Friday Open Thread: What Kind of Gay Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

It’s Friday! TGIF! It’s the time when everyone sits down together into this open thread to share a bowl of kettle corn and when you tell everyone where you got that sweater that we all love and when we all discuss which appetizers we’re going to split when we go to Applebee’s later. It’s the Friday Open Thread!

atpthrd

Lately I’ve been thinking about the conversations we’ve been having about representations — how often now we see an LGBTQ character in a movie, TV show or book, and think “what would my life have been like if I had grown up seeing characters like this all the time?” And when we were writing about what kind of support LGBTQ youth need during Ally Week, it came up again and again that it’s important to be able to see LGBTQ adults in their communities so that they can see living proof that it’s possible to grow up into happy, healthy people. Many of us didn’t have those examples, though; or if we saw LGBTQ people on TV or in real life, they were played for a laugh or looked down upon. So how did that affect our thoughts about what we were going to be like?

I’m curious about, for people who have known they weren’t straight or weren’t cis from a young age, what you imagined your adulthood would look like. Was it based on straight people you knew? Was it influenced at all by flawed depictions of LGBTQ people you saw, like the “pathetic lesbian” trope? For people who didn’t identify as LGBTQ til later in life, how did you relate (or not relate) to LGBTQ representation? How did you imagine your future looking? I know when I was a kid, when many of my peers were imagining their weddings or family structures, I mostly saw a big blank, a swirling mist of uncertainty, and in retrospect that seems linked to my sexual orientation. If you’re an adult now, how does your life compare to what you did or didn’t imagine for yourself?

Ruby_and_Sapphire_fusion_01

ALSO THOUGH I’d like to hear everything else! What was the best sandwich you ate this week? What are you wearing for Halloween? Which is better, apple pie or apple crisp? Would anyone like to make me some apple crisp? Discuss.



How To Post A Photo In The Comments:

1. Find a photo! This is the easy part. Find a photo on the web, right click (on a Mac, control+click), hit “Copy Image URL” and then…

2. Code it in to your comment! Use the following code, and use a DIRECT LINK to the image. Your image link should end in .JPG or .GIF or .PNG or .CallMeWhateverYouWant even. I don’t care, but it should be an image suffix! KINDA LIKE THIS:



If you need to upload the photo you love from your computer, try using imgur. To learn more about posting photos, check out Ali’s step-by-step guide.

How To Post A Video In The Comments, Too:

1. Find a video on YouTube or Vimeo or WHATEVER and click “embed.” Copy that code, but first make sure it’s for 640 px wide or less. If your player is too large, it will not display properly.

2. Copy the code and paste it directly into your comment.

3. Go forth and jam.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1139 articles for us.

139 Comments

  1. I read so many teen magazines’ advice columns that said having feelings toward female friends was a “phase” or “just hormones” that I doubted my own sexual orientation all through high school, thinking it was just something I’d “grow out” of.

    I definitely think that if the Agony Aunts acknowledged the fact that, actually, some people DO grow up to like all sorts of different people, I’d have been much more likely to just be like, “Oh, okay, cool. So that’s what it is!” instead of completely dismissing my feelings for years.

    Sometimes I feel kinda robbed of all the stereotypical ~teenage love~ experiences because of this, so I really hope kids today aren’t feeling the same way. ):

    • I so feel you on this. I think one of my best friends in high school could sense my impending queerness and as a result felt the need to shut it down through small comments such as, “we all have girl crushes…It doesn’t mean anything”. Anytime I was on the verge of accepting that I liked girls, her voice would pop into my head and tell me “nooooo, you’re not gayyyy!!!” I definitely would not have waited until college if it weren’t for her. And yes, that feeling of being robbed of ~teenage love~ is so real!

      And yes, I hope kids today are able to even just explore that side of them, no matter whether they realize they are straight or not.

    • This is so real to me. Growing up without any queer role models I felt I could turn to, I tried to find myself in 90’s and early 2000’s media…and boy was that rough and worrying. :(
      When I see queer media now, and shows like Stephen Universe, or even Glee..it makes me really happy for kids now seeing love and happy relationships represented for queer folks…but there is definitely some lingering wistfulness for my own teenage self, and who I might have been with that kind of re-enforcement.

  2. Wow, FOT going deep!

    I didn’t know. I couldn’t even go there in my head. As a result, school (particularly high school) was a scary and very weird time when I felt friendships so much more intensely than my friends seemed to, and had no idea why. I thought I was broken. When a gay male friend of mine was thrown out of his house after coming out, I wrote pages and pages in my journal about how heartbroken and angry I was for him. But never, ever, ever, could I think about anything on that level for myself.

    The first gay characters I remember seeing in the media was when a friend and I rented videos during a sleepover and one of the movies was But I’m a Cheerleader. We both thought it was weird. But I also kinda liked it. ;-) At the same time, it would be at least ten years before I could start to dismantle the walls I had built around that part of myself.

    • I literally had dreams in my teens about the only gay guy I knew hiding under my bed and trying to tell me something important that I couldn’t hear. But no of course I wasn’t gay, don’t be ridiculous :P

    • I had a very similar experience! I spent so much time daydreaming possible scenarios in which my friend would have a reason to lay her head on my shoulder (and yet, I still identified as “mostly straight”). I felt so creepy about it, but the “crush” feelings were buried under nine other layers of feelings, so I didn’t realize what was going on until college.

    • My junior year of high school I went to prom with my best friend. Neither of us had dates and decided we’d make it a girls night out. Then senior year she had a boyfriend and kept trying to set me up with different guys so we could double date. Meanwhile I just wanted us to go to prom together then cuddle afterwards while gazing into each other’s eyes and sharing our innermost secrets. Totally normal best friend stuff. Nothing gay there.

      • Oh my gosh this is waking up memories. Senior prom, my friend and I double-dating.

        My friend’s date: “oh my god, you look GORGEOUS in your dress.”

        Me, silently: OMG I KNOW, SHE DOES, RIGHT? SHE HAS AN AMAZING BODY, I NEVER REALIZED, AND I ONLY NOTICE THAT BECAUSE I WISH I HAD A BODY THAT NICE, THAT’S ALL, REGULAR GIRL STUFF, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

  3. I wanted to be Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance), followed by David Bowie. I could have cried to “Starman” basically forever. All I wanted was to be an androgynous alien boy thing who had great outfits and still got to wear sparkles and make-up. Is that really too much to ask?

    I’m eating my best sandwich of the week right now. It has slices of honey crisp apple and chunky peanut butter on sour dough bread.

  4. I knew I wasn’t straight at a VERY young age. At around the age of 2 or 3. I don’t have to tell you lovely folks about me refusing to wear dresses, not wanting to keep a shirt on, wearing clothes associated with boys, yada yada yada. I kept my sexuality dormant until college. I grew up in NH, and despite it being a “blue state” and having ultra-liberal parents, my high school was very conservative and headed by a disgusting misogynist. We didn’t have a GSA or anything of that nature, but then again times were different back in the early to mid aughts. So, it was only right to wait until I was 6 hours away from home to come out.

    I’m a funny gay lady, so of course I always pictured myself as following Ellen’s footsteps. We even dress similar, adore our mothers, and I always felt like I would end up settling down later in life with a woman younger than me. In fact, I turn 28 next week and it looks like settling down with someone isn’t going to happen anytime soon and that’s fine with me.

  5. I grew up in a very conservative place, where I didn’t know of lesbian stuff until my mother pointedly asked me if I was one at the age of 15. I was like “HUH? Now that makes sense…” So I didn’t really see much of the representation in the media or thought about my life as a lesbian in the future… Though I must confess I dreamt of being the white Power Ranger from Mighty Morphin’… Somehow, that makes my genderqueerness/non-cis identity much easier to understand. I always was outside the binary since very young!

