I realised I was gay when…

20 03 2012

… I was seven years old and rode the bus home.
I looked out the window as the trees flew past and wondered if I would have to have a husband in order to have children. I didn’t particularly want either but thought that it must be possible because some of the kids at school only had a mum. I decided there and then that I wasn’t going to have a man around. I thought a wife would be much better. I didn’t know what ‘gay’ was at that time (and I clearly didn’t know where babies came from either), but I did know that I wasn’t looking for a future husband.
… I was ten and was shocked to find I couldn’t be ‘anything’ I wanted to be.

Village People - wikipedia

They all said it – parents, teachers, brochures. What do you want to be when you grow up? You can be anything you want to be!! Yay!
After seeing my tadpoles turn into frogs and caterpillars turn into butterflies I was honestly quite shocked to find out that girls couldn’t become boys if they wanted to. So much for being ‘anything’. It was a crashing let down as I liked all the boys’ games and toys and didn’t really understand girls and their obsession with brushing each others’ hair, doing cartwheels, admiring horses or dressing up Barbie dolls. I’d never owned a Barbie in my life, I hated horses, I didn’t wear dresses and I sure as hell wasn’t playing netball. My parents even bought me a G.I. Joe doll (ahem, action figure!) to try to tempt me. I didn’t really know what ‘gay’ was then either, but I did know the Village People were homosexuals because the lady next door told me that one day while she was making a caramel slice. I didn’t know what ‘homosexual’ meant until I consulted my dictionary later that night, and even then it didn’t particularly make sense. From the tone of her voice I got the distinct feeling that it was something people only whispered about, like it was a bad thing, or naughty or shameful or embarrassing and definitely secret.
… I was 12 and fell in love with the leading lady
Jennifer Beals.  Oh my goodness.  My heart still skips a beat.
I went to the movies one Saturday afternoon with a girl from school.  It was our first year in high school and was a big deal to be allowed to catch the bus into town, go to the only McDonalds in Western Australia and then see a movie, all without our parents. I had a Big Mac and got a Coke and some Fantales for the movie.  I fell slap-bang-madly-in-love with the boiler-suited Jennifer Beals within the hour.  She was so sexy my head was reeling and confused and deliriously excited. I saw the whole movie but my mind chattered and argued throughout:
Whaddya mean you think she’s gorgeous? It’s a woman.
Excuse me!  She is a SHE, not an IT, and SHE is beautiful… I could kiss her.
OMG – but this is a  w-o-m-a-n!!!  Are you crazy??
No, I’m not. It is what becoming a teenager is all about, falling in crazy love.
Yes, but with b-o-y-s!!  Girls think BOYS are kissable
Boys? Ha, who’d want to do THAT?
Well, what girl do you know who has a GIRLFRIEND???
Oh… Maybe I am crazy… OMG I AM CRAZY… THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME!! What am I going to do??
Wait, she’s on screen again, whoa….. Ouch, my heart actually hurts.
I left the movie theatre with wide eyes and a passionate heart and tried hard not to even speak about the Movie in case people could see love on my face. This was my biggest (and loneliest) secret. The theme song even now, evokes painful pangs for the lonely and scared kid in me who wrestled with this everyday for years.
I was 13 and cheated on Jennifer Beals by falling in love with a Supermarket Checkout chick.
Her badge featured a Dymo label of the name “DORA” and she was always cheerful and chatty. I blushed and became mute whenever I saw her, it was very embarrassing. I dropped things, tripped over and stuttered. I knew by now that something was very wrong with me. No other girls had turned into boys and most had a boyfriend that they actually liked and touched. I had boyfriends but they were boys who were friends and liked talking about football or cricket or riding motorbikes. No one EVER talked about liking other girls, not like THAT anyway. There were hushed conversations about “Lesbians” but again, it was something to detest. I’d read the weekend paper and see a small advert in the Personal Column every week that read “Gay or unsure? Call for help“. I memorised the phone number and lost countless coins calling from public phone boxes and then hanging up once it was answered. There was no internet, no website, no teen outreach centres.
I really did think something was wrong with me. I knew no other person who struggled or mentioned an attraction to the same sex. I had to lie to others and myself. I had to hide my real self and try really hard to rid myself of this weirdness. It persisted though and I hated myself for being so strange. I just wanted to be ‘normal’ and have a ‘normal’ life.
…I was 14 and was in the Army Cadets and got ‘tough’

Boot Polish - wikipedia

I smoked. I swore. I got tough and wore my Army gear as much as I could. It meant I didn’t have to try and navigate my way through lip gloss, eye shadow, nail polish or Jazz Ballet like the real girls were doing. I went orienteering out in the rain and mud, went on hikes and camped, polished my boots and brass, cooked over open fires and crisped up my uniform with starch. There was NO fraternising on parade or on camp. It was GREAT. I did get a crush on a cadet Leader which signalled to the boys that I was not interested in them and signalled to everyone that I obviously was NOT gay at all, even though my increasingly short hair cut and swagger might have indicated otherwise.
I was 15 and tried REALLY hard NOT to be gay.
Boyfriend – sure!! Hey, I’ll get a boyfriend then another then another. See, there’s nothing wrong with me! I’m doing just fine over here being a girl that has BOYfriends. Lots of them. But who is that girl that walks past me every day on my way to Science class? I don’t know her name but she has such a great smile, and those eyes… Dammit!! Oh there’s a boy – you’ll do.
… I was 16 and lined up the ‘impossible’ guy
I met him one night while I was in the city. I’d joined a social ballroom dancing class because obviously ballroom dancing was about GIRL meets BOY. Dancing with boys all night meant I spent my time talking, gazing, touching and being close to them, not the girls (see entry above). I spotted him across the floor and decided he was THE catch. I was exhausted from trying to make myself ignore my attraction to women so I decided to do a deal with myself. I told myself this was my last ditch effort at a man. He was 31. If I couldn’t go out with him, then I was obviously destined to go out with a woman.

