Showing posts with label gay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gay. Show all posts

Friday, October 29, 2010

It Will Get Better (My life is so much better than it was at my unattended birthday party.)

At first, I didn't think my experience was similar enough to others' to warrant sharing. After all, even if I was called a 'dyke' once or twice growing up, I didn't believe it was true, and so it didn't bother me. Try as I might, I can't recall who said it in what context. All I can remember is me thinking, "Whatever, they don't know me."

But I do have a story, and even if it's not similar to many that have already been told, maybe it's similar to someone who's struggling right now. I grew up in a large Catholic family in the South, where only 4 or 5 families in my entire school were Catholic. We were middle class, but some of my siblings were in college, so I wore hand-me-downs of generic-brand clothing. In kindergarten, I was made fun of by one girl because I wasn't wearing Osh Kosh B'gosh, though most people didn't care.

I was the only kid in my entire grade who went to the gifted school once a week. By third grade, I was a grade-wide outcast, one of the two kids that everyone else had free reign to pick on. One girl told me, "I only invited you to my birthday party because my mom made me; I threw your present away because you had touched it." Even though I invited all the girls of my class to my own birthday party, not a single person came.

I did have my siblings and a couple of friends in my neighborhood who went to different schools, and I tried to shrug it off -- I never let the bullies see me cry. I never even let myself cry about it alone. But after years of torment, I wondered whether there was something inherently wrong with me, if I was just unlikeable. When I moved at the beginning of sixth grade, I was scared that it would start all over again.

But it didn't. Somehow, in the wider world of middle school, I wasn't quite such an outcast. There were other gifted kids in the school, and normal kids who didn't care if I occasionally cracked a dorky joke. I joined a sports team, so I had my sports friends too.

By eighth grade, I even had the guts to stand up to a bully who was always putting down one or another of our mutual friends (usually the person who wasn't there). I told her that I didn't like the way she was always putting people down, and I didn't want to be around such a negative person, and I left our lunch table. It was a bit scary, but two friends followed me, and the next day, two more joined us at our new lunch table.

We had another confrontation in the locker room, where she tried to get physical with me, but I looked her right in the eye, firmly told her that she wasn't worth getting in trouble over, and then turned my back on her. Throughout the rest of that day, a number of other students thanked me for standing up to her; apparently she had quite a few victims.

I can't say I always managed to speak up when I saw someone being bullied. And sometimes the victims would laugh along with something I thought was cruel, and that made me think maybe they wouldn't want me to speak up for them. Laughing along or trying to ignore it won't make it stop. Bullies often don't feel good about themselves; they use putting you down to try to build themselves up. And many times others will pretend not to hear, or will even laugh along, because they're scared of becoming the new target.

But if you can try to show the bully that their methods reflect on them, not you, it might get them to stop. If it doesn't, talk to an adult. Ask for help. And keep asking until someone listens and helps. I never told an adult in elementary school; I was too embarrassed, too ashamed to admit I couldn't get along with my classmates. Bullies rely on that to keep going, so you have to be brave and speak up.

After hearing so many times that you're less than, you might start to believe it, but remind yourself that they're the one(s) with the problem, not you. And that you can prove that, once you're done having to be in the same place as them. Give yourself a chance to prove it.

Once you're an adult, you'll have a lot more freedom to choose who you spend your time around. You'll also be able to meet people with common interests, people who will love you just the way you are and appreciate all the unique qualities that make you you. It might take some time to find your place, but there really is a place for you. I know, because I have found my "place" -- several times, in fact, as I went to college, started work, went to grad school, and now as I'm about to start work again. And if dorky me who had not a single person show up to her birthday party in elementary school could find a place, anyone can.

Just a note: even if you're not the one being bullied, you can help stop bullying. Stand up to the bullies. It doesn't even have to be a direct confrontation; it can be as simple as rolling your eyes at your friend and saying "That's so dumb" or "That's not funny" and then talking about something else. This lets the victim know that not everyone thinks the way the bully does. Because when people watch silently, the victim is told that no one cares about them. But deep down, you do care, don't you? If you were to hear that something had happened to the victim, how would you feel? Don't let yourself wind up in that situation.

If even just commenting seems too scary, you can tell a trusted adult about the bullying. Most bullies time their attacks so that teachers remain unaware, and too often the victims are too intimidated to tell -- or even when they do tell, it becomes his word against the bully's. But as a witness, you can help the bullying to stop, and the bully need not know you were the one to tell. If you were the one being bullied, what would you want someone to do? Do that.

