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Coming Out, Part 2

June 11, 2012

I knew I was gay long before I knew the word. I liked my little friends – but I thought everyone did. I played house with the neighbor girl and I was the wife. There was another girl in 4th grade who wanted to get naked and make out. Until her mom found us once and booted me right out of the house because that Pre-Baby Butch Wannabe Sold. Me. Out. Anyway. There was this girl in my school who I fell as hard in love with as an elementary school child can. She was the older sister of a classmate and she was very sweet. Well, she was actually sort of badass and always in trouble. However, she liked me, so she was nice to me. Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea.

When I was in 7th grade, my mom had a butch friend. I used to drive my mom nuts because I wouldn’t leave them alone to talk. I liked butches early! However, she confused me. I knew she was a lesbian but I didn’t know the word butch yet and I knew that I wasn’t like her. So I didn’t know what to think. How could I be a lesbian if it meant to be like her?

My aunt came out when I was 19 or so. I started hanging out with her friends, all lesbians. What an awakening that was. I spent a lot of time with them and learned a lot about what it was really like to be a lesbian. My aunt always told people, “My gorgeous genius niece is coming for the weekend. She’s straight. Back off.” [Yeah. My 5’6” 105# femme aunt is SO threatening!]

There was some flirting but, for the most part, they did actually leave me alone. (SIGH!) Then, my aunt left me alone with them and we went to a lesbian bar. I had sex with a woman for the first time that night. Not long after that, I started dating the woman who would become my first girlfriend. We dated for a few months and then I broke up with her. There were a couple of reasons, but the main one, for me, was that while I knew that I AM a lesbian, I wasn’t sure I could BE a lesbian. I mean, live my life openly as a lesbian. That was in September 1987.

In December they invited me to a New Year’s Eve party and I took a straight friend. We had so much fun. I can’t tell you how many phone numbers I went home with that night. [I remember the outfit I wore: black short skirt, black hose, black boots, a grey sweater that was open in the back (closed at the neck and at the bottom, open in the rest, scads of fake pearls of various colors worn in the back. Big hair, excessive amounts of mascara and red lipstick. It was 1986. I towered over all the butches at that party, but they didn’t seem to mind.]

I saw First Girlfriend again but I didn’t do anything. I went home that night and never called one of the women whose numbers I’d gotten. Mid-January, First Girlfriend calls me to tell me that one of those women asked for my number. First Girlfriend didn’t give it to her but called to tell me that the lot of them were going out that weekend, if I wanted to meet them.

Immediate Femme Frenzy ensued: went to the mall, got an outfit, got my hair done, got a manicure and pedicure. Because I had decided that yes. I could live as a lesbian.

I got to that bar (and it wasn’t a club. It was a total dive bar) and there she was. First Girlfriend, I mean. The other chick had gone home because I was late – long story but we got pulled over on the way, my friend got arrested and I left his sorry ass to go to jail and I went on to the bar.

First Girlfriend’s friends left en masse (think that was planned?) so I *had* to take her home. She got home about 5 am and we were together for two years.

See, I grew you in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s the home of one of the most conservative mainline Protestant religions and I had to be sure I could deal with it. I was 20 by this time. I went to a Catholic college. I was Catholic. I had a boyfriend. Could I do it? It took me a while to be comfortable with it myself so that I could be comfortable telling it to people.

I knew that there were very good reasons – especially in 1987- for being closeted. I also knew that I couldn’t live my life that way. I don’t have it in me. So, when I came out … I came the hell out! 🙂

So, pumpkins, tell me your coming out story. I wanna hear!

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