Before we get started, for the record, I still have a problem dealing with attractive people in person; I lose basic motor skills, my IQ plummets to disability-check-worthy lows, and, although I’m technically unconscious at the time, I’m 98% sure that I physically mutate into an equine anus during these encounters. This is something I hope to cure with time but, honestly, I’m not too optimistic about a full recovery.
However, back in my high school adolescence, I used to hate a few specific women who were beautiful… and the funny thing about this was that I actually thought I was hating them because they were beautiful. (Y’know, just like every other catty, insecure adolescent female being raised in this insane modern American society.) The weird thing was, though, that I only really loathed a couple girls specifically and then viewed/judged all the other beautiful girls around me objectively. For example, some of my closest friends at the time were “those girls” who were traffic-stoppingly/crowd-hushingly gorgeous and, while I sometimes cried with envy at the attention they were so easily able to garner, I never once actually felt any ill feelings toward them because of their staggering beauty. (Additionally, I never fell madly in love with any of my beautiful friends and thank God for that because aaaaawkwaaaard.) Similarly, there were other girls around me that our small community saw as “beautiful” but whom I genuinely couldn’t stand because of the horrible characters they actually were just a scratch below their coveted surfaces. I can honestly say that neither of these two varying types of beautiful acquaintances ever received anything other than objective emotional responses from me, which is pretty damned impressive now that I think about it, given how tormented by incessant, relentless insecurity I was at the time.
In my endless reflection on who I was (which is ongoing and consistently updated) you’d think I would’ve caught This Great Epiphany sooner, but, instead, it took me ten whole years to realize that the few girls I supposedly hated with every fiber of my being were, in fact, the ones I was in love with.
I know; it’s painfully obvious from where I’m sitting now as an “out” bisexual who has comfortably had relationships with women and has no problem identifying women I find attractive and acknowledging/praising the beauty in every woman. In fact, you would’ve thought I’d have come to this conclusion, oh, 7-8-ish years ago when I stopped being genuinely afraid of beautiful people (even completely inaccessible celebrities) after the realization that, just because someone else is physically beautiful, it doesn’t mean that I’m somehow not or am less of a person or should feel threatened/intimidated in their presence, etc. (You know… Normal coming-into-adulthood-after-a-bunch-of-therapy stuff.) Around that time (2003-ish), just like now, I just got shy and idiotic around pretty people (‘specially women) but my first response wasn’t to automatically loathe them; that was reserved for just a few people.
There’s one recently recovered memory in particular that brought about The Great Epiphany. In high school (as in every high school) there was this One Girl in my class who was just outlandishly gorgeous and wise beyond her years and incredibly vulnerable but unabashedly assured in her sexuality (moreso than the rest of us, who were still trying to figure out how to admit that we were sexual beings without being labeled “sluts”, ’cause we thought that matteredAAANYWAY) and, while her character drew me in and made me a bit obsessive in my observations of her, I just looooaaathed her with an intensity normally reserved for terrorists and abusive exes.
I know the moment it started, too. She and I were invited to a slumber party of a mutual friend and, although I remember nothing about this party except for who the hostess was and that we listened to a lot of Shonen Knife, one instance stands out as A Defining Moment of My Identity. We were all gorging on ice cream and whipped cream (maybe icing?) like you do when you’re 15 and won’t gain an ounce from anything you ingest and, for some reason, She turned to me out of nowhere, in apropos of nothing, and said, “Hey, try this; it feels really cool.” And then She put some whipped cream (maybe icing?) on my tongue and sucked it off.
Don’t get excited; literally NOTHING else like this happened at this or any other slumber party I ever attended in my youth. There were no ensuing make-out sessions, no admittances to deep, love connections, no scantily-clad pillow fights, no comparing of breast sizes – nothing. She closed her eyes and slowly sucked the cream off the length of my tongue and then perked back into Her normal self, exclaiming, “Weird, right!?” and then went on with the rest of the night with no idea that She’d just changed my whole entire fucking life.
See, I knew I’d had inklings of being “into” girls before then but, you know, a girl isn’t “supposed” to get giggly and giddy and infatuated over another girl the way she can over a boy. Girls aren’t “supposed” to doodle other girls’ names into their notebooks or whisper to her friends about how cute the female object of her affection looked on any particular day. Sure, there had been female acquaintances during my previous 15 years that I’d been attracted to, but I would just bashfully shy away and ignore them, lest I found myself giddily blushing in response to their attention and wanting to ask people if she’d talked about me or what she was wearing, etc. And, so far, I’d been keeping a pretty good cover… Until the tongue-sucking moment.
Being that there’s no handbook on how to handle keeping a lid on homosexual attraction when you’re barely able to define your sexuality at all (and/or even believe that bisexuality is a real thing and wasn’t just made up for “My So-Called Life”), I took the 5-year-old-boy-on-the-playground approach and decided to publicly hate Her. Passionately. For years. Actively. It seemed totally safe and foolproof; if I loudly proclaimed how much I hated Her, there was no way anybody would possibly think I was actually infatuated with Her, right? As far as I was concerned, I was a genius in my ruse.
