Claire’s College Lesbianage: Change is Afoot… Er, Aknee

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Autostraddle’s College Lesbianage: a glimpse of college life through the wide eyes of six freshly fallen snowflake first-year queers. This month’s update will be given individually! Today we’ve got Wellesley’s Claire with some thoughts on “queer privilege.”

This morning I woke up spooning not with my girlfriend, but with my cat. After a long day of travel, I’m back in Phoenix. My first year of college has officially come to an end.

I didn’t want to leave Wellesley. I did miss my family and I did want to see them, but I don’t really have a lot of close friends in Phoenix. I’ve discovered that I’m a lot happier when I have a friend group. Being with friends almost constantly made finals a little bit less terrible. We may have all been living in the library, but we were living in the library together. Having a group of friends with me was like a protective bubble from the physical sensation of stress we all felt walking through the library doors. I’ve been gone for less than a day, but I miss everyone already.


Going back to Phoenix for the summer was not my original plan. The ideal scenario would have been to be hired on campus for the summer, doing research or working in Admissions. Wellesley is really great about providing opportunities for first year students, even if we don’t really have the skill set yet to be of much use. This would have been particularly sweet because two of my best friends are on campus for the summer. If I couldn’t get a job on campus, I had hoped to get hired in Boston. I had a number of different promising options and I was looking forward to a summer of work during the day, walks around Lake Waban at lunch and Summer 7’s rugby on the weekends.


It took about two weeks from the time that I tore my ACL during rugby practice to know for sure that it was torn, and about twenty minutes after that to change all of my summer plans. I’ll be in Phoenix for the summer, recovering from ACL surgery and trying to avoid the outdoors. I’m looking forward to the point in the summer at which stepping outdoors feels similar to stepping into a frying pan. Instead of adventures in cooking with my friends, I’ll be exploring my Netflix queue and doing a lot of physical therapy. I’m lucky to be on my parents’ health insurance and able to get this done, I know this. But this wasn’t really how I’d pictured myself spending my summer.


Rugby was a sport I loved and the center of my social life. This was my first time playing a team sport in probably ten years and I hadn’t realized how important being a part of a team would become to me. We practiced together, we partied together and I made some of my closest friends through the team. But because of what happened, I’m sidelined for about a year. Even after I recover, I don’t know if I should go back. This is my second serious injury in a year, the first being a concussion. I love this sport so, so much, but I keep breaking myself attempting to play it. It’s something that I have to really think about. At least I have plenty of time to consider whether or not I want to go back once I recover.


My girlfriend is graduating from Wellesley in about two weeks. I wish that I could be there for commencement, but we needed to get the ball rolling on my ACL surgery and the only way to do that was for me to come home to Phoenix. It’s going to be very, very weird without her on campus next year. We started dating so soon in my first year of college that I’m not really sure what college is like without having her around. Because we were both on campus, I could see her all the time. That’s not really going to be possible next year. She’s planning on staying in Boston and we’re planning on staying together, but college relationships are a special breed of animal. We’re going to have to adjust to not seeing each other every single day and not living a two-minute walk apart. I’m looking forward to it, though. I can’t wait to cook dinner in her apartment and explore Boston with her and being really, really grossly domestic when we see each other. I can’t wait for sophomore year to start!

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Liberal feminist atheist lesbian teenager.

Claire has written 4 articles for us.


  1. Feel better! I had to do the same thing this year (not ACL but shoulder surgery) and it sucks. good luck!

  2. Fuck. I did my ACL in September and limped around in denial for another couple months before finally getting it checked out when it kept collapsing on me. Got the surgery in January and I’m walking around feeling something close to normal (but not sports normal yet). Trust me, you’ll be okay. It’s silly that knees are so very important but so delicate (I’d have done it differently evolution, that’s all I’m sayin’). The first few weeks suck because you are so helpless, but it really does get better pretty quickly once you get some mobility back. Now’s your chance to pen an epic queer novel…

  3. Unsolicited advice from a two-ACL-surgeries veteran (9 years apart, different knees). You should believe me because I’ve done this once the good way as a young’un (18) and was cleared to play lacrosse in 3 months, and once the slacker way in my mid-20s (26) and one year later, I’m still only at about 95% strength.

