1. TV Crushes.
The very first indication that I was a lesbian was probably when I stared to develop schoolyard crushes on various fictitious female characters. I wanted to cause a ruckus with Spinelli from Recess (Those boots? That jacket? Mmhmm) and I hoped that Jasmine would take me on a magic carpet ride (pun intended). My parents also started to worry about all the Xena: The Warrior Princess posters on my wall. I guess I should have known better than to hang it on my ceiling. Needless to say, I cried the day I came back from track practice to see it was torn down. The bitch didn’t even remove the thumbtacks!
2. Fashion Sense.
When I was a teenager I realized I had an odd obsession with Doc Martens, man pants, and plaid button downs. I think my parents looked the other way, writing it off as some grunge nostalgia. Skinny jeans weren’t a thing yet (except wranglers, the OG skinny jeans), and I just wanted to wear my brother’s cargo pants and camouflage shorts. Years later, when probed on the subject, my mother did admit she was a bit concerned when I asked for my first pair of Birkenstocks. Sometimes the lesbian makes the clothes, but other times the clothes do make the lesbian.
3. Teacher’s Pet.
My 8th grade history teacher, Mrs. Gray, was probably where I developed my affinity for blondes and old things (women and history). I used to go to class early to help her clean her board and talk about my homework. None of this would have seemed odd if I wasn’t continuously telling her how nice she smelled and trying to invite myself over to swim in her pool. I really felt that I could seduce her with my underdeveloped pubescent body. I really thought she and I could share a romantic pool moment like Neve Campbell and Denise Richards in Wild Things, but with a skinny brown girl and an old white woman.
Let it be known that I take full responsibility in throwing off my parents as I did not participate in “typical” lesbian sports. I hated golf and the softball players were intimidating. I did, however, love tennis. I can’t imagine a sport that screams “lesbian” more than tennis. Short shorts and visors? Tan legs? Power grunts? Come on! I also loved playing basketball. My high school basketball team was actually where I met most of the lesbians I knew during my teenage years. I still get really turned on by girls in basketball shorts and braided ponytails.
I didn’t realize this until a few years ago, but I’ve always primarily listened to female musicians. While my teenybopper friends were engaged in the epic feud that was the Backstreet Boys vs. *NSYNC, I found myself involved in a more dynamic feud: Britney vs. Christina. Long gone were the innocent days of jamming to Jewel and feeling the feels with Sarah McLaughlin. There was a line drawn in the sand and I knew not which side to take! Christina had the voice but Britney had that girl-next-door appeal. I picked Brit and even in the face of 2007 (may it and Brit’s beautiful locks forever remain in the past), I never looked back. Well, that “Dirrty” video made me second guess my loyalty (those dreads!), but nothing can nor will ever break my resolve!
6. Girl Sex.
I think we have all had that experimentation phase at some point in our lives. Mine happened when I was a freshman in high school with a group of my friends to impress some guys that they liked. It was all very innocent and it never went further during those much-closeted years of my West Texas high school experience. It continued a few years later, but by then I had graduated to inappropriate pants-off dance-offs and sleepovers in dorm rooms. When it finally happened it was a frightening and amazing experience with someone I really cared about. I was a bit of a late bloomer, but I was glad that I had waited. After that I just went about my slutty, lesbian ways and had all the sex I wanted. I slammed the closet door and never looked back.
The truth is though: You don’t ever KNOW anything until you try it…twice. My love of Xena, solid colored deep v’s, and Lisa Loeb may have hinted at something beneath the surface, but it didn’t mean I was a lesbian – nor did it mean I was anything else, for that matter. The only valid sign was #6, and even that doesn’t perfectly define how we identify ourselves. I know tons of lesbians who knew they were gay before they had sex and started listening to Ani DiFranco. In my own experience, it took some years to be absolutely certain and those years were filled gay club claustrophobia and watching a lot of musicals with my gay brother. There’s no “mold” that you have to fit. There are no combinations of characteristics that make you more or less gay or straight. You are who you think you are. Nothing more and nothing less.