I was going to talk about how scary it can be for a Christian (or anyone who's been taught that homosexuality is wrong) to think they might not be straight, but how that can actually instead be the beginning of an incredible faith journey... but I'll save that for my next post. I plan to add a resources page with references that might be useful. You can find some resources related to bullying (for victims and for people who care) in my "It Gets Better" post for Spirit Day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

To come out or not to come out (or "to wuss out or not to wuss out")

I ended my last post with a bit of a cliffhanger: after writing down what I'd like to say when I decide to come out to my brother, I contemplated sending it. Before I share whether I sent it or not, let me tell you a little about my brother and his coming-out story.

There were signs that Simon was gay while we were growing up -- many of those stereotypical signs that really have nothing to do with sexuality. Simon has always been a sensitive soul, and he was a bit of a crybaby as a kid. I'd play with his G.I. Joes and Lego, while he was happy to play house or Barbies. In high school, people would make fun of guys in drama, or on the color guard, or who listened to Canadian Brass, and I'd say, "Hey, my brother does those things, and he has a girlfriend."

But once he was in college, there were more concrete signs, like the poster of shirtless Jim Morrison on his dorm-room wall. Sure, straight guys might have Doors posters, but not naked Doors posters. Then there was the time he wanted to go clubbing with friends during winter break. My dad looked up the club to make sure it was in an okay part of town -- and discovered it was a gay club. My brother swore up and down that he hadn't known.

During the spring semester of his junior year, Simon increasingly mentioned his friend Steve. During spring break, Steve came up and met my parents because he and Simon were going to share a two-bedroom apartment for their last year of college.

On April 1st (note, kids: this is probably the one day a year you should never come out), Simon sent an e-mail to all of his siblings, letting us know that he and Steve were a couple (he'd come out to our parents the night before). I got the e-mail while I was at work. It wasn't a shock, really. I'd already picked up that Steve was special to Simon. But my reaction to Simon's confirmation shocked me.

I cried. Part of it was hurt that he'd felt he couldn't tell me sooner, and empathy for all the times he'd struggled and maybe not had anyone he felt he could talk to. I knew there was more to it than that, but I could never let myself figure out the real reason I had cried.

Of course I never told Simon any of this. I e-mailed back and told him I loved him, thanked him for sharing with me, and said I was happy that he'd found someone special. When I called him that night, we didn't really talk about it at all. Later, yes, but that night, we danced around it -- just had a normal conversation, as if nothing had changed. And really, nothing had -- except he could more openly talk about all aspects of his life with me.

So here I was on the other side of the fence. Over the past year or so, Simon had said things here and there that let me know he at least suspected I wasn't straight -- at one point, he talked about my "future husband," then paused and corrected himself "or partner or significant other." I'd actually switched to gender-neutral pronouns for myself (about 4 years ago, before I was even willing to entertain the possibility of dating women), but I just kind of skated around the issue when Simon did. After that, I stopped getting hints from him.

I have wanted to tell Simon for a while; I've come so close so many times, but found it impossible to get the words out. And there's always been so much I've wanted to make sure I say. There have been only two concerns holding me back (besides not knowing how to say it): 1) I wanted to be absolutely sure -- after all, this isn't something you can take back. 2) I felt a little guilty asking him to keep my secret from the rest of the family when he'd had to keep his own for so many years.

Writing down my thoughts really helped; I worded it as if it were a letter I were going to send. I prefaced it with my concern #2 -- telling him I wanted to share something with him but didn't want the rest of the family to know, so he should stop reading if he wasn't okay with that. Then I told him not to read it at work, but not to worry because it was good news.

After the jump, I started with what had precipitated my decision to come out to him; I told him that I had not gone to the Pride event to support him so much as I did it to get to know people in my local LGBT community. I thanked him for his courage to be out, and let him know that I would not have been able to accept my own sexuality had I not had his and Steve's example of what a loving, same-sex relationship could be like.

I apologized for not coming out sooner, and explained some of the reasons why I couldn't. I did let Simon know that I planned to come out to the rest of the family once I was in a relationship. I confessed that I had cried when I'd read his coming-out e-mail, and explained that I thought it was partly out of jealousy and fear that I would never be able to know his happiness, that I'd never be able to accept myself.

