“When I Knew I Was Gay” #1: What Would Happen If One Woman Told The Truth About Her Life

Hey-o! Welcome to a Week of Gay-i-versaries! If this was an afternoon talk show you could all reach under your chairs right now and get a toaster, a koosh ball, a box of kleenex for all your wasted teenaged tears, a snack-pack of dental dams, The Lesbian Avengers Handbook and a copy of Tegan & Sara’s “The Con,” but alas it is not, and therefore instead you get our words, which are often lovely, and all we have.

Carlytron & Robin had this week’s brilliant Roundtable idea. This is how they described it:

“What do you consider your “gay-iversary?” Everyone defines it differently. I’m sure some would say they’ve been gay since birth, others might say it was when they first kissed a girl, some would say it was when Brandi Chastain ripped her shirt off after kicking the winning goal in the Womens World Cup… To each her own. We were talking about it and think it would be really fun, maybe even get the interns involved? Also how many years people say they have been gay for, that’s cool to see. Who am I, Yoda?”

If you think you have the cutest “When I Knew” story tweet it to @autostraddle with hash tag #wheniknew and you could win a prize and you will defo see your  name in lights on AS!

We’re gonna kick off with Riese & Laneia and roll out other stories as the week goes on — Riese picks one of many stories she’s attributed to being “that moment,” and Laneia decides to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the stuff she’s kept secret from the Internet … until right now.

[Tinkerbell would like to add that she loves everyone, a lot. Also -- the photo for the feature graphic is stolen mercilessly from photographer Emma Neely.]

gayiversary-1

 


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riese-icon3Riese:

Oh I don’t know when it was. I’m a poster child for the self-aware & sexuality-confused. I’ve told this story repeatedly with a similar plot but different characters, different scenes, different motivations.

This straight girl I used to sleep with suggested that I lack typical childhood sexual revelation memories  ’cause I was forbidden to shut my door all the way (my Mom thought I’d fall & die and she’d be locked out), so I never felt safely “alone” enough to consider sex. I thought about unicorns a lot.

I’d assumed that the only reason people didn’t come out was ’cause they feared parental banishment. Therefore my logic went thusly: because I had an accepting family (my Mom came out herself when I was 15) but did not feel comfortable coming out, that must be because I was not gay. I grew up in a liberal town, after all. But still, dyke was a heavy insult, lesbians were ridiculed even by my allegedly enlightened peer group (if they didn’t like lesbians, then who would?) and bisexuality was a party game. Furthermore, there were about 10,000 confusing paradoxes battling within my major depressive disordered brain, obscuring truth even though as a smart girl I presumed my own self-awareness.

I’d assumed that the only reason people didn’t come out was ’cause they feared parental banishment. Therefore my logic went thusly: because I had an accepting family but did not feel comfortable coming out as gay, I must not be gay.

So when was it? It was: high school when I wanted her back but hadn’t expected to, when I first saw Shane on The L Word,  when I stopped looking in the mirror and seeing that bullied sweaty/needy girl who needed a boyfriend ’cause she’d heard it was the best band-aid on the market, when Heather made us see Naked Boys Singing and I got so grossed out by the penises, the first time a girl made feel crazy, the first time I made love to a woman I was in love with and knew it was Beyond, when I started dating girls that were actually my type, I could go on for pages & pages …

Here’s one version; about what happens when you realize you don’t even like yourself anymore and you might want to think about why that is.

It was 2005; the end of September, the week I lost all my friends.

[some names have been changed]

Krista, my Spanish Harlem roommate and best friend since high school, spends her summers working at theater camp so I’d had to get a subletter starting that June. The day she left I flung myself on our (platonically) shared bed and wept, much to my surprise. I’d been so fiercely independent for the past six months (No boyfriend to lean on was a big step for me!) and realized when she left that I hadn’t been, I’d just been codependent with my best friend; my “sister.”

But then the summer unfurled before me like a self-destructive rainbow. I’d be deliciously unsupervised. No-one around to hold me accountable, or to ask me to make a narrative connecting my established personality to my daily activities.

I started hanging out even more than I had been with random girls who liked girls that I met online, like Sara & Chloe.

A week after the Fourth of July I was tanned and buzzed in Salon, a trendy Meatpacking District club at a Bi-Chic CAKE party, and Sara was popping candy from her necklace into my mouth while girls wearing underwear the color of gumballs danced on tables; all bright blues & pinks & yellows. I went back and forth between making out with Sara and chatting up the bouncer, a model named Matty who I’d met while trying to get Sara’s friends into the bar. He turned out to live across the street from me. Bam. We had a thing that lasted a few days but became friends instead. He attributed this to me being “more than half a fag” which he reminded me I’d have to explain to Jesus on Judgment Day.

