If We Were Having Coffee // I Haven’t Been Trying My Best

Hello, dear readers and happy Sunday to you all! Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and conversation. I know it’s been a couple of weeks since we sat down together. June turned out to be a busier month than I had anticipated and I was in no way prepared to keep up here and take care of my other obligations. I hope you will understand once I explain.

“One day you’ll wake up at 11:30 AM on a Sunday with the love of your life and you’ll make some coffee and everything will be alright.”

eyecont4ct

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that these past few weeks have not been good for writing. Part of it was because I was so busy, part of it was because I was so tired, but the rest of it was me not focusing on what’s important.

I had time to write, but I played games on my phone and messed around on Twitter and Facebook instead. The more I wasted time the worst I felt and then I wasted even more time. I couldn’t start again because I couldn’t let go of my disappointment and self-doubt. I didn’t try my best.

I don’t want to be too hard on myself, but I want to recognize where I have been making mistakes. Change has to start with acknowledgment and then a plan. The first thing I have to do is delete games from my phone. I had done this before, and it was a mistake to think I could put them back on and act any differently than I have in the past. I get addicted, and I can’t stop so I can’t have them.

This week I want to begin again and do it without over thinking or worrying about what people think. I need to get back to writing because it is fun and because it feels good, not because I want something back from it. I have to go back to the beginning again and move forward only when my confidence is back.

I’m hoping that means you’ll see more of me here again.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Pride month is about to come to a close and as usual I don’t feel like I celebrated nearly as much as I wanted to. I had hoped for a whole weekend of partying pretty much, but my friends sucked this time around, and nearly everyone had to back out of the festivities. We made the best of it, and with only four of us we went out for one night of drinks and dancing and had more fun than I thought we would, I’ll admit.

Denver’s Pridefest fell on the 18th, the same day as father’s day, which means we were doing double duty. My girlfriend and I weren’t awake in time for the parade, due to the night of drinks and dancing, but that’s okay, as my friend said, “If you’ve seen one pride parade you’ve seen them all.” We did end up with an almost too good to be true parking space and enjoyed a turkey leg, some ice cream, and lots of sun and fresh air together. It was a good day.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I wasn’t able to see my own father for Father’s day because he had to work, but we did my girlfriends father. I’m glad we did since the rest of her family is off on vacation and he’s been left at home alone. We made burgers and hot dogs, corn, and jalapeno peppers for dinner. We listened while he told us stories about his family and himself growing up. He rarely talks about himself, so my girlfriend was grateful for the time with him and his willingness to open up that day.

I had hoped to see him again this weekend. I hate that he is all alone in her parent’s house with no one to talk to but the dog and the cat. Then again, for all, I know he is enjoying the peace and quiet. Anyway, we’ll have to shoot for next weekend. We were just too tired. We have been recovering from a bit of sleep deprivation and a lot of stress.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that after our father’s day dinner we had to shoot directly back across town to my mother’s house because my sister and her two children had just arrived from Texas for a week-long visit.

From that night on we didn’t get to bed before 11 PM and we still had to work the next day too. Actually, my girlfriend did most of the working, I took off a few days to take care of myself and our house which was severely neglected and still needs tons more attention to feel livable again.

It was a good week tough, I just wish we’d had more notice before her visit so it could have been even better. We went to dinner, we spent time at my mother’s house catching up and playing board games, and we even got tattooed together! We got each got a series of four triangles placed in a row with the one corresponding to our birth order shaded in, for example, I’m the oldest, so the first triangle in my series is filled in, the other three are simple outlines. We even found a way to include our significant others with my and my brother’s girlfriend having the same triangles but shaded in with a tiny heart to represent who they are with. They all turned out perfect.

My sister left Saturday morning and I already miss her and the kids so much. I can’t wait for them to visit again, or maybe I’ll make some time to go see them instead. I’ve never been to Texas after all.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I did take a bit of a break from visiting to have a date night with my girlfriend. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might have noticed that we enjoy going to the movies very much. It’s been our preferred date night activity since we met as teenagers and for fifteen years we’ve gone to the movie theater just about monthly on average, but there was one movie event we’d wanted to attend but missed every year, Film on the Rocks.