After writing the letter, I took a few deep breaths. Was I really ready for him to know? Was I sure? Would I ever want to take this back? What if, after finally finding a woman, I discovered that I prefer men, after all? But I know this won't happen. Even if things don't work out with a woman, that just means she's not the right woman. Or even if I do find that 1 in a million guy that I'm attracted to, Simon would be able to understand. It wouldn't stop me from being attracted to women.

I sent the letter (by e-mail) and then left for a class. When I got home, I had two messages from Simon -- one by voice mail, and the other by e-mail (in case I didn't get the voice mail). He thanked me for sharing, told me he loved me, and assured me that he would keep it a secret until I was ready. When I called him back, it was eerily like our conversation after he'd come out -- we danced around the topic; it was like nothing had changed.

But I know something has changed, and we'll be closer now that I don't have to worry about "slipping up" anymore. Since I've come out to Simon, I've felt an incredible lightness. I know I can't go back, but I don't want to go back. I'm coasting down this hill now, and I think I'm starting to see the rainbow from under the clouds.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Coming out (or not) at a gay rights protest

I recently went to my first gay rights demonstration (which I talked about here); this post focuses on people coming out at the demonstration.

Since I'm not a big fan of the bar scene, I was somewhat hoping I might be able to meet some cool women at the rally. However, it seemed that most of the people I ended up talking to were straight -- and managed to work this fact into the conversation within a minute or two. If only I could learn from them!

I attended the rally with some people from a reading group my friend Emily had recently dragged me to (and which I guess I've now joined). Emily's a friend from church, but I did actually attempt to come out to her last Thanksgiving -- though I think she dismissed it as a joke.

Anyway, you'd think it'd be easy to come out to new, gay friends while attending a gay rights demonstration, right? Not if you're me! See, I have a very good friend who recently went to DC to get married. He lives in a Southern state that doesn't provide employment anti-discrimination protection for sexual orientation, and he's a teacher.

My friend had to use a personal day to get married, and he was warned by the principal to not even mention to his students that he'd gotten married. Now, my friend's not an idiot; he works in a rural county in the South, and he's never openly admitted his orientation to his students. He'd never go around saying "Hey guys, I married a man!" and the principal knows that. The warning was along the lines of "don't even mention you got married at all."

Maybe the principal was just trying to help my friend avoid any potential controversy, since the climate in his state has grown more hostile towards LGBT people over the past couple of years. Even if that's the case, though, to tell someone on what's supposed to be the happiest day of their life to not share their joy with their students infuriates and saddens me. My friend and his husband have been together for seven years; in that same state, they'd be married through common law were they not the same sex. If my friend were straight, would he have been given that same warning? I think not.

So I was still riled for my friend's sake at the protest (which was a counter-protest against a NOM rally against gay marriage), and mentioned it over the course of conversation with one of the members of the reading group. Then I noticed a couple of the other members eying me curiously as they overheard. I could almost see the wheels spinning: "Is she? Is she just an ally? Hmm..."

But none of them asked me, and I didn't know how to bring it up naturally. After all, I spent over a decade trying to play straight. A bit later, I did comment to the same girl, "It's kind of funny how all the straight people seem to make sure you know they're straight within a minute or two," to which she got kind of uncomfortable and said, "Well, I guess I do because I feel like this doesn't affect me directly, so I don't want to give people the wrong impression, since I was able to marry my husband." Oops.

I blushed and said, "Never mind. You just proved me wrong, since you haven't been saying it." And then I asked if her husband ever came to the reading group. So the conversation didn't quite go in the direction I wanted it to, though I did choose my words carefully: "straight" = "they." I'm not sure if she picked up on it, given her reaction.

So once again, I was a complete wuss and managed to not come out to people. If I can't come out to fellow gay people and allies at a gay rights demonstration, will I ever be able to come out to anyone at all? My only comfort is that I have come out to a few people: people in my hiking group who just assumed I was (which made it really easy), Emily (sort of), and even my old college roommate (which is a good story I might share later), just to name a few.

Really, though, I just want to be out; I don't want to have to come out.

Irrational NOMbers (reflections on my first gay rights demonstration)

I recently went to my first gay rights demonstration. It was a positive, mostly silent counter-protest to a NOM "rally" (can it really be called a rally when your audience consists of maybe a dozen people?).