The summer was a roasted blur of parties, Matty’s giant car, alcohol, girls, numbness, vacancy; interspersed with cool afternoons reading manuscripts at the literary agency where I worked. I believe at this time I had no connection whatsoever to my actual heart or feelings. I labeled this detachment “not wanting a relationship.”

August descended; steamy streets, hot unbearable hair, lukewarm taxicabs. At Chloe’s, the window air conditioner hummed its faint relief as we did fat lines off the backsides of CD cases.  At Nation, we pushed through the crowds of girls we’d come to meet and slid into the bathroom where Chloe lifted her tiny powdered fingers to her nostrils and I drank vodka from a hip flask.

September arrived and all of these things were happening at once: Krista came back but our subletter hadn’t left yet. Chloe needed a new apartment, Sara lived in a big basement room in her apartment that Chloe moved right into. Like Krista and I were doing except that it was tearing us apart, and Sara and Chloe had been doing just the opposite in their shared bed —fucking, I guess.

Krista returned to find me in a state — to avoid feeling anything about girls, or girl-on-girl culture, it turned out I had to shut down altogether (like I’d learned to do ten years earlier when my Dad died), because it wasn’t just one part of me after all (though I didn’t see that then), it was me.

I spent time with people Krista hadn’t heard of & neglected loved ones who wanted to talk about real things, rather than just get fucked up & eat the night alive. Why was I so convinced these real friends would reject me? Why did I ignore that my new friends wanted to be real friends too, if only I’d give them a chance? I remembered in high school hearing two boys at the lunchtable next to me – one of whom I knew was hooking up with Krista daily at that point – talking shit about her being a lesbian, and how it scared me to hear people speak like that about that. When you’ve felt abnormal all your life but not known why, you look out for these signs & signals of how not to be normal, of what to avoid.

Krista & I fought ostensibly about who had to move to the back bedroom which was smaller and had no light/windows and why Matty was always over. We were actually fighting about fear and love.

By mid-September I was interning & working 60-hour weeks for almost no money at all. Days whizzed by in hazes of aggressive city & journalistic education & productivity & eagerness for what I knew was coming from the moment I woke up: the sweet oblivion of night.

I turned 24; Chloe & Sara made me a card, Krista and I had dinner where we cried & loved each other. My other best friend, Natalie, was preparing to move to London for two years.

By the end of September sometimes it’d be eleven or midnight I’d end up on the corner of 109th and Amsterdam with Chloe and we’d go upstairs to Mo’s to do coke & play darts until I thought I would scream and die.

But most nights I sat in Matty’s room, writing a novel about high school girls who followed their hearts. Matty didn’t know me, I was whoever I wanted to be, nothing was real. I met some of his Russian model girlfriends, slim blondes with attitudes like syringes.  I smoked a lot of pot which is one of many reasons why at first I didn’t notice Matty was having a psychotic break.

As his psychosis worsened I couldn’t get rid of him. I’d come home exhausted and Krista would be in Brooklyn with her boyfriend—and Matty would see my light on and scurry across the street immediately. He was making diagrams and pictures and while I wrote and he drew his plans for world takeover, on the television a hurricane was tearing through New Orleans where my brother lived (he was safe, in Atlanta) and Matty said, “If I lived there, I’d learn how to kite surf and just be like, see-yah motherfuckers!”

I realized I had been almost-dating both of them but hadn’t known it, or hadn’t noticed dating was on the table, like a second fork. Is that what all that making out meant?

All of this was not real, but especially Sara and Chloe, and all the girls I’d seen briefly that year and the year before who I’d stopped talking to because I couldn’t handle anything past a two or three night stand. Chloe & Sara were after-dinner mints, far away from the rough stuff in my own side of town.  Which is why when Sara came outside of their building and Chloe and I were on the steps stealing kisses, Sara went right back in, furious, and Chloe went after her but before she did, she said: “Just go home, Marie.  I have to take care of this, I’m sorry,” and I realized I hadn’t known before that moment that people were going to take care of other people in this game because caring was real.

Which is why, in the three-way IM fight that ensued while I was at work the next day, I realized I had been almost-dating both of them but hadn’t known it, or hadn’t noticed dating was on the table, like a second fork for a course I wasn’t interested in. Is that what all that making out meant? Did they consider me a real friend? They wanted honesty from me and I only knew character. I was too busy to think about it, really.

After I’d been kicked off Chloe & Sara’s stoop, in fact, I’d gone straight to my ex-boyfriend’s place down the block. He asked me if I was on drugs and I said I wasn’t even though I was, he told me I wasn’t gay at all even though I told him that I was, and he told me that if that’s the kind of lifestyle I wanted, he didn’t want to look at my face until I went back to men. So there went one friend down the drain.

