut.
I was shocked how easy it was for her to accept me.
After that, all the other announcements were easy. I told my brother, who hinted it to my parents who then gave me a “We Don’t Care Who You Bring Home From College” speech. When I finally told my parents, they made sure I knew that they loved me, and that who I loved was my decision. Honestly, I feel like I could handle many forms of conflict from this experience by just simply talking it out. By opening up and by being honest with my friends, family and community, I’ve created a connection with people that makes me feel safe no matter where I go. I have learned that yes, finding acceptance is scary, but nothing is worse than hiding your true self. I am proud to say that this adversity is something I’ve overcome, and will keep overcoming.