BY ABBY WALLER
Meet Queer Abby, our new advice columnist, feel free to ask her anything in the comments below or write to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I came out of the closet I sort of tiptoed out. There was no party, no parade, and no dancing girls. I warily dipped my big toe in the still, warm water of queerdom. Once I was finally “all the way out” at the age of twenty–I sought out all things gay. I watched every episode I could of the L Word and I went to a local lesbian dive bar on “college” night to nervously dance to Top 40’s hits while giving the eye to any cute girl that looked my way.
Coming out isn’t easy…at least it wasn’t for me. I was raised in a strict southern baptist household where I wasn’t allowed to wear pants, take the lord’s name in vain, or listen to rock music. I used to jokingly say that I am absolute proof that homosexuality is something you’re born with–like being born with red hair or olive skin. I am proof because there’s utterly no “explanation” for my “becoming gay.” I didn’t even really know what gay was until long after I started having feelings of attraction towards girls.
At the age of fifteen I kissed a girl for the first time. We made out and it was awesome. But immediately afterwards, I was filled with shame, and I dug a hole deep in my gut to put any queer feelings into. I wouldn’t kiss another girl for five years. It was the longest five years of my life.
Shortly after my 20th birthday I finally dropped the straight-charade and came out. I created about 3,738 online dating profiles with the hope of getting a girlfriend or at the very least, getting laid. I went on multiple dates and had even more flaky-date cancellations. After a few months of playing this awful game, I met a tomboyish redhead who’d end up being my first girlfriend. We went on our first date (I have no recollection of what we did or where we went) and then we went back to my place and well…you know.
The tomboyish redhead took me to my very first Gay Pride event in D.C. That might have been the beginning of the end for us. I mean, lezbehonest, I was a fresh-out-of-the-closet baby dyke and going to Pride in the nation’s capital was like being a kid in the Willy Wonka factory. I walked the streets of Dupont Circle with my eyes taking in countless types of lesbians. There were ultra-femme ones, leather daddy ones, androgynous ones, and me: a totally overwhelmed, ravenously eager-to-have-it-all and astoundingly naive little lesbian.
That whole weekend was filled with my staring in wide-eyed wonder as drag kings strutted down the street, and queer folks from all walks of life gathered celebrate being “out” together. I’d never experienced anything like it, and I was completely enraptured knowing that I was in a safe place. I didn’t feel threatened or like a fish out of water. I was surrounded by smiling faces and people that had one thing very in common with me: they were attracted to members of the same sex, too.
The years passed and even though I’d come out and knew I wanted to be with women, I struggled with my queer identity and bounced all over the femme/butch spectrum. When I met my wife I was at the top of my game. I’d been single for a while, was working out on the regular, and was having a generally good time — if you catch my drift. I felt good about my androgynous style and enjoyed not toeing the line of gender rules,
My Missus and I have been together for eight years and married for four. She has loved me on my femmiest days and my butchiest days. She has never eluded to which of my “looks” is her preference and continues to stand by me with unwavering love as I shrug off one style to try on another for a while.
Who knows — maybe I’m still confused and in 6 months, a year, or 5 years I’ll decide that I’m totally tomboy or fervently femme. After all, that’s my right. But for now, I feel amazing. I feel freed. It may seem silly, but just a dapper button up or layer of fire-engine red lipstick can do so much for the soul. Why should I be absolute with my gender? Isn’t that boringly heteronormative? I’ve spent too long worrying about the comfort of others that I’ve forgotten about my own comfort. I feel as though I’m getting back to my andro-roots, and am blending the rules of gender conformity. I hope I stay here awhile — because I feel right at home.