In this post, I share with you my experiences of realizing I was attracted to women as a woman. I share how it made me feel and what I experienced coming out and living as a lesbian woman.
This post comes with an even combination of shock value and anxiety. The shock value comes from the images above. This was me at about age 17 or 18. I specifically chose these photos because they were taken on the night that I came out to my sister (maybe the sweet Jesus shirt had something to do with it too). I will never forget the interaction that we had. For the longest time I had been telling her that I wanted my eyebrow pierced. At the time I thought it was so bad ass to have an eyebrow piercing.
Looking back on everything, I believe my sister was the first one I came out to as a lesbian in my family. I remember that my mom, dad, brother and I had gone over to her new apartment to check it out, have a barbecue and hang out. The outfit in the photos is what I wore. Yes, at the time my sheltered mind thought my hair looked good. If only I knew then what I know now.
When my family and I were on our way to her apartment, we had forgotten to stop at the store to get ice and soda, so my dad sent my sister and I on an adventure to Wal-Mart to get some. We went around the store and gathered the things we needed, then headed for the register.
As we walked to the registers, I noticed one of the cashiers had caught my eye. I don't remember her name, but she appeared to be a very butch/masculine female-identified person. She also had her eyebrow pierced. As luck would have it, she was the cashier that we chose. As my sister and I walked to the register we put all of our stuff on the belt and the cashier proceeded to ring us up. As the cashier was scanning our stuff and placing it in the bags, her and I kept making eye contact. It was a very quiet and off-putting interaction.
Finally, she gave us the total. It was about $7-$8 more than the cash our dad had given us, so we had to put a few items back. "That's so gay!" my sister said as she was choosing stuff for us to be deducted off of the total.
That escalated quickly.
The eye contact came back. The cashier and I looked at each other yet again, in complete silence. This entire time I never said anything. Finally, we had enough items deducted from the total that we paid for our stuff and walked out. I was still being quiet.
As we walked through the Exit doors out of Wal-Mart into the parking lot, my sister turned to me and said "Now you see why I don't want you to get your eyebrow pierced, only lesbians have it". I remained quiet still. She then stopped in the middle of the parking lot and asked "Are you gay?" What an astute observation this was.
Say it loud, say it proud.
Mind you, this was not the ideal setting for a conversation like this, but when an opportunity presents itself for you to drop a bomb on a family member like this, you sometimes don't quite have a choice. I stopped, looked at her and said "Yes, I am." I had said it so matter-of-fact that I surprised myself.
At that point, she had set all of the stuff that was in her hands on the ground and gave me a hug. All of these questions were now coming out like word vomit and her whole demeanor changed. Like a light switch was flipped. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?! Omg I'm so sorry for all that stupid shit I said before, I guess I didn't think about it. Do mom and dad know?"
I filled her in on all the details and we had a good talk on the way home. I was so scared but I knew that this is what I needed. Eventually, I did come out to my parents and my twin brother. I eventually shaved my head, then came out to my dad while we were standing outside of his church. It took him about 3 weeks to get used to it. My mom accepted me immediately, and my twin brother was a little upset that he had to find out from MySpace instead of me telling him directly, but he eventually warmed up to it, too.
Fast forwarding a few years, I had now come out to everyone and crossed the giant rainbow bridge out of the closet into a whole new world. I started going out with my coworkers to the gay clubs, I was really confident in my dating life (now that it existed) and I felt 100x more comfortable in my body than I had before. There were still some things that I just couldn't get past though. I always felt like I couldn't be masculine enough. My hair wasn't right, my voice was too high, my chest wasn't flat enough. I honestly thought that I was just body shaming myself.
Sometimes people are mean.
I remember several times when I identified as a lesbian woman that I had people harass me. One time in particular was when Prop. 102 was a thing here in Arizona. If some of you don't know, that was for Marriage Protection here in Arizona. If passed, it would have made gay marriage legal here. I remember going to Panda Express in Maricopa for lunch one day and as I was walking in, these two gentlemen were walking out. I exchanged no dirty looks or foul words with them. As I was getting closer to the door they had driven by and threw their drinks at me shouting "You fucking faggot, NO on Prop 102!". I hated this feeling because I didn't want to be a lesbian. I didn't choose to be this way.
There was an experience that I had as a lesbian which lead up to my coming out as trans (coming up next in Part 3) that I will forever be grateful for.
The 'aha' moment.
When I was about 19, I met this person on Plenty of Fish who would end up helping me in more ways than they knew. They were 20 at the time. We immediately clicked. As time went on we got closer and closer and started to date. This was my first real relationship with someone, so I didn't really know how it should go or what was healthy and what wasn't.
We were two butchy lesbians who were in love and for some reason there was this weird stigma against two butch lesbians finding an interest in one another. The community had put a hex on relationships like ours because "a butch should be with a femme, you're not supposed to date another stud". We were always catching heat for it but I didn't give a shit.
We had dated for about 2 1/2 years, then things started to fall apart. They got really aggressive and angry at times for seemingly no reason and neither of us could figure it out. These moments then lead them to self-harm and it scared me, because I was so young and naive that I didn't know how to handle it.
The turning point.
The strong emotions of anger and hate grew stronger and eventually were focused on me. Abuse became a larger part of this relationship, both verbal and physical. One day, I reached my breaking point. They shoved me against the wall and pulled their fist back. Never had I been in this position. I was scared, but I knew at this moment that I didn't deserve any of this. I pushed them back. They looked at me with the most evil in their eyes, grabbed their backpack and left out the door.
As soon as I collected myself, I realized that they weren't in the best mental state so I left in my truck to go searching for them. About a mile down the road, I found them. They were sitting in the landscaping of a strip mall on a boulder. We had a mutual breakdown while confessing our love for each other and apologizing for everything that had just happened. Honestly, it was a total mind fuck.
After this, the next week was strange. It was like we were co-existing. Floating together, but not on the same level at all. To make a long story slightly shorter; we broke up. I was mentally burned out. Scared. Anxious. I couldn't handle any of this anymore.
At this point, about 6 or 7 months had passed and I got a text from an old friend telling me that my ex had transitioned and that they made a complete 180 degree change. While we dated, neither of us knew what it meant to be transgender. I managed to get a hold of my ex and arrange a date and time to meet up.
After a long-overdue apology and explanation of why everything happened the way that it did, we got into the details. The more that he explained the process of transitioning the more the light bulbs went off in my head. I was getting answers to all of these un-answerable questions I had for years. This is when the wheels really started turning in my head because I finally knew that there was a "cure" for what I was feeling.
This time in my life was really eye-opening. To relationships, love, family, self-care and discovery. Even though things didn't work out with my ex, I know that we went through that experience together for a reason. I know that the interaction my sister and I had with the cashier at Wal-Mart was meant to happen for a reason. I'm finally getting closer to feeling 100% comfortable in my body, even as a human in general. My sister and I never had any issues after this and she grew to become my number 1 support in any situation. I've since lost touch with my ex, but I hope that he knows how much he truly helped point me in the right direction.
YOU CAN CALL ME DANISH
Writing about my life and experiences as a white, transgender, queer male.