A queer evolution.
When I was seven, I kissed my best friend on the lips. She was nine... two whole years smarter than me... and she pulled away.
“You can’t do that!” She said. I still remember the look on her face. “Why not?” I asked. “Girls can’t kiss other girls on the lips! That’s gross!”
I believed her, because she was nine and clearly knew more than me.
When I was fifteen, I dreamed of curves. I traced them, exploring dark places I couldn’t visit while I was awake. For three seconds in the mist of waking up, I lay in the glow of what I imagined sex to be. Then I remembered that the curves I traced were female. As quickly as the question...
...popped into my head, I shoved it back out again.
I was against gay marriage, because that’s what I was taught. Maybe it’s not a choice, I thought. Maybe it’s a test by God. To have feelings, but not to act on them.
I listened to my father’s words. I listened to my pastor’s words. I listened to everything, except the voice in my head.
This is the entirety of my experience with men: one long-distance nice guy, one stoned cowboy, one Dutch-New Zealander in an airport in Sydney. The musician who ran away to London. The creepy stalker who sent 45 text messages the day after our first date. The gun collector who forced himself inside my mouth while I tried to pretend I was somewhere else. The one who wouldn’t fuck me and the one who made me a rape survivor before I was old enough to drive.
My father blames him.
It was the one who wouldn’t fuck me that I fell in love with. That probably should have been my first clue.
I didn’t think I’d survive the break-up.
Three days later, I went to a performance of the Vagina Monologues, just to see a friend who was in the show.
Then this blonde walked on stage wearing black knee-high boots and thick-framed glasses, some combination of badass biker chick and nerd. She played “The Moaner.”
I squirmed, because three days out of the most painful breakup I’d ever experienced, I found myself thinking, God... I wish I could make her do that.
I asked my best friend, “What if I’m a lesbian?”
“So what?” She answered. “You love who you love. I’ll support you no matter what.”
“Well, I’m not.” I told her.
But I think she knew.
The first time I identified was to a room full of strangers, at a conference halfway across the country. It felt safe there.
When I got home, I went to see my shrink. I immediately burst into tears. She told me, you don’t have to make any decisions now. Just be you. No one has to know until you’re ready.
Then I went to Russia for the summer, and told myself that maybe if I let myself like women while I was there, I’d realize it was a phase.
What I realized was that it felt right, in a way that liking men never quite had. Like taking off a pair of jeans that are too tight and slipping into pajama bottoms, it was easy and warm and comfortable.
I didn’t step out of the closet. The closet door was flung wide open, shining light onto my dirty little secret. I didn’t come out. I was outed.
My family fell apart.
My father slung words, like daggers.
Dyke. Faggot. Abomination.
I was an abomination.
Those homosexuals... they were terrible people.
He gave me an ultimatum: Denounce them, publicly. Make it clear that you think they’re going to hell. Make it clear you aren’t one of them and don’t support them. Or I’m done.
I felt like my world had ended.
I fell apart in my best friend’s arms, shaking and sobbing, and blaming myself because I had LET myself go there. I had LET myself explore the possibility of liking women. Feeling guilty, because I wanted to. Feeling sick, because I knew I couldn’t do what my father wanted.
I heard his ultimatum, and I chose to let him be done.
I found support in unlikely places.
It wasn’t easy. I cried. I had panic attacks. I questioned. I found myself.
And I decided to come out, on my own terms.
Call it an evolution, if you want.
I didn’t become gay. No one made me this way. I didn’t choose it.
I probably wouldn’t have. If I end up with a woman, it will make my life harder. I want a wedding. I want a marriage. I want to be a mother.
Call it an evolution, if you want.
Because in some ways, it is.
I grew from a woman who was afraid of being Queer into a Queer Woman. I am what I am. I am an advocate, a facilitator, a student. A daughter, a sister, a friend. An aunt, who wants to teach her niece and nephew to be proud of themselves. I am a musician, a writer, a performer. I have a disability. I have a dog.
I’m not straight, and I’m not ashamed anymore.