Film on the Rocks is a series of films shown at Colorado’s beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a natural rock formation turned world-famous concert venue. If you’ve never been here, there really is nothing like it, and I am ashamed I haven’t found more ways to attend events there. In the evening if you are in the right seats you can see both the stars and the city of Denver and surrounding suburbs and counties for miles. It’s beautiful.

This year they were showing The Fifth Element on a day that worked out with my schedule. We packed up Monday afternoon and made the long drive up in the intense summer heat. We sat through a few bands and a comedian that we’re exactly to our tastes and waited for the sun to drop below the horizon. At dusk, the film began, and it was an amazing experience to watch the classic surrounded by the earth and other people who enjoyed film enough to stay out til midnight on a Monday seeing it.

I can’t wait to see what they will be showing next summer.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the time has flown by much too quickly and sadly I have to go. We are planning on heading to Denver Flea today, a huge pop-up event where local business and small breweries come together to sell their awesome stuff. It’s a good time to get gift shopping in and find new makers to support. After that I still have a lot more work to do around the house, and a lot more sleeping to do before work tomorrow.

I hope you had an awesome couple of weeks since we last spoke and I hope your weekend was a relaxing one. Take care of yourself okay? Try to get outside if you can and drink plenty of water too.

Until next time…

***

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Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via Unsplash

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The First Date

Based on a true story.

I shouldn’t have done this. I don’t even know what being on a date means. I’ve never done this before. It feels very grown up. She probably hasn’t either, right? No, don’t ask her. You don’t want to know yet. She’s so pretty. Say something about her hair. I’ve never known a girl with purple hair. She’s interesting. I’m so boring. Why does she even like me? Does she even like me? Act natural. Act natural. Breathe. Act natural.

Just order the food and keep talking. But don’t talk too much. Wait, have I been talking too much? Oh my God, shut up now. Give her a chance to talk. Look at the menu. Don’t act too interested but don’t act like you aren’t interested. Why did she say yes? She felt sorry for me. My heart is going to get broken. Act natural. Act natural. Relax. Act natural.

What did she say? “It’s hot in here?” I thought it was just me. Oh God, she’s taking her sweater off. She’s really beautiful. I’ve never done this before. I mean, I’ve done it before, I just haven’t done this before. A date. Do people date? This is actually nice. I wonder if she’s brought other girls here. Don’t ask her that. Don’t be jealous. Oh my god, you are jealous. Act natural. Act natural. Breathe. Act natural.

Say something. Don’t let this get awkward. Don’t be weird; you’re always so weird. Dammit, where is the food? When the food comes I can stop talking. Why is she looking at you? Did you get weird? Say something, tell a joke. Make her laugh. Wow, she’s laughing. Is she laughing because the joke was good or because it was stupid? It was stupid. She’s still laughing. I’m not that funny. It was stupid. Oh God, she just touched my leg.

Act natural. Act natural. Breathe. Act natural.

***

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Written in response to the Discover Challenge: Here and Now

Featured image via Pexels 

They Can’t Hurt Me Anymore

“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.”

— Rachel Maddow

When you’re growing up queer there exists some time between when you realize you are different, when other people realize you are different, and when you are comfortable in your differentness.

For some of us, it is a short time, for some of us it can be nearly a lifetime.

During that in-between time there will be people around who will react to who we are in the wrong way, and almost always the result is we become ashamed of who we are and a lot of permanent damage is done.

***

I remember in 4th-grade year, there was a girl who lived in my apartment building, rode the same bus as me, and shared my classroom. She was my default friend and at recess, would sometimes play with her and her other friends. Playing with the girls meant standing around talking or doing quiet activities that wouldn’t result in injury or dirty clothes.

I thought that was boring so sometimes I played with the boys. I ran around, jumped off the swings, and played with action figures. I got dirty, I got hurt, and I had a great time.

The next year, in 5th grade, my default friend told me that she and the other girls didn’t want to play with me anymore. I was honestly so surprised I just stood there, staring, and asked her why. She said I was too different, too weird, too much like a boy, and that was the end of it.

I felt shame right away. I was different, and that was bad. I didn’t want to be different.