    I also never saw myself getting married in the heteronormative/Catholic sense of the word… So I totally understand your whole feeling about weddings being equal to a big swirling uncertainty. Describes my feelings about marriage growing up down to a tee. Yay for knowing I’m not alone in this!

  6. I had no idea! The only lesbian representation I really knew was Ellen, and I wasn’t allowed to watch that after she came out.

    I read a lot of books though, and I remember how excited I was when Tamora Pierce confirmed that Rosethorn and Lark, and Lalasa and Tian were couples in her books. Even just that subtext that was confirmed by an author outside of her books was so HUGE to me. I think I just pictured myself as an amalgam of those characters.

    I was so focused on leaving Texas at that age that I didn’t really give a thought to my future. (Let’s be honest – I’m still not big on the whole 5-year-plan thing, much to the chagrin of my partner.) When I pictured the future it was just vague – living somewhere, doing something that made me happy, and able to be out. That’s all I wanted.

  7. I think I’ve been out since I was a child, but I never had any words to put to what I was feeling inside, and when I finally did and could accept it, I was technically and legally pretty much a complete adult.

    But, well, I still don’t feel completely like an adult, so I’m going to do a bit more growing up as a nonbinary individual, and I imagine it’ll be great.

    I only had one sandwich this week, just now, a stale, half-expired thing from the vending machine at work.
    There’s a party here, incidentally, with disco music and snacks and beer.
    It sounds fun, but I have to work, sadly. That was not on mt

  8. I was butch from a fairly young age…I think my first gay role model was Natasha Lyonne (which meant that until I chopped it off in junior year of high school my hair was a frizzy poofy mess)
    I also fantasized about marrying Violet Baudelaire and/or Paris Geller and wearing a suit with a plaid flannel shirt to the wedding. The partner has since changed, the outfit has not.

  9. When I was youth in high school, realizing I was a homogay queerio, I imagined the white picket fence with 2.2 children…just with another woman. Now, in my dried up old age of my mid-20s, I don’t really want kids (I’m still unsure but don’t want them as much as I used to) or a white picket fence, but I *think* I’d like to get married… at least, I’d like a long-term, monogamous relationship.

    This isn’t really what you’re asking, but on a similar topic, 10 years ago, there are some things I never would have believed I would achieve now. In other levels, mainly my romantic life, I thought I’d be a little further along. Oh well… All in due time, right?

    I have a lot of feelings this week, mainly yesterday. I just had one of those days where all the things kept happening, and all the feelings kept being felt..that’s good, though, I like feelings. I’m weird- I love crying. I love feeling the feels. Am I the only one like that?

  10. I realized I was gay when I was 20, which was only 6 years ago. So it was after Buffy, after Ellen, after The L Word, hell, even Callie on Grey’s Anatomy figured it out before I did. I’d seen Buffy, I’d seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I’d seen The Ellen DeGeneres show (though not her sitcom). I knew gay people existed, I knew gay people could grow up to live happy, fulfilled lives. But I still never thought that I was gay. (Okay, not NEVER. But it was usually easy to push those thoughts away).

    What would have helped me figure it out a LOT sooner would have been not just representation of gay characters on tv, but actual, physical, sexual interaction between those characters. If I’d seen Lost Girl back when I still thought I was straight…well, I wouldn’t have anymore. Yes, The L Word was around back then, but at the time I thought that was a show JUST for lesbians. And I wasn’t a lesbian, so why would I watch it? I don’t think Glee or Faking It would have helped me figure it out in high school. I really think the only thing that could have shaken me out of my denial earlier would have been “Look. That is a naked woman. And she is lying on top of another naked woman.” And it would have had to have been in something mainstream, not something coded as specifically “lesbian”, because I wouldn’t have gone looking for that.

    • I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS. And in my twenties after I had googled a few things, I was still like, I can’t be gay, b/c that video I found online with those disinterested “lesbians” kissing is doing NOTHING for me.

      Then I found queer ethical p*rn online (Shine Louise Houston’s stuff) and I swear it practically saved my life. I was like, OH. OKAY. YES, THIS PLEASE. For the first time in years I felt like I wasn’t alone. I had seen my future, and it was: all shapes and sizes. All different kinds of activities. Queer in every way. And glorious. At a time when I knew almost no lesbians and had no community, to finally know what queer sex could be like — to just know that it existed — was amazingly helpful to me.

      I don’t know if this is a weird place to talk about p*rn — I feel weird bringing it up in FOT! But positive and diverse representations of queer sex, whether it’s on tv in a less explicit way, or online in a more explicit way, really do make a huge difference.

      • Crash Pad for LIIIIFE! No, it is not (or should not) be weird to talk about porn anywhere or anytime (except maybe holiday dinners with your grandparents? But like, even then, who knows, maybe your grandparents are super cool…)

        SO my answer to the actually question asked is that I never had any trouble picturing my adult life as a lesbian – I had plenty of people on TV and even in my life who showed me that that was possible. What I COULDN’T imagine, and what I had very little understanding of for much too long, was what a queer SEX life would look it.

      • YES YES YES. Queer porn saved my life. It’s so rare to see queer sex on mainstream media, which makes porn super important for representation. A major part in my coming-out process was having a LTR with a guy, thus being bored and horny, surfing on a lot of porn sites and stumbling upon queer porn. (Oh the excuses I made to why I wasn’t interested in watching straight porn despite being ‘straight’)

        (Even better was when I came out, started dating a kinky hot girl with an undercut and a proclivity to listening to electro while making out/fucking, and went HOLY SHIT MY LIFE IS A COURTNEY TROUBLE MOVIE.)

  11. And how does it still affect our thoughts? I think I’ve never thought I could much less would get married, and remain rather suspicious about an actual lifelong deal. There wasn’t any of that sort of imagery in my adolescence or even early twenties, being really prevalent enough to penetrate a rural not-quite-reliable broadcast TV household (if the cloud cover is right and the antenna hasn’t blown down again). Despite family role models galore that straight people do it.

    But I’m a cable cord-never as both a child and adult. How about all you? Cable lovers, cable cutters, or cable nevers? I think that majorly affected my access to media growing up.

    • Cable wasn’t available where I grew up until I was in my senior year of high school. Anything before that was via antenna, with a rotary motor (so you could point the antenna in different directions to pick up other stations). Still, it only gave us access to maybe 12 stations (5 without the motor), depending on the weather.

    • I was also missing any representation as a young person… We didn’t watch tv and I didn’t find much in the library. I knew from an early age that I wasn’t ever going to be in a relationship with a boy/man, but that left a giant void when it came to my vision of my future. If I didn’t fit into the apparently universal hetero model, what was left? I ended up not having any real goals or ambitions for myself in any area of my life for a very long time.

  12. I didn’t know I was gay when I was younger but I felt out of place a lot of the time. I didn’t know myself and I was fulfilling a lot of what society wanted from me. Because of that, I didn’t have dreams for myself. I couldn’t visualize what my adulthood would look like. I can compare it to the movie Pleasantville, where the residents couldn’t envision a place outside of their own town so nothing else existed. I just didn’t expect myself to exist? So when I did figure out I was gay, it was like WTF am I supposed to do now?

  13. Grew up in the 80’s to (very) early 90’s, in a very conservative area with far-right parents, so I had no role models at all, positive or negative. I had no idea what a gay or lesbian person was until college, and found out about trans people even later. The first media I ever saw that mentioned any LGBT issue was probably the movie Philadelphia, which I didn’t see until years later when I started college.

