Coming Out Straight

About a year ago now I was sitting on my lounge and multitasking like any good 21st century teenager: watching TV, googling on my laptop and playing Jelly Splash on my phone. I came across a few videos of kids coming out to their families and friends as gay. Now, as an avid LGBTQI supporter, watching these types of videos was not unusual for me. What was different this time though, was that my father walked in.

As I sat their, holding back the tears of joy as these people were accepted without a fuss by their loved ones, I noticed Dad looming in the doorway and grinned at him.

“What are you doing?” he asked me hesitantly – that should have been the first sign of what was to come.

Naive as I was, I explained the videos and turned my focus back to the screen. But he wasn’t done. As I sat there in shock, he calmly explained to me that he would love me no matter what my sexual orientation.

Two things occurred to me at this point: firstly, that there were so many people in this world that would give anything to have a father as amazing, loving and accepting as my own, and secondly… ‘Shit, I come across as a lesbian!’

I like to think that my reaction wasn’t due to fear of being gay, but rather fear that everybody – let’s be honest, boys –  thought I was a lesbian which was why they never asked me out. So, I sought out my friends for reassurance. At a sleepover a few days later, I recalled the story with a grin and chuckled along with them at the end. Then there was an awkward pause…

“Well,” one of my friends said, obviously braver than the rest, “Are you?”

Sometime in the next few months – after recovering from my shock – I came to a realization: this is what people in the LGBTQI community all go through and we don’t consider it weird. At all. It’s normal.

Still puzzling over that, I watched this fantastic comedy sketch a few months ago and it really stuck with me. Check it out and you’ll see what I mean:

He’s a funny guy, but more than that: he’s right!

In the several times I’ve been asked this question over the past 12 months, I always dig myself into a deeper hole. I’ll demonstrate:

They say: “Blah blah blah (vague reference to my sexuality) blah blah.”

And I reply: “Yeah, I’ve been called gay a few times…”

An awkward pause.

Them: “Are you a lesbian?”

And it’s this moment that stretches out to infinity: I weigh my options, think about my response and always say the same thing that gets me into strife: “No… Or at least I don’t think so…”

And they love that – they sense my hesitation and go it for the kill. What I don’t understand is how my refusal to be adamant that I will never fall in love with or be sexually attracted to a woman makes them so confused! Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it never will – for me or for them!

So this is me officially coming out of the cupboard to my friends, family and all you random strangers and hoping for your acceptance.

I am straight.

For now.

The Text

It was a normal evening, or so I thought, when I made my way back to my room. I’d left my phone behind (scandalous I know!) and turned the screen on with a fake sort of casualness as I secretly hoped I’d become popular in the last hour. Instead, the worst awaited me: The Text.

Every Best Friend knows about The Text. It’s an instant mayday that may as well be telepathic, released onto the airwaves with a few panicked words. It’s not just a ‘bitch, answer your phone’ or ‘I’m outside so unlock your door’. The Text is reserved for the worst of worst situations. It can usually be identified by simple, direct language – along the lines of ‘I need you’ or ‘oh my God’ – and is preceded by at least one missed call. You must reply as soon as you are able.

And that was what I was confronted with: The Text! So I grabbed my phone off the bed, lightening-typed a reply and called her several times. My Best Friend – let’s call her Jane – didn’t pick up, and I began to panic. I started a list of everyone who could have died or been severely injured who would warrant The Text. Thankfully, my phone rang before I started to hyperventilate.

I answered the call to find Jane hysterical. At first, I thought she was telling me her boyfriend had broken his legs, but the truth was worse: he had broken up with her. Now, as Jane’s Best Friend, I was instantly filled with two emotions. The first was relief: nobody had died and I couldn’t help but be grateful for that. The second was obligatory Bestie hatred to the Ex. Another thing every Best Friend knows is that Ex-Boyfriends (especially those from messy break-ups) are the Enemy. You are required, by binding friendship law, to despise them more than your Best Friend. This is of course usually easy to do as they’re still half in love with the Ex.

With this in mind, I listened patiently and muttered a few angry comments. Then there was a lull in the conversation and I knew that it was my turn to offer advice.

Oh God.

Now, what you have to understand about me is that my dating experience is literally less than a 7 year old’s, to which my young neighbors with multiple girlfriends can attest. I’ve never been in a relationship, never been on a date, never been kissed. As such, I am rarely called on for advice of a ‘romantic’ nature. Academic? Sure! Dramatic? Why not! Relationships? Well… The fact of the matter is that I barely understand attraction and I’m hardly qualified to offer my opinions on the matter. None-the-less, I stepped up to the plate.

I proposed a three step plan comprised from every romantic-comedy, book and magazine that I have ever watched, read or skimmed. It was very simple and, I thought, rather ingenious.

Step 1: Eat Your Feelings.

Tubs of ice cream and blocks of chocolates are age-old cliches for a reason and that reason is very simple: comfort food is comforting – it makes you feel better. At least, that’s what I’ve always found, despite what the scales are telling me…

Step 2: Block His Number.

I suggested that this step begin with the previous one and last until Jane had figured out where her heart was at. By this point, I could tell my limited understanding was beginning to bite me in the backside, but there was no turning back. Not now. Not ever. Bravely, I pressed onward.

Step 3: To Be Advised.

For the life of me, I couldn’t think of what came next. My hours of research on the subject at hand deserted me, and I was left with ‘I’ll get back to you on that’. Hardly my finest hour. Should I tell Jane that she’s too good for him and to move on? What if they get back together… Do I badmouth him and suggest revenge tactics? See previous response…. This step just has to be ‘move on’ – but you can’t say that to a heartbroken person.

By the time Jane hung up, my heart and head were aching. The former because of my beautiful Best Friend who put herself out there only to realize she was in a storm without an umbrella was hurting. The latter because I still couldn’t figure out why people don’t just stay indoors. It’s safer, warmer, and there is food. But I guess that if you don’t step outside, you’ll never get the chance to see the sun, even if you risk a little rain.