That was the last time I felt comfortable with my gender identity and expression. Before that, there was just me, just Lisa, I wasn’t a girly girl, and I wasn’t a tomboy, I just did what felt right for me. It hadn’t occurred to me before that moment that the things I did not only put me into a category of boy or girl but also dictated the way other people would treat me and whether or not they liked me.

For the next 20 or 25 years of my life, I would think I had to be either a girl or a boy. I would go through phases where I swung wildly from masculine to feminine and deep down I would not feel comfortable in the mask of either one. I would think there was no option to say I was both, or neither, or one day one and one day another. I didn’t know that feeling the way I did wasn’t exactly uncommon.

And one day I heard the term “Genderqueer” and a whole new world opened up for me. I could once again be just me, just Lisa, and never again will anyone hurt me by labeling me or rejecting me based on my sex or gender.

***

Later, in high school, after the girl crushes had come but I still hung on to the hope that my attraction to women was a phase there were a series of friends who would try to get me alone to ask me once and for all if I was gay or not.

I ducked and dodged these questions, and I grew to believe that just like my gender people would judge and reject me based on the feelings I had for girls. I was terrified of coming out.

After I finally did come out, I came out as a lesbian. I went completely to the other side of the spectrum; I was ashamed of my attraction to men. After some time I denied even to myself that I was attracted to men. In the world of lesbians, the bisexual girl is frowned upon and shunned. I even shunned other bisexual girls and warned against dating them. I was awful.

Since I have been dating a woman for the past 14 years of my life, I thought the distinction didn’t matter for me anymore. Whether or not I was a lesbian didn’t matter because I was only sleeping with my girlfriend. I let the issue go.

It took a long time, but I finally came to terms with the fact that I was exactly exclusively attracted to women and over the years I have found that being honest allows me to engage in conversations with my straight female friends that I wouldn’t have before. It may seem small but this kind of banter between women can help form bonds, and I am glad to be able to engage in it authentically. I also feel freer. I feel more me. I feel like there are no parts of me that are hidden anymore.

I try to educate people about what it means to either gay or bisexual. I try to tell people that some of the ideas they have about the ways people can be attracted to people and what that has to do with—or how it has nothing at all to do with—their gender identity and expression, or whether or not they are capable of a monogamous relationship. I try to tell people my story and let them know that we are all different but not so different after all.

I do still identify as a lesbian since after much introspection I have found I am after all much more attracted to women than I am men. Which is just another example of how the labels we come up with rarely describe the reality of our feelings.

***

Throughout my life I have been called various names, dyke, fag, and even “rug doctor,” not to mention gay and queer, which shouldn’t be offensive but were said to me in a tone that let me know they were being used as insults.

I’ve been told I need to dress differently, that I am confused, that me, and people like me who are attracted to both men and women, and identify with both genders, just don’t exist. I’ve been told I am choosing to feel the way I do and that one day I will regret it.

I’ve been rejected, condemned, and fetishized by both men and women for who I am, who they think I am, and who they think they can make me into. I have been ashamed, afraid, and—most often—confused by how I feel inside. I’ve wanted to hide from myself and wished more than anything I could be someone else. I’ve been hurt by people, a lot, but all of that has changed.

I continue to grow and change and discover myself, but I won’t let myself feel afraid, or ashamed, or hurt. No one can do that too me again. I am who I am, and I know now that whoever that is, she is loved and will always be because I love myself and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

***

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When I Was Dead

I was dead
and walking
pretending
to be
what I thought
a woman
should be
when she’s with
boys
that think
they are men

I was dead
and walking
and then
you walked by
and I felt
everything
all at once
and
all of a sudden
I was born
a human again
for the first time

When I was dead
they knew
and the boy-men
wanted me
for it

When I was dead
you were too
and we wanted
each other
for it

It took a woman
and her kiss
to bring me
inside
and through
herself
and back out
and around
myself
to see
what was
not lost
only hidden

I was never
who I thought
I was
and you
were never
who you thought
you were
too

They tried
to take that
from me
They tried
to take that
from you too
but

Summer is here
and I am alive

And I die
again
whenever
you kiss me
and bring me
back
to life

***

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Inspired by the poem Instant Rain by Melissa Broder

Featured image via Pixabay

Finding Enlightenment in a Unisex Bathroom

If you hadn’t heard, North Carolina is considering revising it’s controversial Bathroom Bill HB 2, which forces people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate rather than the one they identify with. They are revising it, not repealing it. The revisions are crap too. Still discriminatory, still ignorant, still harmful. Now they will require a “doctor’s note” that your gender has been reassigned. Sometimes people can be so awful.

