If I was born this way, then why am I so bad at it?
Photo by Maggie Lee
I’ve always considered myself to be mostly homosexual. Whenever I watched scrambled porn on my parents’ pirated satellite dish as a child, my eyes would invariably dart toward the delectable mounds that hung from the fairer sex. Whenever I watched old movies, I longed to be the matinee idol, not the ruby lipped ingénue, because the idol got to kiss her. I’ve spent decades lusting over female friends, acquaintances, and rock bassists. And yet, in my 31 years on this Earth, I have done nothing about it. Because I’m scared.
When I was in high school, I was in love. Well, whatever a person whose brain isn’t fully developed can consider love. Her name was Melissa, she “only listened to early Billy Joel,” and she had a waterbed. We’d lie on said bed, beneath her Romeo and Juliet movie poster, and spend hours talking about how much we hated our peers. Her glasses were huge, her nose huger, her malaise huger still. I was obsessed.
I broke into art class to steal photos of her, looking pained while standing below one of her mediocre paintings, to save for my archives. I shot my own photographs of her, which I blew up into 8x10s, ensconced in glass and lovingly placed on the windowsills of my childhood bedroom. I thought, for sure, she was gay. I mean, she exuded it, body and soul.
One day, unable to further deal with the psychic angst of my unspoken feelings, I wrote an epic declaration of juvenile love and sent it to the nondescript ranch home she inhabited with her absentee parents. She was my Alice. I was her Gertrude. Soon she would see how wonderful our creative connection, our Sapphic bond, could be. Or so I thought.
I vividly recall the afternoon I knew she had received my letter. In between class periods, she ignored my formerly accepted and excitedly embraced eye contact. Whenever I approached her, she silently walked away, unspeakably informing me of the worst. I had, apparently, misjudged the extent of her homosexuality. Perhaps she was unwilling to accept her true self. Perhaps I was wholly in the wrong. Regardless, I spent the rest of my high school career eating M&M’s alone in the library during lunch hours.
Faced with this crushing defeat, I did the only thing one could do—pushed my feelings down, ignored them, and spent the next ten plus years bouncing from male suitor to male suitor (because, as everyone knows, there are only three ways to solve problems—prayer, violence, and avoidance).
Photo by Jamie "Lee Curtis" Taete
I accepted heterosexual attention as gospel and did my best to be a good, decent, straight gal. The alternative was being made a fool of, an injustice I was not willing to suffer again. The ghost of Melissa, of her rejection, hovered over me, preventing me from even thinking about trying. And so, for years, I ignored my Sapphic feelings and the scrambled pornography of my childhood.
Until now. Finally, at the age of thirty fucking one, I’m willing to accept the way I am, and to embrace this facet of my sexual character, because I’m too old to be so shit scared. The fact that I am so old, however, and so wholly inexperienced, puts me at a loss. Now what?
I have plenty of female friends who tell me they’re bi, but I’ve never seen them with women. Are they lying in an attempt to attract the male gaze? Or are they scared as well? I don’t fucking know. All I know is that I feel uncomfortable talking to them about our shared interest in pussy. And asking them out? Out of the question.
Not only am I bad at being a bisexual, I’m bad at identifying as one. I feel uncomfortable whenever my friend Guy, a card-carrying homosexual American, implores me to embrace the label of “queer.” In much the same way I don’t feel comfortable self-identifying as an alcoholic (because, y’know, the state never took away my kids because I couldn’t stop drinking Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas), identifying as queer when I’m not entirely gay (earlier I made it seem as though I begrudgingly dated men, but I assure you I truly do love dick) feels disingenuous.
Queer, to me, seems like a title you earn—not one you're given. And me? I’m just some fucking coward. I’ve never been gay bashed. My family has never ostracized me because of how I am. Nor have I ever emotionally struggled with it. It wasn’t falling in love with Melissa that made me feel awful, it was the sting of her rejection. I’ve never felt any guilt or shame about my semi-homosexuality. Which, combined with the fact that I’ve never done anything about it, makes me feel like a fraud.
It’s not a competition, I know, to be as gay as humanly possible in order to keep up with the Cleve Joneses. But it would be nice to be at least a little competently gay. A friend invited me over for dinner the other night exclusively to, I quickly found out, inform me she was “into me.” Upon receipt of this information, my eyes bugged out of my head like a Tex Avery cartoon, I internally “hummina-hummina-humminaed,” and immediately commenced to drinking an entire bottle of wine.
I ultimately got the fuck outta Dodge before shit got real. Why the hell did I do that? That broad wanted me! I wanted her! Rejection wasn't lurking around the corner. It wasn't even in the building! And yet, still, I was terrified. Presumably because I didn't know what the hell I was doing? Because I'm a 31-year-old amateur? Christ. If only acting queer was as easy as being queer.
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