And then I learned that Chloe & Sara were getting serious about each other, which blew my mind– that Sara was ready to take that step from bisexually-affiliated to having a girlfriend.

Which is when Matty smashed his computer because of the CIA chip inside it and then went to Central Park to find Osama Bin Laaden and didn’t come back for a long time.

Which is when Natalie moved to London.

Which is when Sara and Chloe decided it would be better for their relationship if both of them stopped speaking to me.

“Do you realize that once Natalie leaves—do you realize that I don’t have any friends right now?” I yelled at Krista because she was yelling at me.

She shot back, in a statement she has redacted and apologized for many times since, even though she was right: “Maybe you should think about why that is.”

+

“I think I liked Chloe, maybe,” I said to Natalie over dinner two days before she left for London. By this point my brain & heart were evacuated countries, no direction for miles. I wasn’t sure if I did like Chloe or if I just wanted to see how it felt to say those words out loud. I did and my whole body went warm and complacent like a pickle.

Natalie nodded like saying; yes, I think you did too. No shock?

So I continued: “It didn’t occur to me to even—think about liking her. Or to think about liking Sara, too, did I like her too? I didn’t think even to care, I mean, I knew ultimately I wouldn’t ever really date a girl.  So what was the point?”

“Really? Why wouldn’t you date a girl?” Natalie asked, earnestly like it was a question she didn’t already know the answer to. I remembered everyone ridiculing her bisexual friend Leslie, oh Natalie, Leslie has a crush on you, which is why I was scared to be Leslie’s friend (“You’re both bi!” Natalie had said. “You could talk about it!”) because I always felt like a weirdo and I just wanted to seem as normal as possible and not get made fun of. I wasn’t that kind of bi.

“Because of my Mom. I just can’t give her that,” I said because my mind had just realized that I’d accidentally put that wall up and not bothered to see the door in the wall I was free to walk through, and had been.

Natalie nodded again. “Well, Leslie is dating a girl now.”

“Wow, like, a girlfriend?”

“Yeah,” Natalie said.  “Things are bad now—she’s like, Natalie. I love the hell out of this girl, and she’s breaking my heart again and again. I never thought I could even do this, and it’s killing me.”

“Just like we talked about guys,” I said, half-smiling, thinking of how pretty Leslie was and — oh my god! — brave.

“Just like that.”

Sara was doing it, Leslie was doing it, and I was a fucking coward.

For the next month or so, sans playmates, I wrote stories, worked, read every Mary Gaitskill book & read five books of coming out stories, Rubyfruit Jungle, et al, watched The L Word Seasons One & Two over and over, and helped Matty when he came back from Bellevue and his water was shut off, and started to make new friends, fix relationships with old ones, and tried to live as quickly as possible. Krista moved into the back bedroom but when her boyfriend wasn’t over, we’d still sleep together in the front room.

For the next few years I’d fuck up over and over before finally getting it anywhere close to right.

But first I said goodbye to Natalie after dinner, to her sweet heart that never stopped loving me, and she went home and there I was on a streetcorner with a face like a sidewalk. I put my music in my ears and got on the bus when it came, thinking about what might happen next while the wheels beneath me traveled madly through the darkness.


 

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
The world would split open.” -Kathi Kallowitz

green-icon

Laneia:

I used to think I was the only person like me. It was just a truth that I had accepted from a very early age. I wasn’t ashamed of how I felt, but I didn’t know what to call it. To me, “gay” meant that you wanted to be the opposite sex. I know, that’s incredibly ignorant, but grew up in a tiny Southern town with two out lesbians who were both extremely butch & about 10 years older than me. I didn’t relate to the only lesbians I saw — well, I knew that I wanted to see pretty girls naked, but it never occurred to me that being “gay” would enable that.

This is what happened: in 2006, I watched an episode of The L Word and it was like being spun around in a vortex and dropped into a world that made perfect sense. Except at that time, I was living a life that didn’t seem to fit with this place I’d been dropped.

In my mind, I was trying on a personality, having some escapist fun in my spare time. No harm, no foul.

“I think I might be bisexual.” That’s what I’d told my best friend in 2001. She told me I was just confused and I believed her. Then I went home and fantasized about making out with her. Then a lifetime of things happened and it was 2006 and I watched lesbians love each other on teevee. Then I googled “Katherine Moennig The L Word” until 2 a.m., which was very, um, productive.

So you could say I came out to myself in early-ish 2006.

