Pap Smears and Paint Parties: A Journey Toward Embracing My Bisexuality

Sara Krahel
By | 2018-12-05T15:12:37-04:00 December 5th, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

This year I finally came out to my best friend as bisexual. But first, I have to tell you about my first pap smear. You see, I have cerebral palsy and often my legs spasm when I get uncomfortable or nervous. I was certainly nervous going into the appointment because I knew there would be issues with those infamous stirrups.
It was the day that changed my life. Let me set the scene: I had hooked my arms around one leg in a death grip and a nurse was holding the other, as the gynecologist was performing the procedure as fast as she could. In this circumstance it was not just my legs that seized up, it was my entire lower body and that included my vagina.
I was visibly sweating and red in the face, trying to hold onto my twitching right leg. The doctor noticed me struggling and told me to “relax and breathe.” I rolled my eyes, knowing that it wouldn’t magically make my entire body stop spazzing, but I took a deep breath to be a good sport. It did not help with the spasms. Although they were medical professionals, they didn’t get that I couldn’t relax in this compromising position. Can anyone truly relax with strangers holding onto their legs and looking at their genitals? No. After years of invasive medical procedures, I have a fairly high pain tolerance, metal in my vagina while having a spasm was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.
After that horrifying ordeal, I made a swift exit and texted my best friend, “I just had my first pap smear. I don’t know how I’m supposed to handle a penis inside of me if I can’t even handle a speculum … this is definitely not the moment I was hoping for, but I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while now … I’m bi!”
I was shaking as I typed it. I had been thinking about this for over a year but hadn’t gathered the courage to actually tell anyone. Of course, she immediately called me to gush about how proud she is of me for telling someone (it didn’t hurt that she’s an out gay woman herself). Thankfully, she said all of the good things that you hope someone will say to you when you come out for the first time.
This opened my life up in new and exciting ways. I told a few of my closest friends and began to feel more comfortable with my new identity, so I decided to change my Tinder settings to include both men and women. In the past I had gone on dates with guys from Tinder, but nothing serious ever came from them, and at first it was the same with women. The first date I had with a woman was at a coffee shop and it went fine, but I could tell there wasn’t any mutual attraction.
The next step for me was going to a gay bar. I go out often on weekends, but I’d come to realize how uncomfortable I felt at the straight bars. I wanted to go to a bar where I felt like I could be myself: no invasive questions, seedy objectification and slimy pity-grinding. I made plans to go out with another gay friend, and came out to him just as we were about to enter a local gay bar (he took it just fine). When we got to the bar we saw that it had three flights of stairs and no elevator. Normally, I would ask my friends if we could try a different bar but we were truly determined this time around because it was a paint party-themed night. So, I talked two bouncers into carrying me and my chair up the stairs. It was a spectacle, but if you’ve lived your entire life using a wheelchair, you just have to embrace the experiences that come with it. The inside of the club was just as inaccessible, with small staircases leading to each area. Once my friend helped me down the steps to the dance floor I went immediately to the front because I wanted to experience the paint-splattered madness.
We had just started dancing when a stunning girl came up and asked if she could dance with me. At first, I froze. I’ve had girls come up to me in straight clubs and ask to dance with me before … but it was always a joke to them. I had to remind myself that I was at a gay club and she might actually be into me, so I said yes.
One of the first questions she asked was if I was straight (I’ve been told that’s how I come off). I laughed and said that I was bi and it was my first time at a gay bar. It turned out that she was in the same position. This was the first time I said “I’m bi” to a stranger and, honestly, it felt so good to be open about it.
After a few songs she left for the bathroom and I awkwardly waited around, then saw her leave the bathroom chasing her visibly upset friend. I’ve had enough friend drama happen at clubs to know I should leave her be, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her and asking myself why I didn’t kiss her when I had the chance.
Even when I found my friend again, I couldn’t get this girl out of my mind. Suddenly, I looked up and saw her dancing alone. I held back for a second because I didn’t know if she was actually into me or if it was a pity dance. I told my friend and he said, “No, I saw you two dancing. She was definitely into you!” With that, I gathered up the courage and went over to her. She immediately lit up and started dancing with me again. I was so completely taken in the moment that I forgot all about my friend and let the music move us through the crowd.
A while later, I could tell we both wanted to kiss, but my mouth was so dry that I couldn’t. I asked if she could go up the steps to the bar and get a water — normally I hate asking people to bring me things, since I can get them myself, but I decided to trust that she wouldn’t think it was too strange of an ask. She saw my stairs dilemma and happily got water for us to share. Once we started dancing again I could tell she was too nervous to just go in for the kiss herself. I thought “Damn it, I’m just going to do it,” and kissed her in the middle of the club with paint flying everywhere. It was a moment I will never forget.
We moved throughout the night dancing and just genuinely vibing with each other. People even came up to us and asked if we were a couple because our attraction to each other was so visible. We had to laugh and said we just met despite popular belief. The night ended with us exchanging numbers and kissing goodbye with the open promise of seeing each other again.
I would love to say that this meet-cute turned into my first relationship with a girl and that everything worked out. But I never saw her after that night. I texted her twice the next day and got no reply. For a while I was hurt because I don’t usually hook up in clubs. That night, though none of that mattered — my wheelchair, my kissing abilities, my self-consciousness of everyone watching us hook up. I had never met anyone who I was so instantly attracted to; where I felt so comfortable with myself and with them. I felt free to just live in the paint splattered moments in the dark.
Even though I’m disappointed this night didn’t lead to anything, I am grateful for this experience with her because I realized that the right people don’t care that I use a wheelchair to move around in this crazy world in which we all live. They find me attractive for being me, which sounds cheesy, but it isn’t always a given when you have a visible disability. Here’s to many more nights of living for myself and not letting my disability get in the way of finding love. Or, maybe just a cute person to dance with for the night.

About the Author:

Sara Krahel
Sara was born and raised in southeast Michigan, but will one day move somewhere with warm because wheelchairs and snow do not mix. She loves reading, being an extrovert and dancing through her weekends. Her essay has also been published in Bi Women Quarterly and can be found at BiWomenBoston.org.