    I wanted to teach, ever since elementary school (ended up majoring in computer education, I was a trial case since that specialty wasn’t available at the college yet). However, once I realized I was trans in college, I knew at that time I would not have been able to teach, so I switched over to pure computer science. I still ended up in the education realm, just being a systems library technician. I get to be at a college, as myself, and still manage all the systems and occasionally write code.

    For me, neither apple pie nor apple crisp. Apple strudel cake all the way!

    I’d love to be Carmen Sandiego, but since I’m not Hispanic, I wouldn’t feel right portraying that character. I’m thinking I’ll dress up as one incarnation of Princess Zelda, or maybe a Final Fantasy Summoner.

  14. I mean… really, I still just want to be the queer version of Professor McGonagall when I grow up. Badass teacher who can do magic and turn into a cat = life goals.

    OK, I guess I did become a teacher and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Still no cats though.

  15. You know, in those days I don’t think I really thought much what kind of queer person I would be. I clocked on to the whole not-being-straight thing about 13 or 14, and although I accepted that within my own head quite fast, I was also very conscious of the fact that I didn’t really want to be out until I was done with high school. I think maybe I was scared to think about the future, I felt very awkward about the entire thing. I was never one of the girls who fantasised about weddings and babies, and in fact until I read some of the other responses to this post I’d never fully realised why that was.

    I mean, this was only eight years or so ago. There was definitely more representation than some of you guys would’ve had, but it didn’t really matter to me, because that was fiction and being bisexual just didn’t fit within the parameters of the real life I’d assumed I was going to start wanting. I didn’t think about the future because I never felt like there was one that fit with the way I felt.

    I’m 21 now and aware that I definitely, definitely want a wedding and babies someday – it just doesn’t necessarily matter whether that’s with a man, a woman or someone who identifies outwith those categories.

  16. gays for days and days!

    I was a babygay by any definition, came out to friends/school at 13, and I am actually around a bend of having the adult gay lifestyle that I wanted, which is to say that I had my time in college of studying all the gay things, and I had my time of going out drinking and dancing and kissing all the honeys, and right now I am fairly deep in my time of savoring really excellent friendships and living in married land and figuring out what it means to do that in ways that are dynamic and grounded and awesome. I don’t have a lot of models for what it means to be an adult person in a long-term relationship that isn’t hella dysfunctional or codependent, and it’s super important to me that my home and relationship are a place that’s really emotionally safe and resilient and fun.

    So unfortch at this point, since I am around the bend of being like “So I have watched Better than Chocolate approximatley 48957483925 times, and what you are telling me is that hookups with artist babes and performance art is in my future” and now I am like, doing the thing of being married and having a dog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have personal growth to do or whatever, or that I’m like SO HAPPY ALL THE TIME BECAUSE MARRIED, so yeah. Lacking role models!

    And although I am femme presenting, I still super want to grow up to be Olympia Dukakis from Cloudburst. idk what that will look like, but they look like they have such fun/I am a toughass swearbear on the inside. I just want a future of having a really expansive life and being married in such a way that doesn’t mean you bitch at each other all the time/only act googlyface in public!

  17. As with other I didn’t really have any gay female role models growing up. In the UK we didn’t even have Ellen!

    But I went to ACamp this year and one of the best parts was seeing people a stage or two further on in life and being so gay and so cool with it.

    Specifically Id like to be Ally&Paige from the Starrunners cabin. They are married! And they are gay! And they are my friends!

    Also when I found out Ali Osworth has an engagement watch it pretty much blew my mind. THAT IS THE COOLEST THING AND IS SO PERFECT.

    So maybe Id like to get married. Obv we have gay marriage and imo have had it for years (civil partnerships were always equal in my teenage eyes). I just never knew that people like me could get married. And do it in ways that would suit me.

  18. I thought I’d always be single, or at least not in a long term relationship, an I some ways I still think that. When I came out to some of my friends aged 17,that’st they reckoned would happen too, which kind of reinforced things for me Oh, and I’d be surrounded by all the cats.

    I’d be quite happy with the last part.

  19. From a really young age I felt safest exploring ideas through the lens of my favorite characters. The first gay character I remember being exposed to was Ellen. My mother used to love her show and I would watch with her even though I’m sure I only understood like half of the jokes. Then Ellen came out and suddenly I wasn’t allowed to watch it anymore.
    Then there was Xena. I was a huge fan of the show and thought Gabrielle was so lucky to be the gal pal of a warrior princess. After a whole lot of subtext my mom finally caught on and I wasn’t allowed to watch that anymore either.

    Growing up in a homophobic family I heard a lot of really messed up things whenever there was a queer character on tv. Even though I didn’t agree and considered myself an ally to the LGBT community I internalized a lot of the awful things I heard. It took me a really long time to come out to myself much less anyone else.

    Seeing yourself on tv is wonderful. Seeing yourself on tv and then having the people you love and trust talk about how gross people like you are is less wonderful. Did anyone else experience this?

    • “Seeing yourself on tv is wonderful. Seeing yourself on tv and then having the people you love and trust talk about how gross people like you are is less wonderful.”

      YES that can put you into a weird place. I didn’t have it at home, and not nearly as bad as it sounds like you did, but I definitely experienced it to some degree at school. Like my friends in ninth grade were really into Buffy (even before I ever watched it!) and obsessively followed the Willow/Tara storyline that year, but then they (we) would still quietly make fun of the girls in the locker room who didn’t mind showering or walking around half-nude, like, “omg those LESBIANS.”

    • YES! This x1000. Anytime there was a gay/lesbian character on TV, my mother would go out of her way to make homophobic/negative comments about them. I hadn’t realized my gayness at the time but I remember feeling bad whenever I heard things like that because even at a young age, I didn’t see anything wrong with being gay. And once I finally did come to terms with my gayness, it was those homophobic comments coming from family members that instilled in me a pretty intense self-hatred for the majority of my teenage years and made me think I had to be someone I wasn’t. My mom has since become way more supportive but I really could have used a positive gay role model growing up.

      The first time I remember seeing two girls kiss on TV (or ever for that matter) was Mischa Barton and Evan Rachel Wood on Once and Again. I wanna say it was around 2000 so I was about 8 or 9. Watching that scene felt wrong in the sense that I’d get in trouble if anyone caught me; but it sparked a curiosity in me that I stuffed wayyy down til I was ready to deal with it at a later time. My first crush on a girl was a few years later in the 6th grade but I don’t think I allowed myself to acknowledge it as such.

      I also remember being obsessed with Kristy from The Babysitter’s Club movie. She was a tomboy and a badass and while I don’t think she was a lesbian, she sure dressed like one. I strived for her aesthetic growing up in the late 90’s (and still do to be completely honest).

  20. I grew up in the 90s/early 00s and I had absolutely no idea I was gay until I was about 17 and I completely ignored that feeling until I was about 22. I dated boys in high school and I was so scared of them, but at the same time, I had no idea I was scared of them. I just figured that scared feeling was the same as having a crush. Anyway, I used to tell boys I was ultra religious so I couldn’t sleep with them, which in hind-sight is super hilarious. I spent all of high school being very involved in every activity-dancing, girl scouts, choir, everything else-that I actually had very little thought about what my future would be like. I was just constantly stressed about whatever thing I was involved with at that moment.

    Anyway, I guess I always knew I wasn’t going to marry a man because before I came out I always insisted to everyone I was never getting married. I just could never see a time when it would be ok to be gay, and I didn’t even kiss a girl until I was about 25 (I’m 27 now). For a very long time, I couldn’t even see a day in front of me, let alone what my future would look like. I was struggling with a lot of things, so adding “am I a lesbian?” on top of that was a very confusing time.

