Words. Music. Comedy. Drama.

My lesbian past.

I finally read in Sit N Spin again last night, with rousing success. Some have called my reading “brave”. I don’t know if I would go that far— it’s hardly battling cancer— but it’s at least brutally and hilariously honest. Regard:
Gay? Fine by Me.
I was in sixth grade when I became convinced that I was a lesbian. I had just switched to a new school, where I knew no one and had no friends. It also didn’t help that, with both my parents destitute after a vicious six-year custody battle, my basic wardrobe was an ongoing rotation of two pairs of corduroy overalls with worn-out knees and long-sleeve running shirts my Mom had won at 5K Valentine’s Day races. So I was a bedraggled, bespectacled, painfully shy, floppy-haired new kid in what is historically known as the most awkward time of pubescence. To make matters worse, my mother befriended Mrs. Starr, Mom of the most popular Rebecca, so I became her default friend. When our Moms were downstairs drinking tea and discussing artisan handwoven Hudson Valley throwrugs, she and I got along well: I was my old confident self, lunch table leader, the girl who’d make you snarf your milk. But at school, I was awkward among her Hello Kitty pencilbox friends. I was the only one who hadn’t been through BRS (Bedford Road Elementary), and no, I did not remember that time Bill Weeks pantsed Rich Zanfinni during Pioneer Day. I never had the opportunity to wow them with my 12-year-old wit. So instead I accelerated my descent into a rich feast of self-loathing with the following soul-crushing game: at lunch, I would sit quietly among “the popular girls” and tell myself: I am just going to sit here and not say a word and see if anyone talks to me. Let’s see how completely silent I can be. I won’t even say “yeah” or anything! And I’d sit there, and they’d talk about paint pens, field hockey or someone’s older brother and, still engaged in conversation, they’d clear their trays and walk outside without so much as a backward glance at me, still there, slumped on the cafeteria bench, where I’d fold my arms and cry. Yup. I sure won that game. And then I’d call my Mom on the payphone. Every lunch, for all of sixth grade.
My latent lesbianism emerged as the bête noire of my repressed memories. I would have been spared significant months of angst were it not for that detestable show, My So-Called Life. A properly-raised evangelical Lutheran, I had a strong sense of propriety where sexuality was concerned: basically, if you weren’t married and you did anything, that was a sin. And when it came to same-sex deviance, well then you were just a huge pervert. So when Claire Danes in her laissez-faire monotone chatted about some lesbian experience, I was immediately repelled. But then: cracking forth from behind fortified walls of Lutheran guilt, the truth of my homosexual past revealed itself anew. To my horror, I had carefully stowed away the sexual experimentation I had engaged in at age seven with my lifelong best friend, Joanna (or Jay). Jay has been my best friend for as long as I can remember: we grew up just one house away from each other and were basically inseparable. Jay was Catholic, but they’re not half as uptight as Fundamentalists. Plus, her family had cable, whereas mine only watched PBS at specific hours. Jay knew a LOT more about sex than I did, and had even seen the “Justify my Love” Madonna video. This fascinated me. I plied her for information. What did it look like? What did they do? Well, Jay reported, the man and the woman get naked and then one lies on top of the other and they rub on each other. And eventually that’s where babies come from. So far my inklings of sexual pleasure came from doing the potty dance when I had to pee really bad, so this new concept of naked rubbing was intriguing. So we decided to play husband-wife, got naked and rubbed away, and yeah, it felt pretty cool. And if you were wondering, I’m fairly certain I always played the man. Here’s the thing: I was definitely way more interested in playing than Jay. It was sort of like the fact that whenever we were at her house, I always just wanted to watch cartoons, because we weren’t allowed to at my house. So she’d always be saying, “Come on, let’s play outside” and I’d always say, “Oh naw, let’s watch Nickelodeon” or “Let’s get naked and lie on top of one another.” Once we even decided to include her four-year old sister, who had a penchant for running around the house stark naked. Usually this was annoying, but we decided, since she’s nekkid anyway, we’ll pretend we’re the husband and wife who have sex and then she’ll be the newborn baby result. This turned into a disaster, because when we tried to kick her out of our playtime, she threatened to run and tell my dad what we’d been doing. It was my first sexual blackmail.
This taboo phase of exploration lasted a couple of months, at the end of which I’m pretty sure we promised not to talk about it, and then my parent’s marriage dissolved and I moved away, and only got to see my best friend every other weekend. So it was easy to forget that strange time had ever happened. Until My So-Called Life, when my true perverted self was revealed, and I stumbled off to bed, stunned, spiraling into a clinical depression centered around this deep, dark shame that I could never reveal. As sad as I had been, I was now infinitely worse: I was anathema. I retreated into the dark recesses of my mind, spent tear-filled nights chastising myself for my perversity, became all the more alienated from the Alanis/Tickle-Me-Elmo-conversations at the lunch table. At one sleepover (which I have no doubt I was invited to because some girl’s mother demanded it), Melanie Minichino said, “I think two girls in this room are going to become lesbians.” I knew she meant me, and the other pity invite, Jenny Gutner, an utterly unmemorable girl with limp blonde hair, high prescription lenses and no vocal inflection. She was probably right.
I reached the height of my lesbian perversity one especially self-loathing night in front of my mirror with my Russian dwarf hamster. I stared at myself and thought: you are a deviant. You are so perverted you would put a hamster in your underwear. And I did. Granted, it was just at the top: my ideas of perversion were fairly tame and never even really involved specific touching or penetration. But for me this just proved how horrendously aberrant my behavior had become. So my depression was redoubled to the point where I could stand it no longer. In tears, hardly able to speak, I confessed all to my mother. My poor mother, who had no idea that I’d been torturing myself with mental flagellations and hamster mea culpas, who never wanted church to fuck up her kid so greatly. Instead of the reaction I feared (“I disown you, perverse child!”) she gave me just the reassurance that I needed, that I was not some freak, that this behavior was, in fact quite natural for people to go through. And even she had had similar experiences of curiosity and shame, specifically getting caught by Nana while playing with the tail of her favorite stuffed animal, Tigger.
And with that, I was free! I didn’t hate myself anymore! I had no shameful secret to haunt me! It also occurred to me in a stroke of genius that I had never actually found another woman sexually attractive, so I probably wasn’t actually gay. And thus ended my middle school depression, and began my renaissance: I made new friends, I lorded over our lunch table with my superior jokes, and never sat passive and morose again. And when my good friend Sara revealed via instant messenger our freshman year of high school that she was, in fact, bi, after a stunned minute of processing, I responded, “Okay”. And by junior year, I founded with her and our tremendously gay friend Tommy Pleasantville High School’s first Gay-Straight Alliance. Though no one in my church knew about that.
I still have never kissed a woman except on stage, and Jay developed an appetite for black cock so hearty that I can hardly imagine her without one safely within arm’s reach. We are probably the least gay former lesbians ever. But as a founding member of a GSA, I can proudly say: even if I were gay, that would be just fine by me.