But I was stuck in my life and so this is what I did next: I started going online and eventually joined a community of girls online, first just talking The L Word. At first, it was almost like a made-up persona — not 100%, but I was leaving a lot of things out & exaggerating other things. In my mind, I was trying on a personality, having some escapist fun in my spare time. No harm, no foul.

Then, I gradually realized that the me I was pretending to be online was more honest than the me I was in my everyday life.

I kept a lot to myself and have continued to, until today.

Ready? Deep breath.

I knew I was a weirdo from outer space since forever, and I was super confused like you wouldn’t even believe. I didn’t have any sort of support or knowledge and it was like living in photobooth with a curtain I couldn’t open.

Smile!

1.. 2.. 3.. Smile!

For starters! In my everyday life I had a family. Yes!  Like, I had a husband. A real life husband. When I came out to him, he said, “I was waiting for this day to come.”

Okay, that’s one thing down, one more to go …

I know there are other women out there like me, and they feel just as left out as I do, and yet I sit. Making necklaces.

So, by the time I came out to him I was really starting to feel weird that I wasn’t being 100% honest with everyone I knew online, aside from my present girlfriend and a few of my closest friends there. I’ve felt conflicted about this since I first started blogging and being online; because I know there are other women out there like me, and they feel just as left out as I do, and yet I sit. Making necklaces.

I was terrified to reveal the truth of my life to everyone. I wrote on my blog last year that there are things about me that you don’t know, but this is to be expected. There’s a ton of things about you that I don’t know. That’s the point, right. Only now it’s become what I do. I can think of at least six things right now that would open up a whole world that you had no idea existed. And sometimes I want to tell you. A few of you I know, especially, would appreciate it or you could relate. And I’m sorry.

So in a few weeks it will be two years since my girlfriend and I moved into our own house in Arizona, miles and miles from where I used to live and how I used to think.

And here’s the other thing I didn’t say: we live now with each other and also with my two children. Yes. Two actual children. My children.

When I first started discovering my sexuality, I wasn’t the young twentysomething with the world at my feet that I said I was. I was — and am — a young twentysomething. But I was — but I am — also a mother of two.

I believe I’ve been gay since birth, but was too tragically ill-equipped, repressed and ignorant to realize it. And now there’s just so much, I’m bursting with it all.

So this marks my own kind of gay-i-versary, where I have just come out about the rest of the stuff. I’ve told my family that I am gay, and now I am telling the gays about my family.

Maybe writing this will reconcile the divided pieces of my online and offline selves. we’re all on the same page now. Right?

So right now I am actually miles and miles from my home in Arizona because on August 5th — tomorrow  – I am going to court because my ex-husband wants to take my children away from me on the grounds that my girlfriend and I are promoting an “immoral lifestyle” to them. I am terrified of this more than I’ve ever been terrified of anything.

I have told you the truth of my life.

I will sit here now, and feel naked, like the world split open.

Like the world at my feet.

And I’m terrified. Deep breath.

Smile.

1.2.3.

Smile.

Avatar of Riese

Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1744 articles for us.

120 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Riese and Green thank you for sharing your personal stories. I have a similar story to Riese with the partying etc. It took a long time for me to feel like a real person.

    Green I wish you all the luck. I think people are much more educated and aware now. Especially in the court systems. I know you are terrified but sometimes people can surprise you!

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    Wonderful, beautiful, amazing stories! Thank you for sharing. Green, I wish when you were at the airport here in Chicago today that I could have given you that veggie burger. And a hug. I’m thinking good thoughts for you!

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    Carly and I just read this on my iPhone. We are a little teary right now. Laneia, we will be thinking about you tomorrow! It’s so disappointing to me that anyone could even be allowed to challenge your parenting on the basis of your sexuality. Much love and hugs to you, your children and to Cheryl.

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    Wow. I don’t even know what to say. BOTH stories are just so deep, honest, emotional. Amazing. Thank you for sharing. They’re just raw emotion… I’m still thinking it through and digesting. But thank you.

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    Hi Laneia! This is Riese.

    I love you! You are brave & honest & beautiful and I’m privileged to know you and to work with you & your words.

    Everything is gonna be ok tomorrow! You have so much love on your side and you & cheryl are probs the most awesome-est parents of all time. You both deserve everything.

    Love,
    Riese.

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    Laneia, you’re not promoting immoral anything. You’re being honest with yourself and your family and raising your children to be open-minded. That’s the best parenting anyone could ask for.

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    Nothing is more powerful than honesty. I blog because I believe that personal narrative does make a difference in the world. Kudos to both of you for sharing your emotional stories.

