Sometimes our lives are not authentic until we reach our late-life years. Fear, shame, society, careers, religion, family … they often convince us to hide critical truths about ourselves. Once established in a job or your parents have passed, this lack of constant scrutiny can open up a chance to envision the life you’ve always dreamed of in the far corners of your mind. You may have noticed the copious amount of seniors finally recognizing and announcing their true sexuality. Is it a fad, you may ask? Why all of the sudden is everyone gay?
Think for a minute about the people, like me, who attempt this difficult shift. I’m not at all
talking about a temporary frustration with men and wanting an adventure in the Isle of Lesbos in Greece. I’m also not talking about an escape from a horrible relationship. I’m talking about truly owning the sexuality that may have been repressed for decades.
You see, if you need a new hobby, I don’t recommend taking a risky venture with a member of the same sex. A rendezvous is one thing, but relationships are complicated especially if you are not certain your sexuality is “thing.” You could hurt someone deeply while exploring your own curiosity. Remember, people are not hobbies. But, speaking from an honest, vulnerable place, the desire to be with the same sex may have been concealed in your genes and perhaps hidden deep in your closet for long periods of time. I know it was for me, and so many others who I’ve met along the way.
Thank God, gay women have become part of our social culture today or at least they are tip- toeing into the forefront with social acceptance, even in the most conservative of places. We gay women are willing to talk about it and are proud; we didn’t just pull a lottery ticket to be “a gay.” Throughout the years, it has not always felt like “winning.” Being queer of any variety is not an easy life. I did not have any loving mother/daughter connection that would cause me to seek out the wonderful attributes of women, or to be honest in any way with what I was thinking or feeling as an adolescent. I did have unloving, eccentric, self-centered parents who caused me to seek comfort in
loving and like-minded women. It took me 30 years to get to the truth of me, unravelling damaging relationships and emotional trauma along the way.
My story began as a child who always felt a magnet toward women. My parents were married 50 years, but it was no secret that my mother was a promiscuous lesbian, while my very weak father looked the other way. And so, my home was always filled with very glamorous women who loved to party and lived for drama. It was all I knew during childhood. Mother was not making pancakes in the kitchen while Dad patted her on the ass lovingly. No, there were breakups and makeups with an assortment of dazzling women around me and at times, I found myself in a room of what seemed like
color-coded feral cats… or should I say dueling dykes? I always felt very feminine as a person, even though I might have been pumping out testosterone like King Kong. I had no hatred toward men at all, in fact, I was a serial dater in high school and college. It did not matter if the person had two heads, I expected myself to accept any and all dates from men. I was always hungry for unique attention and the people I attracted were fun, they danced well, and I have always enjoyed good company. One thing, however, was evident: the passion needle did not flicker once during my dating years. I did not need
sex from men and knew I definitely didn’t want it. This was convenient in the era I grew up in; chastity was not unusual.
I only had a few girlfriends at a time as a child but they were all very deep, meaningful, and emotional experiences. It just felt like a puzzle in me was complete when I was around females. I realized I was sexually attracted to women during the 1970’s, but this was a danger zip code you did not enter unless you were brave, insistent upon living your authentic self. I was not brave in my teens. At 20 years old, I married a man I did not even like! My family life was an ongoing train wreck and this man was a ticket out of that tumultuous house. It was not fair to the man I married; I never felt the
need to experiment sexually or gave my marriage all of me. For 10 years, I felt like a mannequin with no feelings or desires for my husband. We would double date with other couples and what a joy it was for me to sit in the back seat with the other wife. The fit was just right and the conversation always satisfying. I would find myself stealing glances at attractive women on the bus or in the grocery. They caught my eye and it wasn’t just the way they handled the watermelon. It was chemistry, pure legit chemistry.
Late blooming lesbians can discover same sex feelings and it does not mean they are running from an abusive or unsatisfying relationship. I had been repressing my feelings so long but finally they relocated into the right place. I divorced after 10 years of marriage and felt like shackles were taken off my feet. Luckily, I was born into the right city to find myself. New Orleans has never been Iowa, you know. Gay bars exhausted the area, but I had no gay friends so I had to jump over this hurdle on my own. Emerging as a newborn lesbian was debilitating, terrifying, and filled with good and not-so-good relationships and one-night stands. But you have to try the shrimp appetizer before the Tomahawk
steak, after all. I never once slid or dabbled into the straight world after divorce but walking into the gay world took me so much courage.
The minute I walked into the door of my first lesbian bar, it felt right: terrifying, but right.
I was more scared than a cat on Highway 565 when I walked through that door. Then, let’s talk about not fitting in! I arrived in a lacy sundress, with teased Aqua Net hair, heels, a big purse in hand after driving a half-dozen times around the block before I had the guts to park and get out the damn car. Disco music was blaring and the bar was crowded with every type of woman possible. Seats at the bar were packed, with some women were dressed in men’s suits while some women were provocatively dressed – this was the era of The Butches and The Fems. I felt afraid that no one would approach me, I was so out of place, but yet, this zip code felt good, like an old pair of running shoes. I ordered a Coke in a rocks glass with a cocktail straw, so no one knew it was not alcoholic and promptly leaned against a brick wall. Hours passed. A few smiles here and there and then a few winks came my way. My feet hurt after standing hours. That was it and I went home. Despite having done literally nothing but stand with my back to a wall, I was electrified and deeply happy.
After wandering aimlessly through life, I had finally found a place where I belonged, no matter how out of place I looked at the time. That feeling was self-acceptance. I knew it in my heart; this was me and it was good. But quickly, I realized I had to ditch the sundress and purse. Cat eye glasses, red lipstick, and cut-up t-shirts found their way into my wardrobe. Entering the World of Women Only, all of the games, awkwardness, self-repression, breakups, and craziness were so worth to eventually arrive at my authentic place.
Did you enjoy this short story written by Cindy Small? If so, join us this evening 29 Nov at 7pm CT to hear Cindy's story live!