Travelling is good for you

Version en français disponible ici. French version available here.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about trips (article here but only in French for now, sorry) and I mentioned that travelling can be a great help when it comes to being yourself. I’d like to discuss this some more. As it often happens, I fin it a lot easier to write about personal stuff in English, so here. I’ll translate in French, of course, but writing in English is easier for some reason. Anyhow, travels. Family and friends that have known you forever are too often depicted as the more qualified people to understand you, since they’ve known you the longest. But sometimes (well actually, many times), they can become a burden instead. So going away from them can be a way to rid yourself of all those tiny words they’ll say that will stop you from being you.

I never quite understood, when I was growing up, why my guy-friends couldn’t say whether another man was attractive or not. I always thought that this was because they were taught that saying they found another man hot would make them appear gay, and that they’re were scared of that. There is probably some truth to this, but I’ve come to realize that most of the time, girls couldn’t say whether another woman was attractive as well. I could. I’ve always been bi, and when asked, I would always say that gender didn’t matter to me. But I’ve never told that to my family. Well, they’ve never asked. And for quite some time there, I thought that I was just straight and just didn’t want to say so because I wanted to be part of the LGBT community. Which sucked. When I moved here two months ago, there was no one to question who I was. No one that knew I have never been with a woman before. No one could say « but you’ve dated so many guys, aren’t you sure you’re just curious? ». I’m bi, and I told people so, and that was it. Plus, Auckland (and New-Zealand in general, from what I’ve heard) is a great city to live in on such matters. I feel more myself now than ever. And being able to tell people who I am has made me reflect on why I never did before.

When there was the whole public debate on legalization of same-sex mariage, my grand-mother told me that she didn’t mind people being gay, as long as they didn’t show it on television. I told her « but you see straight people kissing on television all the time ! » and she said that she didn’t like it either. Yet, I’ve never once heard her complain when you straight people kissed during a movie. It oftens happens that in the middle of a conversation, someone will say that they’re happy gay people got the right to get married, but that they should’nt be allowed to have children. I always thought that me speaking out and arguing with those people was because I wanted my gay friends to have the same rights I did. It wasn’t.

Now that I’m more confident in who I am, I’m happy, but I’m scared, too. I’m scared because I fear what will happen if I was with a woman. I’m scared my friends wouldn’t accept me. Scared people would think that I’ve always been gay. That the people I never loved the people I went out with. I’m scared that my family wouldn’t accept me. I want children, no matter the gender of the person that I’m with when it happens. And I don’t want anyone to judge me or my partners or my children.

I’ve talked a lot about being bi up to this point. But there’s more. I’ve been a vegan ever since I got here, and a vegetarian for 7 months. Here, that’s how people have always known me. No one will tell me « but you ate this a few weeks/months ago, so you can make an effort, I’m the one who cooked ! » or « that’s our favorite restaurant, are you really going to make everyone change their habit ? ». I do hear the occasionnal unfriendly remarks on how vegans can’t eat anything and stuff, but it’s less personnal than the ones I’m used to from my family and friends in France. Plus, Auckland is a great place in this regard as well, there are vegan options and even restaurants everywhere. For example, last Tuesday, we were going out for a bite with my group for an assignment, and one of them, who eats meat, suggested a vegan restaurant so that I would feel more at ease. That hasn’t happened once in France in all the time (however short) that I’ve been a vegetarian. I know that, moving back to France, I’ll have to fight my family on this at every meal, and my friends everytime we want to go out.

I was talking with my best friend about how after a year in Canada, she doesn’t want to move back to France. I’m starting to get why. So to my friends and family in France, if you want to see me again, please try to make me feel more welcome. And to anyone out there, go and travel. You’ll know more about who you are.

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