Inspiration, Intention, Action - The ADHD Project Newsletter 6/17

Inspiration, Intention, Action - The ADHD Project Newsletter 6/17

  • Celebrating Pride - Special Guest!: Bi now you surely recognize co-host Cass Caduto from F*ck The Plan: The ADHD Project Podcast. This week Cass once again lends us her pen and in honor of Pride Month tells her story of continually learning to accept herself. No matter who you are or what your sexuality, everyone can draw some parallels from her message of growth and self-acceptance!.....Keep Scrolling or Click Below to Read the Full Newsletter

  • Podcast Update - Our next episode will be released on 6/25! Click here to check out Episode 6 and other previous episodes in the meantime!

  • DON'T FORGET YOUR WEBINAR TICKETS! You won't want to miss our most requested topic - the "Building Effective Habits for ADHD" webinar! Just click here, and get your tickets now!

Finding My Pride, Then Finding It Again

For as long as I can remember, I’ve prided myself on knowing exactly who I am and for refusing to pretend to be anything else. Even as an angry, misanthropic teenager who was in no way proud of the person I was, I was damn proud of knowing just who that bitter little loner was. My identity has always been something I’ve loudly, unapologetically proclaimed, and my sexual identity was no different.

I knew from a young age that I was into women, and growing up, god knows I fit the stereotype. (I mean, I was barraged with homophobic epithets before I’d even hit puberty and figured out the definition of ‘lesbian’, although perhaps my affinity for flannel and Melissa Etheridge gave me away.) I had my first girlfriend at the age of 14, came out to my family at 17, and dated only women into my 20s. I wasn’t denying myself anything- truly, up until that point I hadn’t met a single man in whom I’d been interested- and I became very active in Providence’s LGBT scene. I regularly frequented the gay bars, sat in on protests and hearings, spoke at and played original queer-focused music at events, and dressed as Xena for every single Pride festival. People in the scene began to know, respect, and like me. For the first time in my life, I felt I was part of a community that really understood me. It was a beautiful thing to no longer feel alone and to discover that, much to my surprise, I quite liked not being alone.

Even as a lesbian, however, I couldn’t help but notice how the community treated bisexuals. Considering we represent the third letter in the acronym, I was shocked by this at first. Women, it seemed, only called themselves bi for male attention. Men, on the other hand, only identified as bi if they weren’t ready to admit that they were gay. Lesbians would frequently talk about how they’d never date a bisexual woman and would brag about their “gold star” status, some even going so far as to say bisexual women were tainted by having been touched by men. Some of them would say that bisexual women were fine so long as they’d only physically been with women, as if this isn’t eerily similar to the conservative “it’s okay to have gay thoughts as long as you don’t act on it” rhetoric that’s spewed at us. My dating history has primarily consisted of bi/pan women, and almost every single one of them had been broken up with or stood up at least once when a past partner found out they weren’t lesbians.

The influence of being surrounded by this in a community that had embraced me gave me a subconscious form of biphobia that would lead to the first real identity crisis of my life.

In my early 20s, I met a man who changed everything. There was an instant attraction and I was incredibly confused. I was upfront from the beginning, telling him I wasn’t sure if the physical component would work and that I would completely understand if he didn’t want to be my guinea pig, so to speak. He decided it was worth rolling the dice on, and we embarked upon a relationship that would last about four years.

“So you came out as bisexual while you dated him?”, you may be asking. No, dear reader, for not even Simone Biles could go up against my mental gymnastics. Throughout our entire relationship, I referred to myself as “gay +1”.

To someone on the outside, this may seem confusing. Surely coming out as a lesbian would’ve been harder than admitting I was attracted to men, which is a more socially acceptable thing. It wasn’t harder, and it wasn’t for one big reason: I’d have to admit that I had been wrong about myself, that there was a piece of my identity that I hadn’t known or understood. My conviction in my identity was, somewhat paradoxically, a huge part of my identity, and realizing that I was bisexual felt as if my conviction were crumbling like a good Feta.

