My sexual fluidity woke me up: Reaction to article published by the Gottman Institute

In August 2019 I wrote an article entitled My Sexual Fluidity Woke Me Up which was published in the Real Relationships segment of the Gottman Institute website. I was excited to be able to contribute to a resource with a key objective to “paint a more realistic and inclusive picture of relationships in the world today”. My story, in a nutshell, is that before I fell in love with my female partner, I considered myself straight. This article is about how falling in love with a woman woke me up to my internalised homophobia, and how I worked through that.

What I didn’t expect from writing the article was the response it received. I heard from a number of women, and some men, who were having a similar experience and who were desperately searching for something / anything (information, advice, guidance) that reflected back at them an understanding of what they were going through.

This was particularly meaningful for me because it’s exactly the reason I was inspired to write about my experience in the first place; when I was in the early stages of my relationship five years ago it was difficult for me to find anything that helped me feel understood.

In recent years, it has felt as though there is something in the zeitgeist. We are hearing more and more stories of women’s sexuality in general, and I have noticed a rise in the visibility of same-sex relationships in the media, and even stories that pertain quite closely to mine. Most recently, Netflix series Feel Good, featuring Mae Martin, has brought a very similar narrative into the mainstream.

Comedian and writer Mae Martin saw the article I wrote and commented that she was looking for exactly that kind of narrative in order to support her co-star Charlotte Ritchie in preparation for the role of George – who finds herself in a relationship with a woman for the first time. I was grateful to Mae for Tweeting the article because I imagined even more women who need it might see it.

In addition, because I was hearing from so many other women about their stories I wanted to do more. So during the COVID-19 lockdown I ran a closed and confidential webinar for the people who had been in touch with me off the back of the article. This was a brilliant opportunity for me to talk about my story and to answer specific questions (of which there were many).

The webinar inspired me to write this article (LINK TO ARTICLE) which answers some of the questions that arose during the session. What came up from the women in the webinar reminded me of the questions I faced: How do you explain it to your children? How do you know it is ‘love’? (What even is love?). What did you say to your friends and family? I had feedback that my answers were helpful and which is why I wanted to share more.

My sexuality is only one part of who I am. What I have learned is that whilst this is true for everyone, there is no denying the significance of sexuality and how it affects almost every aspect of life. This is something that, for the most part, the heterosexual majority aren’t particularly conscious of. I’ve had a relatively unique experience, moving from one identity to another, and through that process I have become aware of my own shift in perspective. Whilst some of this was a challenge, I am grateful for how I have grown through it.

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