And this embarrassingly immature/textbook scheme lead to me being a complete moron about it for the next 4 years, being reallysupernice to Her face (because I actually liked talking to Her and being around Her energy) and then overcompensating to cover my fondness by saying truly awful things about Her to my friends. (Years and years later, when I apologized to her for being suuuch a cunt, I explained that my insecurity was such that I genuinely never thought someone like Her could possibly give a shit about what someone like me might be saying about Her, which is honestly/pathetically the truth. I really never stopped to think that She would/could ever be hurt by anything I was saying, just like everybody else I talked smack about in high school. Seriously, I was nobody; who would take offense to anything I had to say? I know; pretty messed up… Uhhh… however, I left the part about the infatuation out of that conversation with Her; I figured the aforementioned statement was fucked up enough. No need to pile on unnecessary levels of fuckery this far into the future when it’s no longer relevant, you know?) What a totally awesomely foolproof plan I had concocted!
This actually happened with a couple other girls I was very seriously attracted to (if you’re reading this and somehow still hold onto the idiotic/ignorant belief that gay/bi people are wildly attracted to everysingleperson in their preferred gender(s), I’m going to need you to stop reading this and maybe do a little research on how human attraction and this stuff all works. Come back when you’ve taken some time to understand human sexuality a bit more thoroughly. It can wait.) before the inevitable monkey wrench appeared in my seemingly foolproof system.
I should’ve seen it coming; after all, I was in college by this point and I was in an area where “alternative” sexual preferences weren’t so horrifying and bizarre in the public eye. At this time, I developed a colossal, maddening, unabashed crush on this unbelievable, enigmatic beauty who was full of wit and eroticism and style and confident sexuality. But before I had a chance to start actively hating her (as per habit) she… she noticed me. And… and flirted with me. Me! And wanted to get to know me and would call me and she asked me to go out with her… like, on dates…
… and I didn’t know whatthefuck.
Like with any overwhelming attraction to someone who inexplicably seems attracted to me in return, my first instinct told me, “RUUUN!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!!” (Seriously. Ask my husband. I met him at a meeting for the student magazine years after all this, we locked eyes a few times, and that was enough to have me sprint out of there like I was racing for a prize. It took the poor guy a whole semester of chasing me to finally corner me long enough to express himself enough to get a date.) but, for whatever reason, I didn’t run [and good things happened that I won’t describe in full here.] And, since then, I’ve had the ability/comfort to admit when I’m heavily/very much/OMGwhoa attracted to another female.
Admitting it to other people is a different story, however. For the most part, I kept my crushes on other girls quiet around my friends, for fear of making them uncomfortable and I NEVER told anybody in my family when I was dating a woman; I figured I’d save that for “if it got serious” because, frankly, they had enough to worry about with me being literally-clinically-psycho and alcoholic without confusing things with my “sinful” sexual practices. (Plus, they might’ve confused my preference for both genders as a symptom of my mental illness or a phase and I certainly didn’t want to perpetuate those misconceptions.) Over time, I kind of casually mentioned it to friends here and there but there was never a day when I decided, “I’m going to COME OUT!!! HOORAY FOR ME!!!” I mean, I never felt the urge to publicly announce that I was into light bondage or having loads of casual sex with people I didn’t care about when I was shamelessly doing so (and I’m still not ashamed of that, btw) or that I really liked to be spanked; that sort of crap is none of anybody’s business, right? So what makes the gender of my sexual interest so important to other people? I dunno… So I never really made an official proclamation about it.
And I’ve rethought that over the years, especially after I got married. Once, my husband and I were discussing my bisexuality and he said, “Well, that doesn’t really matter now because you’re with me.” and I took great offense to that. To me, that’s like saying, “Well, I’m right-handed, but since we’re all using computers to write these days, it doesn’t really matter.” because it does. Being right-handed AND attracted to both genders are both part of my identity, whether or not I put those to use everysingleday. The whole idea of it made me feel like someone was trying to discredit a part of my identity just because I’m not implementing it at the moment and that felt wrong to me… I didn’t stop finding women attractive just because I legally committed myself to a monogamous relationship with a man, the same way I don’t stop reading/loving “Peanuts” just because Charles Schulz is dead.
Anyway, the important thing here is that I have stopped hating women when I have crushes on them, which is really liberating and healing and, frankly, way more fun than the alternative. That being said, I still don’t know how to handle myself around beautiful women who acknowledge me fondly (this became screamingly apparent last year at Burning Man, when unrealistically gorgeous human beings would reduce me to low, rumbling, staggered chuckles simply by making eye contact and holding it while smiling/passing me a hookah tube/dancing with me/making a joke/touching me in any forum/offering me fresh produce, etc. I spent the whole week drooling and muttering “Huhhuhhuh…” in response to half the people I encountered for this very reason.)
But at least I don’t have the knee-jerk reaction to hate someone just because she’s beautiful and/or likable, which I believe may put me ahead of the curve. Honestly, when it’s all said and done, I’d rather be an awkward, pervy, socially-inept weirdo than a stereotypical, catty woman who hates the beauty in other women because of her own messed up psyche. Seriously, sign me up for the Creepily-Leering Dykes League over the latter any day.
* This isn’t me actually “coming out” so much as just a story of my relationship with femininity and this recent epiphany I had about hating certain people in the past. I don’t really believe in “coming out” and I look forward to the day when nobody has to because nobody gives a crap who or how other people are loving/screwing/whatevering.