I Should Have Known I Was Gay: A Retrospective

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but I was kickstarted by a post over at Thought Catalog. Though my reasons are much less…graphic. (Please note that the order of these events are not necessarily chronological and, since I didn’t note their significance at the time, the timing might be off. They’re just things that have stuck with me all these years and I now realize why.)

Without further ado, here is a non-exhaustive list of 10 reasons I should have known I was gay before I started the process of actively questioning and debating my sexuality at 18 that would last until I officially came out at 22.

1. When I was 6, I started kissing my trading card of Kimberly from the Power Rangers goodnight every night. I had a whole deck of Mighty Morphin’ cards of my favorite superheroes that I put into this miniature photo album I had, and hers was in the very back, separated from the others. It was sparkly around the border and in the picture, she was wearing pink, of course, and smiling her signature smile. I would dig out the photo album every night to give her a little kiss before bed. The girls always fought to be the Pink Ranger at recess, but I was okay with being Tommy (whatever color Ranger he was that week).

2. I had a bin full of Barbies, used fairly frequently, but Ken and some brunette boy doll stayed at the bottom of the bin, only to be pulled out if I needed it as a tool in strong-arming my male cousin into playing with me. My preferred play mostly involved best friends hanging out together forever. Sometimes Barbie and Teresa would help raise Skipper and Courtney. No boys allowed.

3. In second or third grade, my friend who had moved to New Hampshire had a sleepover party at a hotel. (Maybe this was a regional thing, but there was definitely a point in my childhood where sleepover/pool parties at hotels were the cool thing to do.) My allergies and asthma were in high gear back then, so after a day of romping around in a highly chlorinated environment, I was wheezing and red-eyed by the time we finished our pizza back in the room. My friend’s mom made me take a Benadryl, even though I protested because I knew it would knock me out almost immediately. When we were waking up the next morning, one of my friend’s friends who I had just met the day before said she hadn’t been able to sleep, so she tossed and turned all night. She turned to me and said that I was so still all night that at she just watched me most of the night to make sure I was still breathing. My friends laughed and told her that was weird, but I blushed because I thought it was kinda sweet.

4. I don’t honestly remember the first time I heard RENT, I just know that by the time I had it memorized, I wasn’t old enough to know what 75% of the things I was singing about in La Vie Boheme meant. It would be years before I saw it on stage (even longer until the movie came out), but all I knew is that Maureen was my favorite.

5. In fifth grade, some of my friends started a trend of kissing each other on each cheek whenever we said hello or goodbye. My friends thought they were just the absolute coolest and like so totally grown up. I just liked getting cheek-kisses from girls.

6. When I was about 11 or 12, I saw the movie Girl where Tara Reid’s character kissed her female best friend.  The line right after was about how though the narrator knew she wasn’t gay, her friend did, and that kiss was something special they shared. I remember I was at my aunt and uncle’s house, and I honestly don’t remember a single other thing about this movie. I just remember when those two girls kissed, it felt like a bolt of lightning through my whole body.

7. When I was 13, Bianca Montgomery, a character who was not too much older than me on a show I watched every day after school with my mother, came out to her mother. It was dramatic, there were tears, it was stressful to say the least. I asked my mother why Erica was freaking out, and she explained that some people didn’t think it was right for girls to love other girls. She didn’t say it in a way that even slightly suggested she felt that way, but hell if I ever wanted to have a soap opera argument with my mother like Bianca had to. (Little did I know that when you’re a hormonal high schooler, literally anything can turn into a soap opera argument.)

8. I was obsessed with the band t.A.T.u. in high school. I’ve always been passionate about music, and it was the first non-musical songs I came across that was overtly gay. I also much preferred the Russian music video for “All The Things She Said” because they edited out most of the kissing in the English version (though I think my out-loud reasoning was that it flowed better).

9. In 8th grade, my class if 18 students went on a trip to Washington, DC. I spent most of my time arm-in-arm with one of my friends who was newer to the school, not one of the girls I had known since Kindergarten who were more like family. She was unique and tall and one time she told me she liked my bracelets. We would sometimes slow dance at school dances, but we would laugh about it, even though it would make my hands shake a little. Anyway, on this trip, we went on a dinner cruise. At one point I was talking to some kids from Michigan and I lost sight of my friend. I asked another classmate where she was and he pointed across the deck, where my friend was kissing a boy. I felt like I had been stabbed in the throat, the heart and the stomach all at the same time.

10. When I was 16, one of my best guy friends asked me to be his girlfriend. After school sometimes, my mom would yell up the stairs that he was on the phone with me. My answer was, “Why?! I saw him like three hours ago!” One night at a drama club cast party, some of my friends were playing a game where they had to “collect” kisses from someone from every letter of the alphabet. Me being the only V, I was a popular candidate. I turned them all down, however, because I hadn’t had my first real kiss and I wanted my first kiss to mean something. Soon after, my boyfriend and I were slow dancing and he kissed me. As soon as he left the party, I found those friends who were playing the game and gave them all the kisses they needed to keep playing. I think it was 4 girls and a boy. Chaste kisses, yes, but I essentially kissed a girl for the first time about 20 minutes after my boyfriend kissed me for the first time.  I spent the rest of our three-month relationship avoiding being alone with him in case he wanted to kiss me again.

~ by Valerie Anne on 02/25/2013.

6 Responses to “I Should Have Known I Was Gay: A Retrospective”

  1. […] was taken from Turning Phrases. It looked fun, so I thought I’d give it a go. Especially because only a few days ago I was […]

  2. Loved it! Wow, we really didn’t have a clue, did we?! I wonder if we were back in our mid-teenage years now, with the media portraying so many sexually diverse characters, would this of helped the realisation a little easier?

    Thanks for your comment for my other post too. Your blog was definitely a big reason as to why I wrote it. So many times reading your stuff, I would think ‘That’s exactly me! That’s what I’ve been wanting to say about ……. topic, but could never find the words!’.

    • I WAS Paige McCullers. If I had Paige McCullers on my TV telling me it was okay to be Paige McCullers and heck, I could even maybe date an Emily Fields one day, I would have been skipping around shooting rainbows from my fingertips.

      I’m glad you’ve been able to relate to my other writing as well – it’s really all a girl can hope for!!

  3. Great article. You’d be happy to live in Panama, we kissed for everything! Goodbye/hello, congratulations(plus hugs), when we made a joke about somebody to get them happy, among others.
    I’m 21 and still confused, some things in the list has happen to me as well but I still not sure.

    • It’s different for everyone! You’ll figure out what makes you happy eventually. 🙂 Labels aren’t as important as being comfortable with what YOU feel.

  4. Really a great article. Like Alejandra, some things was happen me too!

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