    Laneia – I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow…truly sending every ounce of energy I have your way. I have two kids too and words are failing me as I consider what you are having to face. Good luck tomorrow and may love truly conquer all.

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    so I thought I didn’t really think about my future family because I’m young, but honestly I think it’s because I don’t know many gay parents. Your life sounds beautiful and makes me want my own happy gay family. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    sending positive thoughts for you! Give your kids a hug from me!

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    Ladies, much appreciation to you for sharing your ~life~ stories. I don’t know you, but I feel proud of and for you. Laneia, your words have brought tears to my eyes. Surely what you’re experiencing right. this. moment. was the catalyst for bringing your truth to the surface. As a mom myself, I can only imagine what you are feeling right now. Although it can’t help in practical terms, I send – we’re all sending you – love & strength to move through this and beyond, with your ‘true’ family whole, happy, and healthy.

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    Incredible stories. Every one has a different experience and you’re both so brave to tell them so candidly.

    And Laneia, you’ll be in my thoughts tomorrow. Good luck!

  11. Thumb up 0

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    i am so completely overwhelmed by this — in the best way ever. thank you all, so much, for your support and giant hearts. what makes this so hard is that i didn’t give you enough credit, and i’m sorry for that. what you’ve done here tonight will stay with me forever.

    also? riese is a magical editor/friend/person.

    i’m gonna go have some feelings now. excuse me.

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    Thank you both for sharing. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for either of you.

    Green, yes you’ll always be Green to me. I think I still have some of your early podcasts; pre-Slo. You have surprised the hell out of me. I’ll be sending many good thoughts your way tomorrow. Stay strong!

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    Riese, you said something about unicorns. Which took me back to high school, where we used to attend monthly play productions as part of the drama club. Specifically a memory of a play where they depicted the story of Noah’s Arc, only this version included a unicorn raping a woman while a bunch of animals held her down. (he took a running stab at her and the lights went out just before he got there at which point she let rip with a bloodcurdling scream.)

    There was a room FULL of traumatized teenagers.

    Which left me completely skeptical and screwed up about christian theology, terrified of any form of sexual penetration and leary of unicorns. But, I wasn’t gay till 2008.

    Or at least that’s when I started getting to know myself.

    Laneia – wow! Just wow, thank you for sharing your truth.

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    Laneia

    I just wanted to say that it was really brave of you to open up like that. As someone who isn’t so open about my life to most people, I really admire your bravery to come forward and speak in front of a court. I hope everything works out tomorrow and the judge realizes that your kids really need their mom. :)

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    This is incredble, you both are amazing! Thank you for sharing your stories, and being so open. Laneia, I’ll definitely be thinking about you tomorrow, and hoping for the best!

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    I feel the need to de-lurk because of this post. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us. I may not know you two, but I know you’re amazing. My thoughts are with you and your family Laneia. Stay strong.

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    Laneia, My partner and I went through this when she divorced and we got together when her daughter was six. This was 21 years ago (yegads). Daughter is now in med school (cripes).
    Ex husband was very hurt when his wife came out and left him. Custody fight was retaliation for this. Court (Ca) said child needs both parents, so 50/50. It was hard on daughter- back&forthback&forth. Everyone including ex hubby IS ABSOLUTELY FINE and have been for years. This too shall pass. Everything happens for the best. Will send all positive energy toward Arizona tomorrow. Whatever happens you will all be fine. Be honest and from your heart.
    We love you even tho we don’t know you, but wish we did!

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    I’m speechless. The lovely thing here is the amount of truth. All of it, the rawness, it’s there. Thank you both very much for what you’ve shared. I personally am not a very open person (yet) and this gives me a lot of hope. I also really enjoy the comments. They remind me of camp fires, all kinds of warmth and goodness. Best of luck to you Laneia, here’s my good energy. ~~~

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    Riese & Laneia, thank you both for sharing your stories.

    Dear, dear, dearest Laneia,

    I could comment with just a “x!” but it isn’t enough. I’ll be thinking of you and Cheryl today and I truly hope everything works out. Yes, you surprised me, but all I can do is smile when I think of you and Cheryl being two mommies… It’s cool, it’s awesome, it makes me cry a little and all I can say now is that I love you both!

    x!
    pirette

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    Laneia, I do – with all of my heart – think of you, Cheryl and your kids today and sending you all my hope, love and energy for this horrible day.
    I don’t believe in God so I can’t pray for you as badly as I wish I could right now. I don’t believe in luck so I can’t wish you any, because this is not a game that you win with a bit of fate. But I do believe in love and the love you have for your family makes me hope anything is possible.

    Oh. And also: I love all of you. And all of you out there.

