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The L Word

by ThatWriterWoman 2 years ago in lgbtqia
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Confessions of growing up gay

Warning: This story contains discussions of sexual assault and homophobia

I feel sometimes as if i am living my life through a lens. A filter that makes me see things differently to others. I find the most boring things fantastical, and some of the most amazing things, tiresome. I see beauty, reverence and admiration where others do not and where I was raised to not.

Looking back, clues were hidden in my childhood. Not small clues, clues so big I often wonder if I was the last one to realise!

The school trip where the boys started boasting of hardened midriffs and course chest hair was the one I realised I should like to lie on softer framework. The girl in the seat in front of me leaning back while I admire her smooth chin, neck, collarbone, chest. She was a few years above me and I convinced myself I was jealous and was simply looking toward what I wanted for when my lanky bones finally decided to fill in. Streamlined curves instead of sharp, awkward edges that seem to gravitate toward the nearest table edge in hope of a good bruise.

On one of the nights, the girls decided to break the rules and stage a break in. Their target was the boys dorm; a high risk operation. They all filed away one by one while myself and another friend stayed and joked about teachers; much more interesting. That friend had known me from the time I was 4, not that I remember that far, but I trust my mother's recollection. When I found out we'd be sharing a room I felt so relieved. She was, and continues to be, a peaceful presence; bit of a hippy. Her calm demeanour helped cool my hot blood when the whole of the girls dorm got punished for playing kissing games with the boys.

Toward the end of the trip, I decided that sun cream was for nerds, and burned my neck to an annoying, itchy mess. The girl from the bus suggested I use aloe vera gel. After admitting that I thought of no such contingency plan, she gave me some of hers. I went to take the bottle but she pulled it to herself, fetched me a chair and told me 'sit, you'll not be able to see what you're doing'. So I sat down and pulled my hair away. The cold gel felt so good on my scorched skin, but her gentle fingers felt better. Circling them around the base of my neck for what seemed like forever. I didn't realise until she said 'your face looks like it caught the sun too' that I was blushing all the way to the tips of my ears.

I started wearing my hair up after that. Hoping another heatwave would come along.

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The concept of 'girls who like girls' was presented to me about a year after; by a girl who became rather enamoured with me. She used to follow me around and touch me in...rather private places. I was thirteen at the time, and uncomfortable with such things. Nevertheless I coped in the best way I could and booked drumming lessons for lunch breaks and made sure to never leave a classroom without my small squad of emo chums. I thought that I was being prudish in some way, or unfriendly. It has taken me a while to understand that my body is mine, and I decide who can touch.

One day, after I attended one of my MANY after school library sessions (I was pretending to study but reading Harry Potter, don't judge), the girl approached me outside the school gates while I was waiting for my father to pick me up. I was alone, no friends and no excuses. We sat together on the grass and began to talk, the way I saw it; I could at least be friendly. A few minutes in, the touching begins, getting more and more intimate. In tandem, my no's and stop's grew quieter. There were adults waiting to pick someone up in the car park. They didn't help at first, but then they pulled over to ask her if she was getting in. They were her pick up. She said no and they drove away. The touching continued, until my pick up arrived. It's strange, I can't remember her having any after school clubs or events.

After this, as far as I was concerned, lesbians were dirty perverts, paedophiles who touch underage girls, horrible, deplorable predators. I hated them so much, I hated them with everything I had and I hated myself more and more as my true sexuality became clear.

I tried to ignore it, but things became clearer by the day. I didn't feel anything for the male heartthrobs who blossomed in the coming years. No, I felt my heart skip when I saw a girl reading a book I had enjoyed. I longed for...something more from friends at times, immediately chastising myself and putting the mask of 'straightness' on again.

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Years later, at age 17, I had suffered years of poor mental health, even trying 'conversion therapy' to try and 'fix' myself. However, this year was different, I was attending a new college and studying a new topic; Animal Welfare. Wide open spaces, plenty of distractions and, most importantly, plenty of ways for me to hide. That was the plan until I made some friends. Well, they sort of 'adopted' me and included me in everything, which I was grateful for.

This group taught me so much and were essential to the formation of my new perspective, one that still shades the lens through which I view life today. In short:

  • One taught me that being just friends with women is okay and does not make me a predator.
  • Another taught me that questioning my sexuality is normal.
  • A large percentage taught me that I should choose my friends from now on.
  • And the last taught me that it is alright to be an individual with faults, as long as we take responsibility and try to live the best life possible.

My 20th year saw me safely out to both parents and seeking a female partner. What wonderful work friends can do. I felt comfortable in my own skin and a glint of confidence was shyly emerging. Continuing my study of Animal Welfare, specialising in Animal Behaviour, I placed myself on Tinder (no, I'm not proud, none of us are) and started talking to some women. 'Putting myself out there' was not a comfortable venture but I was eager to see what all the fuss was about.

Navigating flirty conversation is not my strong suit, and neither is recognising human behaviour (ironic, i know) as, unbeknownst to me, there was a lady in my university class whom had been crushing on me for a while. Apparently I had caught her eye as far back as the start of the academic year. She had wanted to approach me, but was too nervous. Meanwhile I had secured a date with a rather forward tinder swipe. 'Mission: Learn how to date' was a go.

I know what you're all asking; Did she confess? Did tinder date work out? Did I get over my fear of intimacy? Will I ever start wearing sun cream again?

Short answers are; Yes, No I chickened out the night before, Almost and No it's for nerds I stand by what I said.

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The immediate period of time after this can be summed up as; learning how to fall in love. The lady from my university and myself began to date, but I found it hard to understand the shifting I was feeling in my emotions. It all felt like too much and it was hard not to panic. Every time I went to see her I felt as flustered, longing and scared as I was in my childhood; all at once! Throw in a heavy case of butterflies and a sprinkling of giddiness and well, that's it. I was unaware the human soul could feel so much.

Defences from old ways were quickly deployed. Tall walls of denial, the poison of self loathing and the inevitability of loneliness began to fight with the new flurry of feelings. But they are not lasting. What my new date gave me was more important than love; she gave me time. She made it clear that she wasn't going to lose interest, and that she would give me the space to feel what I needed to. She let me fall in love without pressure nor obligation.

I fell very far, very fast.

The old defences stood no chance against the new love. It felt wonderful, freeing, bright and so scary. How is it safe to give someone your heart? I was convinced that this would only lead to hurt. It was hard, letting go. To give oneself over to the storm of feelings and to the love of another is a battle with self preservation, one I had to have. Nevertheless, my heart now belongs to her. I think she may be keeping it far safer than I ever did.

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I confess, I am a lesbian

I confess, I am in love

I confess, I am okay

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lgbtqia

About the author

ThatWriterWoman

An aspiring female writer from the UK, 23. Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThatWriterWoman

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