And a month later I did…

Things certainly didn’t get any smoother or easier from that point on, in fact life got harder. I ‘came out’ to my parents at 16 and was relieved.  I am gay. There, I said it, finally.  They knew several gay men and women and were accepting of them so I know it would be okay. They’d always said I could tell them anything and this was something I could no longer keep to myself.

It wasn’t okay.

At midnight, I picked myself up off the loungeroom floor and left their house after a violent altercation. I was 16, walking through the dark, beaten and bruised.  I was alone at midnight with nowhere to go, no money, identification or possessions.

To say it was a turbulent time is an understatement. It’s interesting to look back now and realise how much of this I was processing as a child… I would hate to think a child I knew was trying to deal with this alone. Times have certainly changed since then and I shudder to think what issues children are now struggling with, carrying and processing on their own. Sometimes we don’t give credit for how deeply children think, what they know or the acute and powerful feelings they are aware of at such a young age. Take a moment to recognise those young people around you, they’re deeper than you realise.




22 responses

20 03 2012

so well told louise, i was riveted by your story, look forward to more one day, and yes, my life left me very sensitive towards our young ones too 🙂

20 03 2012

Thank you for sharing, identify with some of that 🙂

20 03 2012

Wow, such raw and honest writing, thanks for sharing this! Your story touched me deeply. My youngest brother is gay, so I am familiar with some of the issues you have faced.

Thank you so much for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award! I am so honored and grateful! I will be posting about it soon 🙂

23 03 2012

Thanks so much Inger-Marie. I really appreciate you stopping by to comment. I hope your brother has some good friends around him to journey with him, it can be a lonely experience.

20 03 2012
Chris Alice Donner

Now I have to write you another epistle, you know. Hugs.

23 03 2012

haha – looking forward to it. 🙂

21 03 2012
Northern Narratives

Wow, I am also deeply touched. I also have a brother who is gay.

23 03 2012

I’m glad it resonated with you, it is not an easy walk for some and everyone has their own particular struggle.

21 03 2012
Cee Neuner

Louise, you are a strong and ohhhh so marvelous!! It will be fun to read Chris’ epistle.

23 03 2012

Thanks Cee – love back to you. 🙂

21 03 2012

What an amazing story… You are a survivor and a blessing to others. Thanks for sharing your story!

23 03 2012

Thanks Eliz, it has been quite a journey so far.

21 03 2012
sea fringed edge

I wish you hadn’t had to have such a difficult time, and I hope things are and will be better for all individuals who have issues of difference etc. I look at my kids and their friends and see an astonishing more open and kinder way of being, so I guess some (wish it was all) of my and your generations made positive contributions. Difference seems less of the issue really in terms of not a norm, more a valuable fact of being. Know that your story touches and affects those that now know of it and may you always feel loved and accepted.

23 03 2012

Thank you, yes I do find more acceptance nowadays, at least in my part of the world! Thanks for your comment, much appreciated.

22 03 2012

Loved your story, Louise. It was the best, most honest, open piece of writing I’ve read in awhile and I so enjoyed reading it. The way you shared the thoughts and feelings you had growing up was so touching. I felt like I was there! Thanks!!

23 03 2012

Thanks Lindy, I almost didn’t post this but took the risk anyway.

23 03 2012

Such honest and straightforward writing! Wish people could be kinder!

23 03 2012

Thanks Madhu – I’m sure we’d all be a lot kinder to each other if we knew what we were carrying.

24 03 2012

I’m so glad you stuck to what you believed and didn’t try to make yourself into what other’s felt you should be. Kudos to you! Your story, sadly, is one heard ’round the world, and it breaks my heart.
I’m so sorry you had to go through some very trying times. I hope things are better now. Society needs to change in so many ways.
Your writing is eloquent, touching and honest. It takes a lot to put your life out there, but you never know when you might help someone else. I’m sure you have. Blessings and hugs…

24 03 2012

Well, I did try to be a lot of things to a lot of people but am now at an age where I want to be me and am not so concerned with what others’ think I ‘should’ be. Thanks for stopping by Judy, I really appreciate your comment.

10 04 2012
Julia Fry

wow, Louise, I admire your strength. It must have come as a terrible shock to not be accepted by your own parents. Such a brutal thing to have happen to you. Your story was funny and poignant and sad. I’m so glad ther internet is available to a lot of people now. At least it’s easier to know we are not alone. Thank you for posting this story.

16 04 2012

I never understood, or thought about, life as a gay person. I just thought it was “wrong”. Then I met P-H and A, a gay couple at work. They are fantastic guys, who were in love wiith one another. We became very good friends, especially P-H and I. We still are very close 6 years later. What a thing to go through, being a teenager is hard enough!

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