2012 was the most important, most confusing year of my life. I finally got to the point where I was ready to admit to myself that I was gay. Those in the LGBT community know the “point” I’m talking about. It’s that moment when you’ve finally decided that the fear of having to go on one more awkward, chemistry-less date with a member of the opposite sex outweighs the fear of the possible negative reactions you may get from your family and friends after you’ve come out to them.
Anyway, I had finally reached The Point, which felt amazing and like a burden had been lifted and all of those wonderful things other people talk about when they talk about coming out. However, I realized that there was so much emphasis on coming out of the closet, but basically no information on how to handle what comes next. I had so many questions. “How do I date?”, “What’s the best way to meet new friends in the LGBT community?”, “Do I now have to wear flannel exclusively?”. Now that I had come out of the closet, I set out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on my journey to learn how to be a lesbian. At times, the outcome of said journey looked bleak, but I powered through. Here are some things I learned along the way:
1. Ignore outside opinions and pressure.
It’s hard to do, but once you remove yourself from the expectations of everyone else around you and just listen to yourself, you’ll be much better off. Many of my days that year were spent freaking out because my friends all had conflicting opinions about how I should handle tough situations, new relationships, and just coming out in general. Advice from trusted friends is helpful and needed, but throw too many people into the mix and you can accidentally drown out the most important voice — your own.
2. Lesbian bars make me cry.
I don’t know that I have ever not cried, or at least wanted to cry, at a lesbian bar. In case you didn’t know, fellow lesbians, we can be scary creatures. I present to you, the three different cries I have cried at lesbian bars:
The “I got sneak attack kissed outside” cry: It was 10pm on a Friday night, so naturally, I was getting tired. I told my friends inside that I was going to head home to the safety of my bed and season three of Friends and was walking past the entrance line, when, out of nowhere, a girl grabs my arm, pulls me in, and starts kissing me in front of everyone. I was mortified. This may seem mild to most of you, but keep in mind that I am a person who holds Topher Grace’s classic line, “Guard your carnal treasure”, from Win a Date with Tad Hamilton as a personal mantra. So, there I was, in front of all these people, with some stranger’s tongue down my throat and all I wanted to do was drop to my knees and scream, “NOT MY CARNAL TREASUUUURE!” at the top of my lungs with arms stretched to the sky.
The “My long-time crush had just rejected me and I wanted to be anywhere but a bar” cry: The day after my very first, very intense girl crush had rejected me, a friend of mine decided that I needed to get out and meet new people, which is a totally normal way of thinking for other people who aren’t me. I am basically the CW of people, so I was handling my recent rejection like a weepy adolescent from a teen drama starring Chad Michael Murray. I sat at the bar (lost in deep, important, poetic thoughts, probably), when a girl sat next to me. She started hitting on me and I immediately started crying. As if that weren’t ridiculous enough, instead of running away as fast as she could, she CONTINUED TO HIT ON ME, which of course resulted in more crying. I’m laughing as I type these words, but am happy to be done with that particular episode of my teen drama.
The “Draco Malfoy won’t take no for an answer” cry: One night while we were out for a friend’s birthday, we ran into a creepy Draco Malfoy look-alike who unfortunately chose me as her prey for the night. I was out on the dance floor, posted up on the wall (a little because it makes me feel cool and a lot because I dance like Elaine from Seinfeld), when here comes Draco asking me to dance. I respectfully declined, she disrespectfully ignored my response, and I spent the next half hour trying to pry her hand from mine, as she had taken it upon herself to intertwine our fingers in an attempt to get me to leave my wall of safety. I eventually escaped the dance floor with fingers intact, but don’t worry, she found me later and continued her creepy efforts while also spilling an entire beer on me in front of my friends.
Needless to say, lesbian bars aren’t my thing.
3. I’m a disgrace to lesbianism!…and other things I’ve been told.
One of the most discouraging experiences I had while on this journey was how hard I found it to make friends. I wanted so badly to meet new people and form friendships and have support within this community to help me adjust to all these new experiences, but that was more complicated than expected. I got myself into some weird situations during my pursuit of these friendships and found out all these cool, new things about myself like:
“You dress and talk like a lesbian, but don’t sleep around with anyone…you’re a disgrace to lesbianism.”
Always great to hear! Then there was this gem…
“You’re not a REAL lesbian until you have your first hookup.”
This was confusing to me because…what? There are people who think this way? Also, I didn’t want to hook up with random girls I didn’t like, I just wanted to guard my carnal treasure like Topher taught me. Oh, and I can’t forget the classic confidence-builder…
“You’re a baby lesbian, you don’t count.”
Luckily, I quickly found out the people who were telling me these things weren’t the norm and I did eventually find other, healthy friendships within the community that never tried to pressure me into things I wasn’t ready for and didn’t make me want to go crawling back into “the closet” with my tail between my legs.
4. Bad decisions are inevitable.
When I first came out, I felt like I was going through a weird type of puberty. I was finally allowing myself to be attracted to the people I found attractive and I felt like I was experiencing all the feelings I was supposed to experience during my teen years. At 24, I finally got to be 16. I was kind of always in a state of wonder, like “Ohhh, so THIS is what it’s like to wish you could make out with someone until both of your faces fall off.”
However, we all know teenagers are also prone to making bad decisions, and I basically had bad decision tunnel-vision during my little puberty do-over. Most of my bad decisions were related to my aforementioned first crush and almost always involved my CW teen drama-esque nature. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever thought we would make a good pair, but back then, I just knew we were ~*~meant 2 b~*~. Maybe I wrote her a song. Or two. Maybe I showed up at her place of employment like a stalker with the intentions of declaring my “love”. Like I said, bad decision tunnel-vision, but at least I got that out of my system and learned how to be normal for the perfect human who is my current girlfriend.
5. Do you, bb.
As I said earlier, the year I came out was one of the most confusing years of my life. It feels silly to me now that I used to think there was a certain way I had to dress or talk or act to be a lesbian, to be something I already was. Over the course of that journey to learning how to be a lesbian, I made and lost friendships, I got my feelings hurt, I had my heart broken, I made what feels like every mistake I could’ve possibly made. Most importantly, I learned that there is no “how-to” when it comes to figuring yourself out and learning what works best for you. Just do you, bb. Do you.