Category Archives: Coming Out

Coming Out, College Friend Edition & Blurred Lines

It had been two years since my last catch-up session with a good college friend. She was in town for Christmas, and so we decided to take our friendship offline and back to a Starbucks like the old days. Her mom was sweet enough to watch my son while Clover and I got our caffeine fix, and about an hour into our hang out, I decided to come out to her even though it’s ‘not really relevant right now, since I’m not actually dating anyone,’ and her response was:

“You know I dated a woman for 5 years, in college, right?”

Um, no, I didn’t know that, but A) my instinct (and Keith’s instinct) was right this WHOLE TIME, that she was not totally straight, and B) I reframed and felt so bad that I hadn’t been a better friend at various points, because apparently her relationship with Denise was abusive. And full of shame, and secrecy, because we ALL were involved in the college youth ministry group, and our life was built around church, and a church that appeared ‘liberal’ in so many ways, but same sex gender relationships was definitely not on the table. It was so lovely to connect in this way, and later I told her that I had wished I would have known, because I remember when she decided to stop hanging out with Denise, and how hard it was, and it makes so much more sense now knowing that she was BREAKING UP and not just ENDING A FRIENDSHIP (which is also hard, but in a different way).

So, yay, I’m out to all my college friends, except Laura, who I was probably in love with anyway, and might make things awkward. So, ya know. Another good coming out experience for the record books.

But then, I’m in this weird place. Texting Renee has been boring as fuck lately, because being a mom is not my most interesting feature, and while I’m okay to talk about our kids, I really get tired of hearing a grocery list of things you’re going to do today, like three loads of laundry and dishes. I want to know the thoughts in the head that are beyond that, though I also recognize that in the haze of new baby it can be hard to remember to think about things like the patriarchy, or whatever. And since I got this apology email two months ago from Anne, I’ve just been missing those conversations that tickled my brain and my clit.

So, ten days ago or so, Anne texts me that her ex-husband, and the father of her older teenagers, had died in a car accident. And suddenly we were texting. Not just condolence niceties, but actual texting. Like nothing had ever happened. And then my grandma died, and she was texting me about that. And then I sent her an article on the rising cost of childcare, and she sent me an article about horrible 50’s sex advice, and suddenly…we were texting. A lot. Like old times.

I’ve missed her.

Her long blonde hair, and laughing during sex, and the conversations over text about life AND poetry AND Victorian literature AND education AND etc.

I haven’t missed the horribly juvenile and tumultuous way we ended. Via text. No closure, just ending. And passive aggressive pinning quotes on pinterest. Like we were dumb junior high girls in a girlfight.

So I invited her to coffee tomorrow, since I’m on my way to Portland for my besties’ birthday, and she accepted. And we both said we were nervous. And I feel DUMB, because I feel like I’m going against all my better judgment in wanting an ex back, but my co-worker Bethany said that ‘maybe it’ll be closure at least, if not something new going forward,’ and I can honestly say that in the 4 months not dating her, I’ve given dating an honest shot and been totally bored or not turned on by anyone I’ve been talking to. Despite that tumult, I would honestly like to date her again, with some parameters and lessons learned, perhaps.

Any advice? This whole game of romance is so fraught with emotions, and dating a woman is so different than dating a guy. I feel like the complicated emotions and different communication style had contributed to our breakup. And I don’t want to rush into something that is in a constant state of emotional upheavel, but there’s this big part of me that misses all the really good things. Anyone been here, done that? Dating an ex? Closure? Reconnecting? Having to tell people you really want to get back together with someone you’ve been bitching about for four months even though you know you’ve still liked them this whole time?

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Shit, am I really a lesbian?

via tumblr Curves and Confidence
via tumblr Curves and Confidence

Have you ever dived into a lake, and then barrel rolled under the water a few times until you no longer know which way’s up? That feeling of floating, spinning, twirling…when under my own volition, it feels fun and exciting to lay motionless for a moment to realize which way is up, watching my bubbles rise to the surface, guiding me to my next breath of fresh air. This was a past-time of mine as a kid, and I did it in pools or lakes or any body water big enough for me to splash around in (note: I might have unsuccessfully tried it in the bathtub).

But contrast this with being thrown from an inner tube or being knocked over by a strong ocean wave, or being tossed into the deep end by a ruthless family member. That feeling of spinning under water, with panic outweighing the fun adrenaline sense of whoa dude! You know the difference.

