On Being Gay

I am not a real human being right now. I haven’t changed my socks in three days, my legs are hairy to the point they are itchy, and I don’t think I’ve had an actual meal in over a week. Yes ladies and germs – it’s the old end of the semester crunch. I have become some kind of fancy robot that is either slinging burgers and brews, saving the youth of America at my internship, or writing at my dining room table. A certain frequent male visitor at my apartment summed it up quite well the other day. He had stayed over maybe two nights in a row and found me both night and morning sitting at my table, computer to the face, frazzled and frantic. “Just where I left you,” he said – followed by “I feel like you don’t even have legs” (referring to the fact I was sitting at the table so long and just presented as a torso with a head and laptop).

Since I almost just drank a candle thinking it was my water glass, I decided to share some of the shit I’ve been working on cause like me – it’s pretty sweet and pretty gay. This is a reflection piece I did about my sexuality for my Sexual/Gender Orientation and Intersubjectivity course. Enjoy moppets:

My experience in the world as a woman who identifies as lesbian has been fairly sublime. Now that is not to say it’s been an easy and flawless journey, but it’s been okay. There have been short periods of discontent, struggles along the road – but for the most part I have arrived at who I am in peace and with little to no regrets.

So gay.
So gay.

I was twelve when I realized that something was different about me. At first I reacted by thinking there must be something wrong with me, that how I felt was inappropriate and unacceptable.  I wasn’t sheltered, but I also had no experience with gay or lesbian individuals. I did not think it was a feasible way in which I could live my life, or even an option. After the thoughts that I could possibly be gay entered my mind, they proceeded to then sit on the backburner for years.

It wasn’t until I was about fifteen that the issue of my sexuality reentered my mind. I met a girl named Krissy. She was beautiful, charismatic, and I was immediately drawn to her passion and energy. She had a boyfriend, but she told me she identified as bisexual. That was the first time I ever even heard the word bisexual and she explained to me that it meant she dated boys and girls. I could certainly relate and it seemed safer than being completely gay so I thought “Oh, well I must be bisexual too!” While I was not forthcoming about it, I also didn’t hide it. I was a teenager going through my own rebellious and angsty phase and I didn’t care what people thought or how they responded to my sexuality.

However, I found there were aspects of this identity that were troublesome and I do believe to this day that bisexuality gets a bad rap. True bisexuality is a beautiful thing – to be able to love limitlessly. In a way I really do wish I was bisexual because I adore the principles behind it. It’s so seldom that you are able to find that one person who just “gets” you. In not even being remotely open to the possibility that person might be within your own gender, it immediately hinders your chances of finding that one person. Not everyone sees bisexuality in this light. There is such a discomfort in society because we don’t like people who don’t define themselves. There’s a pressure that we need to have a niche, we need to fit somewhere; specifically in just one place. But the truth is; there are so many of us who don’t fit.

Although I had finally admitted to myself that I was not heterosexual, like I said I was not forthcoming about it nor did I act upon my urges. The same year I had that realization, I admitted to my therapist I thought I liked boys and girls, and she grazed over that statement (which was a big step for me) as though it was nothing. This reaffirmed the notion that I had that the way I was feeling was wrong and pushed me further back in the closet. It didn’t change the way I felt, but I then just kind of ignored having any sexuality at all for the greater part of my adolescence.

When I was eighteen, I was finally forced to stop the cycle of ignorance that I had existed within for the past six years. When I was eighteen I met Sarah and she made my heart skip a beat. I spent the greater part of my summer pining over her, sleeping in her bed, and holding her hand like we were in a middle school romance. We never even talked about liking each other or discussed our sexualities but when she left at the end of August to go back to college, I was devastated. I was entering my senior year of high school and she was a junior at the University of New Hampshire. She knew who she was and had a life to go back to; I was left confused and in shambles over what our relationship had meant and more importantly – what it meant for me.

On February 11th, 2003 I wrote this:

I was convinced banishing her from my thoughts would keep her away. But she has stood at the gates and lingered there; it’s easy to pass over but it doesn’t change the fact she is still there. I am getting tired of thinking she has left me. Her away message says “If I could cash you in I’d be rich.” Needless to say it’s not directed at me. I feel pitiful, I don’t I grace her mind at all these days yet she never leaves mine. If I could cash her in I probably wouldn’t be rich, but I’d feel rich.

Since then there have been a hundred different girls and a hundred different kisses, and a heck of a lot less confusion around who I am. But Sarah was a stepping stone for me, and a very important one. She broke my poor eighteen year old heart into more pieces than I could ever count, but without her I wouldn’t be where I am today. Your first love is a rite of passage and she served as just so.