“The discriminatory proposal being offered by lawmakers today does not change the harmful status quo for nearly every transgender person in North Carolina. Many states, including North Carolina, require transgender people to have gender reassignment surgery to update their birth certificates. However, only 33 percent of transgender people actually have gender reassignment surgery. This is due to a variety of factors — including but not limited to cost, age, health and medical needs, and access to skilled providers.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the arguments on both sides of the recent rash of bathroom bills across the country. I’ve read a lot of the arguments for forcing people into the bathrooms that match the biological sex they were assigned at birth. I have not found any of them to be solid or based in and reality.

A lot of it, all of it, is just plain transphobia and homophobia disguised as concern for female safety. They warn of men dressing up as women for the express purpose of raping and molesting women and children.

Pro tip: If men are overwhelmingly in favor of a law they say will protect women and children, that is probably the opposite of what the law will do.

What we seem to be forgetting is that there is nothing stopping rapists and child molesters from doing that now. These doors aren’t locked you know. Hell, men don’t even have to dress up as a woman to get in there, they can just walk in. What we seem to be forgetting is that when it comes to attacks in bathrooms involving Transgender people are the ones at risk, partly because they are forced to use a bathroom they shouldn’t be using!

Obviously, this is about people making assumptions about what gender feels like for other people and deciding the for them what they need or should accept and be comfortable with. It’s a lot like when people think it isn’t possible for lesbians to enjoy sex because a man isn’t involved, or that agender people need to be fixed because having no interest in sex has to be a mental illness, or that all gay men are pedophiles. It’s hurtful, it’s ignorant, and there is no excuse for it.

We forget that there is a natural variation in the ways there are to be a human being and be considered normal. People forget that just because you have never felt this or that way does not mean it isn’t possible for a person to feel that way. People forget that just because you don’t need something to feel comfortable and safe in this world does not mean other people don’t.

People also forget that other people’s genitals and sexual preferences are not anyone else’s God damn business.

Also, fun fact for you, there have been no reported cases of men dressing as women to gain access to a women’s bathroom to assault or harass anyone.

“Where do I go to the bathroom now? It’s literally against the law for me to use the men’s room, and it’s also risky. Even though I’m more than a year on testosterone—I’m getting facial hair, my hair has receded a little—I still don’t always pass as male. Or do I use the women’s room, follow the law, and clearly make people uncomfortable?”

Charlie Comero, a 35-year-old transgender man in Charlotte, North Carolina

To be clear, I am on the side of using whatever bathroom you feel comfortable in. I am also on the side of having more one toilet bathrooms with locking doors for people like me who feel more comfortable peeing alone.

Throughout all of these God awful debates on bathroom usage, I kept thinking: “If only these people could experience the joy and revelation that comes with being free to use any bathroom you like the would understand why this isn’t as big of a deal as they think it is.”

I’ve had the opportunity to pee in just such an environment, and even for me, a pretty open minded, understanding, and empathetic person, it was eye opening.

Here in Denver, there is a gay club called Tracks. Tracks is huge! In fact, the location used to be an old factory. They have at least three, probably more, dance floors, just as many, if not more, bars, and an entire alleyway for a smoking area.

They host huge events every month, drag shows, costume nights, elaborately themed parties, and more. Growing up queer in Denver you know about Tracks, but I had never gone there. I had heard it was loud, and the crowds were large, so I didn’t think it was my kind of place, but one night about two years ago I was outvoted by a few of my friends and off we went to tracks.

When we walked in, I was immediately overwhelmed by the crowd, and as I usually do when I am anxious, I went to the bathroom, and just like my friends always do, they agreed to go with me.