Coming to terms with the fact that I’d been wrong about my sexuality may not have been such an onerous process if I’d actually been okay with being bisexual. I had no problem with bisexuality itself. But a lot of major players in the LGBT scene definitely had problems with it, and I didn’t want to lose that sanctuary. On the surface, I understood some of the apprehension from lesbians. There definitely are straight women out there who invade queer spaces to make it all about them, treating it like some sort of exotic gay safari, and a good number of them flirt with and physically advance on women to sexually excite men. This does happen, and I’d know- the amount of times I’d been spending a fun night with a woman at a gay bar only to have her invite me to a threesome with her boyfriend or for her to tell me “my boyfriend’s sitting over there, he thinks it’d be so hot if we made out” is far higher than I’d care to admit- but in the grand scheme of self-identified bisexuals, the number of people who do this is a mere drop in the ocean. Even so, the idea of my found family suddenly thinking I was some interloper made my stomach churn. I found myself going out of the way to let people know that I was queer on social media posts or when my partner and I would be out on dates, inserting the fact into conversations it had no business being in. I refused to use the word “boyfriend” and insisted only on “partner” to obscure his gender. He was an introvert who didn’t enjoy going out to clubs, bars, and big social scenes with me, so even though the community knew I wasn’t single, they never really interacted with him. Ironically, the only time I’ve ever been close to closeted was the first time I wasn’t in a sapphic relationship.

Suddenly, I was so concerned about what people thought about me that I was hiding a part of myself. The unwavering conviction to be nobody but my authentic self was no longer so unwavering. Since when had I started giving a shit about what people thought? Not caring about that was, like, my whole schtick!

After that four-year relationship came to an end, I ditched “gay +1” and went right back to “lesbian”. I briefly dated another woman and didn’t give the bi conundrum another thought until I found myself interested in a second guy. We began a relationship, but this one didn’t give me the cover of anonymity. He ran in a lot of the same circles I did and was pretty well known around the bars and clubs of Providence. If I wanted to keep dating him, I’d have to be forced out of my delusional little closet.

Ultimately, that’s what happened. And although I certainly haven’t been embraced by the community like I once was and I certainly have experienced dismissiveness and bi-erasure, I realized that the people who mattered didn’t care. (In all fairness, they most likely knew I was bi years before this and had been waiting for me to catch up.) After about five years, I was finally beginning to refer to myself as bisexual, and the world wasn’t ending. I wasn’t treated like some leper or completely outcasted. I was simply judged by superficial people who’d rather speculate on the authenticity of someone else’s life than examine that of their own. In short, I didn’t lose anything of value.

And here I am now, almost 30 and engaged to the love of my life, who happens to be a man. I’m proud to walk side by side with him everywhere I go; I stand taller when he’s with me, I smile more when he looks at me, and I get butterflies in my stomach when I introduce him to people as my fiancé. We’ll be attending Providence Pride together tomorrow and I’ll be waving that blue, purple, and pink bi flag proudly, with absolutely zero compulsion to justify myself to anyone. I no longer feel the need to make sure everyone in the room knows that I’m queer in order to feel comfortable. (Although to be fair, I think my haircut does that for me these days.) To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite movies, I know what I am, and that does tend to make it easier on everybody else to do the same.

I look back on all of this and have to laugh at how bizarre it all sounds. It’s the complete reverse of most coming out stories, this angst and self denial at the notion of being attracted to what society tells you is okay to be attracted to.

But I also look back on it with something more meaningful than humor: something, dare I say, akin to wisdom.

For 20-something years, I’d been wrong about myself. And that’s okay. In all honesty, it’s comforting to know that I can still surprise and challenge myself! It doesn’t invalidate the fact that I still know exactly who I am, and the ability to accept new truths about oneself is far more integral to identity than a belief that was proven wrong by experience.

In the end, we should want experience to prove us wrong. How mind numbingly dull life would be if we knew everything there is to know. Life is all about growth; it’s about change, it’s about figuring out not only who you are, but who you want to be. It’s about what you need to do and work on to become that dream person, and it’s about all of the lessons- the easy ones and especially the difficult ones- you learn along the way. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t living. If you’d rather comfortably stagnate than fight to grow, what the hell’s the point of breathing?

Whether it’s sexuality or a diagnosis or anything in between that you’re struggling to accept about yourself, know that those things are parts of you, but they don’t have to define you if you don’t want them to. You define you. You have the ability to sculpt the person you are by having the courage to be a little more honest and a little more compassionate with yourself every single day.

As for me, I look forward to the next time I prove myself wrong. I can’t wait to tackle it head-on. I can’t wait to cry or yell or melodramatically watch the rain hit my window as I listen to Kansas’s ‘Dust in the Wind’ because I know that these tough moments are precisely what will enable me to become the person I want to be.

And that person who I want to be? They’re a part of my identity too, even now.

Happy Pride, everyone. I hope you can celebrate your true authentic selves not just this month, but every day.

Cass Caduto
F.T.P. Podcast Co-Host, The ADHD Project Guest Contributor

Back to blog