The signs were always there. I just refused to look at them.
When I was in second grade, I wore the same shirt every day. It was a white baby tee with an iron-on decal of three girls holding hands.
When I was a senior in high school, I had a crush on a girl from the art club. Of course, back then I didn’t call it a crush. I simply had a deep admiration for her artistic talent and a platonic appreciation for her kindness and amazing style.
That same year, I bought a rainbow Apple Watch band, not because I was gay. But because I was still labelling myself as an ally, who, given the opportunity, would not have turned down a woman’s proposal for friendship, sex or partnership of any sort.
I watched the entire “L Word”, a six-season series about the lives of lesbians in Los Angeles, twice through and the “L Word: Generation Q”, the revival series, more times than I can even count.
I never really cared about the men I was with and left them as soon as I smelled the potential that our relationship would get serious.
Despite all of these very clear signs, until about four months ago, I had always thought that I was straight. As it turns out, I am not. I am actually very, very gay.
At the end of my freshman year of college, I met a girl. She is older than me and taller. She has dark curly hair and tattoos covering her arms and legs.
I remember the first day I saw her. She was wearing a black t-shirt with khaki cargo shorts, a couple of chains around her neck and several gold rings on her left hand. She walked with a purpose and carried herself with confidence.
I know that this level of detail seems a bit excessive. One may wonder why I did not just say “I met a girl. She was hot,” and go on with my story. My answer to that is because I can’t.
When telling a story, the storyteller always includes the details most important to them. In my story, every detail and every feeling is important because they were all new to me.
Noticing those small details about another person was big for me. Before her, my attraction to men had never gone further than “he is attractive,” or “I bet he is really funny.” This was different, deeper. I had never felt something so intense before.
We started talking. We went out on dates. I met her friends and she met mine. We learned things about each other and grew feelings for one another.
While developing feelings for an intimate partner may not come as a shock to others, to me, this was monumental.
I found myself caring about her when previously, I could not have cared less about the men that I was with.
Public displays of affection had always disgusted me. Holding hands seemed nothing more than a sweaty and pointless display of sexual linkage. But with her, PDA was natural, desirable even.
It just felt right. Being with her, talking to her, going out with her, all of it felt so normal.
That is what scared me the most. The normalcy.
I spent 19 years shoving myself into tiny crop tops and forcing myself to go out on awkward and excruciating dates with men because I thought that if they wanted me, then I would eventually want them too.
I thought it was my fault. I am just not good at relationships, I told myself. I am emotionally unavailable. I am not a sexual person. If I just tried harder, then I would find a boyfriend.
It wasn’t until I was with another woman that I realized, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t pretending anymore.
I no longer strategize the way I talk, dress or act to attract my partner. I don’t have to drag myself onto dates or pretend to enjoy myself.
Instead of running away from the signs, I began to follow them, and they led me to the person I was always meant to be.
I am out. I am proud, and I am very, very gay.