My friends and I don’t often sit around talking about things gay and lesbian and queer. There’s always the passing remark every now and then, the frustrated growl when one of us encounters a particularly nasty specimen of homophobe and a couple of moments of shared history which may be gay but are gay in a by the way fashion.
Be that as it may, one of my friends and I finally sat down today for a looong chat. After a looong time. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were on the topic of knowledge (or lack thereof ) when it comes to things lesbian. And then it struck me—because I’m slow, else I’d have realised it years ago—I’m the one who’s lesbian and she’s the one who’s had all the fun. Not fair, I say.
What do I mean? Well, I went to a co-ed school. I read books and had people about me who thought that finding out stuff about sex was to be expected and encouraged. So theoretically speaking I’d come across the possibility of same-sex relationships by the time I was, maybe, 12ish. (Okay, that’s cause I used to sneak into the adults section of the library.) It took me till 15ish to realize people around me, grown up or otherwise thought same-sex sex was a hideous awful thing and people so inclined were sick, genetically or otherwise. When I realized that, I shrugged and thought well, people are weird. It didn’t seem to matter much at that point. Why not? I didn’t know anybody who was gay, lesbian or even bisexual. I’m not sure if bisexual was a possibility. Also, home was pretty conservative (the no sex before marriage types) so bicurious was out as well. So I actually only met someone who was into same-sex relationships when I was virtually middle-aged (fine, so I like hyperboles… maybe it’s also genetic).
My friend now. She is, or so she says most of the time, straight. However, her girls-only school seems to have been littered with lesbians in various states of closetedness. She didn’t get the sneak preview into the adult library, didn’t quite have the words till pretty late, but what she did get was the hands on (some puns intended) experience of reckoning with it all. The loves, the crushes, the angst, the drama, the figuring outs, the confronting of friends and the coming out and the sneaking in. All of that. So I sat down and listened as she told me stories. And saw them all in my head. And laughed at some, till my cheekbones hurt and I could no longer hold my sides. And stared in disbelief at some, waiting for resolutions like one waits in thrillers. And I wanted to know what happened to those people I haven’t met but I’ve heard mentioned once in a while. Wanted to know—what? How their lives turned out, I guess.
And then I came back home and sat down to think and it crossed my mind. Maybe what I was, without realising it, was jealous. Cause I came to thinking of it in this roundabout fashion, a cynic in many respects who’s never felt or seen those genuine times of reckoning, unshadowed by thoughts of all kinds. Not that I regret the thoughts—if anything, they’re who I am. But I just wonder what that spontaneous(?), naïve(?) construction around the thought of same-sex relationships feels like. I wonder how it works. And why did it miss my school so completely?