In January - I had decided maybe it was time to start dating. I had met Coffee Guy (remember him? lol) and I liked him, I felt I could trust him- so I thought those were good signs about "being ready" to date in general. Up to that point, I had really not even *remotely* considered dating anyone. I had my hands full enough with prepping and selling a home - and, most importantly, helping the kids and I heal from the rift our family had just gone through.
So, Coffee Guy was coming around and I liked him and I did the thing that girls do and "dreamed" about the potential future.
He had a good job: check.
He was a stable guy: check.
He liked kids: check.
He knew about the sign and blog and book and didn't care: check
He thought I was cute…. bonus.
I liked him, I enjoyed talking to him…. I felt like I could trust him. Those were all good things…. but the more I thought about it, the more my stomach started to hurt. I started getting heartburn almost every night. Text messages from him made me happy and sick at the same time…. and I struggled to figure out exactly why.
I thought about kissing him….. yeah - I could do that.
I thought about making out with him….. yeah - I could probably do that.
Then I thought about having to (eventually) have sex with him and my hand to G*d, the first thing that popped into my head was this: I would rather cut off my own hands and sew every orifice on my body closed than ever have sex with any man…. even nice, sweet Coffee Guy - ever, ever again.
I realized that my subconscious was now *screaming* at me to stop and think about things before I got myself into another male/female relationship that I would end up feeling miserable in.
So, I started thinking. And reading. I read everything I could on being a lesbian - coming out in your thirties, I read it all. I needed to read because I was pretty naive. I had never even seen lesbian porn…. and I quickly fixed that. lololol
I felt guilty and dirty as my Kindle filled up with lesbian literature, seasons of The L Word and The Real L Word and movies about Brandon Teena. It was quickly becoming a dirty little secret and I guarded my Kindle with my life - hoping no one would pop it open and see what was on my 'carousel' of purchases.
At that point, I didn't have one single Lesbian friend and only knew two gay men (a couple). I first went to them and told them how I was feeling - how I *had* been feeling for years and they paused, looked at each other and one of them turned to me and said, "Honey…. we knew you were one of us the first night we *met* you- it's about time!".
F*ck. Has it always been this obvious to everyone but me?
They were very supportive and *very* sure that I was gay - and they encouraged me to find some lesbian friends. While I didn't actually know any lesbians - I knew of one through work. She's the kind of lesbian that *some* in my community would refer to as a "hundred footer".
A 'hundred footer' is a woman who is *clearly* a lesbian - the kind of lesbian who can be spotted from a hundred feet away, hence: hundred footer. Keep in mind though, that she's also totally gorgeous, so don't get the wrong idea about that. lol Anyway, I waited for her one day, approached her, politely introduced myself and asked her if I might be able to take her for coffee one day - soon? Still shaking my hand, her eyes narrowed and she said, "This is going to be a long conversation, isn't it?"
She was kind enough to clear her entire afternoon and take me for coffee right then and there. I unloaded a lifetime of thoughts and issue's and fears….. and when I was done - I said, "So, I'm pretty sure I'm gay….. does any of this sound familiar to you?"
"Well, you're not 'gay' - men are gay." She explained, "and since I don't know any straight girls who think the way you think…. the way *I* think - it sounds to me like you're a lesbian."
I suddenly realized that I would need to add studying a dyketionary to my list of nightly reading… so many more terms and definitions to learn and understand. Sigh.
I asked her how she identified and she said - "I prefer the term dyke or lesbian. And, if you're asking for my advice - you should get comfortable with use either of those terms because from everything you've told me - I'd say it's a pretty safe bet to assume you're a lesbian, too."
Both my new Dyke friend and my two Gay friends told me to go out in the community - find a girl, have my "first experience" and "make sure" that I liked... 'going down south' - *before* I came out to my family, because what if I didn't like sex with girls? What if it wasn't what I thought it was? Why upset my whole family to change my mind later…….?
I wasn't so sure about that idea - other than I needed to get out in my community and make friends and my Dyke friend gave me some new books to read - more politically driven lesbian texts. However,I didn't much like the idea of "experimenting" with another human being…. women are *people* - I didn't think they were something I should take for a sexual 'test drive'. It felt wrong…. and I wasn't sure I could do that. BUT…. was it that I couldn't *be* with a woman? Was this a convenient barrier I could put up? Without knowing…. I guess I wouldn't "know" - but it still seemed wrong to "test" things out on another person.
