I had an overwhelming crush on her before I'd even hit puberty; just looking at her had me struggling to breathe. It made me squirm and look away, and then look again.
I couldn't stop looking.
I didn't learn the term for what I was experiencing until later, having picked it up through an overexposure to adult literature and fanfiction. I was 12 when I learned the term and 13 when I dared to mumble it in front of a girl from school that had knots forming inside me whenever I was alone with her.
Are you out as a bi+ person?
I am as out as I can be without shouting it from the rooftops with a megaphone while planes streak the bi-pride tricolour through the air overhead.
I've been out online since I was a teenager, though it was to a few select people that I trusted.
I didn't come out to people offline until the summer of 2014. I was almost 22 at the time. That summer was when I came out to family, and it didn't go well in the least. I was told I couldn't be trusted to go on a vacation alone with the most wonderful female friend I could ever ask for - even though we all knew she was as straight as an arrow. I was no longer trustworthy, as though being attracted to women made me a danger suddenly, as though I couldn't control the urges I felt.
Understandably, I was more hurt than I can ever express...but I pushed past the pain of that moment. I refused to retreat into the closet. If anything, I became more prideful. I've come out to more and more people since then.
I don't think it ever stops.
But I still get to choose who has the right to know who I am because some don't deserve the right.
When have you felt the most accepted as a bi+ person? The least accepted?
I have never felt more accepted than when I discovered Bi+ Ireland existed.
Largely, I'd been isolated from other people like me. I felt like I was the one queer in the entire village. Online friends living in other countries were the one solace I had at the time.
I was suffocating from loneliness and isolation.
But that changed in 2016.
The shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando happened earlier that year, and that was what drove me out the door. It drove me to attend the Pride festival scheduled in Cork City, and it was the first time I'd ever been brave enough to do so because I was an introvert that often struggled with anxiety. I went to the Pride Picnic and came upon one of those info books that gets printed around that time.
There was an article from a member of Bi+ Ireland inside.
I almost ran home once I was finished at the picnic and I scrambled to turn the computer on. I found their facebook page as soon as possible and liked it immediately, and I was quick to inform the administrators that I wanted to join the secret group being advertised on their page.
That night I was invited to join an unofficial meet-up later that week. I couldn't breathe. I was shaking with nerves. It was the first time I ever dared to go to a bar where I wouldn't know a single person. The first thing I saw when someone from the group arrived was a man wearing a purple shirt and pulling a bi-pride flag from his backpack.
I almost cried in relief and euphoria.
I was home.
The shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando happened earlier that year, and that was what drove me out the door. It drove me to attend the Pride festival scheduled in Cork City
The moment I felt least accepted? That was during the marriage referendum in 2015. My best friend was on her erasmus in Germany, and I was visiting her family, because her home had become a refuge to me whenever mine was too toxic for me to cope with. I went to her house so I could breathe. I went to her house so I could feel loved and wanted.
I made the mistake of mentioning how excited I was for the impending referendum and my best friend's mother thought I meant the other one. I was quick to correct her.
The kitchen went dead silent as soon as the words escaped me. It was as though I'd been plunged into the heart of the Atlantic at the height of winter.
No one spoke afterwards.
I was being driven home within an hour of mentioning the referendum. Usually, my best friend's mother would drive me home after visiting, but she didn't drive me home that night. It was another visitor to the house that drove me home instead. While she was driving, she told me "it wasn't personal."
But it felt damned personal. It felt like I'd been stabbed in the heart with a shard of ice.
She went on to say, "We don't talk about the referendum in that house. It just starts arguments between the parents and kids."
Neither of us spoke after that. She dropped me outside my house. I had to hide the trembles in my hands as I opened the door and stepped inside. I didn't speak to anyone. I just went down to bed.
I broke down in tears.
What is something no one asks you about being bi+ that you wish they would, and what would you want to tell them?
I just want people to ask: How can I help make it better?
I want people to want to help us.