Again, I had had never been there before, but my friends had and so when I went into the bathrooms labeled for “Women” and I was pretty freaked out when my male friends followed me in. Just as I was turning to tell them they were in the wrong bathroom, I saw that there were many men in the bathroom.

Honestly, for a second I thought I was in the right place. It took a few seconds to adjust to my surrounds before I realized the place was filled with people of all genders. There was no “Women’s” or “Men’s,” there are labels on the doors, sure, but everyone went wherever they felt comfortable.

The whole experience made me realize it’s actually kind of nice to be able to pee in whatever bathroom you want. I didn’t have to leave my group; I felt safer, and I felt the relief of not worrying about my, or anyone else’s gender. I’ve never felt that in women only bathrooms. For a genderqueer person who hates being forced to choose under any circumstances, it made me feel normal.

I had a feeling everyone else there felt the same. Two of my male friend were gay, there was my girlfriend and me, and a straight woman, and a straight man, in my group, a pretty good mix of people, and they all agreed that it was better this way. No one in my group felt uncomfortable; no one made them feel uncomfortable.

Everyone in that bathroom was doing what we all do in bathrooms, peeing, washing their hands, primping in the mirror, and taking selfies. No one cared about anyone else’s gender.

NO ONE CARED!

Like most changes that happen in our lives, it isn’t the actual change that is scary; it’s our inability to cope with the fact that something will be different.

Remember all those years before Marriage Equality, when Religious Right-wing Crazies were telling us that “if we let the gays get married the world as we know it would end?” Remember what happened after we legalized Gay Marriage? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The world kept turning, no one got hurt, and a lot more people were happy. It was a good thing despite all our anxiety and whining.

I imagine that if we got over ourselves for one second and thought about the worst case scenario, the realistic worst case scenario, we would see that no matter what gender people are they are going to do the same things we all do in a bathroom. I think we can all be grown up enough, mature enough, and compassionate enough not to make a big deal about it if we try.

So let’s try, shall we?

Let’s try to imagine that things people say they need to feel safe and comfortable are not things that are going to make our lives hard or scary. Let’s try to remember that making people feel comfortable and safe is something we should strive for and encourage, not a reason to spew more hate into the world. Let’s try to remember that people are made of more than their genitals; that people are still people no matter their sex or gender.

Let’s try to imagine that people who are different from us, or need different things than we do, have all the same goals and dreams as us and only wish to make the world a better place for us all.

***

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Monday Motivation // Address the Hate, Starting With Yourself

Hello and happy Monday to you all! I know, I know, no one likes Mondays. No one likes to leave the freedom and comfort of the weekend behind to be thrust unprepared into the monotony and boredom of the work week. But life is short and to spend our whole lives hating one entire day of the week seems like a big waste of what little time we have on this Earth. Let’s try to think about Monday’s a little differently, shall we?

I say Mondays are a time for new beginnings. I say Mondays are full of new possibilities and an exciting chance to do it all over again, and this time, get it right.

This Monday is a sad one. I am still thinking about the Orlando shooting that took place over the weekend. Besides being saddened by the news of 50 lives lost, of this being the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, by some of the messages of hatred I saw, and by how quickly people were able to blame an entire religion and move on, I am also frustrated. I hate that this keeps happening.

I don’t understand how we can keep doing the same thing — essentially nothing — and expect that anything will change. I feel like I am on the outside of a nationwide case of clear insanity. So many people are screaming that something must be done to change this country’s culture around guns, and more are screaming that they will never change.

Our love of weapons won’t be overcome overnight. So all we can do for now is start by addressing the hate.

I saw a lot of people jumping to conclusions on social media yesterday, blaming the entire Muslim religion for this attack. I don’t pretend to know what exactly was on this man’s mind, and I don’t even think that religion had nothing to do with what happened. What I do know is that this feels rooted more in homophobia than in anything else.

Homophobia spans across many religions, races, classes, and cultures. (Homophobia itself is rooted in misogyny, the hatred of what is feminine, but that’s a topic for another day.) I saw a few people choosing to use derogatory terms, blaming the victims for their deaths, and even arguing that this was “God’s will.” I know that most people do not feel this way, but the extremists are protected by the moderates who hold the same views but to a lesser degree. That is the problem I would like us to address this week.

