When I was about 14, a family friend caught me lying in the grass making out with a girl outside of a church (the church part isn’t important, just funny in retrospect). The family friend told my mom, my mom got disappointed-slash-pissed, and we had a "talk" about it.
For the amount of trouble I thought I was in, it didn’t end up being very dramatic. My mom didn’t give a shit that it was a girl -- at the time, I think she thought it was just a phase (sorry mom, it wasn’t!). My perception was that she was mostly just disappointed that at 14 I was already such a little whore that I was recklessly rolling around groping a lady in public.
I’m lucky that my family is so supportive and understanding. It's never had to be a secret that I like any type of humans.
In high school my mom used to joke that I was in love with my butchy best friend Laura* -- which was funny, until Laura got a girlfriend, and dropped me faster than you can say, “Bye Felicia, I’m moving to Portland to be with a girl who will actually date me!” (Yes, my life is a cliche.)
I was devastated, and realized, yeah, I probably (definitely) was in love with her. But I did nothing about it when I had the chance. She used to sleep over almost every night and lightly tickle my back to help me fall asleep. She let me choose the music and drove me wherever I wanted.
Since I was home-schooled for most of high school, I would ride my bike to the coffee shop near my house in the mornings to meet her, claiming I was going on a long bike ride for "gym credit" (home-schooling was awesome, but that's another story). What it comes down to is that I was fucking oblivious to how I felt, while it was sooo obvious to everyone else.
Fast forward to the present: I've been with a handful of women, (mostly in high school when I was a little more… carefree) but I’ve never allowed the relationships to progress to anything serious --nothing more than deep emotional friendships and very occasional sex -- because I've been paralyzed with a fear of committing to a woman. Four years of college in New York City and somehow I'm more timid around girls than I've ever been.
It's only been very recently that I've admitted to myself that I was deeply in love with my best friend Carrie*, who I am now estranged from, for almost identical reasons as to why I'm no longer in touch with Laura. In every conventional aspect we acted like a couple, (we spent almost every single day together, went on vacations with one another's family, practically never slept in separate beds) except that I refused to acknowledge what was between us.
In the end, I deservedly lost her because of it. It’s been almost two years since Carrie and I have spoken (October 3rd 2011… if anyone’s counting) but her absence has left a hole I've yet to be able to fill or replace.
I've mostly been with men, not necessarily out of desire, but out of convenience. I know how the game with men works, and it's easy. I'm good at it. And I get to feel like I'm in control. Generally, I’m not very vulnerable or challenged with them. I think subconsciously it's the fear of vulnerability that’s kept me observing from the sidelines the majority of my queer life.
I can talk a big game about girls, but actually taking action and making a move scares the shit out of me. Recently, these feelings have become too difficult to repress or ignore any longer. They started manifesting (loudly) when I drank, around November. I'd get blackout drunk and end up crying or belligerently yelling about how gay I am and how much I want to be with a girl (special shout-outs to Katherine, Veronica, Jamie and Rosalie -- sorry guys!).
I was seeing a very kind man at the time and started having panic attacks at night when he was asleep, unable to curb or understand the desire building inside me. I just wanted to be able to fucking do it, but at the same time I desperately wanted to continue ignoring my feelings because acknowledging and exploring them seemed too difficult. I didn't want to leave the comfortable situation I was in. I wanted to continue pretending the side of me that is attracted to women didn't exist. But I couldn't live a lie.
Since then, I’ve been scared and confused out of my mind, but it’s also really exciting because I’m slowly, almost, kind-of starting to be ready.
What had been growing in silence for some time came to a head on my 21st birthday, which was two days after Christmas. I was at my cousin Jasmin and her husband's home in North Carolina. My aunt made me an angel food cake from scratch with strawberries and homemade whipped cream, my other aunt gave me a magic bullet, I sipped champagne shamelessly all day, and later that night my whole wild family of mostly women took me out for a birthday dinner.
