I’ve known I loved women ever since I fell head over heels for my pediatrician’s daughter at age five. My mom and I were at the local K-Mart (probably shopping for hair bows made of shoestring or something) when we stumbled across my doctor and his daughter. The daughter was maybe twenty-five, and gorgeous. “Mama, that’s Lois Lane!” I said, and meant it. My mother tried her best to explain to me the woman standing down the aisle was not actually Teri Hatcher, but I didn’t buy it. The woman just laughed, further convincing me she was a majestic goddess sent from on high.
This type of run-in was fairly common for me as a kid. That same year, my mom had to pry me away from the woman who played Al in Step by Step. I mean, in retrospect, she probably wasn’t that woman, but there was no convincing me at the time. I was also quite in love with a neighbor of ours, Sara, who would come over occasionally to chat with my mom and sisters about our garden or the cats. When I saw Sara approach, I’d run and hide behind the lilac bushes we kept in the corner of the yard. She’d walk over and ask for a hug. I’d die. It wasn’t because I hated giving hugs, but because she made me so nervous. I still sometimes wish for a lilac bush to hide behind when I encounter a cute girl.
I could be a pretty disobedient kid as far as my parents were concerned, but if an interesting woman told me to do anything at all, I’d rush to do it. I’m sure part of the reason I did well in school was because the good majority of my teachers were women and I never wanted to disappoint them. I’m also certain my being a lesbian is connected to my passion for reading. My English teachers were always the most marvelous women I ever met, and I was searching for a connection.
Looking back on my early life, it’s hard to understand how my mom could think my being gay was “just a phase”. It seems like she should have seen it coming all along. If she had, would she have kicked me out of the house after finding a letter my girlfriend had written to me? If my mom had gotten some advance notice of who I was, would she have told me what I was doing was a sin, and that my being gay was breaking her heart? I don’t know if it would have made any difference, but I think about it a lot.
Somewhere in my late teens, who I was got muddled. I knew since my childhood I’d been only interested in women, but following some unhealthy attachments and a traumatic event in college, I began dating men. I transferred from the women’s school I loved to a coeducational university near my hometown. I hated myself for transferring, but knew the environment would never feel the same after what happened.
It wasn’t until just after my twenty-third birthday that I started to date women. I’d gotten out of a two year relationship with a man and had spiraled. I regret a lot of my actions during this time, but am so grateful I made it out the other side and was able to become who I always was.
When I first came out to my friends and family, I used a lot of language I know I wouldn’t use now. “I’m in love with the person”, “We’re all the same”, and so on. For a long time after that I was angry with myself for saying these things, especially to my mom. It had only confused her, I thought–and it wasn’t even how I felt anymore. Sure, I’m in love with the person, but the person is a woman. I love women. About a year after, I finally had the courage to call myself a lesbian. I said it to my mother, over the phone, and in that moment I had never felt stronger.
by Juliette Faraone