    1) pre-hab that knee! Do not skimp on this. I assume (hope) they suggested exercises to do prior to your actual surgery. (If not, a google search will find lots.) The stronger your muscles are around your knee, the faster you’ll recover. Promise.

    2) start bending and straightening your knee as soon as you’re allowed after surgery. The first day will be fine. The second day will be miserable and you’ll be in a ton of pain. (I hope for your sake that you’re not like me and actually able to take painkillers.) Push through that. Scar tissue is a bitch to break through if you let it build up. Our trainer in college told me about manually breaking up scar tissue in an athlete’s knee. She said it sounded like breaking chicken bones. So. More movement = less scar tissue.

    3) Don’t be a slacker about PT. Actually do the exercises they send you home with. Make a friend or family member do them with you to keep you accountable. I didn’t do this the second time, and this is why I’m a little terrified of actually running this 5k I signed up to do in July. The knee I actually rehabbed correctly, though? I can’t even tell that I ever tore anything in there.

    4) Enjoy the time that you’re couch-bound. I didn’t so much do this the first time because I scheduled my surgery right before finals (wtf, jen.), but the second time was full of hours and hours of netflix and all three Hunger Games books and absolutely no work and aside from the painkiller-induced vomiting, it was glorious.

    MORAL OF THE STORY: You may not be sidelined for a full year, but obvs listen to your doctors and physical therapist about this, especially in such a high-contact sport. I get re-thinking the whole rugby thing, though; after my second soccer-related ACL tear, I made the tough decision to not play indoor soccer anymore, and I may or may not ever play outdoor soccer again. You can find other social circles at college, for sure, but your knee may be able to handle sticking with rugby, so don’t give up on it!

    Good luck! Happy surgery/recovery!

    • Thank you for the advice! I’m doing a lot of prehab- and it’s definitely paid off already, my knee is mostly functional if a bit weird at times. I cannot imagine doing surgery without painkillers- that is tough. I’m going to take full advantage of my time on the couch: I’ve preloaded my netflix queue and I”m really looking forward to starting Bomb Girls.

  4. Do do do listen to your doctors and physical therapists about this. I’ve had to switch sports (used to run, now play racquetball and badminton and a little basketball) because of too many issues with my plantar fasciitis.

    • This is really interesting, thank you very much. I hope she blogs some more, because I’d be interested to see her progress.

  5. Aww, I’m sorry your summer plans got messed up! I don’t know anything about ACL but I can offer you company the coming two weeks, if you’re getting a little too lonesome. I’m a 22yr old Dutch queer gal from the Netherlands chilling with my uncle in Phoenix and I don’t have a lot to do but watch stuff on Netflix. So if you feel lonesome, maybe we can watch Neflix together? Just hit me up!

  6. I am an ex physiotherapist but not in ortho…i jump started all people who came into intensive care unit and geriatrics. I say all the advice you receive is great….as a competitive swimmer from way back and still going strong…I would say when you can walk in the pool on the shallow end would be great for you! Btw, I played all sports initially with the boys and later with the girls…and NEVER once hurt myself….I say it is because of my swimming keeping me extremely, I am working on getting more strength. I did however…if I saw some huge MF coming at me…would do a fake and shift them off…kind of hard to do that in rugby…best to you…do your exercises.

  7. Aw, Ido, I’m so sorry to hear about your injury and your summer plan derailment. Major suckage. Sending you lots of love and warmfuzzy healing thoughts!

    p.s. definitely thought from the thumbnail pic for this post that you were in costume as a sexy gay nurse

  8. Sorry to hear about your summer plans not working out the way you’d have liked :( Best of luck transitioning your relationship from ‘in college’ to ‘in college/out of college’. That can be rough, but preparing yourself for potential changes and recognizing that they can be positive goes a long way towards staying together/happy.

    -Wellesley alumna

  9. I am constantly finding people I know writing articles on Autostraddle. I met you and your girlfriend my first day as a prospie! SOC. See you next year (This Fall), and good luck with that ACL. Also…you write on autostraddle #jeal

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