Let me set one thing straight before I tell you this story: I am. Straight, that is. Heterosexual. A female that is attracted to males. Just like anyone, I’m greatly attached to my identity as a person, and I think it’s fair to make it very clear that I have never had a crush on a woman.
So how in the world did I get a place on my hometown’s gaydar, a year after I graduated?
The Short Answer?
Friends, Hobbies, and Lack of Affection.
The Long Answer?
Lack of Affection:
Well, to start out, let me say that I do have affection in my life and plenty of people that love me, and I’ve been in relationships before (with males). However, I’m not an affectionate person. I don’t really like hugs, with certain people and all family as exceptions, holding hands annoys me, and I feel no need at the moment for a deep, intimate, romantic relationship. I’m aware that the reason for this is my parentage; my dad hates holding hands, too. I mind none of this, but I’m also aware that it’s not necessarily considered the “girl” thing to do. When the boy is the more affectionate one in the relationship, questions might get asked.
And of course, the first instance I discovered of someone wondering about my sexuality was my father, which I discovered when my mother told me he was concerned I was a lesbian. Knowing my father, he’d accept me anyway, but it would make him uncomfortable, so it would be something he would worry about.
Luckily, everyone else in my family seemed to think that was absolutely ridiculous, especially the women, who all supported me for having priorities above “date” and “find a husband.” My dad supports me on that, too. He just apparently questions(ed?) my motives for that attitude.
This one is included because as many people have told me, I have a strange mix of hobbies and passions. Before college, I cheered for twelve years, did track a few years in youth and three years in high school, took karate for about three and a half years to get a black belt before college, wrote all the time, and took such an interest in school and learning that I was in the highest math classes, duel enrolling in college classes, and managed to become valedictorian.
I say all this because I was one of few women in my high level math classes (and by that I mean one of two for most of them), and the numbers didn’t get much better for my science classes. The only class that was relatively close at the highest level was English. So basically, I spent a lot of time with boys at school, although my closest friends were all girls.
Cheering is relevant because cheerleaders become very close to each other physically. Stunting requires us to be pressing against each other and my friend once had to help me get my leggings on at a football game (to be fair, I had a sprained thumb and was trying to do it with one hand…which wasn’t working…and I’ve known that girl since preschool and cheered with her most of that time). It’s also relevant because it’s where I met one of my current best friends, who I’ll call Maggie. She’ll become important later.
The last important thing is karate, which is mainly there because as with most other stuff in my life, the ratio of girls my age to guys my age was a little bit depressing and favored the guys. Some might find it surprising that I was known as one of the toughest in class, with one nickname that stuck for a while being “G.I. Jane.” Nobody that knows me would be surprised. Most people that I know from college, or that I took karate with, were a LOT more surprised about the cheerleading.
I wasn’t surprised that I took to karate so well. I grew up with a dad who told me that I could totally hit someone back if they hit me first, who taught me the correct way to punch, with brothers (one my twin) that would wrestle with me, and with rough friends of both genders. It came natural to me and fit my idea of myself.
The problem: apparently adding that to lack of affection puts me farther away from “heterosexual.”
This one is last because it has the most affect.
In high school, three of my close friends were bisexual, one was a proud lesbian, and I knew others who categorized themselves as some form of “homosexual.” I had no problem at all with any of this. I’d let them talk girls with me if they wanted, since it was clear I wasn’t actually interested in said girls, and they were all fun people to be around, so why would I care who they wanted to see naked?
Maggie, one of my best friends mentioned earlier, is openly bisexual and has been categorized by the teenagers in my former high school and many people in the community as just lesbian. I hang out with her every time I’m home from college, because we’re friends and I miss her when I’m away from home. She’s not the only one I make sure to see.
In the last few months, I’ve been informed by Maggie, who is still in high school, that my knowledge of my reputation within that high school is a bit different than I’d expect. See, I expect nothing, at least outside of the people still there that knew me, and even then, very little.
The reality is that people who have never met me, know little about me, or even have spent time with me suspect I’m gay. It’s not everyone, of course, and not enough people that I really care, but it’s there, and I live in a pretty small town.
The mother of a kid I graduated with asked my brother once when I was hanging out with Maggie if I was with the girl that “you know….likes girls” and whether or not I like girls. Maggie apparently has had to tell some people that we aren’t dating each other…or has heard people suspect, at least
As if I wouldn’t just tell people I was gay if I was. I have no fear of retribution from my family or friends. My mom already told me she doesn’t care who I love as long as they love me too, and my friends have no reason at all to see that as a problem.
But I like men.
To Finish Up…
My friends didn’t exactly have an easy time with coming out. One of my friends never plans on telling her grandmother. None were outright rejected, but there was definitely disapproval, sometimes not at home but at school, and I know my town (or at least my class at school) was pretty open and accepting compared to much of the population.
And it seems weird, but with being told I’m on the town’s gaydar, I’m wondering if eventually this will escalate to a point that I’ll have to sit people down to come out and say that I’m straight.
Isn’t that a nice reversal of things?
I wouldn’t do it, anyway. They can believe what they want. What matters is my opinion of myself, and to a bigger extent the opinions of close friends and family, and I’m secure on those fronts. Therefore, I don’t care enough about what the Rumor Mill might think to make an effort to declare myself. They wouldn’t believe it anyway.
It is fascinating, though.