What does it mean to love when you feel lost? 

By: Aadhila Nadira, Contributor 

In Western movies, the story flows perfectly. The cushioned Caucasian teenager realizes he loves his best friend and they come out happily with outrageous shows of acceptance. 

For me, there are three key moments that explain my coming out story. A film critic would give me a 1/5 star for allowing the problem to be drawn out for so long.  

The first was at age nine, when my parents took me to New York City. Two men had walked by my family. They were almost exactly like my fathers — age, style of clothing and height. Theoretically, they should’ve been insignificant, two in a crowd of so many. The only difference was their hands were linked, bodies huddled together.

What had stood out to me at age nine though was the unmistakable look my parents gave them. The weight of the stare had felt personal — as if I was being scolded.  

That was the first time I’d seen people like me. 

The second was at age eleven, in a girl’s change room. There were thirty girls scattered around the unusually small room with a constant stream of noise — that is until the words “I’m bisexual” echo through the room. It’s the first time I hear of such a thing. It was also the first time my mom heard of it. My mom had fixed me with a look, one I had seen at age nine, and told me to avoid hanging out with her. Her justification was that the girl may “give it” to me if I did.  

That was the first time I had hoped it was only my parent who would look at me like that.   

The third was at age thirteen, in science class. My friend told me she’d finally found a boy she liked. But she wouldn’t tell me his name, not until I’d tell her the name of the boy I liked. In a strange moment of bravery, I’d told my friend her name. She pretended as if it was totally normal until she told my classmates. She said it was because “people deserved to know before they like you.” 

That was the first time I’d realized that I would always be looked at like that. 

Quite honestly, the stare my mom (and classmates) had given me had worked. Back then, I had believed that I was truly a flawed person and that this was all a test. If I could ignore it then I would be loved wholly by those around me. I had fit the rigid mold I told myself I loved. 

This need to suppress held me hostage through my teenage years.

I kissed boys I felt indifferent towards and cut out the girl who had kissed me softly. I’d watched her move cities and then schools and thought it was a blessing from God. Once again I had gently applied another bandage on the cracks that had become a gaping hole.   

It was a month after my eighteenth birthday when I told my newly made university friends I thought a girl in our cohort was undeniably cute. I’m not entirely sure why I told them, I suspect because at that point they were all pixelated profiles in a group chat. I reasoned that they wouldn’t tell my community about the thoughts I had. What threw me was that they all told me to message her, that I wouldn’t know how it would turn out unless I let myself reach out. 

Despite all the comfort, I had been conditioned to think it was all a big test, that if I indulged then I would once again lose the little friends I had. So, with all the shame I held within myself for voicing my true thoughts, I had begun talking to a boy who likely regarded me poorly. I told all my friends back home and in Hamilton, desperate to prove that I was in fact keeping to my mold. I didn’t want to break. 

It was when my friends began to show subtle waves of support, trying their best to show their love without overwhelming me, that I let myself hope that maybe I could be myself. Until the age of nineteen, I had truly believed the entire world hated people that loved beyond the binary.  

The way in which I was raised has, and will always, define a part of me. It’s the way I choose to wield it that defines what I can become. I’m still trying to understand the power of it all, taking it one day at a time. Sometimes not every story starts with understanding identity. Sometimes stories are started by letting yourself truly feel openly.  

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