“But I thought you were a lesbian!?”
Three years ago, I sat in a diner across from a friend and told her that, “If me and Kate* break up for good; I’ll probably go back to dating guys.” To anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with me, Kate needs no introduction. She was my entire life for the past 4 ½ years. More than just my girlfriend; she was “the one.” I was so sure of this that I actually put an engagement ring on hold during one of our on periods… then, consequently, going and getting my money back when we were off again. This was the nature of our entire relationship; hot and cold, off and on, break up to make up. Yet, in my mind she was the love of my life, and the good times most certainly outweighed the bad. Only, they didn’t. In hindsight, I realized that during those off periods while I was missing her, I would romanticize the relationship. It was all good, and I could prove it to her if only she would give it another chance…
About 5 months ago I finally came to my senses. I wasn’t happy; she wasn’t happy. She didn’t want to put in the work and I was exhausted from working so damn hard. Mutually, we decided to stop torturing ourselves and ended things for good.
So, there I was during one of our “breaks,” eating a grilled cheese sandwich and chatting with my friend. I’m sure we were going back and forth about our relationships and how depressed we were, but what sticks out most in my mind was that comment I made about going back to men. After I blurted it out, my friend asked me, “Why?” I shrugged and said something along the lines of, “I don’t know. I just think it’ll end up happening.” I didn’t know why I had said it or why I was thinking about trying things with men again. Especially since I was still so in love with Kate, or at least I thought I was at the time. And while me and her did end up getting back together (and breaking up) for years after I had this conversation with my friend; the seed was planted. I didn’t consciously sit around and wonder about hooking up with dudes but I would sure as hell dream about it. And it freaked me the fuck out. I’m a lesbian; why am I having dreams about men?! Lying in bed next to my girlfriend, I would wake up feeling guilty and confused. I figured the curiosity, or whatever the hell it was, would just go away. And it would for a few months; and then the dreams would start up again.
I talked to my friends about it and they all pretty much had the same thing to say; maybe it was simply because I had never tried it. I did have a couple of boyfriends before I came out. We did some PG-13 stuff but nothing too heavy and never went as far as sex. So technically, I was still a virgin. I was always the type to get super annoyed at people, especially guys , when they would say things like, “How do you know you don’t like sex with men if you never tried it?” Which I would then turn that question back on them, and we would both have the same answer- we didn’t need to try it, we just knew. But now I wasn’t so sure. I was terrified to have sex with a man. Not only was there the whole “ouch” factor, but I really don’t trust men. Some shady shit has happened to me in the past, and it’s left me scarred. I don’t like to let them in because I fear getting hurt. And I’m not as comfortable around them sexually as I am with females. When I finally gave in to my attraction to girls, I thought I had it all figured out. Women are beautiful; I can trust them AND be free sexually without fear. This is great! I’m a lesbian, and I never have to worry about men in that aspect again. Yet here I was; and the seed was growing.
I just couldn’t shake this feeling. This wondering… During my last few breaks from Kate I found myself making out with boys. I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it. I told myself it was because I was lonely and bored. And most of these kisses did nothing to excite me; I felt nothing but a mouth attached to another human being. No connection; no arousal. And then when it came time for me to “work things out” with Kate, again, I definitely did NOT want her to know about these hook ups. She would think I was disgusting! How dare I go and kiss boys, being that I was so gay. This fear of what she would think branched out further into what would the lesbian community, my community, think about me and this new found curiosity in men? I would be labeled a traitor. Not to mention feel like a hypocrite. I myself had seen friends, and friends of friends, who were once with women exclusively and now had boyfriends or husbands. I remember thinking, “How they hell could they just switch sides like that?!” Now, not only was I confused and fearful of these new feelings I couldn’t get rid of; I was afraid of being shunned by a group of people that in some ways felt like my family. Coming out and making friends within the gay and lesbian world makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You feel free and proud; supported and loved. Was I going to lose all of that based on a maybe? Even if I did “experiment” with men, there was no telling if I would enjoy it or not.