    Now that I’m passed that point in my life, I am thankful I didn’t have any preconceived notion of what my life should be like. I’m just making plans as they come to me, applying to jobs that sound interesting and traveling to places that seem fun and wishing I meet someone adorable someday. I don’t get upset that my life isn’t turning out how I planned because I never had any plans.

    (this was way deeper than my typical responses to Friday Open Thread).

    • ” I just figured that scared feeling was the same as having a crush.”
      THIS!! Thank you so much for saying this because it’s exactly how I used to feel.
      I haven’t heard anyone else verbalise it this way before!

    • “I just figured that scared feeling was the same as having a crush.”

      Thank you for putting that into words! I used to know that scared feeling so well. I always just figured it was because I was inexperienced and that dating a boy would make it turn into a more pleasant feeling, but instead it only got worse.

    • this is very similar to my situation…i’m so heartened to read stories of people feeling okay with themselves only later on. I aggressively sort of forced myself to “be straight” until just…a month or two ago? when I sort of started living on my own with my own job for the first time and wasn’t restricted by extremely homophobic family.

      the truth is that i’ve had feelings for girls since I was a little girl but i never allowed myself to see them as what they were until now. some part of me wonders if i’m even allowed to call myself a lesbian because i sort of betrayed myself, and on top of that, was really homophobic as well until friends showed me there was a different way to think. But at the same time, unpacking that homophobia has taken almost a decade, since I was seventeen and first met actual gay people and realized they/we? were normal.

      I’ve never felt sexually attracted to men. Especially cis men–I’ve always been scared of penises and thought they were gross. I thought I was just stressed out by my hectic life. the worst part is i tried to force myself to picture a happy life with the man of my dreams but my heart wasn’t in it, and then i got angry at my heart. I had several deep depressions focused, now that i can see them in hindsight, at me not wanting what i was supposed to want–in career, love, and even personal preferences.

      recently i’ve been looking into lgbtqia meetups so i can meet more people but i honestly…wish i’d allowed myself to be who I am. It probably wouldn’t have gone over well in my household anyway though, they were abusive enough thinking i was straight. Maybe being straight was a phase I had to go through to protect myself and stay alive.

  21. As a tween, I had really elaborate, detailed, concrete plans to start the first-ever convent in my Protestant denomination. I just wanted to live in a house full of women working to better understand ourselves, improve the world, and secure our places in heaven in spite of our utter ambivalence toward the world of men. That was all.

  22. I never had much of a vision of what my future would be like pre transition, but I think babby emo me would definitely be surprised that I somehow ended up a polyamorous Bay Area lesbian.

    (Also I made an amazing 3am stoner sandwich with swiss cheese, gooey fried eggs, mushy avocado, tomato, cucumber, and chipotle mayo this week and thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about it!)

  23. I came out later in life, but I always wished/desired life was more Seinfeld or L Word like, as in sitting all day in coffee shops or at someone house and hanging with friends all day. I still wish I had the time and knew people I can do this with. But, you know having a job and not being a multi-millionaire hampers that a bit. Like did anyone have a job on the L Word? Sure it both shows had their flaws, but the idea of hanging out with your friends on a frequent basis sounded like a great idea when I was younger(still does, but to a lesser extent).

    How’s everyone’s week? It was very hot for the past week that it makes me wonder, where is autumn? It made for a nice Saturday night as it was like 75 degrees at 10pm, while sitting outside at an adorable friends house. Plus, there was vegan pizza and vegan friendly drinks.

    On another note I was talking to this cute queer human on OKC. We exchange numbers, last week and I thought it was going positive. However, the other day she tells me something to the effect she wants to get to know me better, but my convos are too queer. Like when talking about fairies how can you not queer that up? Plus, I am trans queer, I just trying to be me. I said I’ll try, but now I think the person stopped talking to me as I haven’t gotten a reply in a few days. Oh well?

    Flowers for all the beautiful queers here at Autostraddle.

    I wonder what they have against hamster.

    Thank you for viewing and reading my post, have a positive weekend.

  24. I’ve always known that I was different, and when I finally heard the word “lesbian” as a 12 year old and found out what it meant, I was like “THAT’S IT!”. I think the kid who called me a lesbian meant it as an insult, but it was truly a life changing moment. I can also say with confidence that it’s not so much that I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, as I knew what I didn’t want to be. I spent so much time looking at other people and thinking “no, I don’t want to be like that”. Except my summer camp counselors, but I went to an all-girls summer camp as a kid, so it’s no surprise that most of my favorite counselors have been confirmed to be queer. I think I took my favorite parts of them and made them into myself along the way – my love of the outdoors, my favorite books, my interest in playing guitar, and my general style were all things I saw in my favorite counselors and said “yes, that could be me”.
    Callie Torrez is the TV character who changed my life. Her coming to terms with her sexuality gave me the courage to accept myself. It wasn’t until after I came out that I began purposely watching TV shows for the queer characters, AKA watching “adult” TV shows. Between Callie’s outing and my coming out, it was mostly books for me. I worked a tipped job from the age of 13, so I used to spend my tips on books. Annie on my Mind, Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xandu, and so many other books taught me about who I am and what it means to be who I am.
    Come over to Maine, Rachel. I’ll make apple crisp, if you bring friends I’ll make a ton and we can have a movie and apple crisp night.

  25. FRIDAY!!!!! Hey all! How’s the rest of the Straddleverse? This week has been crazy you guys. Crazy busy. IDK even know why. But how is everyone? Your hair looks great.

    Re the topic: I think I never knew what gay actually was until I was in high school you guys. I grew up watching Buffy and that whole Willow and Tara thing just flew over my head. I don’t have an aunt or uncle or cousin who is LGBTQ so there wasn’t really anything to know about being gay. And as far as I can recall I never read a book that talked about gayness. I WAS LIVING UNDER A ROCK UNTIL HIGH SCHOOL.

    Well I didn’t know I was going to be gay growing up so…I mean I don’t even remember what I thought my life would be like when I would finally be an adult you know? Like I knew I wanted to be a nurse and get a cool car to fix up and stuff but the thought of having a husband never crossed my mind. Then again the thought of dating a boy never crossed my mind either. Like I knew I wanted kids but like uh……anyway when the possibility of dating a girl became a reality then I felt like OH HEY IM COMPLETE. It was what I was waiting for. Being an adult became something more reachable, more achievable because I had come to terms with actually being gay.

    On another note it’s most definitely pumpkin carving season. Something I’ve picked up and have grown to really really love. My mom and I went to The Rise of the Jack O Lanterns yesterday which she enjoyed IMMENSELY. These are my favorites.

    ALL PUMPKINS. CARVED. also #lifegoals

  26. Sarah Pezzini.
    You know, the cop from Witchblade?
    Or Susan Ivanova.
    Strong, kickass female characters.
    Now I wish I had geared more towards the Gilmore Girls or someone less broken and lonely, but maybe it was the absence of male love interests and the definition of their characters outside of societal norms that drew me to them.
    And probably the badass hotness.

    In other news, I’m getting on a plane tomorrow and am terrified.
    I could use a few well wishes:-)
    And I am very aware how very badass that is:-D

  27. I grew up in a progressive church where basically everybody was gay, plus my parents have lots of gay friends. I’m only 14 and I’ve been out since I was 11, so I still am having my “gay role model” phase, and I really want to be Natasha Negovanlis, also my family friend Stephanie (gender studies professor, just all around awesome)

    • I know, it’s an uncharacteristically short response. Busy day. In all seriousness, my childhood was not very queer-friendly. But I could never relate when my friends talked about their crushes on boys and marriage… so I always just thought I’d be single my whole life. With lots of pets to keep me company. So far, I’m fulfilling that goal with one cat.

