Sep. 14th, 2012

apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Girly kiss)
There's a new cashier at work. She's 18, just out of high school, and taking some time off before starting classes at community college.

On one of her first days, she was training with me. She is all kinds of awkward, the way 18 year-olds generally are, and her small talk was a bit lacking. We had this conversation, pretty much verbatim:

N: How old are you?
Me: Whuh, oh...I'm 30.
N: Oh, I'm sorry!


Later, she asked if I had a boyfriend. No, I told her, "and I don't have a girlfriend either."

She seemed a bit stunned, but recovered quickly. "Oh, are you, like, bi?"

I answered in the affirmative, then some customers came up, and we didn't have time to explore her feelings about my bisexuality.

To my surprise, she brought it up again rather quickly; at the first opportunity when there weren't any customers around, actually. "So when did you know you were bi?"

The answer to that question is complicated, but I gave her the easy explanation: I've known that I'm attracted to other women ever since my mid-teens. Again, our conversation was interrupted by customers (fucking customers, eh? :P), and that was the last I heard of it for awhile.

Until last week.

We were talking about something completely unrelated: I think we were talking about me looking younger than I am, and that not necessarily being a good thing, because I do not enjoy being talked to like a child when I am 30 damn years old. She must have been just waiting for an opportunity to broach the topic, because from there she went right into a description of the crushes she'd had on her female friends and them "leading her on" and her being very disappointed.

Naturally, a customer came up right after she dropped that bombshell (see? FUCKING CUSTOMERS, YO!) and she said, "I guess we'll have to continue this talk later."

Awww! She wants me to be her queer mentor! ♥ (I'm already sliding into that role with the student of a friend of mine.)

Naturally, we didn't get the time to continue talking that day, and I was waiting for her to bring it up since. I saw her today, and she tried to pick up the conversation, but it was just too busy at the market. I told her she can email me, and I also told her that I understand what she was getting at: yes, it can be really confusing and frustrating trying to date other girls, especially when you're that young.

It all just made me think about the importance of being out; and it made me feel a little guilty for all the years when I...wasn't.

As I said, it's complicated. I have always been attracted to women. My best friend who ditched me when we were 13 still holds the record as the only person ever to break my heart. At 16, I was crushing so hard on a girl that I worked with; I used to sneak away from my department to talk to her, and it drove me crazy when she'd go on about her boyfriend. Throughout college, I was very much in love with a very good friend of mine.

But I never called myself "bi". Not because I thought liking girls was bad, but because I bought into the popular message that bi was "trendy", bi was "fickle"--bi didn't exist. I associated bisexual with "not queer enough", and trying to claim some queer cool points when they weren't earned.

Also, since I'd never had a girlfriend, I doubted that I was "truly" bisexual: sure, I was attracted to girls, but did that mean I was able to form a romantic relationship with them? (Never mind that I'd never had a boyfriend either. Because you can totally assume heterosexuality without any prior experience.)

So I continued to make out with girls at parties and foster years-long crushes on my close friends, but I never called myself queer.

Until I did. Then rapidly "came out" to anyone and everyone. (I say "came out" in quotes, because most of the time it went like this:

Me: I'm bisexual.
Everyone else: I know. And...?)

Of course, it was my damn business what I called myself, and it was my damn business what I chose to tell anybody else about who I fancied and what I might want to do with them. That's true of everyone.

But for anyone who feels they can be out, it...matters. I never knew any queer women growing up. Maybe if I had, I would have come to terms with all this sooner. I don't know that I have any useful advice to give to my young co-worker, but I could see that it meant something to her to see an adult who felt sort of the way she did and wasn't afraid to talk about it.

Damn, I feel like I should have a conclusion here, or have properly developed some sort of thesis...

Anyway, thanks for listening. Any questions? :P

ETA: I find it kind of hilarious that I never ping anybody's queerdar, ever. For my friends and people that know me well, my "coming out" was about as surprising as Lance from N*SYNC's. As for casual acquaintances and people who don't know me as well, the response is always something along the lines of "I never would have known!" Like they expect us to be purple or something. :P
Moonlines and apple-pathways

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