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WHEN Erika Jahn holds the hand of her man, she could be part of any couple.
But inside, the Canadian native has a very different story to tell.
In a blog on xojane Erika reveals her identity struggle, living in a heterosexual relationship after previously coming out as a lesbian.
“When I commit to something, I go all in. I didn’t just become a vegetarian, I became a vegan”, she wrote in her article I’m A Lesbian Who Is Dating A Man.
“When I started dating a woman, I became a lesbian.”
But Erika, who works in diabetes fundraising, admitted she knew she was bisexual at a young age, when she “started kissing my girlfriends on sleepovers”.
As her college days rolled in she said she never seriously considered coming out.
“Girl stuff was for fun, but not very serious.
“Since I liked boys too, I assumed that eventually there would be a serious boy-girl scenario in my future,” she said.
Erika admits at that time, she hadn’t considered the repercussions of being in a same-sex relationship or the social taboos and pressures that would go with it.
“I had never once considered what it would be like to walk down the street holding a girl’s hand, or coming out to grandparents or raising a child in a same-sex relationship,” she said.
That process happened when, at 24, she fell in love with a woman. It took her two years to come out.
Things that heterosexual couples take for granted, she admits, were a struggle for her in a lesbian relationship.
“I never in that time even considered the option of coming out as bisexual, though. I was in a committed relationship with a woman, we thought we were deeply in love and I thought it was forever,” she said.
“I got a ‘lesbian haircut’. I joined activist and political organisations that were fighting homophobia and transphobia. I marched in pride parades.”
Despite her commitment to the cause, Erika found herself struggling.
“We never had a romantic slow dance at a wedding or a romantic kiss on a beach at sunset.
“It was a behind-closed-doors relationship and it suffered because of it,” she said.
“My relationship suffered from the pain of both real and internalised homophobia.
“For eight years, I almost never enjoyed even simple public affection like hand-holding, a light touch or gesture from someone I loved when the moment might have called for it.”
Sadly, the relationship ended. But it left Erika asking herself a lot of questions of her continued attraction to both men and women.
“If I date a man, do I need to come out again? What will the gay community think? Will I lose all of my gay friends? Will I lose my identity? Do I want to lose that identity?
“How do I explain it to people?
“It was all about the social and not at all about the personal,” she said.
The next time Erika fell in love, it was with a man.
“For the first time in a long time, the palms of my hands weren’t sweaty from anxiety and fear while holding hands in public. It was a relief,” she wrote in the blog.
“In that relief, in that ease however, I felt overshadowed by guilt.”
Erika says she fears she’ll be viewed as abandoning the cause — for people in the gay community to be able to walk down the street without fear.
“I am not sure how to shake it off yet,” she said.
“For now, I am just trying to follow my heart.”