I’ve talked before about how I’m a terrible lesbian because I simply don’t care about things like gay marriage or domestic partnerships or civil unions or whatever they’re calling it these days. A friend told me once that I didn’t care about it because I wasn’t in a relationship with someone I wanted to spend my life with. No. It’s because I just don’t care about it. There are lots of reasons for that and not one of them is because I’m not in love and/or in a long-term relationship. Back then, I was standing in the closet with the door open. I couldn’t look in the mirror without hating myself.
Today, I am out. And while I am a conservative, reserved and private soul, some things have changed. Last spring, I was having dinner with Bridget and we were talking about being out, specifically about how I wanted to be more out and that I was tired of trying to live up to what people expected of me, instead of being who I am. She leaned toward me and said something like, “People are too wrapped up in themselves to care about what’s going on around them. I could hold your hand right now and no one would even notice.”
Of course, I leaned back and said, “I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.” I probably looked a little shocked. She laughed and told me it wasn’t a big deal, that everyone moved at their own pace.
But it was a big deal. Because I realized I could sit there with anyone else – Leslie, or any other female friend – and I could hold their hand and not think a thing about it. Because it didn’t mean the same thing. I was the one who was attaching meaning – and shame – to it.
More years ago than I care to count, back when I still thought long-distance relationships could work (and chose them because they were doomed to fail, but that’s a whole other blog post), I went to Florida to meet a woman. We had a pleasant weekend – until she took me to the airport. We were late, so the gate was empty when I got there. The flight attendants were standing in the jetway waiting for me to move my ass, so I told Diane goodbye and thanked her for the weekend.
At which point she grabbed me and kissed me and shoved her tongue down my throat (sorry, MoC). When I finally got her off me, she laughed and rolled her eyes, looked at the attendants and said, “Women!” in such a derisive tone that I honestly could have decked her, but I was so mortified that I was rooted in place. I kind of wish I had punched her, now that I think about it. Now compare those two stories.
The first one was filled with nothing but respect for who I was and where I was at that time – and the second … well, there was no respect there at all. When I told her later that she embarrassed me (and the better word is probably ‘humiliated’), she told me I needed to get over myself and stop living in the Dark Ages. I never spoke to her again, but to be fair, she never tried to speak to me, either. It was a power play, that’s all. I don’t know what she proved, but I’m sure it was something.
I told you all of that so that I could say this. I could hold someone’s hand – a lover’s hand – in a restaurant today. I wouldn’t freak out. I wouldn’t wonder what other people were thinking. If she got on a plane, I could kiss her goodbye at the gate – although without the tongue thing, because that’s never been my style, even when I wanted desperately to be straight. I can be who I am, right now, today, and I don’t feel the urge to hide it anymore.
That’s the difference a year makes.
And although I kind of wish this past year had happened when I was 25, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I look in the mirror, I see some new lines that weren’t there just a few years ago, but I also see something else. I see someone who is finally okay with exactly who she is.
And I see nothing to be ashamed of anymore.