It’s confusing to realize that you are longing for a girl without any information about lesbianism*. You are not a boy to dream about wooing a girl or to especially like that you are mistaken for a boy. And it’s very sad looking back from today if a women would like to enter a traditionally manly profession, but in a specified society getting there is impossible. Mária K. realized she is a lesbian at the age of 30 and she first spoke about it at the age of 45. Scroll down for her interview.
In 2008 Labrisz Lesbian Association started a lesbian herstory project, making interviews with lesbians above 45 in order to create the basis of an archive and an edited volume. "Secret Years", a documentary based on 11 interviews was shown in the 2009 LIFT Festival, the volume of interviews with a similar title was published in 2011 with 16 lesbian life histories. The five more interviews with women who already lived their adult and lesbian life (accepting themselves and trying to find relationships, communities) back in the Socialist era, are only in the book. We are now sharing the stories of these five women.
Judit Gyárfás: When and how did you first realize you were attracted to women?
Mária K.: I was about thirty years old when I was first able to say that I was a lesbian. I had already felt as a child that I was a bit different from my classmates. I went to an all-girls’ school, so my classmates were always girls, but I mostly played with my younger brother’s friends and classmates. In fact, I best remember my senior years in primary school in this respect.
At the time I was very upset that I wasn’t a boy. I wanted to be a boy, I liked wearing pants, and I found great pleasure in dressing in a way that people couldn’t tell – especially in winter – whether I was a boy or a girl. It also had the benefit that by the time boys realized I was a girl – and thus a target for snowballs – I was already out of shooting range. I liked this ambiguity. And I wanted to become a soldier, which was absolutely out of the question at the time. Maybe partly because my father was a soldier, too, and I resemble him in many ways, and I think he was a very good officer. I felt I would be well-suited for this profession; I enjoyed these types of things.
At the place we went on holiday I also had boy playmates, and we played archery together, climbed trees, played with slingshots – all boyish games, when I was 10 to 13 years old. It had a special significance for me because I grew up on the fourth floor of an old tenement with a small paved inner courtyard, where you weren’t supposed to go out, because the caretaker would yell if a kid appeared outside wanting to play. Then later in my adolescence, I fell in love with a boy; that was my first true love with all the expected joys and hardships.
I think I was about 16 years old when I first had a dream that would recur many times for long years after that: I was courting a girl, and we were walking hand-in-hand. I had another recurring dream too, in which we were going up the stairs; sometimes I was alone in the dream, other times I was with the girl I was courting. And all went as expected until the point when I was supposed to do something. And then I always woke up all of a sudden. I think it was because I had no clue what was supposed to happen when I reached that point. I knew hardly anything at all about sexuality, since it’s a taboo subject even today.
What I found confusing was being with a girl in the dream, despite the fact that I was a girl, not a boy. It simply didn’t make sense to me. Then later, in my adulthood, the pieces began to fit together, despite the fact that I didn’t know anything about gay people. Being gay was a subject that never came up in any conversation at all. Well, it’s not quite true, because it did get mentioned that the fags did it in the public toilets nearby Hotel Emke…39 The idea of two women together, that you can experience it, that you can love, that a woman can love another woman, was absolutely out of the picture. But later, when the subject so intensively occupied my mind, I did try and look it up here and there: from fiction to psychology books. And I was about thirty years old when the puzzle pieces all fell into place and I realized that this meant I was a lesbian. But when that happened, I was already a mother of three. (...)
JGY: When did you end up telling someone, and who was it?
MK: Much, much later. When I was about 45. I was married to a man, and more and more it felt like we were simply coexisting, in all respects. And in the meantime I would sometimes fall for someone. But those were like teenage crushes. For example, I had a crush on one of my children’s kindergarten teacher – I would always be waiting for the kids to come home, sneaking peeks at the kindergarten bus to see if she was there. Or later, when my younger son started elementary school, it turned out that one of his classmates lived right nearby our place, and his mum was single with two sons. I became very good friends with her, and I gradually fell in love with her. I kept my feelings to myself for a long time. And one day I thought, I don’t care, I’ll tell her! We’ll see what happens.
I actually knew that it was hopeless, since she was so very straight. But I felt I had to tell her. She said she thought I had wanted to say something like that and that we should keep things the way they were before. So that’s what we agreed to do. We continued hanging out like before, talking a lot, watching films, knitting together, we did a lot of stuff together, like friends do. But it took me at least two more years to slowly, gradually kill the feeling in myself, so to say, to talk myself out of it.
If you are interested in the life stories of these 16 women, you can access the volume of interviews "Secret Years" here.
To contact Labrisz Lesbian Association, you can write them here: firstname.lastname@example.org