I was in my twenties before I started approaching women. At first it was a tentative, “Hey, I had this confusing dream about you …” kind of bullshit. Later, it was a, “Do you want to hang out after this event we’re both attending?” vague-date suggestion. Part of that is safety. When I was younger, it didn’t feel safe to express feelings for girls. Another part is that I didn’t want to be a curiosity. Too many of those vague-dates included some story about this time she was with another woman and wanted to kiss her but didn’t, yet somehow felt like she could kiss me. I was this weird bridge of possibility. Let’s try a kiss and see what happens.
Except, that’s what we do, isn’t it? We try a kiss to see what happens. For the queer kid, it’s more confusing because we’re not just looking for chemistry, we’re also looking at our own sexuality, and yours. I can imagine myself doing this — kissing you — and so I want to know how it feels when I act, and later we can decide what it means. And the dating pool is so small. Not simply because of statistics, but also because it hasn’t even occurred to some of us that we’re queer. Or it has occurred to us, but it isn’t safe to express the idea, let alone try to figure out if it’s an idea that can be acted out with another person who is also safe and ready.
At first, it feels like it just happens to you. Or, more specifically, it felt like it just happened to me. Girls in every direction. And it seemed like they saw things in me that I hadn’t yet discovered about myself. It felt like I drifted along without bothering to make any choices. I fell in and out of relationships and kept trying to make them meaningful because somehow meaningful had become a synonym for lasting.
But meaningful and lasting aren’t synonyms. If all that happened was a kiss, it only mattered that we were brave and safe enough to act. Discovery was the meaning.
I can afford to be generous now, with my youth, because I survived it. Because all the confusing things I felt are often still confusing. Every relationship filled with risk. With vulnerability.
I grew up in a family where I had to hide essential truths about myself. And that required lying. Though I would have lied anyway, because I told myself lies sometimes to minimize my shame. And as time went on, I felt less shame, and told fewer lies. Until finally, I could stand in front of friends and family and marry this woman with her weird toes and her bright mind and give up trying to chart how any of the discoveries happened. How that place and those people led to this place and these people. It’s just fortune, in the end. It’s fortune. You’re only aware that you’re gambling when you lose, when you want the potential of what was on the table to mean something. Otherwise, you know that it starts with a kiss. A kiss to see what happens.