‘Initially, our difference in sexuality was a big issue’
JESS, 26, is a junior menswear designer; SARAH is a PhD student. Both are in relationships.
JESS SAYS From the age of about 15, Sarah and I argued constantly. We were never really similar personality-wise and have always known how to press one another’s buttons. Growing up, Sarah wanted all her hair cut off, while I wanted mine long like a princess. She’d wear Spiderman stuff and I’d always be in pink. Even today we’re quite singular people and we don’t see each other very often – it can be as little as six times a year – because we live in different places. That said, we are much closer now. We talk every day and constantly FaceTime each other.
For me, sexuality wasn’t something I ever really thought about. Then at the age of 16, Sarah came out. I remember it vividly. I had gone up to her room, which was in the loft, and weirdly, she had the lights off – she obviously didn’t want to look at me. She told me, ‘Oh, by the way, I think I’m gay.’ I burst into tears and she said, ‘Don’t tell Mum or Dad.’
It drove a wedge between us for a long time. My misunderstanding and Sarah’s unwillingness to let me think on it for a bit caused tension. She felt unaccepted, and I can see that now, but it wasn’t the case. I was trying to understand it, but it was hard: I was very young, and went to a very sheltered, quite bigoted school. We lived in the countryside, we didn’t watch that much TV – this was one of the first times I’d even heard the term ‘gay’.
Now, I’m really protective of Sarah and her sexuality. I feel like a proud LGBT community member, even though I’m not gay. As I’ve got older, gone to art school and experienced different people from different backgrounds, I do feel there is a lot more fluidity in sexuality than people realise. It’s a lot more societal than we think. We don’t have to be 100 per cent one way or the other. It should just be whatever you fancy, really. SARAH SAYS Jess and I were very competitive growing up. It was always, ‘I’m one centimetre taller; I’m faster than you.’ I did a lot of sport so Jess was never really in what you might call ‘the limelight’. She was quite quiet. There was a lot of overshadowing, and I think that’s where the bickering came from. It’s as though we had to win this nonexistent game and because of this we evolved into very different people on purpose.
Initially, our difference in sexuality was a big issue. It actually separated us for quite a while. It wasn’t a fracture per se, but more a time in our adolescence when she wasn’t my friend and she wasn’t my sister. But I’d kept it from her for a long time and that hurt her. You can relate on a very emotional level with your twin but we didn’t have our sexuality to share. It was incredibly tough.
Nowadays, we can sit and debate. We still don’t have the same views about the same issues, but it’s because we have had very different social experiences. The environment speaks volumes about why we’re different. We had separate friendship groups at school: I was into sport and science while Jess is arty. The way that we think and the way that we problem-solve are different, but I think it’s all taught behaviour. It’s all social.
Jess and I got close again in the second year of uni. When she made a connection with other people on the LGBT spectrum we just clicked again and we started calling each other a bit more, opening up and rekindling what we had when we used to make dens in the living room. It took a long time but we got there in the end. I wouldn’t change it for the world. ➤
“THERE IS A LOT MORE FLUIDITY THAN PEOPLE REALISE”
Sarah in blue and Jess in pink, above; Sarah wearing the trousers at four, below, with Jess; Jess, near right, and Sarah today