Often, I have tried to figure out the moment I decided I was gay, or I first knew I had a girl crush, or I knew I was attracted to girls, at least sexually because I fantasized about them while I made out with my boyfriends - going back in time to try to understand why I never knew I was gay.
And then I met someone. I stopped asking. It didn't matter anymore why I hadn't known at 13 or 15 or 17, because I met my love and that was all that mattered. Her friends accepted me in a way that I had never known before, because all they saw was my out and comfortable side. Over the past months I've settled into a beautiful serenity with myself that I've never felt before.
And then last night I had this dream. It came out of nowhere, my last thoughts of the night solely focused on British TV show Doctor Who, and somehow answered all the thoughts I'd left alone all those months ago:
We arrived in New Zealand, my lovely boi and I, and were driving to a little vacation spot, eager to see the exotic animals and the rainforest. The water was pouring down and the road was narrow, slicing a thin path between two vast bodies of water, but we were so happy just to be together.
We arrived at the camp to see a few others, a man and his girlfriend or wife, and another girl with them, mingling in the main kitchen. They greeted us and helped us with our bags. Before I knew it I had been dragged off by the separate girl, who was offering dry clothes and towels. She brought me into a bedroom where I gratefully took a towel from her to help with my hair.
And then she started pushing, asking about having sex with men and why shouldn't I just try it? She kept talking about how much she enjoyed it, how much she enjoyed the taste of men and I couldn't handle it. I wanted to find my boi. I stalked into the kitchen where my boi was wrapped in a towel at the table, and clambered to sit at the tabletop where I felt safe.
"Why are you in a towel?" I asked.
"My bag fell in the river and everything is wet," she responded and I laughed, heart relaxing.
"Sorry. I stole a shirt and underwear to sleep in. I'll get them, they're in my bag," I offered with a smile and a kiss. The lighthearted moment faded as I pulled away because the girl was in the doorway again.
"I don't understand why you won't just try it. You'll like it," she promised. I wanted to rip my hair out, I wanted to scream. I wanted to tell her about the time I was almost raped in high school, or when I was molested in college, but I knew I'd only be proving her point by showing her my bad experiences.
"I have tried it," I insisted. "I have had it sweet and nice, I have had normal relationships with men, but it was never right. It was always wrong, so inherently wrong, and no matter if I gave consent to them I wasn't giving consent to myself because it was never what I wanted. It always felt like being molested, and I can't even blame anyone but myself because it was me who allowed it to happen," by now I was shaking and crying, but I could feel their eyes burning me.
"So can we drop the subject now, please?!" I slammed my fist on the table and turned into my lover's side, not wanting to hear what anyone had to say. What I felt mattered, and I had said my piece.
I was worried about my boi's reaction, but I shouldn't have been, as I felt an arm protectively curl around my back and I cried into her shoulder.
When I woke up, I realized that maybe the moment doesn't matter, maybe I don't need to know exactly when I figured it out, or why I didn't realize it earlier. All those years of discomfort still take a toll on me occasionally, still sneak up on me when I don't expect it.
When I think about girls who are coming out later, I can't help but wonder at the sneers they endure from lesbians, at what other pain they must have to face. Do they also have years of giving consent to others without giving self consent burdening their backs? Though I'm now part of the "always been gay" club when I go out, I have to remember never to pass judgement. It wasn't that long ago that I wouldn't have been accepted.