Nicola Lancaster and Battle Hall Davies.
I don’t speak of these two characters very much or even the book in which I read of them, Empress of the World by Sara Ryan. Which is odd considering the impact they had on me. It was way back when in 2007, I was a sophomore just getting my bearings in high school surrounded by hormones and a critical lack of self-awareness. Nicola, or Nic, and Battle are two teenage girls who meet at a camp for gifted students and begin a summer romance. They were my first encounter reading bisexual characters. With confidence, Nic informed the reader that her romantic attraction to Battle didn’t take away all the romantic feelings she had for boys in the past. She asserts that she still likes boys but she likes girls too, that she’s sure to have feelings for either gender in the future.
At the time, I was aware that I was attracted to men and woman but was hesitant to acknowledge it, even in my own thoughts. So there was something extraordinary about reading that, in print, in a book I took out at the school library. The feelings I had but never spoke of had a legitimacy that I had silently desired. I don’t remember if the word bisexual ever gets used in the book. It would take a couple of years for me to identify myself as bisexual. But Nic’s feelings were my feelings. Battle’s feelings were my feelings.There is something to be said about that emotion one gets when the thoughts you originally thought were unique to you, are mirrored in the characters of a story you’re reading. It’s almost indescribable, that mixture of happiness and relief that I felt in that moment. But boiled down and in the simplest way, I will try to explain. I had received a profound moment of clarification and one of the most hopeful messages I had ever received in my life; that I was not alone.
And that feeling? I began to chase it.