TW: sexual and emotional abuse mention
I’ve always known the way I felt about girls was different from a lot of people. When I was in the 9th grade I read a book, Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters. It gave me words for what I felt, I was a lesbian. I even came out to my Mom. But for another decade I only dated men. I can’t really answer this question to myself satisfactorily. I try not to let it, but it haunts me. How many less times would I have been assaulted? How many less horrifying and terrible emotional and sexual encounters could I have avoided?
Why didn’t date women? I guess on the one hand I didn’t think I was cool or good enough. I’d never dated women so I didn’t know where to start. It didn’t help that being gay was not something you did in Fallston, Maryland, where I grew up. The very few out classmates I had suffered extreme harassment, alienation, and abuse. Maybe I was too scared to subject myself to that.
On top of that I was socialized to date men. Society showed me one way to live and one way to love, from every TV show I watched to the adults I was surrounded with to the toys I played with. We call this compulsory heterosexuality. I was socialized to prioritize the needs of men over literally everything else. Theoretically I can understand how this played out in my life – choosing to accept the advances of men, choosing to commit my time, energy and resources to them, etc.
But theory only takes you so far in life. It certainly doesn’t take you very far in understanding your own life.
I recently had an extremely jarring experience that brought this pyramid of theory crashing straight into my heart.
I am currently falling madly in love with a beautiful, wonderful girl. We were laying in bed together and she got really upset. It matters very much to me why she was upset, but for the purposes of this blog that is not what I’m sharing today, nor would it ever be my place to do so. I comforted her, held her, did all of the things you do for and with someone that you love when they are upset.
But this felt different than it ever had before. I felt such an unbelievable ache and sadness in my heart. I wanted to tear the house down or bake a cake or run 3 miles, whatever the fuck it would take to make her happy, to make her okay.
In that moment I realized I never really loved a single one of the men I dated. Every time I had seen them upset I was performing care, performing a ritual of comfort and love, and never genuinely feeling it.
This experience and realization is fucking me up. It is making me feel like I lied to myself and the men I dated for years. I guess yeah, I was. But society lied to me and told me I had to love men, what else could I have done?
It makes me so angry and sad. How many other women are living their lives for men they don’t truly care for? In a lot of ways, I feel lucky. Many lesbians come out after being married to men for decades. I feel lucky to have discovered this part of my truth so very young.
I want to scream it from every roof top and whisper it to every little girl out there, YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIKE BOYS. You just don’t. I ruined my life for 24 years trying to love men. Here’s to the freshest start I can muster.