In which I date my brother’s ex girlfriend and realize I’m a lesbian.
I mean… there were signs. There were lots of signs.
There was the fact that I had REALLY INTENSE FEELINGS about my best girl friends the whole time I was growing up. I just didn’t realize at the time that not everyone feels quite that much about their best girl friends. Not everyone wants to cuddle with them and stroke their hair and make them laugh and do nice things for them just to make them smile and… well you get the idea.
There was the fact that when I broke up with my high school boyfriend (the first time…um…yeah) my break up album that I listened to over and over and over was Skin by Melissa Ethridge.
There was the fact that all the actors/singers/performers I idolized were… women.
There was the fact that every single guy friend I had was gay.
There was the fact that every guy I have ever dated is now gay.
No really—my nickname in college was The Gaymaker because I turned that many dudes. They dated me and then IMMEDIATELY came out of the closet.
I’m like a Queer Midas.
Everything I touch turns to gay.
There were lots of signs.
In fact once I did start coming out to people the most common reaction I got was “ohhhh yeah, that makes perfect sense.”
But being raised Mormon in a small, Catholic town, in a heteronormative society… it took me a while to figure it all out.
I had just graduated college. I returned to my hometown to teach voice lessons and try to figure out my life. I was cranky about being back in my hometown and happy to make friends with anyone who was as into music as I was at that point. That’s when I got to know Girl, whose name I won’t reveal. Girl was a few years younger than me, and had dated my brother, but she was a music major and wanted to be an opera star like I wanted to be and there was no reason we shouldn’t become friends while singing together over the summer for her recital and our voice teacher’s opera workshop class. Right? Right. It’s fine.
And yeah, I knew that she and my brother dated. I’m best friends with my brother. Cuz he’s actually the coolest. But they broke up on good terms and it had been a while ago anyway and she was really into music and I was really into music and also we had lots of other things in common. And in a crummy small town, when you find someone you click with you CLING TO THEM AND NEVER LET GO because gods know when you’ll find anyone else you can remotely talk to about anything. So even though Girl was my brother’s ex, she and I were friends and it wasn’t a big deal. We could talk about music and books and stuff. And then we talked about EVERYTHING. And then we were good friends. And then all the sudden we became REALLY GOOD FRIENDS. Really quickly.
And to quote genius writer John Green,
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” (TFIOS)
And it was AMAZING! I finally understood after so many years what people were talking about when they talked about love and desire and all that hallmark crap. I didn’t feel like I had to hold back my emotions like I always had. I had never felt anything that intense and that RIGHT before. It was just… it was all the things. ALL. THE THINGS. And we were each other’s first girl loves.
we were happy and it was perfect.
Until it wasn’t.
The details of the break up don’t matter, but a lot of it was because I was not ready to accept myself yet. I felt all these amazing things and ran away because I was scared. I was terrified of what it would do to my Mormon family. I knew how deeply it would hurt my parents and so many of the people I loved.
It was another year before I came out to myself. An awful, depressed, angry, sad year. Before I accepted that I had to be open about who I was because denying it was literally killing me from the inside out.
And after I came out to myself I started coming out to other people.
Most responses were along the lines of “YEAH LIFE CHOICES! CONGRATS!! WE LOVE YOU!” and often included celebratory drinks/parties/dinners. For the most part my coming out was easy and happy. I am very lucky.
Coming out to my family has been a rocky journey. It continues to be rocky. It will probably be rocky for the rest of my life.
But, it definitely could have been worse.