It was with a strange curiosity, disgust, and something akin to revulsion that I watched the girls in my peer classes in high school who were open about being attracted to girls. I couldn’t imagine being one of them.
I was a straight A student, meeting all expectations, practically striving for perfection both at school and in the Christian congregation I was a part of
This goody-two-shoes image wasn’t compatible with being gay. But I didn’t think too much of it as I flat-out stated – I kept saying whenever I was asked – that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. At the time, it didn’t even occur to me to look beyond the dogma, I just kept repeating the lines I was fed.
Later, men fed me other things too, and I thought I would find safety in them. Many a times I dreamed of a lifetime of everlasting happiness with the prince. He’d draw his sword, climb up the tower where the wicked witch had me imprisoned, and “happily ever after”…
I wanted to fall hopelessly in love. Since what I saw in the movies was that you were supposed to be attracted to boys, I was eager to do what I could to comply with the norm.
I couldn’t understand why the dream wasn’t coming true. See, the recipe was written in Romance books. But I was either chasing after boys who didn’t even know I existed, or I was turning down and friend-zoning boys for whom I meant the world.
I was wired differently.
I couldn’t place the strange anxiety I felt when I was around a girl. How could it be so nice to be with them, to help them, to talk to them, to look at them, what was this fidgeting in my stomach? Why do I remember such moments from my kindergarten days? How I was always fighting girls despite being a girl, and when we were playing wicked witch, I kept taking on the role of the ugly, bad one just so they could shine and be princesses.
I also brushed off and suppressed the uncomfortable tingling that used to run through me before countless gym classes, when I had to get dressed in front of my girl classmates in high school. The way I didn’t dare look at them because I was so ashamed.
The realisation didn’t even dawn on me when one of my classmates at university, with whom we understood each other, came out as a lesbian with a girlfriend.
The truth, that this was always my path, didn’t hit me even as I unknowingly surrounded myself with gay people.
I felt around for my way in the dark. Blind.
Usually in the life of straight girls it’s normal when it’s time for the first kiss, right? They’re looking forward to it, mentally preparing for it: it’s a whole thing. Me, I rushed to the bathroom to bawl after it happened because I felt like I was dying: it wasn’t supposed to happen like that. I couldn’t explain why not. I think it was at that moment, at 23 years old, after my university years, that something started to dawn on me.
Another big event in the lives of many straight teen girls is their first time. They plan and organise it like it’s a wedding. Make it perfect, fabulous, with whoever they truly want it. What I felt before, during and after, was just about like I’d gone to the movies. The show was on. It wasn’t a big deal, and it didn’t set off any fireworks. That was the first time I said to myself: this is not me, something’s not adding up. Something is not “ok” with me, this is not how things are supposed to go, I’m not a fulfilled woman: this is nothing. It’s great that I’m fulfilling someone else’s need, but it’s not enough for me, it’s not what I want. Here, at this point, I didn’t have such a sophisticated, mature insight, I didn’t see the bigger picture, I could only blurt out, “Hey, I think I’m a lesbian.” “’Course you’re not, we just fucked.” – came the reply. “You can’t be!” And I accepted the answer with resignation.
I got married soon after. Why? Because I found a decent man, and by that time I became so jaded I believed my lot in life really was just to live with a man, so I decided it should be with someone who really wanted to be with me, who was my friend, who had loved me for years and who I could count on as a human being. I wasn’t as conscious of any of this at the time, but, seeking safety, it was him I chose to sleep next to. Inexplicably, after a while, however, a glimmer of light flickered inside me. I wanted to try what it was like to be with a woman.
He let me. And I did it, and when I went home to him I knew what was going on, what was missing in my life. I knew. Again. More aware, but still unsure. Then, after a while, it was impossible to hold on, because I felt like I was killing a flower with every moment we spent together, wrapping it in a blanket of lies. I thought it was the way he acted that bothered me, but it was really just the fact that it was a man I was living with. Of course, that became clear later as things fell into place in my mind.
I let him go. He let me go. We divorced, even though we already had our son.
Even though I knew who I was, I was still not fully settled in the chair I thought was my place. I started dating, but it didn’t help that no one would clock my identity. I have a child too, so I must be bisexual or even heterosexual. Of course, I could smell someone “different” from miles away.
You experience many things, but some things you don’t forget. For example, when you really fall in love on the journey of finding your identity. For the first time.
It’s like a fairy tale on my part, but it is absolutely true. I saw her and I knew… I was browsing the dating app, not even looking for a relationship, I didn’t even feel ready for one, I was just looking for contact, I wanted to have “fun”. But as soon as I saw her face, her eyes on the platform, I was sure of one thing: with her, our time together would not end in “trying out” each other, she was different, she was Her. I was so engrossed, so involved and interested in everything she said – as a lesbian she was light years ahead of me, having lived most of her life knowing ‘which way the wind blows’, but in many areas I saw her as an incredibly strong person, someone to learn from – she just lit me up.
I felt strength and serenity in the way we spoke and how much we spoke. Anytime, about anything. I’ve never met anyone like her, let alone a woman or even a man. I felt complete with her. I loved listening to her talk, to her opening up. And so I did the same. Slowly but surely, I fell in love. I didn’t even realize it, it just happened. It didn’t matter when we slept together, when we kissed for the first time, or what happened at what time.
I specifically wanted to go slowly, not overlooking even the tiniest details. Yet everything happened so fast. My life changed completely – my world turned upside down: it scared me a couple of times and I started to gasp, to choke.
I introduced a girl to my mum for the first time. For the first time I brought up the topic and came out to my religious father. I met a girl’s parents, her family for the first time. I introduced my son to a partner who was female for the first time. And for the first time I really slept with a woman.
She was my first.
She loved me and then let me go. I loved her, so I let her go.
What is the moral of my story? It is that it’s worth paying attention to our inner being. When it says, “Psst, this is the way, not the way most people are headed.” – listen to it, because usually the first instinct is TRUE.
Translated by Zsófia Ziaja