      In response to your questions:
      (1) I don’t think I’ve had a sandwich this week.
      (2) A mad scientist! I’ll be at work, so I won’t have to even dress up! (Actually, I don’t know.)
      (3) Crockpot apple streusel with crumb topping!

  28. The only dream I ever had was playing college softball, which I did quite well actually. Having a lesbian relationship didn’t seem like an option at all. I knew I didn’t want a husband, didn’t want to be a mom, and definitely didn’t want to put on a dress and have a wedding. There was a long time when I really thought I’d die before I was 30 or maybe right after college because I didn’t care about anything that came after that. I mean I had pretty much done everything I ever wanted to do. I didn’t want to be like any of the grown ups I knew because they were all straight. So yeah, it’s kind of surprising that I’m still alive. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve allowed myself to consider what my adult life could look like as a lesbian who actually enjoys life.

  29. To take the question too literally, I (like many people) did not want to be any kind of gay at all. I acknowledged to myself that I as queer at 14, in 2006, and even though it was not all that long ago and in the San Francisco Bay Area, I still didn’t know anyone who I knew to be queer, and I could not wrap my mind around what a queer adulthood might look like. It felt like it was okay to be queer as a teenager, because I didn’t have to do anything about it, so to speak, like I never dated anyone in high school and I could basically just live life as though I weren’t queer, but I felt like once I grew up then it would somehow be real and unavoidable and I would have to face the music, whatever that meant exactly.

    I remember picturing myself living with a woman in a little house way out in the middle of nowhere on the banks of a stream, with just a tree and tall grass as far as you could see. Which is funny to me because nowadays I think that sounds pretty nice! Peaceful and surrounded by nature, just the two of us. I live in an urban area and mostly like it but also fantasize about moving to the countryside (only I can’t because where would I work?). But at the time it seemed like a dreadful thing to grow up to. I suppose what it meant was that I could picture a queer adulthood only in a very literal, constrained way — being an adult in a relationship with a person of the same gender — but I couldn’t picture being queer WHILE embedded in any kind of community. In my vision of queer adulthood I had no neighbors, no coworkers, no friends, just me and this woman living in exile in all that lonely grass.

    If scared 14-year-old me could see almost-24-year-old me now, I suppose she might laugh at how awfully ordinary queer adulthood turned out to be for her. I mean, I’m pretty happy with my life but it’s still a lot of desk job and grocery store and calling the cable company and scrubbing the bathroom and paying the electric bill and so on, and I think 14-year-old me would find the sheer boringness of that deeply comforting.

  30. Y’all I TOTALLY feel you with the whole “The future feels like a blob of nothing! Do I want to get married? Ehh who knows, guess I’ll just do everything that is expected of me until I stop feeling empty inside!” thing. That was me in high school. I was a great student but it was because I didn’t know what I wanted and I felt like I needed to set up a perfect life for myself in case I needed it.

    I came out like 3,4 years ago when I was 18-ish and I’m graduating college this year and trying to figure out what I should do with my life…so I feel like I’m still in that space of trying to figure out what my queer adulthood is gonna be like?? I think for me the biggest inspiration has just been like, cool adult queers that I know now…Last year my girlfriend and I house-sat for our women’s studies professor and her wife for like a week, and living in their house was honestly the moment when I figured out, “Oh, I can grow up and be gay.” Something about seeing their bookshelves and their dogs and their adorable meal chart on the fridge just made me feel really safe. I’M A BABY.

  31. As a teen I was kind of in active denial, both about having to grow up and being queer. When I finally consciously realized that I was bi, when I was 20 (in 1990) the only two bi people I knew of were David Bowie and Virginia Woolf and I didn’t want to be either of them.

    And then Abby on LA Law kissed a woman named CJ! And then CJ went out with a man – and she matter of factly told him that she dated women and men and he was all, um, ok, can we still be monogamous? and she was like, yes, and that was that. And while I don’t think I wanted to be CJ (and while I’m sure that season of LA Law wouldn’t work very well for me now), she was the first version of bisexuality I saw that felt possible to me and that I resonated with. And I think I’ve posted this here before, but I definitely channeled her when I came out to my future husband.

    And funny you should ask about apple crisp – I just volunteered to bring apple crisp to Thanksgiving at my SILs. I’m definitely team apple crisp – it’s easy to make, it’s delicious and there’s no crust trying to compete for attention with the yummy, gooey apple and cinnamon goodness.

  32. Lily Tomlin! Being her own opening act in drag, writing such great characters and awesome comedy shows. I looked up to her control of so many parts of how she was represented, and her openness at being an older lady. And her dignity. She was the kind of woman I wanted to be when I grew up- I even wrote her jokes in some of my high school yearbooks. I didn’t know she was gay until I was fully aware I was, and I realized that what I hoped I could be was not limited by my orientation. My future clicked when I came out, and to be honest, everything I thought of myself when I was in the closet seems very vague. Maybe I’d get married, maybe I’d be a nurse, even though I wanted to write jokes and make art. And perhaps it was always vague because I was so in the closet, and how can you really go for what you want when you aren’t really going out for what you want?

  33. I did not identify with any LGBT representations that I saw within mass media. The media was kind of filled with stereotypes and I didn’t feel I fit with them: the sportsy one, the androgenous one, the two-lesbians-who-are-the-same-person-in-a-relationship one, the overly emotional one, the extremely butch one (who is probably also fat), the extremely superficial femme, the “easy” bi-sexual. These were all I knew of queer women as a kid and I feel like they had a huge impact on why I did not come out for so long.

    I did not think I was legit as a queer woman because I had no idea what a real lesbian or bisexual or pansexual looked or acted like outside of these very narrow parameters. Even when I knew that the negative stereotypes were probably untrue, as most stereotypes end up being, it was my fear that if I were to “become” a lesbian that I would get fat, cry enough to fill a bathtub on a regular basis, talk about my feelings constantly, be angry about everything, lose my sense of humour, and have to dress in a more masculine way. I had this sense from my media consumption that I would become either a complete joke or totally invisible to my straight friends and the world at large. These negative stereotypes made an impression on me despite living in a non-religious family, never having the word “dyke” hurled at me due to my feminine appearance, gay marriage being legalized in Canada when I was a teenager, and having a GSA in my highschool.

    I identified strongly with Samantha from Sex and The City due to her mixture of brash and coy attitudes more than her sexual conquests and I expected that any forays into lesbianism by me would likely end up in a similar way to the way her one or two episode long tryst with a woman did. Miranda also kissed an out lesbian in one episode and then said “no, still not gay” or something to that effect. I identified with this bit as well, as I had kissed girls (who were not my type and who I was not attracted to) and felt nothing significant.

    I saw my future as a predestined plan which included highschool, university, a respectable career, motherhood while still working in a respectable career, and a successful marriage to a man with equally respectable education and career. I didn’t really ever consider that my life would deviate from the expectations that my immediate and extended family had for me. It was quite a shock to them when I came out very suddenly after 7 years of “successful” consecutive long-term relationships with men.

