Coming Out in 2004

A Memoir

 

When adolescence hit me in earnest with all its hormones in 1968, I began to have crushes on women. I dated several boys..never felt much for them– okay guys, but my heart was not in it…I’d watch from the sidelines of a church dance or in someone’s arms– the couples who were so obviously in love and wonder at how that happened.

I continued to have massive crushes on women teachers through out my high school career.

Unfortunately when I was 16, the Spanish teacher I fell in love with decided to seduce me. I was ill-prepared for the emotional and physical things that went with a “safe” authority figure breaching boundaries she shouldn’t have. This is a whole separate issue.

I recovered and went off to college.

My family had always teased me about my crushes..thinking them just a teenage phase I guess. In college  I dated a woman. It didn’t go well. She was in love with someone else..I wondered about being  a “Lesbian”.  I looked it up in “The Joy of Sex,” but found little material to inform or comfort me.

I came from a small town and a small white bread kind of school. Looking back, I am sure there must’ve been others in my class..but who they would be I have no idea. I am also sure that that teacher probably seduced others.  She certainly was no resource or role model on how to become a healthy lesbian adult woman. My mother’s response when I finally told my parents years later, was to” hush it up”.

 

When” The Joy of Lesbian Sex” was published, I was first in line at the local bookstore. I read it ragged.

Had a breakdown like many kids in college do and came home for awhile. Went into therapy to figure it all out. Of course, in discussion my crushes came up and sadly, the therapist chosen by my parents, believed gay relationships were immature and unhealthy and  analyzed and  dissected  me to banish that part of me.

 

Eventually while attending classes at a local community college, I began dating another woman.

My mother overheard my conversation with my lover late one night on the telephone and screamed at me. I was “Sick and disgusting.” She was going “to tell my father!”

Don’t know if she ever did. He never changed his behavior toward me, supporting me as he always had.

 Then another woman. This time I had the sense to keep my mouth shut in therapy. That relationship  flamed out as young “loves” with hot pants often do. My neighbors who became my best friends, totally accepted me that way. I told my therapist only after my heart was broken. Same old-same old. 

 

In my late twenties I had to have lung surgery. I fell in love with my male surgeon who was married and 30 years my senior. My father had died the previous year….I did not think much of the age difference or “Freudian” implications of this choice.. He was a kind man. I immediately asked him “Have you dated men?” since he seemed very desirable to me that way, reminiscent of my cousin’s Uncle Tom and his partner…. I told him about my own lesbian experiences. He treated that as nothing out of the ordinary and shared with me that several   young men in his surgical residency program had come out to him over the years. I married him. The “lesbian issue” took a back burner. Life went on.

I am a person who believes when I am in something, to be in it wholeheartedly. I tried the best I knew how to be a good partner and wife. Many bad things happened to us. Health issues on both sides, financial losses..enough to put a huge burden on our small coupledom.

In the end we drifted farther and farther apart. Through the last years, I avidly read any news in the papers on gay rights. When we’d mall walk I’d linger around women I was sure were dykes in Borders..hoping for..I didn’t know what…

We moved from city to rural countryside after he retired.  Surrounded on all sides by woods and fields, this tiny hamlet was the last place I would’ve ever thought to come to terms with my sexuality and to come out.

But the neighbor’s 62 year old dyke daughter developed a huge crush on me. Sometimes I think of this as  a Higher Power hitting me over the head so I no longer could escape the fact that I am gay.  She was, of course, in a  relationship and also lived under the belief that nobody knew she was gay. This created all sorts of weirdness. But I thought “Oh well, maybe that is just how it is.”

In any event, she pursued me so thoroughly I could not ignore it. After a Memorial Day weekend of lugging rocks out of the woods for a garden wall and thinking all the while, I  told my husband I was in love with her and was going to follow it through.

He was wonderful. He said “I’ll do everything I can to support you.”

 

She was interested in just a fling  and I thought I was in love. After the hurt died down a good friend said to me “You can’t go back to who you were.” No, I could not. She was a key and a door opened. I finally walked through it..  All sorts of memories from my whole life fell into place and made sense to me. I was 51 years old.

 

I was so lonely! Since I lived in this small rural area the chances to mingle with other lesbians or  to meet folks were nil.  There was no community. I was starving for it. My friend finally urged me to sign onto Match.com.  That day remains in my memory as a lost day—I sat down at the computer after breakfast and “came to” as the January sun was setting at 4 p.m…In between I read and read and read other women’s stories.

 

Now, I am in love and married to a wonderful woman. It took a year before I was comfortable coming out to my mother..that long ago fight haunted me. This time, since she had seen how much happier I was for awhile, my mom wrote a loving note welcoming Erin into our family. It made us both cry. We still have it hanging on the fridge. My whole family loves her. Happiness shouts louder than anybody can ignore it.

 

 I write much lesbian poetry.  Some has won contests. I am expecting the publication of my first collection of poetry soon. My partner designed a wonderful website for me where among other things, we market my lesbian and erotic photography. I moderate a poetry group and appear in art shows and at poetry readings. I am openly gay and open with my partner. I figure if a person is not okay with us being us, then they also are not my friend.

 I will be 54 on my birthday next month. Took “the long way home”….as the song says.

Doesn’t matter how long that journey was, only that I finally arrived. If my dad were still alive, I know he’d pull up our driveway in his white Ford truck, back full of tools to help us repair whatever needs it, and to teach Erin more of the woodworking and mechanical know-how she craves. Life is good.

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