Saturday, May 14, 2005

Am I Gay?

Recently I had lunch with a high school buddy I hadn't seen in 15 years (15 YEARS!). She looked so great. I think we were both worried that we would have turned into homely middle-aged schlubs wearing spandex leggings, oversized sweatshirts, and hair that hadn't been cut or colored in a decade. Luckily, it didn't turn out that way.

As we were recounting every gossipy detail we had heard about other high school pals, she said she had heard some interesting things about me. Curious, of course, I asked for an example and she said, "That you're gay."

Instantly I thought, Are they kidding? Do they have any idea the humiliations I have suffered in order to be loved (or even just accepted) by a man? Would they like to know about the time my alcoholic boyfriend (of 5 1/2 years!) repeatedly screamed "Leave me alone!" while I sat in my car in the Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot? Or shall I recount the years I struggled with bulimia? The Peace Corps assignment I gave up at the request of a man who, one month later, refused to have sex with me again (but still wanted to date)? Or the evil in-laws I endured just to remain in a marginal marriage for way too long? How about the dead-end affairs with married men? The loser boyfriends who cost me a pile of money? The ones who rejected me for their old girlfriends? The painful one-night stands both in and out of town? Its taken years for me to untangle myself from all the pretzel shapes I have assumed for a guy.

But plenty of lesbians could go "mano a mano" with me comparing dreadful man tales. What else could it be? OK, I had a mullet for awhile in the mid-1980s and I usually wear short hair, but that's not gay, that's just low maintenance. I have a tendency to be overweight but I don't particularly like trucks, softball, or Home Depot. Even though I have been "embracing my girly side" a lot lately, there are probably many lesbians who could say the same thing. So, what else?

Maybe it's because I don't really take a lot of shit. I count this as a major accomplishment after years of, well, taking too much shit. Twelve years of high school teaching gives you these skills, but the same number of years spent in local community theater honed that skill to a fine point. Does any woman who can stand up for herself HAVE to be gay.? I could introduce them to some gay women who HATE confrontation.

I better be honest -- with you and myself, I am a little gay. (If you don't believe me, look at my earlier entry about Nigella Lawson). There have been many times when I have entertained the idea of experimenting. In fact, during my 20s, I wondered if I was, indeed, gay. I once snuck a peek at a friend's journal and she was asking herself the same question. Personally, the peak of my lesbian career took place 20 years ago in a bathroom stall on Capitol Hill when I drunkenly scribbled a note on the wall for anyone interested in "trying something new." No one ever did. Or else they didn't call me if they did. When I sobered up, I spent a few nervous weeks worried they might.

You would have to be living in a sensory deprivation chamber NOT to notice how beautiful women are. We're like peacocks who adorn ourselves exquisitely and then show off our feathers. It's a lovely thing to behold. And if we spent more time looking at the reality of the bodies we all live in and less time envying the emaciated ones we shouldn't have, we might get a lot more healthy and less neurotic. The gorgeous curves and soft fleshy areas of women's bodies deserve admiration. Ask any guy -- they'll tell you. Or a painter. If we can all learn to appreciate the fullness or athleticism or leanness of our own bodies, we might also realize how much we ALL have to be proud of. I'm willing to admire the beauty of women. But I can't quite bring myself to have sex with them. Not now anyway.

So, the folks who told my friend I'm gay didn't get it exactly wrong or exactly right. I've never acted on my gay impulses, but that doesn't mean I don't have them. I'm glad I had them. They made me a more complete person. I feel a little sad for those (especially men) who are so bound by homophobia that they never let their minds and bodies consider what it's like on the other side of the fence -- even for a minute. Without giving full expression to all of our impulses, we choke an important part of ourselves and then we turn into Spokane mayor Jim West.

So I guess I'm coming out right here. Here on the internet for God and everyone to see. Yup. I'm a little gay. And I'm proud.

I better go tell my boyfriend.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Superfrankenstein said...

This is hot.

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It amazes me the impact a passing comment made over a fine seafood salad can have and what an intriguing heartfelt story can come out of it. This observation of possible lesbian activity came from a terribly unreliable source with a penchant for imbibing. There is not a single piece of evidence that backed it up but I am glad that superfrankenstein thought it was hot....


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