Part of the reason I struggled to figure myself out was honestly due to a lack of options. I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and at the time I graduated there was one “out” lesbian in my class. She was a wonderful person but she presented as more butch and I remember looking at her and thinking, “Is this what being a lesbian looks like? That’s not me.” When I arrived at college, it was an entirely different playing field. I found myself secretly wishing that every girl I met had same-sex tendencies. I foolishly fell for friends, and broke my own heart a number of times. I would walk around campus and wonder: Could she be gay? Does she know that I am? My freshman year came and went without any significant progress. I actually dated a few guys, which further solidified the fact that wasn’t for me.

It was the following year, my sophomore year, that I got introduced to the wild and enthralling lesbian community. I found myself almost reborn, engaging in the same crazy antics and experimentation that I had in high school. We drank, we hooked up, we dated, and we broke up. Above all there was an overwhelming sense of love and pride that existed. Our communities within the gay community are what make us strong. We were sisters, in the truest sense of the word. For me, this is my coming out story. There was Krissy, and there was Sarah, but for me – this is what resonates in my heart. Until I met girls that I could relate to, it just didn’t make sense to me. That may sound silly but I literally had to see it and be a part of it to feel like that was a feasible way in which to live my life.

I never had a dramatic coming out where I sat people down and offered up my sexuality. Instead I chose to disclose as needed and let it happen gradually and naturally. My straight friends were generally accepting and also not surprised. I also didn’t feel like my being gay necessarily had to be a grand announcement screamed from any rooftop, I was okay with the concept of telling people when I had a reason to tell them.

While I had a few (non-serious) girlfriends, shortly after I turned twenty-one I met the true first love of my life. Her name was Katie and we both worked over the summer at our mutual college’s maintenance department. We painted on different crews, covering campus walls in fresh coats of paint for the new semesters beginning. We met through mutual friends, shared good conversation, and spent the next few weeks falling head over heels for each other. It wasn’t long before we were in love, months later living together and sharing our lives.

When Katie and I got serious, I did have that reason to disclose who I was to those important in my life. I told my parents separately and in their own way – the news was received very well. My Mother fretted only about when she was going to meet Katie, while my Dad kept it simple and to a sentence saying: “I love you no matter what.” I always introduced Katie as my girlfriend, and that was a lot of people’s introduction to my sexuality.

We were together for almost five years. We had a great life, but at twenty-five I also couldn’t see myself being with the first person I was ever really with for the rest of my life. I had a bit of an existential crisis that ended with the dissolution of our relationship. That was two years ago. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing – and sometimes I wonder if I threw away the best chance I had at happiness. Then I think off all that’s occurred as a result and I know that I am on the path I am on for a reason and that it was the right thing at that time in my life. Being single for the first time in my adult life has actually been refreshing. In our adult lives we are taught that if we haven’t already found our soul mates – this is the time in which to do so. We are not encouraged to seek out others just for the sheer sake of companionship; and I’m certain at Thanksgiving my Grandmother isn’t going to ask me if I have met my future “BFF” yet. However, I have been incredibly satisfied with two things: 1. Cultivating meaningful, long-term, platonic relationships with other individuals, and 2. cultivating a meaningful relationship with myself.

I’ve had one relationship since Katie and a few short-term flings but for the most part I feel content just being. My journey is far from over, and in regards to my sexuality I feel “young” in the sense that there is much more to be experienced, and I know there will always be unique challenges I face because of who I am. However, I feel prepared more than ever – to take those on.

I am lucky to have had such a positive experience and I don’t take that for granted. I’ve worked with adolescents who struggle greatly around their sexuality and gender and all I want to do is tell them give them a big gay hug and tell them it will get better but I’m fairly certain that’s not in alliance with the APA code of ethics. I feel truly blessed to have found Goddard, and a program that offers a specialization in something I’m so passionate about. I’ve never doubted for a second that this is my life’s work and I know I will find a way to incorporate my studies into what I do and be successful with that.

Sometimes we lose sight on the past; and as an extremely confident and resolved person as far as my sexuality goes it is so important to remember that process that got me here. There were nights I hated myself for who I was, and there were times I thought it would be easier to hide than ever admit the truth. There were tears and heartache, rejection and devaluation. There was the night I kissed my girlfriend in public and almost got the shit beat out of me by a man. I’ve been told I’m too pretty to be gay, or actually told that I’m not. Despite everything, and I really mean this, I wouldn’t change who I was for anything. I’m happy, and if other people are not – it’s really of no concern to me. Ultimately we’ve all got this one life to live and I plan on doing so in the way that makes most sense to me.

2 thoughts on “On Being Gay

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