  34. Hey guys, late as ever, I blame the time difference. Hope you all had fulfilling weeks, I got a gorgeous double breasted Harris Tweed waistcoat for my B-Fri’s wedding and I am ecstatic! Mainly because she has accepted my outfit and I was super concerned that she’d have a “butch maid of honour” panic as we neared the day. But she didn’t. Huge sigh of relief. Also I graduated from my MA this week, more letters yay.
    On to the topic;
    Before I came out at the ripe old age of 15 I remember telling my mother that I couldn’t see a future past my GCSEs, like there was nothing and she was decidedly “you better find something” so yeah, I hear the amorphous blob future folks. I guess growing up gay under section 28, with the knowledge I couldn’t get married to a woman, and minimal TV representation, (except for Sue Perkins-first and forever crush, Rhona Cameron, and vague moments of Ellen) I had no real role models, and no view of where I was going, I just knew I mustn’t turn out to be “one of those lesbians”. Umm guys I’m totally one of those lesbians, I love being one of those lesbians, and everyone who said that to me back then has made peace with me being one of those lesbians. Give me plaid flannel and doc martens or give me death. So yeah.
    If I was a kid now I think I’d want to grow up to be Abby Wambach, hell I’m in my 30s and I wish I could grow up to be Abby Wambach.
    Have great weekends, may they be full of apple crumble…do you have that in America? Is it the same as apple crisp?

  35. I didn’t know I was gay until I was 17, when I was at university for the first time. The epiphany was quick and happy and happened within 48 hours of my parents dropping me off at my new dorm. For the first few years after coming out, old memories popped up without warning all of the time, and I would realize that things shook out they way they’d had because I was a tiny queer.

    The process of re-framing everything that had ever happened to me with a queer lens took a look time; even now, twelve years after coming out, I’m still occasionally blindsided with an old memory. Like the time I told the babysitter while we were driving in her car somewhere that I was never getting married. Just a thought, just an idea that had popped up– I couldn’t imagine wanting to be attached to any boy. I was eight or nine. She pulled the car over! Can you imagine? “Then what ARE you going to do?” she wanted to know.

    My adult future was defined by the negative for as long as I can remember– I didn’t know any queer women, but probably more importantly, I didn’t know any women who weren’t (white, middle class, heterosexual) married with children and staying home to raise them. Other than my school teachers, I literally did not know a single woman who had a job. The only thing I wanted for my future was ‘Not That’.

    When I was a teenager I was dating a guy who wanted to marry me, settle down, and have enough kids to farm a hockey team. I spent my afternoons watching Beverly Hills 90210 and Roseanne reruns; I dreamed about becoming a combination of Kelly and Darlene. I knew enough to leave the boyfriend behind, and I was fortunate enough to get to a college far away from where I grew up. I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t really know how that might happen. I sort-of wafted through my studies from one course to another, thinking ‘Not That’ ‘Not That’ ‘Not That’.

    There’s never really been a point in time before or since then when I’ve felt like there was a plenitude of queer role models for me. Grown-up life has always been a bit of a blank. There have been times where I’ve really embraced it; I love living with my girlfriend and discovering little things like how we’d prefer to split the chores. There’s no template for how we do things at all, and sometimes that feels like the ultimate freedom. If I want to spend half the day ironing underpants and the other half at the hardware store, the gender-roles-in-relationships police does not come a’knockin.

    But there are times I’ve felt hopelessly connected to rando sad/dead queermos like Freddie Mercury or Liberace. I wonder how I’m ever going to get to the next rung; is there any part of society that wants me? There’s just some element of loneliness in their stories (or at least in my made-up versions of their stories) that feels closer to me than anyone else’s life experiences I ought to be emulating. Sometimes the future feels like a black hole doing the sucking-everything-into-nothingness thing, rather than yay! and free! and endless possibilities! But it goes back and forth. I’m out and loud about it everywhere I go though, so if there can’t be a role model for me, I can try my damndest to be one for someone else.

  36. I was a tomboy growing up, and until I developed people would stop my mom on the street to ask if I was a boy or a girl. Had crushes on other girls from a young age but didn’t identify them as “crushes” until I was 16 and kissed a girl for the first time, then I started to figure it out.
    I was obsessed with “My So-Called Life” as a teen because I was the same age as Claire Danes’ character and experiencing the same things, and they were groundbreaking in that they had an openly gay (male) teen character that was treated respectfully (also, I was in love with Claire Danes and was secretly hoping she and her female costar would make out). So as a teen I was emulating Danes’ alternative-chic look, and I was also really into the riot grrrl movement so I loved that punk esthetic… probably I wanted to turn out like Kathleen Hanna. I’ve always really loved tough chicks at the same time I wanted to be one. It’s funny, now, that a lot of the women I looked up to at the time turned out to be lesbians (Sara Gilbert from “Roseanne,” Linda Perry of Four Non-Blondes, etc).
    Right around the time I fully came to grips with my sexuality, the first season of the L Word aired, and it was nice to see the media representing lesbians as regular people with normal lives and problems. I’m 36 now, and I still don’t necessarily feel “grown up” into my lesbian identity, since I’m constantly growing and changing. Right now I’m really into classic men’s fashion, but ultimately I see myself as an eventual “Bette” or power-dyke in my 40s.

  37. When I was 12, I told my best friend that I’d never have time for marriage or family because I’d be too busy with my career.

    My mom had tons of queer friends, so I knew that gay people were normal/boring. Despite knowing lots of gay people, it was my classmates who first applied words like tomboy, lesbian, and queer to me. I had the most exciting (imagined) queer life in high school!

    There’s an apple crisp in the oven if you want to stop by @internrachel, and handprints everywhere.

  38. Ellen Page was always an inspiration even well before she came out or I even knew I was gay. All her cool tomboy-hipster-bohemian outfits were something I didn’t think I could pull off but I am trying my best now. I thought I would be a cool skater lesbian like my friends in college but I can’t skate for anything, and then I thought I would be a sporty outdoorsy one, but now here I am playing video games with my girlfriend and obsessed with my plants and my cat and doing art and staying in to hang out and eat food together and I’m so glad things turned out the way they did. I never thought I would be this happy when I was growing up. My brother is in high school now and it’s great being the cool lesbian older sister who gives advice to his queer friends and manages a candy store and has a smart geeky partner living the broke millennial life in Austin, TX.

  39. A) apple crisp. How is this even up for debate? It’s crispy and pie isn’t, duh.
    B) I will totally make you vegan apple crisp with vanilla cardamom ice cream (also vegan) if you pick it up/pay shipping.
    C) I went to a SUPER GHEY arts school, and came out as bi (later rectified to gay in college.) Identifying as queer was never a big deal for me because of my environment, and because there were quite a few queer characters on TV. I won’t lie, though, although I binge watched The L Word, I was also terrified of the lesbian community for years–YEARS–because of that show.

  40. I didn’t know that there were ways of being gay when I was a kid. When I first heard about lesbians in elementary school, my thought process for figuring out if I was one or not was literally “would I prefer to rescue someone or be rescued?” I figured if I preferred to be rescued (which I did, I was very lazy), that must mean that I was straight.
    I’m not sure why I thought this was good deductive reasoning (perhaps because I spent so much time daydreaming of someone riding into my classroom on a horse or a motorcycle to swoop me up from my horrible classmates and take me away?) but it kept me from questioning it any further until about ten years later when I saw a clip of The L Word on AfterEllen and realized I’d rather be rescued by Kate Moennig.
    Now, though, I’d like to be the type of gay that’s really artsy and wears flannel and goes to the farmer’s market on the weekend with her super cute girlfriend. It’s still a work in progress.

  41. So, like, I figured out I was gay today. It was a fun time. I’ve always tried to make up random baseless crushes on guys to cling to some idea that I might be a momentarily confused straight person, but nah, I’m to queer to keep that going anymore.

