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Hi my name is Isabella Johnson, a mental health advocate, professional dancer and lifestyle content creator, with a mission to inspire others through self-love, transparency and body confidence through my own personal battles with mental health.
I always knew there was something “different” about me. I was attracted to girls from as young as I can remember. Although I never openly acted out on it, and not that I was ashamed, I just never really thought much of it until I got older if I’m being completely honest. It makes much more sense to me now, looking back at it in reverse.
I was probably bi-curious for the first 17 years of my life. I believe my background in dance allowed me to channel different versions of my identity expression without people questioning me too much and when I did get questioned, it was mainly about how I dressed, but also my grooming and maintenance.
I was a ballet dancer from the age of three, so I had to be as neat, dainty and as pretty as possible at all times. It wasn’t until I started Hip-Hop in my early teens that I started to become more comfortable within myself and my expression as a human in general. A combinational flow of divine feminine energy but also this strong, assertive masculine energy - I loved both. I just didn’t feel I could comfortably express myself in my hometown, Plymouth. It wasn’t until I moved to London, age 17 that I truly felt fully free and accepting of who I am.
I think being at a stage school where about 60% of the humans that were there, were a part of the LGBT community and that really helped me. I was constantly surrounded and inspired by these gorgeous people and how they carried themselves, so unapologetically. They were so gorgeous in spirit. Their aura was just so colourful and content - they seemed so sure of themselves and most importantly, they were so accepting. So, with my newfound friends and confidence, I had my first girlfriend within 7 months of me being there and “came out” to my family as bisexual.
The trickiest person to get her head around it was my mum. It was quite hard at the time, I felt like I was letting her down and “not her little girl that she once knew anymore” but moving forward to now - me identifying loud and proud as a pansexual - my mum is very inclusive of using pronouns outside of the “normal” he/she, her/him and she's amazing! Also, all the other people in my life, family and friends were fully supportive through my journey of me coming to find out who I am and how I sexually identify. Although that being said not that it actually matters to anyone aside from myself, it was just nice to be able to live openly and authentically without having to hide a part of myself that I am so proud of.
At around age 19 through a little more dating and dabbling I identified as sapiosexual. This wasn’t something I announced to anybody. It was definitely more of a personal thing, but now at the age of 25, I comfortably identify as pansexual and feel this term is the most fitting for me. It has always been about that mental attraction, stimulation & overall energy someone brings to me that I find so attractive and whilst bisexual was good, Sapiosexual felt more true, the alignment of pansexuality for me just seemed to make it all make sense.
As previously mentioned, I didn’t feel able or comfortable to explore my sexuality in my hometown. Even though I was curious to how I was feeling I suppressed it for some time and just started dating men. I actually did this from a fairly young age. It wasn’t until my second relationship at around age 17 that I became comfortable enough to express my bi-curiosity to him. Although my first relationship was abusive, I believe that it gave me the courage to take ownership of my body and voice to open up to who I truly am, have my voice heard, see how I felt, and how I possibly identified.
I had been attracted to girls from as young as I could remember, but up until nearly 18 I hadn’t been able to explore that curiosity properly. It was maybe halfway through my second relationship I had the courage to ask my boyfriend if we could introduce a female, just one time, to see how I felt and explore this growing curiosity of mine. I was 17, off to London soon and I knew I was about to endure on a new life journey. I think I wanted him to be on this journey with me, but upon reflection I think I just wanted acceptance. Anyway, I popped the question and his reply being the total opposite of what I would have assumed a heterosexual males to be, was no. A firm no! Haha worth a try though, but me asking this did create distance between us which then led to us breaking up. However, not all bad, it did give me the chance to really delve into and get to know myself, so for that I am truly grateful as for 7 months later, I had my first girlfriend and told my family I was bisexual.
From here, this was the true start of my queer journey. Now that I was open and being authentic with myself I felt I could bring this version out into the world and whilst it was liberating I did come to quick realisations. Behind my rainbow walls of love and family, friend acceptance - not everyone thinks and feels the same way me and my tribe do.
Whilst I accept that not everyone is going to be as welcoming, accepting and unfortunately but especially respectful, it quickly opened my eyes to how much sexual education and sexual health on LGBTQ+ relationships is so important. For us to be seen and so we can connect, yes! But even more than that - I feel if more of the heterosexual community were to understand and also learn about LGBTQ+ relationships, there would be a lot less stigma and ignorance out there in the world. I could even bet a handful of cis humans reading “Durex” and “My Sex My Way” wouldn’t even compute lesbians or queer people apart from gay men to even “need to use condoms.” And to me, the ignorance and hate members of the LGBT community receive I feel is from lack of understanding and ignorance from the cis.
So, I really hope moving forward this is something that can be brought into schools and the education system, not just to help the cis people understand, but to have queer people, especially young queer people see themselves and not feel left out of these conversations. Without them we are then led to misinformation about our bodies, identities and health. So, I hope even just by me talking openly about my journey to acceptance, identity and queerness at least online and supporting platforms- that it can help the community to continue to feel visible and other members to feel seen, heard and understood.