This week let’s look at all the ways we perpetuate these ideas and inflict microaggressions on people who are different or are a part of another marginalized group—particularly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and other people who’s gender identities and sexualities fall outside of the norm.

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

Microaggressions: More than Just Race, Psychology Today

You may think you do not hold any unenlightened ideas about any particular group of people. You may think that you are not racist, sexist, or homophobic. You may think that because you are a part of a marginalized group yourself that you could not possibly be part of the problem. I would tell you that most of you are wrong. Most of you have been judgmental, have thought a group of people didn’t deserve something or thought that their suffering was not real.

Have you ever told someone they should dress differently to fit in with gender norms? Maybe you said it in what you thought was a nice way, “You would look so good in a dress.” I hear this all the time. People think in some way they are complimenting me. All I hear is that I don’t look good the way I do dress. I hear that I am less of a woman because I wear baggier jeans and tennis shoes. It hurts.

Have you ever said or thought:

  • I love the person; I hate the sin
  • You’re too pretty to be a lesbian.
  • Gay people are always hitting on me!
  • This is my gay friend!
  • That’s so gay.
  • Bisexual people are just greedy
  • I’m cool with gay people as long as they aren’t, like, really gay.
  • I’m cool with gay people as long as they stay away from me, don’t look at me, don’t breathe my air.

These are just a few examples and on the surface, these don’t sound so bad, if you aren’t gay, transgender, or queer. If you are all you hear are stereotypes, homophobic stereotypes, being reinforced. You hear how you are different and other, and all you feel is singled out and demeaned.

It’s not about being too sensitive; it’s not about political correctness. It’s about not perpetuating ideas that are harmful, ideas that can be deadly.

Statements like these contribute to the collective cultural view that people belonging to the LGBTQ community are not like everyone else. People who hate gay people, who think they should be killed or jailed, they think the same thing. No one wants to think they the have anything in common with the kind of people that kill out of hatred, but you might.

This week examine all the ways you view people who are different from you. Examine the ways you may be hurting someone around you by saying these kinds of things. Take a second to educate yourself. Find blogs and social media circles where people talk about the ways they are hurt. Listen and ask questions, respectfully. Think about the ways you are hurt every day by the things people think and say. Think about the kind of person you want to be. Think about the kind of world you want to live in.

Think about the victims of the Orlando shooting and all the victims all over the world and throughout history who have been killed for being different. Remember them and try to do better. Try to make this world a place where differences are celebrated, not pointed out to be made fun of or critiqued. Try to practice acceptance, empathy, and understanding.

Above all, just try to spread some love today.

***

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Featured image by Ludovic Bertron from New York City, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Growing Up and Kissing Girls

Based on a true story.

***

At the end of my 8th-grade year, a new girl came to our school. By lunchtime, on her first day, we all agreed she was the new “prettiest girl” in school. Over the next few months, she became something of a legend. She was at a level of cool that most of us could never dream of attaining.

I never spoke to her. I knew I wasn’t cool enough to be her friend, but we did travel in the same groups. I liked that, knowing that through friends of friends, we were connected. I did want to talk to her, though, and over those months, I slowly worked up the courage to try. I decided that after school when I saw her walking home, I would strike up a conversation.

I looked for her to cut through the field behind the school. She was there, but she was with a boy, the cutest in the school, and they were kissing. I didn’t understand it then, but I was really hurt by that. No, I was jealous.

But I wasn’t jealous of her, I was jealous of him.

I spent the rest of 8th grade feeling very confused.

***

A lot of us were there, maybe 10 or so. The ratio of girls to boys not quite even but close. There were more of us girls than them, and we sat awkwardly grouped, all on one couch. We were like herd animals, not wanting to be separated, or caught singled out. The wolves were looking to pick one or two of us off.

One boy, the one whose home this was, goes to the back of the house and returns with a few Playboy magazines. This wasn’t the first time I had seen one, but I remember we spent a lot of time on a spread of two girls kissing. They were both nude, but the photos didn’t show them doing anything more than kissing. On the last few pages, a man enters, and things get more interesting.

The boys forgot us and talked only of those two women and their own fantasies of the same scenario.

