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Confessions From the Closet

Embracing my bisexuality inside a homophobic culture while using art as a lifeline

By Mercedes Mehling

One of my favorite lyrics comes from a Frank Ocean song where he said “I see on both sides like Chanel.” Through this clever declaration of his sexuality I found something I could relate to. I found a mirror. I have been listening to this song since 2017, and yet this particular lyric only resonated with me around last year during an identity crisis. Ever had one of those? They’re fun. 

I have always sensed a strong feminine side of my personality, however subtle it may have been in high school. I never felt attracted to another guy, and I was in a relationship for five years with a girl, never doubting my sexuality once or having it questioned by any family members or friends. 

Until I started college.   

But before we explore the story of how I channeled my inner bad bitch, I must indulge in a brief history about myself. I have lived in Cali, Colombia for my entire life and I was raised by Catholic parents who have little tolerance and understanding for the LGBTQ+ community—as most of the older generations in Latin America. I grew up hearing countless homophobic comments and I was always quick to get into arguments about the subject with my parents.

On one occasion I dared to ask my mother: “If I told you I was gay, would you stop loving me?” 

A melodramatic question, of course, but here was the answer: 

A long, painful silence. 

In Latin America, men who show basic human emotion receive derogatory labels and those who don’t oversexualize women are considered strange. It feels like anyone and everyone will look for a rumor to stain your image.

The culture is plagued by chauvinism and homophobia, a toxic macho mindset, and endless gossip and judgment. Even