I've been to demonstrations for other causes, mostly in high school and college, and I'd forgotten the feeling of solidarity you get from them, the hope that stems from knowing that others care enough to stand out in the sweaty heat for hours.

I live in the South, in a state with no laws protecting against discrimination in housing or employment, no hate-crimes legislation, and a constitutional amendment banning recognition of any sort of same-sex relationship. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that we counter-protesters outnumbered the NOMbers by a significant margin (at least 20:1).

I might have chalked this up to the fact that the NOMbers already have everything they want, and people often don't go out and demonstrate to protect the status quo, except that the vast majority of people whom we passed on the street or who passed us in their cars indicated their support for us, not NOM. Also, many of the people I talked to at the counter-protest told me they were straight. This gives me hope that things really are rapidly changing in this country.

Since this was a counter-protest, we first had a rally a few blocks away, where couples, their parents, and their children talked about the impact of being allowed to marry -- and of not being allowed. It was beautiful and amazing; I'm so inspired by these couples that have been together for decades with very little support and people on all sides trying to tear them apart. True love is truly powerful, and I can only hope to find it one day.

We then assembled across from the NOM "rally." We lined the sidewalk, 6 deep, and the police were there to make sure we weren't infringing the right of way, but one female officer went out of her way to say, "I agree with you and applaud you for what you're doing, but we just have to make sure we keep the sidewalk clear." Yeah, she's one of us. So the police were cool.

Our point in the counter-protest was to show that we just want equal rights, so we were urged to respect NOM's right to demonstrate by not trying to shout them down, just to show them we disagree through our signs and our numbers. Keeping my mouth shut proved difficult once the NOMbers showed how irrational they were, so I resorted to talking quietly to the people around me.

The NOMbers started off by claiming that pro-gay marriage groups were shouting them down and giving them death threats at other stops on their national tour, and so obviously we didn't respect their "civil rights." I don't know if that's true or not; I just know we were certainly respecting their right to spew whatever nonsense they wanted, and I didn't hear a single threat.

"Civil rights" was the theme of the day -- their civil rights, which would be infringed upon if gay marriage passed. Because they have the right to define marriage, and our "redefining" of marriage would take that right away from them. And they have the right to keep their kids from learning that homosexuality exists; apparently their kid being told that their classmate has two mothers or two fathers is infringing on their civil liberties to pretend a biological fact just isn't so.

Yada yada yada, Bible, yada, Christian nation, yada yada, we love you but we want you to be miserable, yada yada, we'll be remembered in history as the preservers of civil rights, yada yada yada, better act now or it will be too late, yada yada, humans are at risk of extinction if the gays have their way, yada yada, erroneous, alarming statistics about crime committed by "children without a mom and a dad," yada blahblah, give us money, yada yada yawn. They were so hypocritical that I almost laughed in a couple of places, except that sadly, they're blind to their hypocrisy, and they do still have the majority in too many places in this country.

Towards the end, a Gospel singer sang a song called "Unity," which really was perfect... for gay marriage supporters. Not quite sure how it fit with their "us vs. them" mentality, but we started cheering and rocking to it, especially when she sang, "A house divided can never stand; come on and take my hand. We've got to build one another up, not tear one another down... We've got to show love to one another." The singer was getting agitated by the end, seeing us so energized by her song and her crowdlet just standing there.

All in all, it was a great day. I left feeling energized and hopeful about the prospects for gay marriage in this country. I was hoping to get to know some new friends a little better, which I did, though I somehow didn't manage to come out to them (which I explain in a later post). And I didn't really meet any single ladies around my age (though that wasn't the primary reason I went, of course). At any rate, I'd definitely attend another demonstration.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Let Me Out of Here Already!

Sometimes it's so frustrating not being out already. And yet coming out is scary. I don't want people to judge me or challenge me. I'm not ready for that.

I have a few friends I met through an on-line forum; it's a small community and we chat via AIM several nights a week, so even though I've never met them, I feel like we know each other fairly well.

I've been using gender-neutral pronouns to describe dating prospects or my future hopes (I'm looking for "a person" who..., "they," what I'd like in a "spouse," etc.). They know I've joined a women-only hiking club -- and that said hiking club had a singles party... at a lesbian bar. And yet only one of them knows I'm not straight -- the rest simply assume I am.

