October 11th is National Coming Out Day.
I have read that it was established in 1988, but I think the first time I heard that there was a specific recognized day to come out was just a few years ago. I guarantee you that, when I attended high school in 1988, 99.999% (if not more) of us that I went to school with had no idea that this day existed. And if we did, I’m sure we would have had a big laugh about it. Because kids are kind of idiotic.
When I was growing up in Astoria, OR back in the 80s, “hardly anyone was gay”. Not that WE knew about anyway. Oh sure, hindsight being what it is, I went to school with a handful of gay students, but, with the exception of my friend, Donovan, no one was going to ADMIT that to anyone. Oh hell no.
The two Astoria City Bus drivers were gay. And some man named George Levitz that my mom went to school with was gay. That was it. As far as I knew. Of course I had no idea that The Village People were gay, nor did I have a clue that Liberace was gay. I was not born with “gaydar”. Or an ability to pick up on the obvious, apparently. Why would I ever think that the sweet boy, Sam, who hung around mostly girls and tucked in his flannel shirt was gay? I had a crush on him! What the…gay?
The only lesbians I knew were…oh, that’s right…none.
It was towards the end of high school when I realized that, while I really liked boys…I mean, I REALLY liked boys just fine.
But I also decided that girls were pretty damn spiffy, too.
It honestly wasn’t until I was regularly renting porn for my boyfriend and I to enjoy (he was such a chickenshit, so I had to rent them…this was well before internet porn became so delightfully available to teenagers and we had to visit that “special room” at the movie rental place). The fine cinematic masterpieces all had the obligatory girl on girl scenes – which COMPLETELY blew my mind when I first saw them by the way. Based on my reaction to them, I thought, NOPE, I do not feel like I will be limiting myself to boys.
I think I probably suspected this years before when a friend I had in the 4th grade used to always want to play “let’s touch tongues”, and insist on a regular basis that we bathe together. It was always her idea, but hey, who was I to say no?
It took another 3 years after leaving Astoria before I felt as if I was in a position to explore my options. OH thank you, trip to the East Coast, far away from anyone who knew me and had expectations of behavior. How liberating to get far away from any accountability to “how things were SUPPOSED to be” for a while.
I learned a lot about myself that summer. In fairness, a few people learned a lot about me as well.
Once I returned to the reality of being back home, I never really hid the fact that I was attracted to men AND women. That trip back east was liberating on a multitude of levels, one of them being the fact that I became VERY comfortable with myself. I developed – or honed, rather – my “I am very comfortable with who I am, and if you don’t like it, you can go fuck yourself” attitude. Life is so short, I don’t have time for pretending to be someone I’m not. It’s tiresome. I’ve never been “in your face” about my ‘hetero-flexibility”, but I never lie about it, either.
It never occurred to me to “officially come out”. I mean, I really didn’t think you “came out” as bisexual. Like a lot of people who consider themselves to be queer don’t really like a specific label, I don’t really identify with the term bisexual. I’m not sure it fits. I’m boy crazy, I’ve only been in ‘serious relationships’ with the opposite sex, I’m married to the opposite sex, but it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t consider otherwise if I were single. That’s just how I roll. Don’t fence me in.
(I used to use the term “many shades of grey” to describe sexuality until that ridiculous book fucked it up for everyone. Which sucks…it was a great descriptor.)
A few years back, I had the privilege of being interviewed for an article in Curve Magazine, a lesbian publication. I was phoned for my interview by a nice gal. We got to the end of an hour conversation, and the interviewer asks, “So when did you come out?”
She says,”OH…I was assuming you were lesbian. Are you straight?”
I had to think about this. I’d never actually been ASKED about coming out or about my sexuality. I had to think about this for a second.
“Well, no, I’m not completely straight, but I’m in a hetero relationship…I’ve had more than a couple relationships with women on one level or another, I guess I’m bisexual? I don’t know. Is that ok? Is this interview over now?” I laughed.
She assured me that yes, it was fine even though this was a gay magazine, they don’t just interview lesbians.
I went on to relay the story that, a few years prior, I was at a strip club with my mother (What? It was her 76th birthday, and she had never been in a strip club before) when my mother made a joke, saying if she wasn’t so old, she’d switch teams to see what that was like since men are assholes (she really did not have a lifetime of positive male relationships unfortunately).
So I replied, “Eh, it’s not much different, been there done that.”
My mother paused…and said, “Oh…so anyway, you should have seen how the damn cats got into the birdseed…” SUBJECT CHANGE! Not upset, mind you. That’s just her modus operandi when she no longer feels totally comfortable with a subject.
The interviewer and I chatted a bit longer and then wrapped up our phone call.
The magazine hit the stands a few weeks later.
Reason #7 of the article titled “10 Reasons We Love Lisa” was:
“She came out to her mother at a strip club.”
Hahaha…well alright then.
At first I thought, “Oh hell, now I’m going to have to call my sister and explain this to her (At that point my moderately homophobic sibling was still reeling from when I got drunk and signed her up for the Egyptian Club – a lesbian bar – newsletter as a joke) so she doesn’t think that I’m a huge flaming lesbo.”
Then I thought…ah fuck it. Who cares?
Because really…who cares? What year is it anyway?
Why should it matter?
At the time of my first draft of this posting (from my old website), it was all over entertainment news that actress Michelle Rodriguez is bisexual. Not exactly news to most people who pay attention. But I love her response when asked about her sexuality.
“I don’t talk about what I do with my vagina, and they’re all intrigued,” she says of the media. “I’ve never walked the carpet with anyone, so they wonder: What does she do with her vagina? Plus, I play a butchy girl all the time, so they assume I’m a lesbo.” Rodriguez laughs. “Eh, they’re not too far off,” she says. “I’ve gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too fucking curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks.” She shrugs.
I know that shrug. Intimately.
I truly never felt like my “coming out” as bisexual or “heteroflexible” was of any consequence because, again, who the fuck cares? I know some people probably do. Which is ridiculous. I don’t care who you fuck, you shouldn’t care who I fuck.
Let’s all just be out and done with it. And not give two shits about what someone does in the bedroom as long as it’s between consenting adults, shall we? Please? I long for the day when the a person who doesn’t conform to an outdated norm is risking their safety to live a genuine life.
You go on doing what you’re doing. I’m going to continue being me. And loving who I am. And stealing your girlfriend.
Because I can.
And not REMOTELY feeling like I have to apologize for it.