I fee like I’m somewhere in-between those two feelings, like walking out into the waves and feeling the sand slip away from under my feet. I’m searching, searching, searching for a label to try and pin this sticky thing of sexual identity on. I came out as NotStraight (my very eloquent dip into the other sexuality pool), and then just defaulted to saying bisexual, because whoa people didn’t quite get the whole NotStraight thing. And bisexual neatly expresses why I am, in fact, married to a man. And why, in fact, I have had boyfriends in the past. And why, in fact, I have only just had my “first” sexual experience in the lady pool (with childish “experimentation” and drunken college makeouts with ladies. Bisexual explains it…right?

So I’ve spent my free time diving into the community. Reading AutoStraddle and watching Netflix documentaries like Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, or Chely Wright’s coming out story, and in the latter I couldn’t help but feel really…convicted (to use a Christian term I grew up with) when Chely talked about having dated men, but knowing she was, in fact, a lesbian.

With Anne, we refer to each other as lesbians. And yet we’re married to men. We talk about being attracted to pretty lesbians, like Chely Wright, and yet how it’s an energy attraction that we feel. Anne has some butch lesbian friends who talk about seeing women on the street and thinking “whoa, I wanna bang that chick” (to use crass language), and she (and I) don’t resonate with that, because I see a pretty girl and think she’s beautiful and how nice it would be to brush her hair or sit and drink coffee in her presence. And yet, get me alone, with my thoughts, later, and all the fantasies come crawling out. I don’t see guys and drool over them, either, so it’s not just a lady thing.

I cannot deny that I have been incredibly attracted to a handful of men over the years. And yet, if I were to really be honest, I resonate with the word or concept of lesbian much more than I do with the concept of bisexual. I can’t quite explain it. It doesn’t make rational sense. Lesbians like ladies. Bisexuals like ladies and men. I like men and ladies. But don’t really feel like the bisexual pants fit quite right (I’m muffin topping all over the place here people!).

UGH.

Labels.

They’re so unnecessary, I know.

But I also know that sometimes before you can transcend and feel comfortable beyond and without a label, you first must embrace and living within its framework. And I feel like I’ve been thrown into that deep end and barrel rolling and trying to blow bubbles to find my way to the surface. Reframing my past in light of my present and thinking…was I just living a lie? Were those feelings for boys misplaced or influenced by a Disney fairytale culture? Am I really a lesbian?

And, if so, what does that mean?

 

Coming Out Among Strangers

 

My one piece...a bathing suit :)
My one piece…a bathing suit 🙂

My bestie, Ruth, lives a few hours away, and invited me down for the night while her husband was bachelor partyin’ it up in Vegas. It was SO NICE to get away, even just one night, and have some good girl talk. She and I met in college and have somehow managed to push through our phone-anxiety and talk weekly for something ridiculous like NINE YEARS. Whoa.

While visiting, we headed to one of her friend’s houses, for an awesome One Piece Party (where all you could wear was a one-piece outfit plus undergarments. SO FUN!) with a bunch of other lovely introverts. There was ping pong, and a backyard fire, and dancing to Soul Train in the living room. So lovely.

And while I was there, the talk about relationships came up. There was this lovely single girl there, also wearing a bathing suit + tights combo, and my bestie was trying to set her up with this single dude friend of hers. But all night I just got this vibe that she actually was interested in ladies. We were all sitting on the couch, talking to another single girl about the perils of being single vs having a relationships. My bestie said that it was really nice to have the house to herself for the weekend, even though she missed her man. I processed aloud that I was in a strange situation because I hate feeling caged in, and yet here I am getting into this situation where commitment is happening. The one girl asked what I meant, and I explained that I had a husband and a girlfriend, and that if  my husband were out of town I’d be wanting to see her. And her response was “wow, I don’t think I could do that.”

What I loved is that she was just so not judgey about saying that. Seemed interested in knowing it worked for me, but generally musing she didn’t think it’d work for her. Cool. My first stranger coming out.

Soon followed, in part by the copious amounts of yummy vodka spiked juice, the vibe girl sitting down on the couch entering the conversation about being single and not. And she casually asked me what my deal was, and I explained the situation. And she perked up, saying “I’m a unicorn! And I’m so into the whole poly thing, so cool. I’m trying to meet this lady right now, who seems really cool, but she has kids like your girlfriend, and is having all these hesitations.”

Wow.

I met a poly gal in person all for just being open and out. And I loved that my initial gut read was spot on when I had just felt that she might have been less into the dudes and more into the ladies at the party. Yay for gut instinct.

And yay for more positive coming out experiences. With the exception of the first online outing that was ‘negative at worst, neutral at best’ I am at so many positive ones. And feeling more confident and secure in myself and my ability to trust those around me.