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    Thanks to you both for sharing.
    Laneia, that’s a lot of coming out to do. Extremely courageous. Words fail me, but the best way that comes to mind is: ¡Ole tus cojones!
    Best wishes & all the luck in the world.

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    Riese,amazing. Love this story. And to think I came into the life RIGHT after this!

    Laneia, I had no idea. Sending the best thoughts your way to know that whatever happens, you are promoting the BEST life, bc you are honest. All you can give, at the end of the day, is your honesty. Be strong, and I am so hoping you have a helluva lawyer.

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    Though it feels strange to comment on the extremely personal histories of strangers, it also feels right here, and both of your stories were as gripping as they were eloquent. Thank you for sharing. Laneia, be strong, and know that you’ve got a whole army of love and support behind you to hold you up.

    I knew I was gay the day I found autowin! jk it was the day I first saw Haviland in a youtube vlog. JK it was in like 1998 on a mountain in New Hampshire but autowin/straddle changed my gay internet life forever! Thank you for being here and for publishing things like this. The internet is a better place with you here.

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    Breathtaking, both of you. All the best of luck to you Laneia. I really hope that good triumphs over evil here.

    Will there be many more of these stories? I really hope so, I think this topic is a fantastic idea.

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    I wish Green and Slo were my mommies :)
    Love love love love love you and will of course be wishing and hoping for you :)
    Thank you BOTH for your honesty. This post was amazing!!

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    laneia and riese
    thank you for sharing your stories.

    when i finished greens i started to cry. the world is so unfair but you are such a beautiful person.

    i dont pray, but i will for you today.

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    I’m gonna join everyone else in saying that this entry – this entire idea – was incredibly amazing and moving. I look forward to more installments.

    Good luck today Laneia, I know we all anticipate hearing good news.

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    this just in! (thank g-d for twitter, obvs!)

    @grrreen: I’M KEEPING THEM! had to give up a lot as far as visitation and $$ is concerned, but I win where it counts :)

    @grrreen Thanks for everything! Srsly, you have no idea how much your kind words have meant to me. xxx

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    Please, please G-d I hope there will be more of these stories. You have no idea how much it helps to read these and see that YOU ARE JUST LIKE ME. No one has been just like me until now. Riese, it’s like we know we’re bi, but we protect ourselves behind “…but I’d never DATE a girl…”. It’s like a safety net I needed to keep in place to make sure I didn’t have to be honest with myself too much. It was all just to be for fun and games. Or so I thought…

    Laneia, I do not have the same story as you, but very well could have, as I was engaged to a man when I finally had the courage to tell the woman I was in love with that I didn’t want her in my wedding at all! I wanted no wedding, just her. You have a scary fight ahead of you, but you will do it and from here on out you will be the true Laneia, for all to see. FEELS GOOD, RIGHT??!!

    Good luck to you today, I pray for justice for you and your children. True justice.

    Robin and Carly, thank you for this idea. Eventually in some way, AutoStraddle should open this up to its readers as well. I know that is a lot of stories, but it is so cathartic to just share them. To put them out in front of you and give them to the world.

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    I am so glad! It’s unthinkable that you could even TRY to take someone’s kids away for something like that.

    And yay! for more stories! is the autostraddle roundtable a fixed group of people or is it fluid?

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      it’s always just us but we’ve had some special guests — like my mom, grace the spot and haviland all participated in our “is there a lesbian generation gap” roundtable for example. but traditionally it is just “the team” and sometimes the interns as well.

      But the response has been so awesome, so I think we’re going to run a contest next week to share people’s “when i knew” stories!

      for now though, see how clever you can be on twitter with only 116 characters … tweet @autostraddle with hash-tag #wheniknew and we’ll post those on autostraddle later this week!

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        thanks for replying :) excitant for the upcoming stories, bummed that i don’t have twitter so will be unable to rise to the challenge of condensing my cleverness into 116 characters.

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    This is amazing! Thank you both so much for sharing. Laneia, was going to say good luck but instead congratulations!! So happy for you, and can’t believe that was even a legitimate argument. Clearly someone needs to totally bitchslap whichever state that is.
    Great idea and can’t wait for the others!

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    These words, your words, dearest riese and laneia are magnificent because they are real. real. real! and hard and true. thank you so much for sharing. I am thinking of you both right now; and Laneia, particularly, i am wishing you so much strength and light in dealing with your ex-husband and the courts.

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    Damn,. wish I would have read this earlier yesterday. I know now I dont need to wish you luck as you did fine today. I want to say that you are a very brave person and your children are growing up with great parents. I went through a similar situation and it was not fun. But our children are still with us and that’s what matters right. :)

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    Wow. Thank you. Most everyone online seems so sure about who they are- it’s hard to see the road from me, where I am now, to those online personas. This is incredible.

