In grade six in primary school, when my friends would talk about having crushes on boys in school, I realised that I kind of had crushes on everyone… that’s when I started to think I might be different.

When I got to high school, I was more confused than ever.

In health and sex education, the only types of relationships we were being taught about was between men and women, and even then, it was all about the intention to have kids.

I couldn’t put it into words, but I was feeling so isolated, knowing I didn’t relate or fit into that heteronormativity.

It’s probably not advisable, but I turned to the internet for answers in the first instance. I was really confused and didn’t really have any words to describe what was going on in my life so I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to talk to my friends and family about it.

The only thing that I could articulate is that I was different – I just didn’t know how.

I found Tumblr blogs, Instagram accounts, and forums online which spoke about same-sex attraction and I remember thinking: maybe I wasn’t so alone after all.

It wasn’t until around year nine when I started dropping hints to my family, but to be honest, I didn’t even have the language back then to properly come out.

I thought I was attracted to girls, but was starting to see my two options as being straight or being gay; I had no idea there was the possibility to be into more than one gender.

At school, I was labelled as straight, but slutty, when I hooked up with girls, which made it all the more tricky and confusing.

When I was out and hooking up with guys and girls that I liked, other people would just think I was doing it for attention when really, that’s just who I’ve always been.

It wasn’t until I was around 20 years old when I really understood who I was and could slowly start opening up to people around me.

I was pretty lucky that my parents were really supportive when I came out that I was queer. When I came out to my friends, it was super easy and super casual. In fact, many of their responses were ‘yeah, we know Dani!’

I’ve also begun exploring my gender and started to come out as genderqueer – in that my gender fluctuates between masculine, feminine, and every little thing in between.

So it hurts when someone knows this but deliberately calls me a girl. Or when strangers take one look at me and only see a female – it’s almost like getting a hundred mozzie bites.

One incident doesn’t hurt that much but then suddenly you feel covered and overcome by feeling invisible.

It’s hard being told my whole life that your gender is a restrictive label and that there’s only two options in terms of sexuality.

I found it hard to conceptualise who I was with limited information but the more I started hanging out with people in the queer community, the more I realised there was language that applied to me.

I just surrounded myself with people who wanted to celebrate who I was.

If there’s one thing I could have told my younger self is that who you are is totally okay. These nagging feelings saying that you’re different and weird are okay and you should listen to them because there’s nothing bad about feeling different!

When I started leaning into it and exploring myself, I managed to stumble across the most fantastic and beautiful part of who I was as a person which was my gender and sexuality. So listen to that voice because it’s right.

There were times where I struggled with anxiety and depression because I was so confused as to who I was.

I was getting messages from the world telling me who I was supposed to be and not who I am.

I really needed to reach out for support and solidarity so when I reached out to headspace and started getting some help, it totally changed the way I was thinking about my place in the world.

headspace provided me with heaps of strategies to help with anxiety but basically it was just a safe place to explore who I was and figure out that there isn’t anything wrong with me and if I’m struggling with tough times, there is help out there for me.

I don’t see being queer or gender-queer as just boxes, I see them as limitless ways to express who I am as a person and I encourage everyone to explore who they are and to not be afraid.

If you, or someone you know is going through a tough time you can locate your nearest headspace centre at headspace.org.au or talk to someone online at eheadspace.org.au.

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