People don’t believe me when I come out to them. One of the first things my mother said was “Honey, are you sure?” as if I was just confused. Other people have said “Well, if you say so,” “No shit!” and “Huh. I would never have thought that in a million years” with varying degrees of disbelief on their faces. Apparently I was a very convincing straight woman, which makes sense: until nine months ago I was also very convinced I was a straight woman.
Then last January a friend and I were talking about sexuality when she asked me, seriously and with no expectations, “How do you identify?” I blinked and said “Well, I’m straight but . . .” and then marveled at the new word in my life that urgently required an explanation. I did explain that “but,” to my friend and myself, awkwardly and without a single complete sentence. I was unable to believe that I had just said, out loud, for the first time ever, that I am attracted—emotionally, romantically, sexually, take your pick—to women. I didn’t really know this was true until the words were out of my mouth, and even then I felt like I was looking at old handwriting, recognizable but strange.
I’m not frustrated with the people who don’t believe that I’m gay. There are days when I don’t believe that I’m gay either. Coming out answered a question I hadn’t asked and spawned dozens more without answers. If I was “born this way,” and just figured it out, then what else don’t I know about myself? Or did I choose to be queer? Was it the right decision? Does being a lesbian make me a better feminist or a worse one? Am I lesbian or bi? Am I just making this up? I ignore these questions most of the time. It’s hard to actually live your life if you’re always trying to figure out who you are and why you are that way. So I’m making peace with disbelief.
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