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    This is amazing. I want more! It’s inspiring and moving and all sorts of adjectives and feelings. So glad everything went well for you yesterday Laneia!!!!! :D (thanks for the update Reise!) The power of Autostraddle and the community that it’s fostered is so great. lovelovelove <3

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    I cannot stop reading this post.

    How old are your babies, Green? Are they boys/girls?

    I think they are possibly the luckiest kids ever :)

    Congrats about the outcome! I def shed more than a few tears over this.

    xoxoxoxoxox

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    Laneia,
    Reading your story gave me chills and tears… you are NOT the only person like you… that is my story too. I came out to my husband at 20, though stuck around to try to ‘make my family work’. I’d watch the L Word and sob because it was clear that my life was missing something. At 25, I finally moved on. My partner, Erin, and I have been together for almost 4 years and live in CO with my biological kids. (To our 5 yr old, I am “Amy”, she is “Mom”. Go figure!) We have given OUR babies more of a happy, healthy life than they have ever known.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone!
    Congrats on your victory! It’s a win for ALL of us!

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    Riese and Green, thanks for sharing your stories, they are really honest and is so comforting to me. Green I’m so happy that you won! I know that you and Slo will be great role models to your children, not “immoral” or anything else other ignorant people might say. Don’t listen to those lies.

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    Green I am really happy everything got resolved well. Thank you very much for sharing this part of your life, it was really moving. I have a new respect for you. I am sure you and Green are great mommies and have an awesome family.

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    When you’re an author of a post on Autostraddle, you get email notifications when a new comment is left, so I was reading all of these in real time. Along with tweets and direct messages, emails and texts from what felt like everyone under the sun. I was crying at the airport, hotel and restaurant, but not because I was sad. I’d never felt less alone than I did while reading these messages from you. I read them all. I reread them. I quoted some of them in my moleskine and drew arrows next to them so I’d never lose them. I talked to Cheryl Tuesday night and we were in awe of everything.

    I want you to know that each one of you propped me up and squeezed me tight with the words you wrote. This really is why I’m here. This feeling of holding hands with someone I’ve never met – that deep breath we took together before I opened the door. I want to tell you that I kept your words in my jaws and chewed on them hard when I saw his face, but I’m not sure that will make sense. I’ll tell you anyway.

    It feels so feathery to simply say Thank You. I just hope you know what you mean to us. All of us, really. Hey, wouldn’t it have been amazing if he’d taken me to court and forced me to defend my immortal lifestyle? I thought about, too.

    Love you.

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    Thank-you so much for telling us all this, I cant immagine how hard it was. I’m almost in tears right now, you’ve always seemed like an amzing person now I have a new found greater respect for you. I hope it all works out well in court. Love to you all. xxxxxx

    PS – on a lighter note, the line “well, I knew that I wanted to see pretty girls naked, but it never occurred to me that being “gay” would enable that.” made me giggle =)

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    Oh shiz. Is it too late to send out some love/luck for Laneia? I just read your posts and I don’t think I’d be able to handle what you’re going through right now. Maybe this is the least I could do–be yet another stranger from the interwebs who wishes you nothing but strength with what you’re struggling with. Yours may not be my story, but I hope you know that you are not alone.

    And Riese, I owe you one heck of an e-mail thanking you for being a part of my coming out process. I know you get that a lot, but like Laneia, I am speaking the truth. My truth. So yeah, thank you for your blog and this website. I will write it once I’m capable of putting together a string of cohesive thoughts.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from The L Word, it’s that we are all connected. So yeah, here I am, a lurker of your website, coming out to tell you, Team Autostraddle that there are a lot of us out there who appreciate this wonderful thing you all put your efforts into.

    So there. Thanks.

    P.S.
    I was at Kaki King last night and I wasn’t sure if the people beside me were the intern team. And then I heard the word “intern army” so that validated it. Haha. I almost wanted to tell them what I’ve just mentioned in this post, but I didn’t want to look like a Creepy McCreepster butting in their convo and assume that it’s ok. Oh well.

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    I just wanted to throw you my thanks for sharing this. To Riese in particular- my own story shares more than a few points with yours. You see, the summer of 2007 was the summer when i lost all of my friends. Summer has become a pretty sore time in my mind, especially around my birthday in July.

    I’ve never told anyone the whole story and this certainly isn’t the place for me to do it now. So to keep a long story short, let’s just say that it wasn’t the most graceful “coming out” process.

    Anywho, thank you once again. It takes a certain kind of strength to share yourself with us.