Three of them are fervent Christians -- I think non-denominational, bordering on evangelical. Kim and I got into a discussion about what the Bible says on homosexuality when she asked me what I thought about my brother being gay. I shared with her some links I'd found about what the original Hebrew and Greek actually say, and how monogamous, consensual homosexual relationships aren't actually addressed in the Bible.

This happened months ago, and I'd pretty much forgotten about it. But Kim brought it up the other night, saying that she'd looked the links over, but they hadn't changed her mind, because homosexuality's "not normal." She talked about how rare it was, as if this proved it's not normal, so I countered with "It's just as rare as being left-handed, which also used to be viewed as evil, but it turns out lefties' brains are just wired differently, and it's the same for sexuality."

She then said it's different because being gay doesn't contribute to promulgation of the human species (like being left-handed does?). I pointed out that it's present in just about every species of animal and hasn't been eliminated, so it must provide some purpose, and that not every thing that had evolved in various species contributed to reproduction.

Kim's response shocked me. "Cancer and physical deformities also happen in nature, but no one would try to say they're normal. Nature's not perfect." Wow. Just what am I supposed to say to that? I actually didn't have a chance to respond because she had to go, and neither of us has brought it up since.

I don't know what she thinks gay people should do. Marry people they're not going to really love, just to have kids? Accept that they're "mistakes" and so live singly and not reproduce so they don't pass on their "abnormality"? Honestly, I don't want to know. One part of me wanted to scream, "You're talking about me, you know." But the rest of me worried, "How will she treat me once she figures it out? Will she stop talking to me as a friend?"

It's easy to say I shouldn't care, but the fact is I do care. I don't have many friends right now, and I don't want to lose one of the few I do have. Then again, if she can't accept me for who I am, is she really a friend?

Since I made this post, I have come out to Kim; you can read about what went down here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Movie Review: Outing Riley

I'm privileged to have been on both sides of the coming-out-to-the-family scenario (or I will be once I actually come out myself). My brother came out in college. I'd had gay friends before, but it's completely different when it's someone you used to share the bathtub with.

I'll share more about his coming out in another post. However, I think having experienced both sides of the situation enabled me to have a richer appreciation for the movie Outing Riley (which I watched at Outing Riley is about a Chicago Irish Catholic man, Bobby, who decides to come out to his brothers after the death of their father.

A good part (a bit too much) of the movie is filled with Bobby trying to screw up his courage to tell his brothers, leaving the aftermath of the telling a bit rushed in places. The movie does an excellent job of portraying the dynamics of a large family and the different relationships that occur within.

The movie didn't overly saccharinize the large family as Seventh Heaven does; it really felt like I could have been watching my own family, with all its faults and squabbles but also the special closeness and in-jokes. The latter provided needed moments of levity; there were a couple of times I laughed hard enough I had to rewind to catch what I had missed. On other occasions, it felt like the jokes were trying too hard; they ventured on the sophomoric.

Outing Riley mostly avoids cliches. Bobby is the stereotypical beer-drinking, slightly overweight thirty-something Midwestern baseball fan -- more so than any of his brothers -- except he's gay. You can't have a movie about Irish Catholics without somebody having a substance abuse problem, although the brother in question seems to be mostly functioning, and it's a minor plot point.

The portrayal of priests, on the other hand, was all too typical of Hollywood. The priestly brother comes across as arrogant, preachy, and judgmental through much of the movie. And then there's a bizarre scene where another priest chastises Bobby for not blessing himself with holy water as he's leaving the church, obviously upset. Most parish priests I know have simply seen too much humanity to act as though they have all the answers. They became priests so they could serve, not to act as judges. The priests I know might have stopped Bobby, but only to ask if he was alright and needed someone to talk to. Again, though, these were minor points in the movie.

What made this movie truly remarkable to me was its portrayal of Bobby's brothers' reactions to his news. I've heard people say, "If they can't accept you when you come out, you don't need them in your life" as if acceptance is something that occurs instantaneously. But for many LGBT people, self-acceptance took years. Why should your family be able to process it in nanoseconds when you tell them that you're not who they always thought you were?

Outing Riley covers the whole gamut of emotions experienced when a family member comes out, from disbelief to anger and grief, through confusion and uncertainty, finally arriving at acceptance and celebration. Bobby's brothers are no saints; there are ugly moments, moments that made me cry, but the movie shows that love is a verb, and that as long as both sides of a relationship are willing to put in the effort, understanding can be achieved. Outing Riley ends on a note of redemption, the brothers drawn closer together. But the journey to that point feels very real.

