A Coming Out Story…
“I’m just having an allergic reaction to the universe” –Seth Cohen
I hold the The OC solely responsible for my love of the alternative rock band The Dandy Warhols, the time I spent guzzling vodka in the school bathroom and the awakening of my burgeoning sexuality. It was 2005 and I was in junior high. My friends and I would host watch parties and sleepovers for the latest episode of the “pop cultural phenomenon” every week. Were you a Summer Roberts or a Marissa Cooper? I was tall, lanky, blonde and experimenting with self destruction so I was undeniably a Marissa.
One fateful night I’d been banished to my bedroom after accusations flew around our house that I was flushing my stepfather’s cigarettes down the toilet. No comment. I sat alone on my bed in pastel pink, silk pajamas as the episode of Marissa and Alex Kelly (girl Alex) locking lips for the first time aired right before my titillated eyes. I slipped right off my bed and was instantly on the fast track to becoming the gayest person the world had ever seen.
I suppose I’d always known I liked girls but I didn’t realize I liked them any more than the other girls I went to school with liked them. You might think tearing out the lingerie pages of my mother’s JcPenney catalogs might be a tip off. Hiding the photos with the sheerest bras in between my mattress and box spring wasn’t either ringing any bells for me, either. I knew enough to know this should be kept a secret but not enough to understand why. My personal gaydar must have been on mute; up until this night I had never questioned my sexuality because I dated boys, lots of boys. I was boy crazy, in fact! I often got bored with them after a day or so but who didn’t?
This night had me contemplating everything about my life and my female friendships. Was I just enamored with them? I felt lightheaded every time a pretty girl smiled at me in the hallways, I relished the way their satiny hands felt in mine when I painted their nails and I savored the Chap Stick on my lips after letting a girl friend borrow it. I’d often have sleepovers with my best friend and come home the next day feeling both invigorated and empty like it was cut short.
Observing these two women kissing in my bedroom held me captive salivating from my seat on the floor. Something was happening inside me tonight and I was buckled in for the journey to self discovery. But first, I needed to see them kiss again. I pulled up the TV Guide channel and discovered it would air again in another two hours when I’d be asleep. I found an old VHS tape under the bed. I previously used it to save some other spank bank material (Titanic) and popped it in to record, making the executive decision that The Lesbian Beach Kiss trumps Titties. I watched the “draw me like one of your French girls…wearing only this” scene for one last time. I bid it adieu and stared at my ceiling for the rest of the night.
My alarm went off at 6:30 am and I raced from my bed like I’d been bit by the gay bug. I picked up a large green beanbag chair, shoved it up against my door, piled some heavy Harry potter books on top and went to check on my gold.
An hour later after replaying that scene roughly eight times and face-humping my pillow, I was decidedly gay. I was a new woman living a new life. The budding flower of my loins had blossomed and it was as dazzling and colorful as a kaleidoscope.
I arrived at school and promptly broke up with my four-day-long boyfriend Dillon declaring I could no longer see him being in my ten-year plan anymore; things were changing. I spent the next four hours observing every girl in my classes to decide who my very first female lover would be. Not once taking into consideration that dating might be difficult in a snooty, conservative school outside of Washington D.C.
When it came time for PE and all my girls were gathered in the locker room, I excused myself to a private stall to change into my shorts. There was a decent chance my future girlfriend was in this group and I wanted to earn her respect by only seeing her naked if she wanted me to. I never used to think much of the locker room; I was far too preoccupied with being self-conscious about my pale thighs and the ghastly granny panties my mom insisted on buying me. I wasn’t about to get caught staring and labeled a pariah by my classmates before my first lesbian kiss.
After school, it was time for my metamorphosis. I had to dress the part when I made my big announcement if I wanted anyone to accept that I was now a serious lesbian. First stop was Hot Topic, I used my leftover Christmas money to buy every rainbow pin, sticker and necklace they had. Now the other lesbians would know I’m in the club and I’m also a threat. I was still worried my feminine energy might throw other lesbians off my scent so I stopped by Target for some baggy pants and a baseball cap for good measure.
I was on the hunt for a colorful cape with the words Super Gay emblazoned on the back but couldn’t find one at our local mall so I dyed locks of my blonde hair pink, instead. Alex Kelly had purple streaks in her hair and I thought we’d complement each other well. I could just picture us getting photographed walking out of Goldfinger’s club hand in hand, and canoodling for the world to see. Paris Hilton struts by in a micro skirt; she nods in our direction and mutters “That’s hot” and takes a drag off her cigarette.
The next day, I came out of the closet like I’d lit a fire inside it.
It’s safe to say I didn’t take any time to ruminate over how my classmates would react to the news of my overnight transformation. The next couple months were intense; bullying, homophobic parents phoning the school to request my removal, ostracized from sleepovers, notes with hate speech in my locker and nasty insults chiseled into the bathroom walls at school.
However, one monumental positive thing did happen: a small movement within our grade. I exposed something within myself that no one else had openly done at our school yet. I was free. Despite the hate I was receiving, I was also making a lot more friends outside my usual circle. Girls and boys alike were now coming to me, their Gay Queen (okay, okay, no one ever called me that) to share their dirty little secrets. I was a safe place to talk about wanting to kiss your best friend, where to purchase rainbow pins for their book bags, and which gay chat rooms had the naughtiest discussions. Side note: gay or straight, keep your kids out of chat rooms.
Several kids came out of the closet later that year, most didn’t tell their families but told their friends, peers and most importantly themselves. I felt like I opened up the rainbow door and tested the heat to help my fellow LGBTQ get to their own pot of golden freedom.
I moved to Texas a few months later. I also gave up my hideous jeans for floral skirts again when I realized dating other women and looking dope in pink were not mutually exclusive. I’m not sure if you asked those kids today if they’d say they even remember me. We were all pretty engrossed in fear and our own Coming Out struggles. However, I still remember everything from that year. It was painful, agonizing and electrifying. I still get tingles down my spine when I think about the night everything changed; it was the first time I felt like I had a future to look forward to.