No Labels

I think I first noticed it when I was 11 years old.

The Sims computer game was my religion. I created families. I killed families. I made my first elementary school crush, and made him marry my Sim-self. I learned every cheat code, and got every expansion pack over the course of several years. I learned how to make couples have sex, and despite not being able to see any details apart from rustling covers and tiny fireworks, it gave me a feeling, a pressure, deep inside my stomach.

The Sims taught me a lot about adulthood, such as the importance of a smoke detector, and why you have to check your mail every day to make sure you pay your bills on time. I also learned that if you wanted to get another $10,000 for a hot tub, you’d have to make a family move in with you and then murder them. But most importantly, I learned that two women could love each other.

One day my mother found me making two female sims cuddle on the bed. She wouldn’t let me play again for two weeks. I didn’t know what to say to make her less concerned — would she have punished me if my Sims happened to be a man and woman? How could I explain to her that, just because I loved watching two women together romantically, I didn’t want that for myself?

I had always been a curious child. Being the youngest of three, I was exposed to a sort of PG-13 lifestyle. I remember watching Grease for the first time, couples making out in the back of their baby blue Chevrolet — it was exciting. I was fascinated by the idea of bodies, particularly bodies being together. I was obsessed with what little I knew about sex, and I thought that penises — whatever they were — were hilarious. I assumed I was supposed to like boys, so I did. Turns out I liked girls first, in a way I wouldn’t be able to understand for a long time.

Nick and I were Facetiming for what must have been the fifth day in a row. I was 13 years old and thought that staying up until 2AM talking on the phone to a boy was the epitome of “grown-up.” We chatted while I scrolled through my Tumblr. Out of nowhere, I stumbled upon a short blurry GIF of two women, naked… together.

I let it play out maybe five or ten times. Then I clicked on the blog, revealing an endless stream of photos and videos. Nothing was blurred — nothing was left to the imagination, yet my imagination was running wild.

Nick was still talking, his laugh brought me back to reality. I was short of breath. I had completely forgotten that I wasn’t alone. After a string of half-ass excuses, I hung up, giving myself a moment to take in what was in front of me. The light from the screen lit up my face, and the darkness, which hid the rest of my body, felt comforting.

My parents were asleep, and carried by this new feeling, I was unashamed. The wooden chair in front of the computer was big enough for two of me. It was painted bright green and sanded back on the edges by my mother. Its structure held me up while I sank into it, my head tilted as not to break eye contact with these women, who looked at each other as if nothing else in the world mattered. And to me, nothing else in the world mattered.

I practiced every night, late enough so I wouldn’t have to worry about disruption, but early enough that I had time to figure out what the fuck I was doing. What the fuck was I doing? After I had my first orgasm, the shame brought me back to reality.

I typed…

“Does watching lesbian porn make me gay?” Enter. 


I scrolled until I found the source that told me what I wanted to hear. I think it read something like: ‘Not necessarily, it just means penises and men aren’t something you’re attracted to.’


“Straight porn” Enter. Click. Exit.


Okay, so I’m not gay — I just don’t like penises.

In the shower, I thought, Don’t panic Caroline, it’s going to be fine. This is just going to be a secret you’re going to have to keep for the rest of your life.

Go figure.

In high school, I’d get drunk with my best friend and all I could think about was kissing her. I hoped she wanted to kiss me, too. It happened once in the back of our friend’s car while he was doing donuts in a parking lot, but she was so drunk and the cops came and made us go home — which probably overshadowed her memory the next day. We never spoke about it after that.

One afternoon, we were sitting outside when she asked me if I was interested in dating women. I was so embarrassed I spent 20 minutes tripping over my words trying to explain that, No! I was not attracted to women, but because I believe in sexual fluidity, and I wouldn’t be opposed if the situation came to be.

To this day, I’ve only ever dated men. I’ve only ever been with men. In high school, I wore push up bras and lacey underwear. I pretended I wanted to suck their dicks. I kissed them the way Cosmopolitan told me to. I couldn’t open my eyes, because if I had, then I would have laughed. Men and their sexuality was laughable to me. So rigid, so expressionless. No passion, no response — it made me feel nothing. Their fingers made me feel nothing, and their dicks were so one dimensional. I gave my body to boys because I wanted to be liked and I wanted to feel beautiful and I didn’t want to be gay, because being gay was absolutely terrifying.

I didn’t love dick for a long time. I didn’t love dick until I started to love myself, and I’m not sure whether or not that’s a coincidence. It didn’t matter though, I would still let them inside of me and I still pretended to moan. At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine dating a woman. Men were easy to understand, and it was easy to make them like me and I had a textbook of dating vernacular already established. What language did women speak? And more importantly, how could I learn it?

I came out as bisexual to a handful of people during my freshman year of college, a year into my last relationship. It feels good to say, even though I hardly say it to anyone. 

I watch straight porn now. My experience with men has become more than just an experience I think I’m supposed to have. The dick that I engage with engages with me too. But there is always something inherent within this sex that holds me back from pure, unapologetic sexual pleasure… a feeling that my pleasure comes second to men, their comfort above mine. Although, lesbian porn will always be special to me. It showed me selfless pleasure, and it showed me selfish pleasure — it was the first pleasure that I didn’t owe to a man.

Sometimes I’m insecure. What kind of bisexual only dates men? How could you possibly be attracted to women if you’ve never had sex with one?

I find it easier to just not acknowledge my sexuality than to answer their questions.


Photos by Lia Madeline