For 23 years, I had held onto a secret. As I describe to straight people – it feels like having your fist clenched for 23 years and finally unclenching them. It feels weird.
But it still feels like I have a secret from the world. Like when you suddenly remember “did I pay this month’s credit card bills?”, I caught myself wondering today, “do I have any secrets”? Which is probably not normal.
It felt like there was a void where I usually carry my closeted self, like I had to check up on my void. I basically had to check myself. It feels like I’m still hiding something from people, except I don’t know what.
I’ve never heard anybody mention this before – am I making it up?
Edit: I re-read this post and I suspect it might be because I’m selectively out to my closest circle and not to my workplace or family. So technically, I’m still clenching onto something – just less of the time. Let’s checkpoint this and re-visit it when I’m 100% out.
The classic dilemma for all queer women – “is she or isn’t she?“. In the absence of true science, we can only build off of stereotypes. So, naturally, this subject is also low-hanging fruit for many (respectable) comedy channels. The GayWomenChannel says it takes 10 questions (involves Ikea, Lost Girl, etc.); The Buzzfeed crew puts into video form what I do when my curiosity about someone is piqued; Just Between Us takes a stab before getting real at 1:37 (only for a short while, don’t worry); And I’m just going to leave this Hannah Hart video here because it’s hilarious.
Yes, a person’s sexuality is not the most important part of a person… but if you are like me, the second you find out she’s a lesbian, there is an instant sense of (gay) comraderie.
Why? It’s because we’re so hard to find. In 2012, 5% of Canadians identified as LGBT individuals, meaning in a room of 100 people, there are only two queer women, one of whom is probably bisexual. We’re fucking unicorns.*
(“fucking” not used as a verb)
When I find out a girl is gay, I get so excited because I have so many questions. When did you come out? Do your parents know? Do you have a girlfriend? Are you out at work? What kind of work do you do? (A good chunk of lesbians I’ve met are in artsy industries.) Have you seen Gia? Do you watch Orphan Black / listen to Hayley Kiyoko? Can you tell I don’t have a lot of lesbian friends? (Shout out to Toronto lesbians)
I am that dog that has spotted another dog on the street. It is painfully accurate.
SO. Having put out the caveat that a person’s sexuality is not necessarily the most interesting part about them, I’ll proceed to break down how my gaydar works. Every now and then, someone will slip by (surprise, I’m not perfect!), but I can anecdotally say I’m accurate 95% of the time.
There’s no single dead giveaway (unless she’s “butch”, e.g. short-trim hair, baggy clothing). It’s what they do as much as what they don’t do. It’s also about how they do.
I knew almost immediately what I was going to say. When it came to my turn, I looked around my circle of highschool friends who had united for New Year’s Eve. “My highlight of 2015 is… coming out.”
Some knew. Only a few didn’t.
“You-.. You were coming out!? You came out!?” the straight boy beside me blurted out. “Then why did I sit myself here!?”
There was little hesitation that that was the highlight of my 2015. It opened the floodgates to a lot of critical self-evaluation and understanding, which ultimately explained why I acted a certain way and had built walls where there shouldn’t be.
Because of that, I grew a lot in 2015. I feel like it was the year I recalibrated to the world with my “new” identity – I reevaluated where and how I fit, my social groups, and what I wanted in life. Most importantly, I feel I had less to hide, and this ultimately gave me more confidence. I no longer had to be scared that “someone would get too close” and “find out”. And I wasn’t just scared of them knowing the truth – I was equally, if not more, scared of having to confront the truth about myself with them.
In 2015 I also:
- Traveled alone and visited New York city, both for the first time.
- Had our first family vacation in a long time to LA.
- Went on a legitimate date (although it didn’t end well! It made for a good story.)
- Went to an LGBT professional networking event.
Coming out and all its consequential experiences overshadowed any vacation I took. Not much progress was made with my career, and understandably so – I essentially put my career (and everything else) on hold this year to deal with coming out. No regrets.
So what does 2016 hold in store for me?