I went online and I typed in, "Lesbian Portland" - and I started going out to everything Google suggested. I went to gay bar after gay bar, I ate lunch and dinner at the tex-mex place owned by a local lesbian couple. I hung out at what were listed as 'gay friendly' coffee shops and deli's….. I tried to surround myself with as much of the LGBTQ community as I could.
One day, at the tex-mex place, the gorgeous waitress there could see that I was *alone*…. again. She was kind enough to chat with me and I just came out and asked her where someone might meet other girls in town….. she pulled out her phone, went to her facebook page and wrote down a whole list of gay and lesbian events.
One of which was a burlesque show at a gay bar - The Fringe Benefits performed and they were breathtaking. Zora and Angelique were so kind to me - they chatted with me after their show and invited me to the next one. Angelique became facebook friends with me - and she too, started sending me lists of what she called "queer news" from around town so that I would know where to go to meet people in the LGBTQ community. I was so worried because women... well - they can be catty - and having no 'lesbian friends' - I worried if a large community of women would be catty and un-accepting of me.....? But these women they were so kind, and so talented - it really is an art form, what they do and the took the time to show me kindness and understanding.... and friendship. It was a lifeline - they didn't know it... but it was.
The second thing on the list from the waitress at the tex-mex place was going to something called Inferno. Inferno is a lesbian dance that is held at a local Portland bar once a month…. so I looked it up online, wrote down the date and I waited because it was a few weeks away.
I kept reading books and watching The L Word. I would sit and hide my internet searches and hope no one saw what I was looking at. It was hard, living in a home where there are conservative values….. it felt wrong and I felt horrible for not being honest about where I was going at night….. I felt awful.
I was living two lives….. things had fallen apart with Coffee Guy - which is kind of what I wanted…. and I avoided the advances of another man. I didn't tell anyone -but it was getting harder and harder and I needed to talk to someone…. so I told J.
At first she laughed - but more in a shocked kind of way - then she asked me in a serious tone if I was sure - and then she said she didn't care, that it would never change our friendship and that she loved me no matter who I loved. So for a while…. I could only talk to J about how I felt and what I was going through - and she was unbelievably supportive…. I was so grateful to be able to tell someone. BEST. FRIEND. F*CKING. EVER.
So then the night of Inferno came - and I really had yet to make any "friends" on any kind of serious level, and I had certainly not had any kind of "experience"…. and I walked into that room and it was like a f*cking cloud parted and rainbows filled the room….. seriously.
I know that sounds super gay…. but it was *was* super gay - but in the very best way.
There were woman everywhere.
Women who looked like 'women' in heels and make up (Lipstick Lesbian).
There were athletic girls in tank tops with toned arms and backwards hats (Sporty Dykes).
There were women who looked like men, with short hair and boys clothes (Butch's).
and me…. in my Mom jeans, black sandals and Old Navy t-shirt. I'm pretty sure I really looked like lesbian repellent…. seriously. At least I wasn't carrying a purse (for the most part, *most* lesbians do no carry purses - backpacks, yes - and one certain friend always has her Coach bag- but in Portland, you'll find most of us have everything tucked into a pocket.)
I was surrounded by girls …. girls kissing other girls, flirting with other girls… laughing with other girls… grinding on other girls….. and I never felt so 'at home' in my whole life. It was like having spent 37 years standing in rooms never *once* feeling like I actually fit-in…. and suddenly: I did.
I didn't know a single soul in the room….. and yet, I felt like I was at home.
I stood, for the most of the night, off to the side on my own. I watched these women of all ages dancing and expressing themselves and I was mesmerized. I had never been in a room full of lesbians in my entire life… and here I was: immersed in them.
They were intoxicating.
After a while this totally gorgeous girl came over to me. She was around my height and age - covered in tattoos with short hair and wearing boys clothes…. and I was … barely able to breathe.
