Hi Sappho Blog!
Goodness, I have been soooo MIA from posting. I'm almost ashamed. But I guess now I have the excuse that I'm graduated (like a cylinder, yeah?) so I can post when/what ever I want. Not like that was incredibly different from before, though, despite how often Mariana nagged me to post when I was supposed to :)
Kudos to Ryan. She and I have both decided that we are going to stick around and post occasionally as creepy grads.
So I'm one of the members of the class of 2010 who spent most of her last few weeks at Yale in tears. I just couldn't let go. It took me these four years to build my friendships and become part of the communities I love so much. Pulling myself away from the YPMB and the queer community were the worst. I just did NOT want to go back to Ohio. Those of you who saw the most recent episode of glee (aka all of you) can only imagine how much my heart ached when Finn yelled at Kurt to try harder to blend in. "We live in Ohio, Kurt, not somewhere like New York or San Francisco where they eat vegetables that aren't fried!" Ohio is the place I grew up, and I love so much about it, but my queer little heart has nothing gay to cling on to. Yale brought so much beautiful gayness to my life, and now it feels like I'm very much alone.
To combat the daunting loneliness of gay Ohio isolation, I have established the following objectives for this summer: 1) go to as many Pride celebrations as I can (currently making plans for June 12th in Monterrey, Mexico and June 24-28 in NYC!), and 2) come out to EVERYONE!
Along the lines of the second objective, I first came out to my parents. An elaboration of what I mean by that, plus the story of how it went will come at the end of this post. Beyond that, however, I have already come out to one full family of Russians who have known me since 1st grade (the family of my elementary/junior/senior high school best friend), one family of liberal hicks who have also known me for forever (the family of another dear friend), and one high school ex-boyfriend.
How did these go? Mixed results. The Russian family was AMAZING. I was out to my best friend ahead of time, and she told me to expect them to be supportive, but I couldn't have anticipated how supportive they would be! So many amazing responses came from that group including some of these: 1) tons of hugs 2)"I thought that flannel shirt looked pretty gay!" 3) "Well shit, there go my chances!" (from my best friend's dad, of course), and 4) tons of intrigued questions about how girl-girl sex works. IT WAS GLORIOUS. If only all coming-out experiences could be so uplifting. It was like they saw me in a whole new light, and they loved it. They were interested, intrigued, and loving. I couldn't have asked for more.
The other family was less receptive, but at least it wasn't a spectacle. They politely smiled and said congrats, but mostly brushed it off. I can't really blame them, though. Their world had just gotten rocked because my dear friend (their daughter) had eloped with a Nicaraguan boy that she met while studying abroad in Costa Rica, and she hadn't told them about it until recently. She had studied abroad nearly six months prior to now, and hence had been married for about six months before she told ANY OF US. So naturally, me being a homo was far less interesting or shocking than the other things going on in that poor family's life. Sigh.
Coming out to the ex-boyfriend was incredibly nice. We hadn't really connected at all since we broke up during freshman year, so took today to hang out and talk for hours. It was easy for me to share my journey with him, and he shared his journey with me. We had both been a little un-lucky in love with girls in the past, so we bonded over that. He told me all about how he spontaneously drove from Columbus, Ohio to Nashville on a whim to tell a girl how he felt about her, only to realize she had gone out of town to go to her grandfather's funeral! And I told him all about why it took me FOREVER to have the courage to really come out, and how I was so sad that I had hit so many bumps in the road along the way. At the end, we were crying and hugging and it turned into an incredible evening with a lost friend. Boys are so much more fun when you can just be bro's, and he and I had never had that before.
Goodness, this post is getting long, but I still want to talk about "coming out" to my parents. I guess I put those words in quotes because I had come out to my parents as bisexual during the summer after freshman year. However, I had never given them a reason to confront it. I had kept dating boys, and I had never mentioned any of my flings with girls because they had never gone anywhere.
Now, at the end of Yale, I feel differently than I had when I came out before. I don't really think I identify as bi anymore. I just feel gay. Gay gay gay. I've become a drag performer (ah! my calling!), joined the rugby team, become even more involved in the queer community at Yale, and even had some luck with girls :) At the brink of stepping out into the read world *shudder* as a hopeful, excited, and proud gay girl, I felt like I needed to re-come out to my parents.
And luckily, they started the conversation for me. I had been ranting and raving to them ever since Bad Romance had starting coming together about how much I LOVED performing in drag. And when they came out for graduation, I got to show them all my pictures! There were hundreds of pictures from BR and from the glitter salute at BAR, and they could tell that I was beyond proud of all of them. So, with effortless tact, my Mom began the conversation while we were eating at Uno Pizzaria in NYC before seeing a Broadway show. She first asked what I loved about drag. Why drag? What is it about? What do you mean gender is a performance? Who is drag for? Why do YOU like performing a different gender? Why is it still drag when you prance around in your bra and fishnets? What statement are you trying to make? Wait – that boy on the right side of the group photo is actually a GIRL?!
I was SO excited to begin to explain drag to my Smalltown, Ohio parents! I could tell they didn't really understand everything, but they really responded to my enthusiasm and wanted me to elaborate as well as I could. Throughout my excited rambling, I kept referring to the "queer community,” and yet again, with a smile and a truckload of finesse, my mom asked, "Okay, babe, so your dad and I are wondering where YOU fall in the queer community?" After this, my dad immediately interjected awkwardly, "And kiddo, if you don't want to talk about it, we can just talk about something else . . . like the weather. Know that we love you no matter what, and you don't have to talk if you don't want to."
I LOVE MY PARENTS. I confessed to them, with a few tears welling up in my eyes, that although people change, identity isn't fixed, and you can never predict love, I probably wasn't going to be bringing home any more boyfriends. I am gay, and I'm happy about it. Ecstatic in fact. I think it’s one of the best things about me. And then I burst into tears. And they just hugged me. Then, after I regained my composure, we did just talk about the weather. I think we all needed to let the emotional charge dissipate a little bit.
Since then, we haven't discussed it again. But today I was filling out paperwork for my job in England next year, and I stopped to point out to my parents that the non-discrimination policy for the school where I would be working protected sexual orientation and gender presentation! Then I also showed them how all the wording in the pension plan said "spouse or civil partner." They were almost as excited about these small (but totally NOT small) things as I was. And so my parents and I are taking baby steps.
Next step? Bring home an adorable British girlfriend, of course :)
Ok Sappho, thanks for listening. I hope you put up with my rambly writing-style to get to this point. I hope to see so many of you at NYC Pride in less than a month!
So much love <3