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Discovering your sexuality: Beware heteronormativity

Figuring out one's sexuality can be a challenge in a heteronormative society. Rutgers has several resources to help you come to terms with your identity.
Photo by Salma HQFiguring out one's sexuality can be a challenge in a heteronormative society. Rutgers has several resources to help you come to terms with your identity.

The buses are one of the most dreaded places at Rutgers: You’re getting shoved into the sweaty crowd, full of people who conveniently forgot to put deodorant on, and you feel like you’re gonna fall on your face at any moment. It’s a universal Rutgers experience.

But then there are the good times: when you’re not running late to any classes, you’re not dying from hunger or you found a good seat next to the window and the bus is nearly empty.

As a transfer student from Puerto Rico, I was stunned by the idea of having to catch a bus just to get around your own college campus. I could walk the whole campus at my last university in about ten minutes!  

One day I was on a bus on Busch campus, probably an H bus, when I saw him. He was gorgeous. I was instantly into him. I couldn’t believe it! This was so rare! I immediately texted all of my best friends the great news: “There’s a cute boy on the bus!!! He’s so cute!!!”

So what? What’s the big deal? Here’s the thing: Before accepting myself as a lesbian, I was pretty convinced that I was bisexual.

Bisexual, except I never had crushes on guys in real life and I never noticed guys at all. I had celebrity crushes, like everyone. I still love Henry Cavill, Chris Evans and Ben Affleck with a passion, but whenever my friends would single out a guy at the mall as hot or something, I never noticed.

If a guy I didn’t know came up to me at a party, I would be instantly uncomfortable, no matter how conventionally attractive he was. And even now while writing about this guy that I thought was so cute less than a year ago, I could not describe him to you.

That must mean something, right? I’ve only had two guy crushes in my life: one in my first year of university on a guy that was in my class whom I never spoke to and that guy on the H bus.

Sometimes I do wonder what would have happened if I was brave enough to talk to him and ask for his instagram that day. I wonder if maybe I would have seen him again if I caught more H buses that semester.

Still, that moment was important in my journey to accepting my sexuality. Two guy crushes in 23 years is an exception, not a rule. 

That journey was not a short one. I came out as bisexual to my friends five years ago when I was a junior in high school. And it wasn’t until last summer that I accepted the word lesbian to describe myself. 

That word — the L word. Other than a great tv show, it represented everything I didn’t want to be. It was a word that I associated with mockery and bullying. Something dirty that my family and the conservative island I used to live on didn’t want me to be.

But they were wrong. The LGBT community on Twitter and Tumblr taught me to value my lesbian identity as something to hold on to. It’s not easy. It won’t happen right away. I think it’s easier now than ever before. I think it’s easier if you’re safe, surrounded by people who understand and accept you. Not a lot of people have that. But you won’t be stuck there forever. 

Compulsive heterosexuality is a real phenomenon — we think we’re supposed to find the opposite sex attractive because it’s what we’ve been taught by society.  We have crushes on people that seem unattainable, like celebrities or a random guy you see on the bus that you’ll probably never see again.

Ultimately, while it’s valid to learn about your sexuality through experiences, it’s also important not to force it.