As she talked to me, her hand brushed my arm and I felt my chest tighten and my head get a bit light… I could do barely more than nod in agreement and laugh at the appropriate parts of the conversation. My entire body responded - without my even having time to think about it - without time to process what it all meant…. it responded to her every gentle, ever-so-slight touch of her fingertip on my shoulder or hand as she talked.
Then she asked me to dance.
Ok…. so *she* danced and I kind of kept myself together enough to sway in some kind of rhythmic fashion and then she turned and grinded up on me (but not in a 'twerk' kind of way … just in the general dancing really close kind of way….) - and I almost passed out.
My hand to G*d (yes, I know that's the second time I said that…) - but seriously - I had to leave the dance floor and go back to lean on the wall. My head was light, my heart was beating out of my chest - parts of me that I was pretty sure had rotted closed in the year before.... were warm and….. tingly.
Sh*t. I liked girls. I mean…. I *really* like girls.
When the dance was over she walked me to my car and we exchanged numbers (after that we became friends and nothing more.)
I drove home that night firm in my heartfelt conviction that 8 year old me was right: I liked girls.
More than that... I knew that I wanted to dance with them.
I knew that my body wanted to hold them and be next to them.
I knew that I wanted... more than anything to kiss them... and do other things to them.
I also knew... just from the Inferno dance-floor, that no "experimenting" was needed.
I had found myself... as cliche as it sounds: out there on that dance-floor... and there was no turning back.
I was confident that I didn't need to 'test drive' anyone for anything….. if just *dancing* with a girl - feeling her body pressed up against mine, feeling her sports bra under my finger tips, smelling the boys cologne coming off the back of her neck…. if *that* was enough to make me *literally* weak in the knee's…. I was gay. Period. As gay as a rainbow unicorn: flaming homo. Lesbian. Queer. Dyke.
And I couldn't wait to come out of my closet…. and start living.
I woke up the next day and first I called my brother and told him over the phone…. I waited for some kind of reaction: he had none. He said…. "Are you sure?" I told him I was pretty sure and that this would mean he would need to raise his children to support not only me, but any future partner, etc…. he said, "No sh*t - but you know we already support gay marriage anyway in our house - so this is not a big deal to us."
Then I went out and told The Bubbie. I'm not gonna' lie…. the first twenty or so minutes, she had a hard time getting her breath and she had to sit down. She laughed nervously, asked me a few questions… was I sure? Again…. I told her I was. She told me, once she could put a whole sentence together, that she loved me and that she accepted me and that she accept me as a lesbian.
Then she told me that she wanted to tell The Papa at dinner that night and for me not to say anything.
Then I called my other brother and his wife and made lunch plans to see them that day…. sitting in the booth at Standfords, I came right out after we ordered our food and told them that I thought I was gay…. to which my brother threw up a hand and loudly said, "Sweet, now we have something in common - we both like tits."
We high-fived…. and I was, again, accepted.
That night I waited in the kitchen, after the kids had gone to bed for my parents to come home. I was nervous…. would they kick me out? Here I was living a lie I knew they didn't approve of…. and they would have every right to ask me to leave - and I would have to respect that.
I heard the key in the door and I stood up and waited for The Papa to come down the hall - and when I saw him entering the light in the room I said, "I'm sorry, but I had to tell you - I can't live here and live a lie and lie *to* you ….. so if you need us to move out, I understand."
The Papa walked up with teary eyes and said, "Move out? Why would you do that? You're my daughter and you don't need to move anywhere…. I love you and I accept you." Then we hugged.
That night I went to bed….. and I cried.
I cried because I had spent sooooooo many years believing that being who I was *meant* to be would cause a rift in my family. I had spent 37 years living as a straight woman - because I thought that I would destroy my family by being gay….. but in the end - the only thing it was destroying was *me*.
No gave a sh*t. Not at all. Not even a little.
No one threw a single pan, broke a dish, no one even dropped an f-bomb….. I came out of my the closet expecting to find a war-zone of landmines…. and instead, all I found was love and acceptance.
I cried, because I wish that I had been braver sooner…..
Mostly though, I was just grateful that I could finally be myself and *still* be loved and accepted.
You have no idea just how awesome that truly is…..
Being a lesbian is just so gay…. it's *literally* the happiest I've ever been.