Needless to say, I didn’t really have to deal with the negative backlash of the community. Once Kate and I split for good, I realized that most of my gay friends were really her gay friends. My core group of friends were straight, bisexual, or somewhere in between. And they were certainly not going to judge me for whatever the hell I was going through. After the break up, I finally felt free to explore the curiosity that was gnawing at me from the inside out. I needed a break from the whole gay scene, not to mention Kate and her friends, so I avoided the gay bars. I mean, it wasn’t hard; there are only 2 within an hour of my house. But that’s beside the point. I started doing what every newly single girl does; I went out with the ladies! I hit up the “straight” bars and clubs that I only went to on occasion before because there was nothing for me in them; I already had my girlfriend. I drank, danced, and actually started giving guys some of my attention. I was enjoying myself. I was still confused as all hell, but I liked meeting guys. Something that I felt was always missing in my relationship with Kate is what I call “feeling like a girl”. I can only describe this as a feeling you get inside when you’re with someone who makes you feel pretty, feminine, protected, and safe. Kate did nothing wrong; I just always felt like I had to have the more masculine energy and I didn’t like that. Now I was starting to get this feeling I craved by being out in the straight world.
As much as I was enjoying myself, there was still a huge amount of uncertainty and fear. But something else was weighing heavier on my mind: the fact that almost everyone I knew still referred to me as a lesbian. It’s not fair for me to be mad at them for doing so when they weren’t aware of the direction I was headed in. I didn’t want to go around telling everyone because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what the hell to tell them. I wasn’t ready to call myself bisexual because I wasn’t sure that I was. I was also afraid that people would think that the whole “lesbian” thing was just a phase. I mean, it was and it wasn’t. It wasn’t a phase in the way that the homophobes like to call being gay a phase. It’s not something I was just experimenting with or getting out of my system. No matter what gender I end up with, I will always be attracted to females. It was a phase, in the sense that that part of my life is on pause right now as I’m entering into a new phase, or chapter, of my life. I’m not sure where this will take me, but I do need to explore it.
At this point in my life I don’t want to define myself as a lesbian, bisexual or straight; I just like who I like. I personally think it’s ridiculous that, as a society, we feel the need to go around labeling people to make ourselves feel better. By putting everyone in their appropriate box, we somehow feel safer? I don’t get it. All I’m looking for is a genuine connection with another human being; gender only plays a small role in that. So yes, it gets frustrating when people still refer to me as a lesbian. Especially if there is a guy I’m interested in and I get cock blocked by someone saying, “Oh, you have no chance with her. She’s gay.” (It has happened, and it’s fucking annoying.) I no longer want to be known as so and so’s gay friend, that “hot lesbian” or what’s her names ex girlfriend; I’m just Jess.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
© Jess Farris for Acceptance Revolution, 2012
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January 10th, 2012 at 17:21
It’s been years since we’ve been face to face. I feel like we grew apart but I never wanted to stop being your friend. Through this I’ve gotten to know you again. You are such a strong woman. Thank you for sharing such an intimate piece.
January 10th, 2012 at 17:50
no labels, no nothing, you’re absolutely right. there are no rules, these are your feelings and your heart we are talking about, the one thing you can never deny is how you feel and because it’s always changing you can’t put a label on that. good luck with your explorations & really thanks for sharing this is an eye-opener to some ignorant thoughts that everyone sometimes has unintentionally because they just don’t know any better.
January 10th, 2012 at 18:53
Jess, this is an amazing piece. I am proud of you for being so brave and free. I relate to this so much; my life has always been a huge cliche or assumption to those who are not close to me. I have always been surrounded by the questions and rumors. I learned to just live my life the way I want, whatever makes you happy is all that matters. Enjoy life and be free, its the only way to experience all that life has to offer.
January 10th, 2012 at 19:22
Words can’t even express how grateful I am to have my piece be so well received. This was very hard to share but I am so glad that I did. Thank you a million times for all of your kind words and support ❤
January 11th, 2012 at 15:49
This was very brave of you to share and I really liked everything you said. I find a lot of similarities in the sense of coming out as bisexual. I had hid it for a long time because i judged myself and was afraid of the judgement I would receive from my straight friends and because I had always had serious relationships w men I thought people might think it was a phase or I was like one of those irritating girls who just does it for attention from men in bars. So it took me a really long time to be honest w myself and with the people I love. But you should never fight feelings and being your authentic self is always the way to go. I think your real fiends love and support you no matter who you love.