Chapter 4: Orange is the New Black
I recognize that the straightgirlest thing one could possibly say is that Ruby Rose turned them gay. I do not claim that. But as somebody who built an identity as a straight girl for over two decades, Ruby is someone I actually allowed myself to feel attracted to. She was androgynous and gender-fluid, and every straight girl was attracted to her. It was innocent enough. As I fell for Ruby’s character Stella, I watched romantic relationships between women playing out on the show. I began to find myself wanting what those women had (minus the orange jumpsuits). My list of “Women I would be with IF I was gay” grew suspiciously long. I began questioning assumptions about myself that I had clung to since I was 12.
Chapter 5: Questioning
As I had in the seventh grade, I began obsessing about my sexuality once again. Only this time, I wasn’t scared. This time, I didn’t think being queer was a sin, and I didn’t hate myself for thinking I might fall into that category. Also, the world had changed. There is still a lot of work to be done before the LGBTQ+ community gets to enjoy equality, but this dream is getting closer every year, and certainly a lot changed betweeen 2007 and 2015. So I was able to question my sexuality with the comfort that I would be loved by myself (well, I’m working on that) and others regardless of the answer.
Chapter 6: Jennifer
Not once did I non-ironically refer to this person as Jennifer during our relationship, but I am still healing from our breakup 9 months ago, and using her entire first name feels delightfully cold and indifferent.
But Jennifer will always be an important part of this story, whether I like it or not.
Jennifer is also in math (technically she’s in the Actuarial program, which some might argue is more commerce/finance than math, but I digress) I first noticed her at an event hosted by the Math and Stats Society. And I overheard her saying something about her ex-girlfriend, so I knew she was into girls. I told my housemate about the “Asian girl with the short hair” that I thought was cute. My housemate, a co-president of the Math and Stats society, actually knew this girl. One day, she texted me saying Jenn was bored and wanted to meet me. So I hurried to campus on 3 hours of sleep, and we talked for about an hour before she had to go to class. I was 85% sure I was attracted to Jenn, but part of me was terrified to get involved only to realize I was actually straight like an asshole. But I met with Jenn on campus one or two more times, and at some point, we made a coffee date. Two days before this date, I invited her over to watch Juno with my housemate, her boyfriend, and I, mainly to avoid the third-wheel experience. Jenn came over, everybody drank and watched Juno, and that was the night I first slept with a woman whoops. That experience confirmed for me that I was indeed attracted to girls, and even more so, that I wanted to be with Jenn. A couple weeks later, we were official.
Chapter 7: What About Men?
At this point, I still wasn’t ready to define my sexuality. The question had always been whether I was straight or bisexual, but actually being with a woman lead me to question whether I was attracted to men at all. It took months from the start of the relationship to really figure this out, but Jenn didn’t mind, and neither did I since it wasn’t immediately relevant to my life. I tried on the label of “bisexual” for a week, but it didn’t feel right. Eventually, last Summer, I began identifying as a lesbian. Well, I typically prefer the term “gay” for some reason, but you get the point. I still wasn’t 100% sure, but I was sure enough for the label not to feel like a lie.
Chapter 8: Now
I am now single, as you’ll know if you read my pitiful post-breakup posts. That was a rough time. Anyways, I am exclusively dating women at this time. Sometimes, I still question whether I am attracted to men on some level, but this usually ends with me deciding I am not. At the very least, I know I am more attracted to women than to men, and I have no desire to date a man at this time.
Maybe I prefer the word “gay” to “lesbian” because to me, it allows for some ambiguity. It’s not officially an umbrella term, but it feels a little umbrella-ey to me. Sometimes I think about using the label “bisexual”, even as an insurance policy, so nobody accuses me of lying if I end up falling in love with a man. But it just doesn’t feel right at all. Maybe I am just trying to avoid the shit bisexuals get from both straight and queer people, or the hypersexualization of bisexuality. Maybe I enjoy men not constantly assuming I’m interested in them, or I’m thinking in all-or-nothing terms and bisexuality feels like a middle-ground. This stuff kicks around in the back of my mind sometimes, but identifying as “gay” still feels right.
So that was a long story, and it might not even be over. But that is how I discovered I was not straight after 21 years of believing I was.