The movie completely fails the Bechdel Test, with most female characters (the brothers' wives and even Bobby's lesbian beard) mere sketches. However, Outing Riley has one of my favorite female characters, Bobby's sister Maggie (played by the beautiful Julie Pearl), who's more pivotal to the story than any of his brothers or even his longtime boyfriend, Andy. If Maggie Riley were gay, she'd be my ideal woman. Maggie plays the role of mediator, which I often attempt in my own family, but she succeeds where I fail.

Maggie is no pushover. She is compassionate but firm in urging Bobby to come out to their brothers, and she skillfully negotiates behind people's backs to facilitate reconciliation. Despite her meddlesome ways, no one can get mad at her because she always has their best interests at heart. She's not perfect, however; her plan for finally getting Bobby to come out ends in disaster. But her warmth, exuberance, and gentle encouragement win the day.

Outing Riley showed little interaction between Bobby and Andy, which was a good thing since they seemed to have little chemistry. At points, the movie ventures on the farcical; it doesn't take itself too seriously, and you shouldn't either. The film is less about a gay man and more about his family's reactions to his coming out, and in that, I think it does an incredible job. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in a comedy that will still make you think.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How did you know you're not straight? (or in my case, "How many times did you have to be hit over the head before it sunk in?")

I've always thought I was a pretty perceptive person. When it comes to others, I can be. When it comes to myself, though, I'm the Queen of Obliviousness. Looking back, it's been obvious since my childhood that I'm not straight. Here are some of the signs I missed:

The Princess Bride. Yes, like many little girls, I loved Westley. Taunting, cliff-climbing, swashbuckling, rescuing the princess, I wanted to do it all. Princess Buttercup was beautiful; I envied her flowing, shiny locks. But I didn't want to be her. I wanted to be Westley.

The brown-eyed girl. I can't even remember her name, but she was in my third grade class. I hung on her every word and stared at her stunning brown eyes and blond hair. I just thought I envied her, though I never did want brown eyes. But in fourth grade, my friend kept harassing me about what boy I liked. After a week of studying the boys in class, I finally settled on Jimmy, even though I really wasn't that attracted to him... except for his warm brown eyes.

The movie star. In seventh grade, I developed a mild obsession with a teen heartthrob. And yet it was the female lead I was really watching and rooting for. When Hunky Male took off his shirt, I was disappointed. But then Samantha Mathis took hers off, and my heart started thumping. I told myself girls just have better-looking back-views than guys (sadly, that's all they showed).

Sarah. In 10th grade math class, she sat diagonally in front of me, and somehow my eyes spent more time looking at her butt and waist in those tight little jeans than at the chalkboard. My conscious thoughts only reached the point of wondering if my body could ever have that shape. Still, forty-five minutes of staring out of envy?

Kissing and other stuff. Even up through high school, I never wanted to kiss a boy. Actually, the thought completely grossed me out. Even the guys I had crushes on. I never thought about kissing girls, either, though, so I just assumed I was a late bloomer. I "went out" with my first boyfriend in high school, and when he broke up with me the first time we met after we started going out, I was relieved I didn't have to kiss him!

Fantasies. In college, I finally started dating. Even kissed a boy or two, which wasn't always terrible. Yet when I started feeling urges and dreamed (or daydreamed), my thoughts were filled with other girls. At first I told myself it was because it was taboo. Then I told myself I was bisexual, because I liked guys too, obviously. Even though I was only attracted to 1 guy for every 10 girls... that was just because girls are more attractive on average. Everyone knows that.

Dating. I found a few guys interesting and tried to date them. But most of them got the cheek when they finally went in for a kiss. We always became friends after that. My longest relationship (where I didn't give him the cheek) lasted a little over a month. We were constantly arguing. He didn't want to let me pay or open the door for him. He didn't like when I tried to "act like a man." And I didn't like it when he didn't like me being me.

Despite all these signs, somehow I was 100% convinced I was straight until I was 18. And even then, I convinced myself I was a "little" bisexual until I was 26. Over the next few years, I admitted it was more than a little. Finally, at 30, I acknowledged that "lesbian" fits better than any other term. Yes, I am attracted to the very rare man, but I have no desire to be with one. And so my journey begins.