    As a little kid I always wanted to be Mulan, but fall in love with a random village girl or whatever. Now I want to be someone like Cosima or something.

    Life goal: to be out and happy with 3 kids and partner.

  42. Great FOT. I really feel it is hard answering the what kind of dyke did you want to be question without having lesbian characters on tv/music/film/media as examples to aspire to. I grew up in the early 1970’s/ 1980’s and landmark events for me were:

    I knew I didn’t want to be married to a man and be under a man’s thumb. This didn’t look attractive or seem interesting. I wanted to be their friend but I wanted more intense connection and passion with women. One of my biggest heartbreaks was having an unrequited crush on my best friend when I was 11-12 and scripting a future featuring us as a couple living together sharing our lives together and having lots of animals around… which would have been inspired by my favourite and Role Model tv show Anne of Green Gables at the time… A life with a significant loving caring woman who made me laugh and we would have a lovely house that I could decorate and make art in, and we would give St Francis of Assisi a run for his money on the befriending animals front. Of course my ex bff ditched me for one of my friends in the new year and turned septic and very heterosexual on me.

    Anne of Green Gables is the character I wanted to be, with a Diana of my own, sharing confidences, making each other laugh for a long time, and cuddling up with each other at the end of a long day. So, no change there, and I guess the progress is I have a lovely woman as my partner, and we make each other laugh lots and we live together and love to create art ie garden cook sew together.

    My realisation I was gay was stops and starts… I had sex with another girl at 13 and loved it… but I wasn’t one of those man hating lezzers… as a teenager I had a crush on my male gay best friend… and on my lesbian best friend… but I still was determined to give being straight a red hot go. I had no lust for men though, and plenty of lust and desire for women, and I came out to my folks who were very accepting though they thought it was a phase at age 21… and I then promptly shut down the lesbian experience thing and decided to have a relationship with a guy for 10 years, which was an exercise in painful ever increasing fraudulence and mask wearing that felt like a lie tightening like hands around a throat…

    Significant desires and events re role models:

    I was not a sporty dyke and sporty dykes annoyed me and intimidated me. More often than not the sporty dykes I had semi hung out with in childhood at school had been (in my eyes) coarse, vulgar, pragmatic and utilitarian, functional, rough, tough, uncultured and unartistic – half of which was true, what was also true was that I was a snob fucking around with heterosexual privilege and using it against the threat of my lesbian peers who probably sensed something semi lesbian and shamed about me and wanted me to admit it…
    So Martina Navratilova repulsed me, and any physically strong and capable sportswomen irritated me probably because she had what I wanted and couldn’t be, as did any other non Femme kind of lesbian…

    Nuns seemed to me to have a dream life… all except for the bullshit chastity poverty and third vow. One of my recurring fantasies involves Nuns, gardening, reading, discussing spirituality, growing ones own food no men anywhere…

    Academic career women turned me on… Independantly financially capable women who were not playing or pandering to men and heterosexual scripts intrigued and inspired me… self reliant women who were feminists and goddess worshippers…

    Sigourney Weaver, Vita Sackville West, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Cate Blanchett, Marilyn Waring, Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Whoopi Goldberg, Bessie Smith, Judee Sill, and women who are artists, inspire me.

  43. You know what I did not picture in my baby queer days was that several years after being enthralled by the concept of an IUD because my rugby crush had one, I would be snuggled in bed with my very own cat and my very own case of painful post-insertion IUD cramps. Looking forward to the no periods a couple months down the line though. tbh all I ever wanted out of life was to be the kind of queer that doesn’t get periods…

    Also when I first realized I liked girls I convinced myself I was somewhere around a Kinsey 2 and now I want to only ever be with my girlfriend forever hallelujah amen no men, so that’s been a fun journey and I am very pleased with where I have landed.

  44. I had no idea I might like girls that way until after I graduated high school, and even then, it took me until about a year ago (eight or nine years later) to realise I might be gay – I guess because I didn’t fit the ‘I always knew from a young age’ narrative, and I didn’t realise that for some people, their sexuality is much harder to figure out than that. I thought that I couldn’t be gay at all, because surely I would ‘just know’ if I was, right? And yet, I’d worked out that I didn’t want to date guys by the time I was nineteen. There was definitely some cognitive dissonance there. Still not 100% sure of what label applies to me, but I’m probably a Kinsey 5 and have zero interest in dating the very few men I’m ever attracted to, so I’m leaning towards ‘lesbian.’

    Growing up, I wasn’t aware of any gay people, or even any gay characters in the media I watched or read. So I didn’t really have any role models I could relate to. I knew that I felt different from the girls who constantly went on about boys, but I didn’t know why I did. If there had been people or characters I could relate to, that might have helped.

    Over the past year or so I’ve had to unpick a lot of internalised notions of what it means to like other girls – growing up in 1990s Australia, there was a lot of parroted homophobia among the other kids, and this terrible stereotype of what a lesbian was – antisocial, unable to fit in, unfashionable, etc. I realised relatively recently that I was afraid of proving all those kids right and turning out to be a lesbian – but then I thought, ‘so what if I do prove them right? Being a lesbian doesn’t mean what all those ignorant kids thought it was.’ I was fine with other people being lesbians, but the thought of actually being one myself was terrifying. It still scares me a bit, to be honest – because you can’t control how other people will react to that knowledge.

    For the longest time I couldn’t really picture my future, it was just a blank amorphous mess, and I think it was because I didn’t know who I was and what I wanted. I’d swallowed the idea of heterosexual marriage and kids, this unrealistic ‘traditional family’ image, as what I should want, and then I was really confused when I didn’t want that. Whereas now that I have some idea of what I do actually want, my idea of the future is beginning to resolve itself.

  45. I didn’t really see a future for myself being out. I always thought I’d marry a man and just repress any thoughts of being with women.
    I really wish that there had been positive representations of lesbian and bi women in relationships when I was younger. Even after I came out, it was very hard to imagine a positive future for myself because I was surrounded by a narrative of how lesbian relationships could never work out etc. It wasn’t really anyone’s fault per say, I think we had all grown up with that kind of narrative and it was easy to believe it.
    It’s taken a long time to try and fight some of those ingrained ideas. Even now, it’s something I have to actively fight.
    As for what my future is, or what today looks like, well, in some ways -I’m an out lesbian and all and I feel no shame or anything about my sexual orientation, which is something I never could have imagined.
    I think there’s other things that haven’t turned out as well as I might have hoped, but eh, what can you do.

    • Super liked your comment. Congrats on achieving the hardest things: recognizing internalized homophobia and interrupting the narratives which become destructive self-fulfilling prophecies.

      Being able to live without shame for your sexuality is fucking awesome. Even if I can never be Xena or have the perfect gay life, I don’t feel like I let down my childhood ambitions as long as I can feel proud.

  46. Not that I’m replying to this too late or anything.

    I… also did not consume much queer media until after I’d already come out? So I didn’t have any specific role models. I kind of wanted to be that whole thing of weaponised femininity, though – red lipstick, sharp nails, but able to take out spiders and to bleed a radiator by myself. (I… still don’t know how you bleed a radiator. I’m not sure what bleeding a radiator even is. I’m at university accommodation, there are People to do that.)

    Then I decided I wanted to be that punky kind of queer with short hair and facial piercings and leather jackets – and here I am. I achieved it. I have 5 piercings in my face, and a leather jacket, and half my head is shaved. Next goal: biceps. For taking care of spiders in a hardcore way.

