Tuesday, 4 December 2012

What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

"What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?" Do you remember getting asked that when you were young? I do. When I look back now,  I don't recall "lesbian" being on the list, but alas, it happened. I know I'm more than that and yes, it's a part of who I am, but not really what I do. Or...is it? Actually, I'm not really sure where it falls, but I thought I'd explore it a bit more. I can incorporate being a lesbian into just about any aspect of my life, really. But that little talent didn't happen until I figured things out. Figuring things out didn't happen in any sort of record time.

I feel lucky, in a way, that my sexuality didn't intrude on my high school years, that's for sure. I had no clue I was gay back then. I'm sure my outfits would have indicated otherwise had anyone known what exactly a lesbian was back then. Mostly jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, black suede "earth" shoes,  or "Puma" sneakers, but hey, I was wearing eyeliner, blow drying my hair, and bought my share of Dr. Pepper lip gloss. I dated guys once in a while. I wasn't really into the whole dating scene, though. I was more of the chubby, funny party chick who always had weed.


So, a boyfriend here and there, maybe a crush or two, some drunken spin-the-bottle games, making out at school dances- the usual shit, I guess. I was a slow starter. Most of my girlfriends had tore through our age group of boys, and moved onto older boyfriends before I even had my first one. But I do remember thinking after a few make out sessions & some dry humping, "Is this really what all my girl friends are going friggin' ape shit about?" Even as an adult, there was something about the way guys kissed that put me off, a bit, and I realized that not much had changed from high school. Always impatient, usually sloppy. They had trigger tongues, first of all. It was like hearing a horse race announcer in my head, "Annnnnd they're off!" Slobbery tongue being jammed down my throat, the heavy breathing, which, instinctively led to their rough hands fumbling around under my classic "Fleetwood Mac" concert t-shirt, trying to get under my bra. The mix of Old Spice deodorant and their Dad's "Pierre Cardin" always clashed with my "Love's Baby Soft" and my Tickle deordorant and there was no regard whatsoever for atmosphere- so any bleacher would do, behind any tree, in any backseat, in anyone's basement, it was about getting it done.


It seemed like so little thought went into anything. It's true, I guess, that hormones just take over at that age. It was 1984, what did I know? Not much, that's for sure- seriously, can we discuss "hand jobs"? Dear God. The first time I gave a guy a hand job was in my own basement, on a crappy old leather couch, that wreaked of cigarettes, Phil Collins "Against All Odds" on the radio, the smell from the septic pump wafting through the air- and all over with in about 3 and a half minutes. Nothing in it for me, whatsoever. Possibly a hickey, to show off.  At the time, I didn't think much of it, but looking back: "What the fuck was that?" I didn't have too much to compare it to then, so I went along with the program. Even on TV, when I'd see a guy kiss a Christine Cagney, I was pretty sure I could do a better job (subconsciously).  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what girls thought was so hot about Tom Selleck and Bruce Willis.


I'm almost certain that if I didn't get out of Niagara Falls when I did (at 17), I would not have questioned anything at all and ended up married to a Wheatfield guy, most likely with one divorce behind him, a weekend Dad with a 6 year old, working class, dart player who still listened to ZZ Top that I met in my Uncle's sport bar. I'd probably be wearing the same clothes as I did back then, play on a weekly pool league, drink Stroh's beer and drive a Ford Explorer. Not sayin' that's awful or anything, but something happens when you're exposed to a bigger world than just the town you grew up in, though. Florida happened just after graduation. That opened the doors to a lot more than I had seen in the Falls, even if they did have shirtless bartenders who blew fire out of their mouths in one of the three nightclubs nears Falls Street. Florida had all kinds of things I'd never seen.


In my 20's, I had some pretty cool, half way decent guy sex. The most memorable was probably a one night stand, that could almost be called "My Night as an Almost-Hooker". Oh, shut up, I went on to date the guy for a year after the "miscommunication". All in all, I can't complain, too much. (Well, maybe) It ranged from the considerate, the overly considerate, the inconsiderate and the virtually non-existant. But nothing ever compared to what my girlfriends were talking about over wine & munchies at the local Happy Hour bar. I can clearly remember one of my friends telling me that "the sex was mind blowing"....another one compared it to "fireworks", and another one described it as "adventurous". What the hell was I missing? At best, I could say mine was "nice." I could go as far as to say "It's not horrible at all." But it wasn't Penthouse forum worthy. I usually didn't say much at the girly gatherings, just nodded away, nibbling on Tostitos & salsa.


I do remember the first roll in the hay with a girl, though. Like usual, it all starts with a long massage & a candle. (Oh...a build up? What's this ...foreplay? Ooo I like!) For me, it was pretty unexpected that it went as far as it did, and for the surprise factor alone, it was embossed on my brain for years. But along with the vivid memory, complete with foreplay & fireworks, a bunch of other stuff tagged along, like "So, what, now I'm bi?" "Does this make me gay? Is SHE gay?" So, rather than figure it out, I just kind of pretended like it didn't have any effect on me at all. I mean, yeah I did it a time or two more, but all the while thinking, "I still date guys, so, no big deal. I'm not gay." After about a year, it just wore off and I was back on guys full time. Even got married. Not a bad thing to say about it.


I guess what happens is that the things you're suppose to address never really go away if you haven't addressed them. They disappear from time to time, but they're never really gone. In fact, they come back fairly regularly until they get addressed. This is when I knew. And...once you know, it then becomes a "thing" for a while. It's constant. You have to go through the motions: figure it out, acknowledge it, analyze it, become okay with it, come out, ride the wave, good or bad, get comfortable, learn the ins & outs of the community, make your new friends, date half of them, get into a few relationships, learn from them, and then...you have to learn what to do with it all. Where does it fit in to your every day life? You're a chiropractor. You don't get introduced as "a lesbian chiropractor". You're a lawyer, you don't get introduced as "a straight lawyer." UH OH.


For me, I was a case manager for a huge insurance company, but I wasn't a gay or straight case manager. Then there was some other stuff.  I dabbled in hosting at women's Spoken Word events, I did some FM radio for a gay morning show- but, I wasn't quite clear where being a "lesbian" fit in. It IS a part of who I am, it doesn't define me. I'm no longer a case manager but then again, at 44 presently, I now own & host a pretty popular LGBT internet podcast, I write for 3 gay & lesbian magazines, I'm married to my wife, I host at some of the largest lesbian weekend & Pride events in two countries, I still dress like a lesbian, have lesbian hair and I have two cats. Clearly, it's a bigger part of the opening question than I ever imagined! For me, that is.




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