I never came out, not properly, I never sat down anybody, maybe on the couch like they do in movies. I said my “ex girlfriend”, “this girl I like”, “she’s so cute” and I investigated the mouth and the eyes the forehead of the person I was talking to, looking for something that meant "It’s okay". It came, almost always.
I have a distinct memory of a family vacation in Amsterdam, we were walking back to the apartment we had rented and my dad and I were walking together. He said something along the lines of “How beautiful will it be when you come back here as an adult with your husband or wife”. He said it with ease. I must have been eleven. How many people get lucky like that?
Three years ago I was complaining to a friend that girls never flirted with me. She smiled and jokingly said that it was simply cause they did not know I was queer. I was never much into the all rainbow things nor I had a personal style that one would associate with queerness. She was joking but the comment stuck. It was during one of the first periods in which I dared to think and say out loud that I did not like men. For a long time, I identified as bisexual. As I had experiences with men, though, I felt less sure about it. Saying I did not like men anymore felt like a liberation from the obligation to be attractive to them. Apparently, this is quite a common feeling: the male gaze lifting off your shoulders. I read somewhere that sometimes queer women struggle with distinguishing a certain desire to be liked by men and actual attraction. Do I want you or do I want you to want me?
I went back and forth a lot. It felt very powerful to say lesbian until I started getting all these little crushes on guys. I still haven’t figured it out, it took me a long time to give up on the figuring out. I went back to the word queer, I am still getting used to it, I am seeing if it fits, if it’s comfortable. Labels have always felt like new shoes to me, I need to break them in. Before I landed here, I changed labels a bunch of times and every time I would try to make the change more drastic and evident. Once I started buying a lot of men’s clothes, another time I got on Tinder cause I wanted to learn to be “casual”, then I told myself I was only going to date if it was gonna be long-term (it did not help my dating pool) and I cut my hair, every time a bit shorter than the time before. After my last haircut, my roommates told me I looked queer, jokingly, they said nobody could mistake me for a straight woman now. I like it when people say that something I do feels queer. I like the idea that it radiates out of me.
In the beginning, when I was a teen, sexuality was not something I really thought about. It just kind of happened to me. The first person I fell in love with was a girl. She’s the one that showed me “Carol” and “The L Word”. She’s the one that I kissed and then told I was straight. It took me years to realize how that must have hurt. We are all each other tormentors. Lately, I hear people saying that your first queer heartbreak hurts like hell. It’s true. For me, it was also just the first heartbreak. I remember at some point we stopped talking, but she would call me at midnight and then we’d stay on the phone until six and then at six we would swear to not call anymore. People keep telling me lesbian breakups are messy. Well. I like it when someone looks at how I am and says that that is a queer way to be. People keep telling me lesbian breakups are messy. Well.
I like it when someone looks at how I am and says that that is a queer way to be.
There is a bookstore in London called “Gay’s the Word”. I have been once, last week, I am no particular expert, I would not be able to tell you where it is, but that’s about not being a particular expert on the matter of London, more than on the matter of the bookstore. My best friend, who I was visiting, brought me there, she had a shift at work and she dropped me off saying that she was bringing somewhere I would enjoy. It’s not big, it’s actually a one-room store and it has this step in the middle and I tripped on it at least three times. I got in and I cried, a bit, quietly, looking at the books. The all place was stacked with books, from the floor to the ceiling, some where too high for me to reach. Lately, I have craved queer stories but I seem to never find them. Suddenly they were all there, in my reach, abundant. It was a cold Saturday morning and I was alone in this big scary city and I cried a bit and I was surprised I did. I looked around, there was a mom with a kid and they were asking for a book about a specific topic that I did not catch. A bunch of people were just hanging around, passing each other the books they liked, commenting, and laughing. I was there for more than an hour, I wonder if I looked shaken or ecstatic. I stacked up a volume of books that was never gonna fit in my bag, so then I had to choose which one to get. I got tarots, a nice deck hand drawn by a queer artist. Today, I was on the internet and I found an article about how tarots are quintessentially queer. I like when people say that something I do is queer. I like it that it shows in ways I do not expect.