    • Bleeding a radiator is really, really easy! You can totally probably do it. It’s just a special little key (you can order them online) and you just turn the little screw thing on the side a bit to the left, and let the water out (but this usually happens a lot more to people who live on the upper floors of a building). Lots of times people think that this is why their radiators don’t work in the winter but it isn’t usually true– usually you just need to unscrew the knob and spray it all down with WD-40. Lesbian building superintendant FTW!

      • So, many years ago when I was but a baby butch, my also gay tomboy DIY doing housemate and I decided to bleed the radiators. They were hot at the bottom but never the top which is an indicator they need bleeding apparently… Let’s just say she over did it on the key turning and the amount of hot brown water spraying her room was such that I ran out of the house to find a neighbour screaming “we need a man” …mortifying, and the last time I have ever said that. I also no longer live in a house with central heating.

  47. I’ve been a supporter of queer rights my entire life and grew up in downtown Toronto, so I was exposed to gay people. But queerness was still really otherized to me and I repressed my feelings and didn’t see myself as queer until my quite late teens.

    But, even when I was a kid, I never really thought that I would fit in well with the regular, het idea of what marriage is. I always assumed that I would have a series of failed relationships, if that, and then go to a sperm bank and become a parent by myself in my 40’s. That was my plan 100% until I came to my senses, realized I was a lesbian and it felt like a whole new world opened up to me.

  48. No queer rolemodels, really, because I was just majorly unaware, but I definitely wanted to be a librarian spinster with many cats and many books in a ridiculous victorian house with my best friends, so I feel like I was just yearning for that old timey boston marriage lifestyle as a child.

  49. I had a friend in seventh grade who was a complete “bad girl”. Having sex, stealing stuff, rebelling, etc. I remember her casually telling me and a friend while walking home from school she was bi and the other girl was like me too. My first thought for some reason was thinking to myself ‘hell no I don’t want to be like them’ because I had a bunch of guilt and pressure from my family to be good and please my family, get good grades, etc. I was always so stressed and overwhelmed to do the right thing all the damn time. I now realize how ridiculous it was to assume that being bi was somehow equivalent to being a rebel, but that was probably further cemented by the movie THIRTEEN, which I loved but of course those girls were total badass and I could not handle bringing that much drama into my life. I sought out girl power media but didnt find much so I settled for HBO nightime shows with really brief mild nudity. I would say the type of gay I wanted to be was VERONICA MARS, I shipped her and Amanda Seyfried’s character so hard. I wanted to grow up to be a woman that was smart and sassy and fuck, and also make out with girls between solving mysteries

  50. Bird’s nest pudding is better than both pie and apple crisp because it is cake with the option of not eating the foul crime against nature that is baked apples, but still gives your guests the chance to be heathens if they want.

    I don’t have a transcribed copy of the bird’s nest pudding recipe that I got from Kirsten and the Chippewa on this….device but I’m gunna explain what it is.

    Peeled cores apples packed with brown sugar and spices left to get golden baked while you make a yummy maple or vanilla cake batter that gets poured around the apples.
    So it is the “best part” apple pie and cake at the same time.
    Clearly the best thing you see.

    It’s way too late but the gay adult I figured I might be would of the butch living alone someplace faraway from other people in noble manly solitude.
    Maybe with a partner, but probably not.
    I was an angry, hurt kid that really distrusted people, especially people trying to be nice to me because it usually was a trick. Imagining a future with someone close and tender to me seemed a dream as far as Pluto.
    I really didn’t picture a future for myself much at all really past a certain age because picturing the future, having dreams, imagining good things were just disappointments in the making or lies.

    Been reading A Song of Ice and Fire (some how the show got more rape-y than the source material WTF) and damn kid me was Sandor-like.
    Poor little wooby.

    So many things in my life at presented I never imagined, it’s ridiculous.
    Some of it is good ridiculous, some of it is headdesk ridiculous of how do I dig myself out the hole kid me dug.

  51. A weird pivotal point for me was watching the episodes of Desperate Housewives where Robin and Katherine get together and Katherine decides she can’t take all the attention and so her and Robin run off to Paris.

    Important for me because I actually heard “Katherine is a lesbian” said out loud on TV and got to hear what it sounded like and it kind of scared me. But also important because that was the kind of gay I wanted to be when I grew up – the kind who can’t be bothered with any of the drama of explaining the relationship to others, so just runs off somewhere.

    That was kind of my goals for a while because I didn’t have an awful lot to tie myself to the place I was living – now I have good friends and a job and lots of good things going on so the thought of running away from it all for the sake of another person seems impossible at this point.

    But I used to imagine I would never grow up to be openly not-straight, that I’d get some sort of average job and marry the first guy I meet to make my family happy but just consume loads of LGBT media to get a sort of fix. And then one day I might meet a woman and we’d see each other secretly until the whole thing got exposed and turned into a big drama.

    Needless to say I wasn’t watching much LGBT media at this point, mostly because I wasn’t aware of where it was or how to watch it (or how to watch it without my parents realising), so the only stories I really knew were ones of shock and intrigue etc. I never really realised LGBT+ relationships could just be normal rather than the centre of weird drama and gossip? 16-17 was a weird age.

  52. I grew up in France, in a very socialist city, with very socialist, open-minded parents. I read “the sexual life of Catherine M.” and Anaïs Nine erotic novels in middle school. I read “Blue is the warmest color” and spoke about it with my parents at the same age. But I also converted to catholicism when I was 9, and I wanted (and still want) a very classic, bourgeoise, life. A least 5 kids, living in an old house or flat, family prayers, mass on sunday, etc… I know I had a things for women, but I thought “well, you’re bi, just forget women, and date man so you can find your husband”. I had access to a lot of varied representations of queer women : the L world, PLL, tumblr, a lot of fanfiction, etc… But for me, it was something part of the “LGBT culture”. And the LGBT culture was not for me because catholic culture. I thought that if you were gay, you HAD to be part of this culture. So I repressed my feelings because I did not want to change myself. Plus, I have a past of sexual abuse, and I did not want to be the “rape victims turned lesbian”. (and lesbian sexuality confused me… It took me some time and painful experience to understand that “no” and consent took place in it.)
    The movie that changed everything was “imagine me and you”. i wasn’t a long time ago ! Things are so quick. I remember watching it with a friend. before going to music class, we had a 30 minutes wait, and we watched it on her bed, on her computer, in a streaming version with bad french subtitles (my english sucked in this time). I remember perfectly the whole month it took us to watch it. I was so excited to see it. It changed A LOT of things in my life. It just spoke about love, and I am very romantic. I don’t know why, but I just understood that being gay was about being in love with women, and not about anything else. I understood that being attracted to women was not a big deal. society make it a big deal, but you can ignore social construction (at least where I live, it’s easy). I watched it so many times, I know it by heart. I really want to write something to the directors or to Lena Headey. You can not imagine the number of “Imagine me and you” quotes I say to my girlfriend.

    So… what I would have need when I was young would have been a book about lesbian teenager who have a very romantic, very dramatic love story, without too much reference to homophobia (maybe in a fantasy context ?), with loooong declaration of love, and the idea that you don’t have to change yourself just to “fit in” in a particular culture (doesn’t mean you have to despise it, but you can have respect without being a part of it). But basically, teenage love, with a lot of love. Also, I would have looove to have access to it in a French context, and not US context, because identification, but french are too snob to do something like “Imagine me and you”. We want drama and long reflexion about life and death.

    Also, it could sound stupid, but Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears were models for me. I don’t know, but when it come to gay representation IRL (not in fiction, but in people), I knew only about lesbian actress and I don’t really care about people or actress. As a musician, I just loved to know that Benjamin Britten was gay. And I loved to learn here that Tove Jansson is, too.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!