Hetlag - Coming Out
We covered in the comphet blog what it can look like to pretend to be straight, even when you’re not. But what about not being able to decide if you’re gay or straight or somewhere in between? What if it doesn’t even enter your mind that you might be anything but straight?
I can tell you stories about my first crush on a girl because I can recognize now that’s what it was. But back then? I had no idea.
All I knew was that she was my very best friend and I wanted to see her and talk to her all the time. I didn’t interpret this as a crush. I thought that’s how everyone felt about their best friend.
All my friends had crushes on boys in our grade, so I had crushes too. I daydreamed about them and imagined how great it would be to be somebody’s girlfriend. But once I actually had the boyfriend, I didn’t want much of anything to do with them.
I didn’t have any boyfriends in high school. And when I did start meeting guys who showed interest in me, I was a total flake. I was noncommittal. I had other things to focus on -- any excuse I could make to avoid making a commitment. As I’ve said before, I didn’t interpret this as “Oh hey, it might be because you’re gay.” Instead, I thought it meant something was wrong with me. I was a broken straight girl who didn’t know how to fully connect with a man. I thought maybe I was irreparably damaged by my parent's terrible marriage, or maybe wasn’t meant for that great big world-rocking love.
The feelings I buried when I was in 7th grade didn’t start resurfacing until I was around 25 years old. That’s when I started my Google searches. Hey Google, am I bisexual?
For a long time, our entire culture revolved around and was built upon the heterosexual experience. It’s all that was represented in the media and growing up in the suburbs of Indiana, it’s all I was exposed to. Sure, I have gay uncles, but beyond that, I had no real example of a functional queer relationship, especially between 2 women. So the conscious thought never entered my mind.
I wonder sometimes how many women are living a hetero existence and haven’t ever stopped to consider they might not be straight. I especially wonder about women who are unhappy in their marriages/relationships and can’t quite put their finger on why. Have they ever been near enough to queer culture to stop and question their own sexual identity?
I envy the people who knew from a young age they were gay. Not because they had it easier - they definitely did not. It’s the courage I envy because I know their lives as gay teens was anything but easy. They owned their truth anyway and that is a stunning display of bravery.
I love how slowly but surely we’re getting more representation in the media. We still have a long way to go, but having our lives and love stories represented in the mainstream means some other young girl living in the midwestern suburbs has a chance to explore who she is before she has years of damage to unpack from a life spent trying to be something she’s not.
I tried to contort myself to fit into the box that is heterosexuality for a long time. I grew increasingly frustrated about not being able to fit. “There’s something wrong with me,” I thought to myself repeatedly over the years. It took a long time for me to finally stop and say,
“Hey Ronni, maybe you don’t fit here because you’re gay.”
Oh, I’m not broken, I’m just gay??? THANK GOD!!
*Het lag = Growing up immersed in a culture of compulsory heterosexuality and acting under the misapprehension that you must be straight.