I’m proud to say that for a 21st birthday it was pretty tame (but I did do a shot of tequila with my mother, who NEVER drinks! She downed it like a pro too, I have photographic proof!)
It wasn’t until dinner was over, and we were driving back to Jasmin's house that my girl-loving side started to weep all over everyone. The scene ended up with Jasmin and my Aunty Kathie hugging me on the porch while I cried about how scared I was. They consoled me by telling me they didn't care, and I shouldn't either. Aunt Kathie's response was the badass aunt equivalent to DUDE, CHILL, it’s whatever.
The cherry on top of the cake was a night around that same time. I got seriously trashed and saw the girl I’ve had a crush on for close to three years now at a party. Since I was so far gone, I decided it was the perfect time to declare my love for her! -- so, I pulled her aside and went on and on about how beautiful and funny and smart and perfect she is… which at the time I thought was romantic and like, the best idea ever.
Now I realize I probably held her hostage from the party for way too long while blowing my nasty whiskey breath into her face (since I insisted on telling her all of this at a very close face-to-face ratio).
Somehow this incident didn’t totally freak her out, and we’ve actually hung out since. She took me to her friend’s queer SuperBowl party, where we cooked fancy ass snacks together, like baked brie with caramelized pears and made fun of the sexist commercials. Sounds promising, right? WRONG.
After four hours of making her laugh, my heart was swelling with a tiny throb of hope… and then she (very sweetly) let me know that she is not, and never will be, into girls.
You win some, you lose some, I guess.
So, why do I care so much -- if no one else in my life gives even one shit? Because I’m scared as fuck. Sure, I’ve known I like girls for a long time, but I thought that was enough. I thought saying out loud that I was interested in women would wash my hands clean of the whole process.
Just knowing I’m queer isn’t enough anymore though -- I’m tired of being stalled in inaction, cheering on my gay friends from the background, while punishing myself by dating man after man because it’s a comfortable pattern. (I don’t want this to be misinterpreted as dude-bashing -- or that I’ve never had any meaningful, loving experiences with men that I’m grateful for. I have. I like a good dick as much as… other people who also like dick.)
What it comes down to is that I have no idea how to talk to girls. I feel like every girl I approach already has years of experience on me whereas I know absolutely nothing about how to date women. My inexperience may have been cute a few years ago, but in my more fearful moments it feels like everyone else has already figured all this out and I’m the only dumbass just starting.
(Logically, I know this isn’t true, and that tons of other people are going through and have been through what I’m going through… but that’s hard for me to remember in my weaker moments. I also know I'm lucky that the only person oppressive to my sexuality is me, whereas many other queer people are not nearly as fortunate or accepted in their communities.)
I assume none of the cute, long-haired, fashionable, femme girls I’m attracted to will like me back, because
1.) I’m pretty femme myself (…but I do have lots of days when I look like a 13-year-old boy trying to be Lanye Staley)
2.) I pass as straight if I don’t out myself, (which an ex-boyfriend pointed out, I apparently do "all the fucking time" and it’s "all I fucking talk about." Ohhhhkay then. Maybe that should have been a red flag then, eh?)
3.) I don’t know the first thing about dating a girl and you know, convincing her I’m worth dating. (I cook really well! I shower regularly! I have FLEECE sheets!)
So, I’m at a weird crossroads of (finally, slowly) dipping my toes in the water.
My therapist keeps asking me if I’ve gone to a “dyke-bar” yet (his words), and also suggested I go on OkCupid to practice talking to some ladies. I did the latter, and started talking to an adorable, smart, funny girl and promptly left checking the Web site the second she suggested we meet up (yep, I’m that asshole. But I did send her a message and briefly explain why I’m currently so weird and insane).
We’ll see. I figure I should just let it be, stop putting so much pressure on myself, and in time it will work out.
What do you wise and more experienced lady-seducing xoJaners think I should do?
Got any advice to give me on how I can sweet-talk the lady of my dreams into letting me cook her dinner and maybe even put my mouth on her mouth?
Tell me your secrets on Twitter!
*names have been changed.