August 30, 2005

When I Knew...

Over in LJ-land, our friend goodboi talks about a book he's reading. Called When I Knew, it's a collection of anecdotes from famous queer folk describing when they first realized they were queer.

Among my favorites (of the ones goodboi posted):

"1959. When my name was Hadassah Rosenblum and my father was an Orthodox rabbi, a friend from high school took me to a gay bar in the Village. I didn't know what to expect or exactly what was behind those doors, but I knew a lot of gay bars were mafia run back then. It had red lights everywhere and was real sleazy, but pretty soon a handsome man came over and handed me a red rose with such intensity...at the same time that I was feeling thrilled and flattered, I was also feeling that this was no man; it was actually a really butch woman named Bobby Alvino. Then it hit me - that made it even better." - Harriet Zaretsky
and
"I knew at seven. My favorite pastime was shutting my eyes during The Dating Game and listening to the guys' voices to see if my pick would match that of the female contestant. I couldn't wait to grow up and be on the show myself, picking my own bachelor number one, two, or three." - John Bartlett
There's also a real tearjerker from Eddie Sarfaty, but it's long, so you'll have to read it there.

As for me, well ...

I was in two plays at once, and working on my senior thesis to boot, so I had no time for love; I had no time, in fact, for anything. But I found time - by ditching a tech rehearsal for Play #1 - to go to a workshop on bisexuality being held at my university. I was, of course, going because I was a great straight ally. It had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about a castmate from Play #2. A female castmate.

The workshop facilitator mentioned that, when she was in first grade, she followed another little girl around school, wanted to be around her all the time, and was crushed when the other girl didn't want to be her best friend forever. She smiled, looking back on the memory, and said that now that she has adult terms for it, she'd call that girl her first crush.

And, well, it hit me. There was a girl in summer camp - her name was Cat, short for Catherine, but in my head I called her Isobel, too. Within a few days of meeting her, I was dressing like her, emulating her trademark red and black as much as my pre-packed summer-camp wardrobe would allow. But I didn't want to be her; I wanted to be with her. I picked the same activities she picked; I offered to carry her books; I couldn't stop thinking about her even when I left camp at the end of the summer. I wrote poems and stories about her: Quench readers will recognize her as "Catherine" from Issue 1, and the subject of "Snapshot," forthcoming in Issue 3.

And it wasn't just Catherine. There was Diana. And Inna. And Jen. And this castmate of mine. I knew, by the sick feeling I felt in my stomach as I thought about the end of the show, that I didn't want to lose touch with her. And I didn't want to be friends. And the girls in the show who kept looking at me funny and saying "I thought you were supposed to be the straight one" were both more wrong and more right than I had known.

I went after her. And I haven't regretted a single moment since.

Et vous, dear readers? When did you know you were whatever you are?

9 comments:

The Mirrorball Man said...

Sadly, it was when I kinda started fooling around with a male friend of mine. Oh that was a mess... But in hindsight, there are so many times I can think of where I couldn't take my eyes off a hot guy. Or when I was really attracted to this female friend's date at a school dance. Yeah, how did I not know?

raine said...

i knew when...well, i realized that i had been flirting with this girl [miriam...yes she's my roommate now...yes, we made out this summer] for about two weeks. and it felt right. and when my only goal in life became to get her to kiss me, it became evident: this is kinda gay.

maudite entendante said...

Can I just mention that nerd camp has this magic queering vibe? Evidence: my first crush; Raine's "aha!" moment; and the fact that of my nerd camp friends, all but one of them are bi, trans, or both.

So, so queer. Except for the nun and the crack ho. And who knows about them?

emily0 said...

my experience was a little different. after all, i'm a transdyke. as a child, people expected me to fall for women.

it's just that i felt like a girl, so trying to approach other girls amorously seemed about as boundary-threatening as if i had been a girl at the time.

my school had not a single out gay student or teacher, nor was anyone under suspicion of queerdom (it was a small school, yes). so it was very breederific. and no matter how hard i tried to pretend i didn't get freaked out if some girl was hitting on me around other people, i was freaked out that someone would see us.

man, it's no wonder i'm nuts.

oh - and should it be unclear:

the girls i saw were closeted queers. i even set some of them up with each other when i realised i wasn't the woman they needed.

(and then i cried. ha ha.)

(i fucking hated high school.)

emily0 said...

and also, maudite - since when do you vousvois your friends?

except me. because i'm older than you, so show some fucking respect to ta taant' - si couarèc' tchi uuma?

icarus said...

oh jeez, our coming out stories need to be pages in the iss III. just like that l word episode.

my coming-out story is muy dramariffic:

i went to a conference in new york: the Ivy Leadership Summit (talk about nerd00r). and there was this girl wearing a tie. and i was like, hmm, maybe she's gay even though she has long hair. so then i followed her around for the whole weekend. and then we traded AIM screennames. two weeks later, i broke up with my boyfriend of almost two years and a day later, we were dating.

in retrospect, it is crazily obvious that i was a big jewfag. like, when i couldn't stop wanting to kiss my best friend (who was dating my boyfriend's best friend), and then after we kissed, i thought i wanted a "threesome" with her, when in reality, i just wanted a "with her."

so, yeah. i'm a homo, alright.

wow, it's like 3am. just finished a very dyke collage-poster for Girlspot. and yes, it has Angelina on it. any more questions?

i miss you all so much.

do it for the joy it brings.

shalom.

icarus said...

also, we should make it a quench-wide goal for all of us to make out with miriam by the end of the year.

xo.

maudite entendante said...

"and also, maudite - since when do you vousvois your friends?"

I vousvoie them every time they're plural, ma belle. *smile*

spork said...

last time, i swear.

when i first suspected:
sixth grade pool party. saw my butchest friend (alas, a total bitch now and also straight) streak past me in the water and was like "oh, shit. i think i might kinda like her, in the Like Her sense. shit shit shit shit shit."

when i knew for sure i wasn't straight:
summer before tenth grade. i'd the whole summer hanging out with a few close friends, and they were the only teenagers i'd seen at all. some rich kid's mom invited the whole high school class to a surprise 16th party for him. it was at a huge ridiculously fancy yacht club, and it was really warm (even seattle can got hot in the end of august) so all the girls were dressed pretty sluttily. and i was like, oh. wow. boobs. wow. ok. i get it now.

when i knew for sure i wasn't bi (note: had already come out as gay):
junior year musical cast party: spin the bottle. i was slightly inebriated, so i agreed to play spin the bottle because some guy said chick on chick action would be hot. however, no chick on chick action transpired (really too bad). i kissed about 15 guys though, and it sucked. and afterwards i wandered around the party until i found (my only gay friend at the time) frank passed out in a corner. woke him up so i could tell him i was a lesbian (not news to him, as i said, i'd already come out).

and you didn't ask, but first girlkiss:
yes maudite, NERDCAMP. SO GAY. sogay. she was my roommate at a government nerd camp in DC, summer after sophomore year.

also, i know a gay boy who hooked up with his CTY roommate. which is basically the best story ever.