I love it when a “heterosexual” female friend of mine approaches me after a few strong cocktails, brows fiercely furrowed and shoulders tense, teeming with the ol' statement: "I think I might be attracted to a girl."
It happens at least twice a month. As the token “queer friend” and as a naturally open-minded entity, I'm always the girl to whom the sexually confused have chosen to confide. It's been happening since early childhood. Long before I was even out.
Not only have I watched my friends spiral down the emotional roller coaster of not knowing what to do about an attraction to another girl, but I've been down that harrowing ride myself.
I’m 15 and a sophomore in high school. There’s a senior girl who doesn't know my name -- hell, she might not even know I exist -- but I’m secretly enamored with her.
I've had fleeting bouts of sexual attraction for other girls since I was playing “house” as a young kid, but nothing like this. This girl knocked the wind out of me from the moment I saw her in the school hallways.
She’s a punk rock riot grrrl -- nothing like the rest of the Juicy Couture, Coach bag-sporting drones that held court in the school hallways. She has a spark -- dare I say a swagger -- and just the sight of her snow white skin and deep set brown eyes is sending a shiver down my spine.
It’s a feeling of irrepressible lust that no boy has ever triggered in me.
Am I gay? Am I bisexual? Is this a mere one-off? I'm not sure of anything anymore. The only thing I'm totally sure about is every time I look this senior girl's way, I become red in the face. My cheeks burn with what feels like a palpable lust. I’m bathed in a cloak of shame, sure that others can see the sexual attraction written across my face.
I’m dating a slew of boy creatures, all of whom are cute, popular and well-liked. But no one is sparking up the fire in my heart, leaving me lost in sexual fantasies during math class (I blame her for my failing geometry grade) like this chick is.
I’m lost in this riptide, this dangerous ocean of confusing feels, for the next decade.
Now, almost 15 years later, I'm all “grown up,” and I’ve spent that decade exclusively dating women.
My experience at 15 wasn’t the only time I’ve gone down the dark, uncomfortable vortex of sexual confusion, and I continue to watch the most unexpected of friends fall into the pit, too.
Some end up totally gay. For others, it’s just a fleeting moment of attraction. Some fall in love with their first girl crush and never look back, while others remain fluid in their sexuality, fluctuating between men and women.
Some of the girls in question are classically feminine, all long hair and lipstick and nail polish. Others are textbook tomboys, captains of the softball team and wear loose denim.
But it's all window dressing. Personal style doesn't dictate whom you are attracted to. And those "first" attractions are always hard, no matter how you dress.
For every girl creature who’s attracted to another girl creature, there will always be an emotional trajectory. And her thoughts will go something like this.
"I feel like I could kiss this girl."
You're sitting pretty, enjoying yourself at a bar with some friends, when ever-so-suddenly you find yourself staring at a girl's lips as she speaks. Maybe she's your friend. Maybe she's a girl you just met.
Regardless, you're watching her lips twist around words, and all you can think about is, damn, I want to kiss those lips.
"No, I just couldn’t."
For a moment, you lose yourself in a detailed daydream in which your mouth is pressed firmly up against another woman's mouth. You’re breathing the same breath, your fingers intertwined, your back is up against the wall, and the weight of her girl body is on top of your girl body.
When -- WHAM. You suddenly catch yourself immersed in these new, twisted thoughts, and your intellect steps right the f*ck in.
There is no way you could go through with it. No f*cking way. YOU'RE STRAIGHT. You just got stuck in a silly fantasy. That's all.
Now check out that cute boy in the backward hat at the other end of the bar, goddamn it.
"Sh*t, I can't shake this."
Throughout the rest of the evening, every quiet moment you have to yourself circles back to kissing this increasingly hot, sexy girl.
"I need Google."
One of the most harrowing parts of this whole girl crush business is sliding down the dark and dismal Internet vortex.
Suddenly, at the end of the night, you find yourself Googling "signs you might be a lesbian" or "is it normal for straight girls to be attracted to girls” for hours and hours and hours.
The stone cold truth is that NO website can define your sexuality. Each website will contradict one another, and you fall asleep plagued by the hard fact that the only person who can really answer that question is you, my confused little kitten.
"OK, stop. I was just drunk."
You were probably just drunk! Alcohol is a powerful substance, and God f*cking knows you've definitely sported some pretty brutal drunk goggles for men you've slept with after a night of drinking. So why couldn't it be the same thing for woman?
You had gay drunk goggles on for one night. Big f*cking deal.
"Did I feel this way when I met my best friend?"
I mean, maybe you're finding yourself attracted to this girl because you want to be this girl. Maybe she is rich with qualities you wish you possessed. Maybe you're just in the dramatic throes of a friend crush.
Except you think back to that moment when you met your best friend, and it wasn't the same. She's undeniably gorgeous, but you never imagined kissing those lips.
"Am I a f*cking lesbian?"
You've always identified as straight. You've always pictured yourself marrying a guy. Right?
Maybe not. Maybe now that you think about it, you've had strong surges of sexual attraction toward other women your entire life.
Maybe you've just identified as straight because society wants you to be straight.
Maybe society pushed its lies on to you and said that you were too pretty to be gay, too femme to be gay, too goddamn into fashion to be gay.
Maybe you've just been repressing these feelings for so long, and now they're exploding on to the surface.
Maybe you're a lesbian. Sh*t, you're a f*cking LESBIAN.
This is when you contact the one person who you feel can provide you with the final moment of acute realization.
"I need to call my lesbian friend."
This is where I come in.
You come to me distressed. I'm in my pajamas watching “L Word” reruns with my cat (ALL lesbians have cats), when I get a late-night text, "Can you meet me for a drink ASAP? I NEED your advice."
I've peeled out of my pajamas on a cold winter's night to counsel you one too many times, so I know what’s coming: You, sweet kitten, are finding yourself attracted to another girl, and it's stressful.
I get it. You want to know if I think you're a lesbian. I can't answer that for you, but trust me, I would if I could. But don't fret. I can help guide you in the right direction.
Lez get real. Ask yourself the following questions: Can you imagine yourself venturing into territory beyond kissing with this girl? Can you imagine going down on her and vice versa? Can you imagine going on real dates and holding hands?
If you are really are having a sexual attraction for another girl and want to pursue it, you have to be able to see beyond the occasional kiss and painting each other’s toenails. Lesbians aren't just best friends who sleep in the same bed.
We have sex. We go down on each other (a lot). We fight. We get date anxiety around each other. We have romantic dates and open up the door for each other, just like you do with your boyfriend.
Sound like something you might be interested in? Can you imagine yourself developing real feelings or do you just want to experiment?
Disclaimer: If you just want to experiment, that's okay, but tread carefully. Most lesbians don't want to be your “experiment.”
However, if the answer is “yes” to all the aforementioned questions, hop on board sister. Welcome to the club. Stop questioning yourself out your feelings and dive the f*ck in.
And if you're still confused, don't fret so much. Relieve yourself from the pressure of labels, and just feel the feelings out. Time, as frustrating as it is, will always lead you in the right direction.
Just breathe, and let it happen.