***

A girl who lives in the same apartment complex as me invites a few of us over while her parents work late. The girl to boy ratio is exact this time, three girls, three boys. We act cool and calm, but mentally we are all weighing the pros and cons of each of the opposite sex. You want to make up your mind who you like better in case any kissing games break out.

A game of spin the bottle is suggested, but I knew this would never work out in my favor. I hated the boys that were there and instead wanted the girl with the red hair and a beautiful name, Alice. I knew that even if the bottle landed on her, they would just make me spin again. The point is for the girls to kiss the boys.

I was frustrated and angry. I didn’t want to kiss the boys, so I made up an excuse and went home. I was once again feeling very confused.

I never did get over that red hair.

***

My friend and I are the last ones in the school’s locker room after gym. She wears a lot of make-up, so she always takes forever to get ready. I am her best friend, so it is my duty to wait however long it takes so she doesn’t have to walk to class alone.

I look at her and pretend I’m not looking at her. She is very pretty. I wish I could be closer to her but getting to wait for her while she does her make-up is the closest I’ll ever get. I remember feeling hopeless.

She sees me watching her put on lip gloss, and she stops, looks away from the mirror…and asks me to kiss her.

I freeze, paranoid that this is all some trick. I imagine that if I agree she will flip out and call me a dyke, or something. She’ll say she knew I was gay all along. She’ll laugh as she tells everyone else in school that I am a gross lesbian.

So, instead of saying yes, like I wanted to, I laugh and say no. She shrugs it off, and we walk to our next class.

I regretted that decision for a long time.

***

I end up dropping out of school, but I have met the girl of my dreams, so nothing else matters. We talk every day, and we go to the movies every weekend. She is beautiful, smart, funny, and I am madly in love.

My work schedule changes to overnight, so I start visiting her at her high school for lunch. We meet outside the cafeteria doors, and we walk to Burger King or Subway. We eat, we talk, and I walk her back.

Once there I offer to walk her to her next class before I leave. I am trying to squeeze as many minutes out of this visit as I can. We walk to the locker room of her school, and she tells me she has gym class.

I say my goodbyes, and I lean in to kiss her. She stops me and reminds me that she has gym class. She cannot kiss me before going into the locker room! She says this as if it were obvious.

She says other girls will definitely have something to say about a lesbian in the locker room. I am hurt, but I do understand.

I never walk her to the locker room again.

***

We have been together for many years now. We are young, and we want to go out but whenever we do the men around us lose their shit.

They stare and make vulgar noises when we kiss. It makes us feel uncomfortable. On the bad nights, the ask if they can kiss us too. I wish I had a dollar for every request for a “three-way kiss.” We could move to a remote island where these creeps couldn’t reach us.

On the really, really bad nights, the guys follow us, or they get too touchy-feely. They say we just haven’t met the right man yet. They don’t think women can have relationships, or even sex, without a male involved.

I remember that Playboy magazine and I think they must have gotten the idea from there. They must all have looked at that same spread. They must all think women only kiss until a man comes along to make it more interesting.

We stop going out so much. We choose to stay home where we can kiss in peace.

***

Things are different now. We aren’t scared, or ashamed, or confused anymore. We no longer feel the pain of loving women who will never love us back. We have each other now.

We have learned that we are entitled to be in love in public without it being about anyone else. We have learned that other people are learning it too. If they don’t, we educate them.

We kiss whenever and wherever we want now, and we don’t entertain anyone else’s thoughts on it.

***

My little sister, 15 years younger than me, texts me to say she had something to tell me. She says she likes a girl at school, and the girl at school likes her back. She tells me that because I am a lesbian she felt it wasn’t important to tell me. I tell her it’s okay and I’m happy for her.

She tells me not to make a big deal out of it.

It had been years since I thought about all those little incidents and my feeling for other girls. When I was her age, when I liked the new girl in school and ended up jealous and confused, things were so different. I barely understood my own feelings at that age, and I couldn’t fathom telling an adult about it, let alone telling the girl I liked that I did!

I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I am proud of my sister’s courage. I am happy that she can kiss the girls, or the boys, she wants right out in the open, without judgment, without fear, and with a lot less confusion.

***

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