There’s nothing quite like being freshly out of the closet.
Once the smoke has cleared and you’re no longer dealing with a daily onslaught of reactions to your announcement, you can see the enormous horizons in front of you. You can see all the people who you now have permission to date and to fuck. And it’s a freeing, though incredibly terrifying, feeling.
I came out as bi when I was fifteen, after I realized that a raver chick who’d been flirting with me was actually pretty attractive. Not just in an “Oh hey, I like her outfit” kind of way, but in an “I wouldn’t mind if she pinned me against a wall and kissed me til my lips bruise” kind of way.
The raver girl got a boyfriend just before school let out for the summer. I remember being crushed when, on the last day of ninth grade, I stood by the front doors and watched her walk out, hand in hand with her new man (or should I say, boy). I had this sense that she was the only girl in possession of the key to my bisexuality, and I’d have to give up on girls forever now. It was silly, but it was how I felt.
But when we got back to school after the summer of my first Pride, I noticed a new girl. A charming, awkward, witty, intelligent girl who loved Edward Albee and potato latkes. Her gender presentation veered toward androgyny, and she proudly self-identified with the word “dyke,” but she was nowhere near butch. To this day, I still have a thing for girls who are boyish as hell but still very much girls (which I realize is hard to conceptualize and visualize – it’s more of a “vibe” thing, I suppose).
She wrote to me online to tell me she liked something I’d written, some story I’d read aloud in the English class we’d shared in the previous school year. We sent messages back and forth after that, rarely encountering each other at school but encountering each other multiple times a day in our online haunts. We talked about books and films and strange societal phenomena.
I remember standing at the sinks in the girls’ bathroom with my best friend at the time, and telling her, “I think I have a crush on that girl I’ve been talking to.” My friend said, “You should ask her out!” Like it was so simple. Like I was that brave. Like I was ready to take on my first relationship, period, let alone my first queer relationship.
It took me an entire month to build up a sense that The Girl actually liked me, in some way beyond just admiring my writing and my taste in horror flicks. But she did. I was almost certain of it. The way she looked up at me demurely when I walked by her group of friends at lunch, the way she snuck out of detention just to talk to me for a few short minutes, the way she kept mentioning her gayness and my biness as if to confirm the compatibility of the two. It seemed almost like an invitation.
Once, on the subway, I leaned forward to hug her just as the train was pulling into my stop, and it suddenly jerked, causing me to fall right into her. Body contact. Words caught somewhere in my esophagus. I gasped and giggled and rushed off the train, euphoric.
So it was finally time to do something about it.
I wrote her a letter, though “assembled” would probably be a better word, since it was actually just an annotated collection of excerpts from my journal. The excerpts explained that I really, really liked her, that I wanted to be with her and thought she was wonderful and thought about kissing her. Mushy crap that I figured she would like.
After shoving the letter nervously into her hands at the very end of a party, I said goodbye and rushed home. I didn’t want to be anywhere near her when she read that thing. I wanted to be far enough away that she could completely ignore me if she wanted to.
But she didn’t want to. My phone rang shortly after I arrived home.
“Hi.” It was her.
“Hi.” I felt like I’d been dunked in ice.
“Hi. So… we should date.”
And so began the most gutwrenching and romantically titillating few weeks of my life thus far.
To be continued…?
Readers: Have any romantic stories from your youth to share? Did your first boyfriend/girlfriend live up to your expectations of relationships? How have you grown since then?