 

My Experience Coming Out (Part 5)

I have a bestie, Ruth, who I’ve known since college. We’ve talked every day on the phone for the past NINE years, and that’s saying a lot because I HATE THE PHONE! She’s seen me through amazing and hard times. She’s seen me go from fundamentalist Christian, to practicing Agnostic, and has loved me through every phase in between. She had read my recent coming-out-as-NotStraight article, and so she has been aware of my sexuality for a bit. And honestly, she wasn’t surprised at all. And she was supportive in every way possible.

So I knew that telling her about Anne wasn’t going to be an issue, but since she lived 300 miles away from me, our relationship is reduced to stealing phonecalls whilst driving home from work. Or, in this case, home from her dad’s wedding. It was a long car trip she had, and I was a part of the passing-of-the-miles. I find phonecalls to be awkward for sensitive subjects that haven’t had a segue, but I needed to just confess, so after I listened to her experience at the wedding, I just launched into my coming out speech. And, of course, her response was amazing, like I knew it would be!

We talked about sexuality, and polyamory, and how straight-as-a-board she is, and how she wished Keith and I well in our venture. And since then has followed up in a non-forced way, letting me gush about Anne’s love of literature, and even crack the joke that she’s basically a bisexual Ruth (something my friend Mari might feel uncomfortable about me saying).

I’m now out to all the people closest to me, and it feels really good. I’m waiting on second date, and now that I’m home from my weekend trip to Vegas, I can schedule something with her. But our texting relationship is going really well! I am excited to hopefully someday soon introduce her to Ruth, so she can see just how cool she really is!

My Experience Coming Out (Part 4)

Scheduling is hard. With very few childcare options available, Keith and I asked his parents to watch our son so that we could go on a date (with Anne) on Friday night. But it just so happened that my sister was also in town that day, having spent the night before with us. Since she lives a few hours away, and the trip had been planned for months, I didn’t want to make her reschedule for our potential love life change. And so she came, and we hung out, and I planned to not say a word about my evening date (even hoping that it would calm my nerves to not think about it). Because my sister and I were raised in the same fundamentalist Christian home, and because she still lives in the same rural conservative town, and because we had been not as close in the past year, I just figured I would never come out to her because how would she understand?

So, the morning of my big date, we were sitting in the living room drinking mimosas and watching the kiddo chase the dog around the coffee table, and she suddenly started asking questions like:

“Have you ever thought of doing a threesome? Or how do you feel about monogamy? And marriage, like, do you ever get bored in your marriage, or jealous, or want to open it up to other people?”

Holy hell, the questions were peppering me like bullets. If we had stayed in a neutral territory, talking about marriage, or theoretical, or even focusing on her relationship (together for 4 years, living together for 3, possibly getting engaged soon(ish)). But how could I, with those direct questions rapidly fired at me, not tell her? My little sister, coming to me for advice on her relationship, by wanting connection in knowing she wasn’t the only one thinking of, or wanting, or being nervous and wanting, things to be different somehow.

At first I tried to get around it, but then I said, “so, this might come as a shock to you. And I’m going to tell you, because you asked, but it’s sensitive and I want to know you won’t go blabbing it about. Because I wasn’t going to tell family at all yet.”

And then I launched in, beginning with the bisexual bomb, and ending with the date that night with a woman and how nervous I was. Her response was beautiful. She laughed when I said, “remember when you were in high school, and you told me mom and dad thought I was a lesbian?,” because she had come to me at one point, since I wasn’t dating, and told me they were concerned. She hadn’t remembered that incident, but said that it wasn’t surprising to her that I wasn’t straight, and then she said:

“You know, just because I’m straight, and live in Tiny Annoying Town, doesn’t mean I’m judgmental. I have some really conservative friends who make Roger (her bf) feel uncomfortable because he’s much more open, and I never want to be that person. I’m excited for you, and can’t wait to hear how the date goes!” 

And then she said that she couldn’t imagine doing a threesome with a woman, but would be interested with another dude, and we had a good laugh about how very odd I felt that was (because my other bestie, Ruth, has said something similar before, and I have no interest in two penises near me at one time), and it felt like this really great bonding experience over a vulnerable topic that we were raised to believe was taboo. She then opened up about her own sex life, and their fantasies and explorations, and how she doesn’t have anyone to talk to about it because all her friends are in Tiny Annoying Town mindset. She said she was jealous that I got to live in a Big Liberal City with plenty of acceptance and even anonymity, because truthfully, if i wanted, I could take my potential girlfriend out on the town in parts of the city and I wouldn’t run into anybody I know in my other life.

We went out to breakfast and then shopping. Since she’s super into fashion, she wanted to help me pick out a cute outfit to wear on my first date.  She even tried to convince me to wear a trendy fashion necklace accessory, but I stood my ground, because I wanted to seem somewhat like myself and figured if I gave the impression that I can pull of trendy accessories on the first date, then I’d have to keep up that facade!