Growing up in a small southern town was both enjoyable and challenging. The cozy lifestyle was slow. The food marvelous. And, the scenery sublime.

My parents were fairly religious, so going to services and being involved in congregational life was an important aspect of my day-to-day life. It was the basis by which I conducted my affairs and from which I drew my support.

I knew most of the same people from early life until I graduated high school. Somehow, everyone knew your business. Privacy was a premium.

I’d experience bigotry and bullying from my so-called friends, but felt that their inability to think outside their own existence and circumstances limited them. Not only had this occurred, I’d also been sexualized by a family friend. Lots of blows to a growing kid.

However, I have the fondest of memories of my family life. It was the sanctuary I needed when beset by life’s travails. We’d vacation, fish, visit relatives. We’d entertain. We’d play games and would also engage in some singing as well, even when the dogs would howl when my tone-deaf older sister and my Momma would belt out a few bars.

I had some amazing friends. I was a little boy crazy and I even liked a couple of girls, too. I did not see this as a problem. At least, not until I learned about sexuality and sexual orientation choices as an adult. There, at last, was some explanation about the connection between what I had experience as a youngster and what I was beginning to enjoy as a young adult.

My first memory of being moved by a girl was in grade school library time. We used to bring our brushes and comb and brush each other’s hair while we were waiting for our turn with the librarian. I’d sit there with total abandon, as I could feel the brush touch my hair and scalp. Cold chills ran down my back and neck. I did not associate this with being stimulated. I was too young to think in those terms. All I knew was that it felt wonderful and I yearned for more.

I had a friend, Mitzy, whom I was enamored with, but thought it was just a girl thing and not something to be concerned about. When we were in junior high, that changed. A mutual friend, Sue, took a shine to her and that was it. Sue would not allow Mitzy to even talk to me. I felt abandoned and confused. I could not ever imagine what I’d done wrong. And, that whole scene continued to play itself out until we graduated high school. The twosome were not close by then, but the damage had been done.

None of the other girls with whom I was associated had that effect on me growing up. I had thought this was just an isolated incident and went on to enjoy sex with guys.

I’d developed a close camaraderie with someone I met. John was a super guy, and he was gay. I had not come out at that juncture. One day he took me to a gay bar after I professed to him that I thought I liked girls. I’d not had an encounter yet, but was exploring my feelings. So, we went and this super butch girl approached me and I wanted to run for the hills. I had known her from college and she was a bit nuts then. I thought, “Oh, s–t. What have I gotten myself into? Is this my only choice?” That was far from the truth. As the months ticked away, I met other women and some of them I took a keen interest in. Dates and encounters ensued, but not before the obligatory “coming out” sexual experience ritual. I was blown away.

It wasn’t too much longer before I met Kay. We hit it off and the rest was history. We spent many years together and that was not without it’s challenges. I still, at times, thought about guys.

When we broke up, and after having another short-term relationship with a woman whom I still adore to this day, but as a friend, I thought it was high time that I took a look at all of this. One of my closest friends and former boyfriends offered to be my “coming out” to men again experience. Whatever happened was okay. If I wanted to stop, we’d stop. There was no pressure. Fortunately for us both, it was pleasurable and we continued over a number of years to occasionally see each other, but not exclusively and not as a committed relationship thing. I continued to be attracted to both men and women and thought I’d have to make up my mind eventually. Some of my gay friends were saying I’d turned coat and the straight ones were wondering when I’d make up my mind. And, some of them did not give a dang, as long as I was happy.

And, that I was. But, this did not happen over night. I experienced extreme angst, but did not want to cop out on figuring this out. Did I have to make up my mind or could I find it simply acceptable to be attracted to both genders? Did I have to satisfy those around me and make a decision? Could I have this universal approach to sexuality? Was it okay? Would future partners find it comfortable to be with me? All of these questions were painful. It made me edgy, anxious. It took a number of years to get comfortable with having my feet in two worlds. But, I did. One day, it just seemed okay to be just who I was: bisexual!

My life has become easier in this regard since then. I choose my relationships, not by gender, but by the person with whom I’m involved. It’s alright for me to find the underarm of a woman sensual and the chisel of a man’s hips sexy. It makes for a more satisfying experience. Finally, I have found freedom in being exactly who I was destined to be — me! : :