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    Wow, thanks a lot for this. I love reading your stories and realizing how many of your thoughts I share but never knew that I had them…if that makes any sense…

    Well, my “coming out” is not yet complete but it’s very recent so I can still feel all of it, and I’m still trying to tie the loose ends.

    Thanks again.

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    I just wanted praise riese´s writing. You´re story is the best thing i´ve read for some time. Well, it´s back to lurking for me.
    And girls remember, a woman´s work is never done.

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    “Therefore my logic went thusly: because I had an accepting family (my Mom came out herself when I was 15) but did not feel comfortable coming out, that must be because I was not gay.”
    “When you’ve felt abnormal all your life but not known why, you look out for these signs & signals of how not to be normal, of what to avoid.”

    thank you for writing these things. the truth about your life lets mine make more sense.

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    I know I’m a bit late getting to this, but I have to share. Oh sharing… I wish I could fully express how much both Laneia’s and Riese’s stories mean to me. I mean it’s the candor, it’s the guts you two have that really helps me when I shut down my computer, and step back into my physical reality. I really related to Laneia’s story.

    Some of the details she initially related pertaining to her confused sexual state parallel my own. It’s curious to me that the L Word, specifically the Shane character, was so gripping. For some reason when I discovered the Shane character I identified a part of myself that I’d been repressing. I couldn’t stop watching, though I only focused on the scenes with Shane(I still haven’t finished watching the L Word episodes in their entirety). I viewed the hell out of her sex scenes!

    Then I became interested in Katherine Moennig. I liked the idea that there was a woman in the world who had the ability to communicate such aggressive sexuality through her role. And I discovered that Moennig seems to have created a symbiosis of both male and female energy in one person. I found this inspiring and alluring. Then I had to deal.

    My reality was that I was in a relationship with a guy. We’d been dating a solid year and I was living with him, we’d signed a lease. And here’s that impending “but” you knew was coming. But, I felt like I was pretending to like/love, our life together. Our relationship was the result of me asking the question “Now what?” of myself. My circumstance? I was post-high school and in college, horny and lonely, so it seemed like the answer was a boy friend. But I’d never found men attractive to the point of wanting to fuck them.

    Now I’m acknowledging the part of me that has always been there. As far back as I can remember I have found women sexually attractive, though I never acted on this compulsion. For example, every single female best friend I’ve had (there have been three) I’ve wanted to simultaneously hold and kiss and screw and yell at. The yelling part speaks to the reality that I’ve spent much of my life in utter sexual frustration.

    Again thanks

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    I so need to hear this right now.
    I’m starting to freak out :-)
    But I’m distracting myself by watching Lost Forest Fone, and talking on the phone with my wonderful friend, and emailing my sister, both of whom are over the moon supportive.
    Believe how much I appreciate support from strangers, Laneia and Tiara. Thank you so so much.

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    wow laneia, that’s a very a hard thing, you’ve been going through. I hope everything will be fine. Good luck.

    I’ve been living w/ my girlfriend almost for a year now, you know. But still, It’s very hard for my parents and family and friends to accept our relationship. Hard to live in a conservative country. haha

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    As a lesbian in her early twenties who spent far too long being confused (tortured, really) about her sexuality/gender identity, I just wanted to thank you both for sharing your stories. There is so much I can relate to in both of them. Sure they made me cry, but they made me feel much less alone/like a freak. Thank you.

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    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m a few years past this being written but it was exactly what I needed in this moment. I’m in a relationship with a wonderful man who I love so much but I’m lying everyday about the way i love him. I feel so lost and scared. and alone. I know I need to come out and let us both move on but…what if I’m wrong? i don’t want to hurt him and i don’t want him gone from my life so i keep thinking that it will all work out. and seven years into this, everyday gets harder.

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    >In my mind, I was trying on a personality, having some escapist fun in my spare time. No harm, no foul.
    >Then, I gradually realized that the me I was pretending to be online was more honest than the me I was in my everyday life.

    Oh my god this was so beautiful :( These feelings right here were my feelings.

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    I come back to this article (and the series) over and over and over again whenever I am having trouble with truth telling.

    I could say thank you every minute of every day and it wouldn’t be enough thank you’s.

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    I have probably read this twice within this past year. I just read it again and feel completely different.
    It’s taken long to find acceptance in myself and I am finally there. It feels as if I should say, “What was that all about?”. Almost like the process never happened. I am so proud I have made it this far and now I just have to keep repeating these quotes to myself: “Accept that everyone knows, then you’ll realise know one cares”. “People who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.

    Thanks for posting this, I think it’s really important that we show a lot of openness of ‘coming out’. Because when I was going through “the process” I really relied on coming out stories coming from other people.

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