Ashleigh Atwell

Ashleigh Atwell: Letting go of lesbian

When I came out almost five years ago, I thought that would be the end of my confusion about my sexuality. I believed everything was cut and dry: either you were gay, lesbian, straight or bisexual. I figured all I had to do was pick one and live happily ever after.

I’ve realized that it isn’t so simple.

Within those five years, the LGBTQ community and how we identify ourselves has changed immensely. That acronym is a miniscule sample of our diversity. It isn’t a measure of being attracted to men, women or both because the way we look at gender is constantly evolving and everyone is pretty dang sexy.

That leaves me considering and reconsidering how I see myself. I am comfortable saying that I am overwhelmingly attracted to women, regardless if they are cisgender or transgender. I love everything about them even when they drive me up a wall and back down again. If I have to quantify it, I’d say my attraction to women is somewhere around 90 percent, 9 percent would be for my non-binary baes and that 1 percent would be for Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes and the occasional instance I find cisgender men attractive. Some people would call me bisexual and others might suggest pansexual, but I don’t feel comfortable using either label. I acknowledge that it might be some internalized biphobia that I need to work out, but even then, it just doesn’t feel right.

I’ve primarily identified as queer for a while now and I’m beginning to feel uncomfortable with that label too. Queer is supposed to be encompassing and fluid but there are times where I feel like it’s suffocating me. The LGBTQ community has always had an issue with beauty standards, and queer used to be the label that was above that, but now I’m not so sure. There are times where I feel stuck between two communities, the mainstream LGBT and the alternative queers. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not queer enough because I don’t have pink hair, a septum ring or the right type of “creative.” Then, I’ll go into a mainstream space and feel like I’m too loud and too radical.

I’m at the point where I’m ready to reject labels because it’s too complicated and fraught with impossible standards. It’s exhausting. I hope we get to a point where people don’t have to work so hard to convey who they are and what they like.

As of now, the label that fits me best is Ashleigh.