Archive | 1:30 PM

Questioning

12 Oct

I’m from a small, rural town and never knew gay people aside from a couple really feminine boys that were constantly bullied, a few scary ‘out’ butch lesbians in high school that I didn’t want anything to do with, and a couple masculine teachers/coaches with secretive personal lives.

In high school the other cheerleaders would say, “She’s so cute” about each other, and that made me so embarrassed. I would never feel comfortable calling another girl cute! They would also walk around the locker room in their thong underwear, no big deal. It would make me stressed out. I didn’t want anyone else to think I was looking (I legitimately wasn’t, as I was too busy trying to change as quickly as possible without revealing any of my own body parts). I was very self-conscious. I had a nice enough body, but I always felt prudish, and weird about showing it off.

On bus trips, the other cheerleaders would talk about their crushes and boyfriends. I would listen, but have nothing at all to add. They would ask who I had a crush on and I just really couldn’t understand how they liked any of these boys. I had gone to school with all of them since kindergarten, and seen them wet their pants, get teased, say stupid answers in class, and all of the boys in my town were kinda ugly and very obnoxious. I thought I had a bad crop of boys to choose from (I mean, I did). But the cheerleaders would press me about who I liked, and it was nobody. But they thought I was keeping it a secret from them, and liked me less for being closed off from them.

I didn’t have any crushes in high school either. How could I? These boys were the worst! I had grown up with my neighbor and he got super-annoying in high school, adopting Ebonics (we only had two black kids in our entire school) and being mr ‘I’m a pimp’ so we drifted apart. In homeroom, the boys were bad. Somehow all the discipline problems have the same letter of my last name (how homerooms were assigned) and rode the same bus and lived in my neighborhood. They were smoking weed and doing other illegal things and bullying people, so I just didn’t have anything at all in common with them. I got along well with the track boys, especially the ones who pole vaulted with me. But the track boys kind of treated me like one of the guys (I was always active and that got me classified a tomboy) so it was fine. But they were friend-zoned for the reasons I’ve spelled out above.

What I’m saying, is up to this point, I was not so much in the closet as just oblivious. I just didn’t have any crushes or attractions at all, thought I was a late-bloomer, studious, prude. I didn’t really have representation either–I did not identify with Will & Grace, which was a gay show on at that time. I didn’t know of any other gay television show or character… It wasn’t until I went to work for a pair of lesbians that I even had gayness on my radar at all. There was a gal at work who was obviously a lesbian, and I could tell. But it wasn’t the scary-super-butch type of lesbian I had encountered before, that scared/repulsed me [*disclaimer* internal homophobia]. She was a softly-masculine, more sporty type. And I immediately felt like a deep soul-connection to her. Not in the crush way I had regarded a teacher/coach before. But like we knew each other in another life, or just like “understood” each other. I didn’t get what was happening at the time. I am today years old realizing that it was probably just gay-dar and having our sexuality in common, which at that time had NEVER happened to me before. At any rate, being around this obviously gay person, started bringing up a lot of questions in my mind.

It was all very confusing, and I wasn’t really conscious of what the questions were, or how to think about them. I just knew, suddenly, I felt skittish. I was afraid, but didn’t know of what. It was embarrassing. My boss set me up with her nephew. And he was conventionally attractive, popular-enough guy that treated me nice. We were able to easily carry on conversations, and had things in common. He seemed to like me, because we didn’t just go to prom (as his aunt orchestrated) we went to the movies several times, out to eat–we kept meeting up again and again. He would initiate hand holding in the movie. I was TERRIFIED of kissing him, but knew he probably wanted that. I WAS STRESSED OUT about kissing him. Like, I knew I should but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I would all but jump out of his car at the end of these dates. But I also had the feeling he would eventually get tired of putting up with that.

And I didn’t know WTF was wrong with me. He was good looking, seemed nice, did well in school and sports–why didn’t I like him like I thought I should? I thought he was OK and nice and everything, but I didn’t think about him all the time. I didn’t think he was super-HOT or anything. I was kinda ‘meh’ about him, but he didn’t do anything to deserve that. I had thought once I had a better boy to pick from I would be into it (straightness). But I just wasn’t. I felt angry with myself. Just like this nice boy. What is wrong with him? Nothing. I couldn’t pick out anything that I didn’t like, or any reason to reject him.

Exposure to another gay person combined with confusion about how I didn’t have a lot of feelings for this perfectly nice boy, really, really confused me. I didn’t know what was going on. But I felt angsty, afraid, and embarrassed about it. I also felt really far away from my friends. Suddenly, I didn’t feel close to them. We had been friends since pre-school and this was our Senior year. I just felt apart from them. I didn’t know why. I felt kind of alone in school, despite hanging out with my friends. I didn’t know at the time this feeling was connected at all.

I did know I wanted to spend time at work. I wanted to be with my coworker as much as possible. Not like a crush thing, but like I felt understood and happy even though she was 17 years older than me. I didn’t know why I felt more comfortable with a 35 year old adult than my 18 year old friends. I’m an only child though, and constantly was around adults, and always got called mature for my age, so I just figured I aligned more with more mature people. I didn’t know what was going on! I just knew I felt unsettled. But also Senioritis is a thing, so I figured I was just ready for a change.

Then, the rum & cokes and realizations happened that I posted last time. My life was forever changed.