Things have gotten pretty serious between my virtual girlfriend and I. We Gchat roughly forty hours a week and text on the weekends and she sent me an adorable drawing of the two of us with our three future children, Rocket and Panda, who she will gestate, and Sushi, who we will adopt from an undecided East Asian nation. I returned her romantical mailing with my own—a mixed CD and a love letter that went something along the lines of, I want to make out with you and buy you things with other peoples’ money. This is how serious it is: Virtual Girlfriend (VG) came out to her parents. Frank, Betty, she said, I’m gay on the Internet. Frank and Betty may have been a little confused because they are slightly older than average and may not be entirely sure what the Internet is, but I guess they got the point, which is that their daughter likes to put her head in other girls’ laps.
So, in honor of my dear sugar bitch VG, today’s episode is all about tearing down that closet door. I realized I’ve alluded to my own coming out in previous posts, but here’s the story, real talk style….
I had a friend growing up who was obviously a boy. I mean, she was a girl, but she looked like a boy. This didn’t really change as we got older. She always had really short hair and was built like a guy. Very handsome. I realized at some point that she was probably a dyke but we never talked about it. I also remember thinking that I was really glad that I wasn’t like her, that I wasn’t a dyke. Just like parents who think that their son’s life will be difficult because he likes to shop at Banana Republic and bend over for guys who shave their chests, I didn’t want my life to be difficult. My life was already difficult. I was sixteen. Life is difficult for everyone at sixteen, especially for androgynous boy/girls in a school where the mascot is a Confederate army general. I was glad the gay disease wasn’t something else I had to worry about catching. My butch friend didn’t come out until after high school, but no one was surprised. What was surprising was that a lot of my other friends also came out after high school. We never talked about girls. We may rarely have kissed boys, but we talked about them the same way all teenage girls do. Turns out we just had to leave the vast hell of a small town to be who we are.
I made out with boys for a while in college, but anytime I found myself looking at the curve of some woman’s hip, I held my boyfriend’s hand tighter and told myself that I just really appreciated beauty. There was no way I was gay. I mean look, I’m holding hands with a boy! But then I met A—, and, along with making me crazy, she made me gay.
My friends at school were unfazed when I came out to them. My brother and sister were equally flapless. I was the only girl in Little League. Of course I’m gay. I did not, however, want to tell my parents. This wasn’t because I thought they would be upset—my parents would be more upset if I married a Republican or became a youth pastor—but because telling your parents you’re gay means telling your parents that you aren’t just emotionally and mentally gay, you’re also gay with other gay girls. Like, naked gay. I didn’t even tell my parents when I got my period. I definitely didn’t want to tell them that I was a sexually active person. You know how weird and terrible it is to think about your parents having sex? Think about how much worse it is for them to think about you having sex. You’re their little girl. You sat on their laps and giggled when they tickled you and cried when they spanked you for starting a small and completely manageable fire in the neighbor’s yard. And now you’re telling them that you not only have sex, you have the kind of sex that won’t give them grandkids no matter how hard you try. Not a conversation I really wanted to have.
About a month after A— and I got together, we drove from Asheville to the Outer Banks for a romantical weekend. Before we could get there, however, we were rear-ended by a dump truck on I-40 and crashed into a construction barrier. The air bags popped. The windshield shattered. Traffic was stopped for hours. The car was totaled. We went to the hospital and got prescriptions for completely unnecessary painkillers and stayed at a nearby friend’s house that night and borrowed her car the next day so we could get to the beach and back home. While we were at the pharmacy collecting our completely unnecessary painkillers, my sister called. She happened to be visiting our parents that weekend and said that our mom knew I was homo and was really upset. Like tears upset. Like, what-if-you-had-died-before-we-talked-about-this upset. I got that sinking stomach thing right away and started screaming that I was an orphan as of right now, this very second, no longer a member of my very own nuclear family just because I’m a big gay, fated to a Christmas alone with afternoon movies and Chinese takeout.
It was a hard weekend. A— and I were still freaked out about the wreck. We weren’t farther than arms-length away from each other for three days. When she was in bathroom I waited outside the door just in case she got sucked into the toilet. But it wasn’t just the whole near-death thing that freaked us out. It was the conversation I would soon have to have with my mom, a conversation I would rather have with my cellmate than my mother, a conversation A— also hadn’t had with her mother yet, a conversation that would make everything real. Alas, I like my mother and was still on her insurance, so I at was also a conversation that had to happen. I avoided her pleading messages until we got back from the beach and popped a few of the completely unnecessary pain killers and drank a few completely necessary beers and sat on my porch with A—, holding her hand like we were trying not to get torn apart by a tornado. The conversation went exactly like this:
Me: Who told you, my brother or my sister?
Mazog: No one. You’re father has gaydar.
And while I do think that my father’s gaydar is probably better than average because he kind of walks on his tiptoes, I suspect the big giveaway was less my hair cut and more the way A— and I interacted with each other. I had taken A— to my parents’ house one afternoon to borrow their canoe. I hadn’t done this with any of my other friends. All my parents knew about most of my friends was that they littered cigarette butts on my front porch and wiped with coffee filters because we never had any toilet paper at my house. But it wasn’t just that. It was the way we were with each other. Not touchy and not fawning and not overtly together, but still together, like there was a string that connected us and only us. The string, of course, broke. But I’m still gay. That’s not going to break.
And so, welcome to the family, VG. Frank and Betty will get over it when they meet me.