STORIES
I kissed a girl (and boy) and liked it
September 13,2021
By Sarah Carroll
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Hi, for anyone who is reading this. It’s nice to meet you. My name is Sarah Carroll and I am a Polynesian/Australian queer writer and actress who pushes for female queer representation in my work. I also have a *mild* obsession with Katy Perry… so there may be a couple of references to that in this story.

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Sarah as a young girl

Looking back on my childhood and teen years it makes sense, it’s so goddamn obvious I was bi. It’s comically hilarious how obvious it was I had so many folders on my computer saved of celebrity women I liked and maybe one or two male celebrities (Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner mainly). I would find myself saying “oh I would totally kiss or turn for Katy Perry” but actually mean it – let’s be real Katy Perry made me question my sexuality often. I have vivid memories of watching films and often being obsessed with the female actresses but more specifically I wanted to replace the male lead so I could kiss them. I remember watching Scooby-Doo and Velma’s makeover scene (if you know, you know) making me feel tingly and the kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions. I wanted to kiss a girl so badly but then at the same time I would watch Zac Efron in High School Musical and have the same feelings.

At the time I don’t think I felt confused and I have my parents to thank for always making me feel seen. They were accepting of everything and urged me to have my own opinions. My earliest and stand out memory was when I saw a production of ‘Angels in America’. I was so interested in the history and then in high school decided to do my English major project on the play and exploring queer theory. Both my parents were very open and even engaged in conversations with me. I also remember watching films with my parents and the rare occasion there was a same sex kissing scene (as awkward as they are to watch with your parents!), I would make a comment here and there and there was no judgement. I felt safe.

It really wasn’t until my early 20’s and reflecting on my sexuality – reading and talking to other people who had similar experiences who identified as bi, talking to straight friends who did not want to kiss girls that I had a moment of realisation that ‘oh, not all women are sexually attracted to other women? Wait a damn minute… What does this mean?

I grew up in a time when the song ‘I Kissed A Girl’ was the top hit. The song has become problematic – wrapped up in all the stereotypes about bisexuality being about the male gaze, no actual attraction toward women and most dangerously, the idea that ‘good girls’ don’t do it. Despite all this it did become a song that made me feel seen in my little world and probably why Katy Perry became such a big deal in my life. I kissed a girl became an anthem that helped me express how I wanted to kiss a girl because I would probably like it and seven years later when I did… I did like it.

For most of my teen and early 20’s I felt alone and lost. When I watched film and TV it was filled with heterosexual experiences which made me more confused and a reminder about the lifestyle I should be pursuing. My friends around me were all dating or in relationships and I was here scared to put myself out there because what would people think if I wanted to date a woman?

It wasn’t until Stephanie Beatriz’s character in Brooklyn 99 Rosa Diaz came out as bi that I truly felt seen and understood. It was so goddamn liberating to see that represented on screen – when you learn she’s bisexual, she doesn’t become a different person — she’s still Rosa, just now you know she likes men and women. Another example was in the show Dead to Me where the character Judy had a relationship with a man before entering into a romance with a woman. It was seen as no big deal and a shift that her friend Jen accepted with open arms and didn’t question what this meant for Judys sexuality. Again, liberating. This then started to open up conversations with close friends who had similar experiences and made me feel safe in confining in them about my sexuality that one day I said it out loud to myself and it felt good, it felt right. I am bisexual. I am queer.

I remember going out clubbing and on this one specific night I got very drunk and kissed a guy and then later on in the night kissed a girl and found myself having sexual feelings equally for both. At that moment I was kind of like “I’m sexually attracted to you regardless of your sex.”

It was after that encounter kissing my first girl that I almost dated a woman. I spoke to my close friend who newly identified as queer and was in a relationship with a woman and she was so supportive about it and very excited about my new experience. Her support made me feel seen and helped me begin piecing together my sexual identity….Unfortunately though, the date ended up falling fell through and I was ghosted.

As the years went by I continued to try and get back into the dating game assuming that I must be straight. But I couldn’t stop having feelings for women. The same feelings I was having for men I would match with on the dating apps. For some reason that I never understood I felt conditioned – perhaps broader social conditioning – to have to identify as straight and pursue a straight relationship. I would think in the back of my mind I thought I HAD to be one or the other: often telling myself ‘you’re straight OK’.

It’s ironic that now I’m out and proud and loving myself more a little each day that I encounter a different kind of obstacle. I no longer battle with acceptance from myself but I battle society and shifting the mindset in a heteronormative world. When someone identifies as bisexual comments will often be made about them being confused, selfish or a gimmick for attracting male attention. This is something I deal with often. There is a fear of judgement every single day but it just pushes me and makes me more passionate to tell queer stories and acknowledge the diverse experiences of being queer.

I’m still learning, growing and researching and I urge you to do that too. To judge less and understand. Everyone’s experience is different and it is all valid. I am also vouching for more bisexuality visibility in film and TV. I often wonder if there was better representation in film and TV it would be easier to talk about … I firmly believe that art can be a really beautiful way to help inspire and educate and if these experiences are shown on screen it may open up a new conversation and one day I won’t need to constantly come out and justify myself over and over again.

About the Author:

Sarah Carroll (she/her) is an Australian/Polynesian queer writer and performer with a passion for creating work and spaces that push for female queer representation in hopes that she can inspire someone out there to feel safe and seen. She also loves Katy Perry…. and may have met her three times.. no big deal.

Socials: Instagram @_sarahleigh

For information and resources, check out:

https://www.instagram.com/safehaven.activists/

https://www.instagram.com/mattxiv/

https://www.instagram.com/jamesissmiling/

https://www.instagram.com/queerful_/

https://www.instagram.com/creativesofcolourau/



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