FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: When Did You First Know You Were Gay?

Hey there rockstars, you made it to the end of another week! I am so proud of you!! Not all weeks are easy to make it to the end of, you know? But, you did it! You are here! I am ready to celebrate you!

While we’re here together, celebrating and getting to know each other, I’d love to ask you a fun question: Looking back on it, when should you have first known know you were gay?

Today’s images appropriately come from the gayest baby gay movie to ever baby gay, Now & Then.

Last week I had the unbelievable good fortune of going out to a bar with our very own Valerie Anne and Heather Hogan! We drank good craft beers and laughed at our our pre-gay selves. Did you know that my high school boyfriend was a “sensitive” theatre geek, like me, who also grew up to be gay? Well, now you do! We used to go to Rocky Horror Picture Show every month! We both painted our nails. We sang RENT’s soundtrack at the top of our lungs while hanging out in his car after school! HA! And now I know why!

Sometimes we like to think of our “coming out” in terms of “before” and “after” – and I get it! It’s linear, and easy to digest. Today I want to talk about something a little messier: What are those times in the “before” that are now completely different than how we first remember them? What are the funny stories of your pre-gay childhood? Your complicated college years? Were you like Emily Fields in Pretty Little Liars and loved Beyoncé a little too much in middle school? (Trick Question! There is no such thing as loving Beyoncé too much!) Were you smack dab in the middle of your high school’s softball team drama? Really, isn’t all “softball team drama” dyke drama anyway?

We recognize our own when we see it.

When I was a wee ‘tween, I loved Angelina Jolie. Lots of girls loved Angelina Jolie, but… ahem… not the way I did (wink wink). Gia Angelina Jolie. Girl, Interrupted Angelina Jolie. Everyone else was putting boy band posters on the wall, and I was daydreaming about Angelina’s pillowy lips! Of course I didn’t think anything of it at the time. All girls admire female celebrities and their Cosmo covers? Right? Riiiiiiight.

I’m not alone! Nearly a decade ago, Autostraddle ran a three part roundtable series, “When I Knew I Was Gay.” Our dear editors followed that gem up with, “Top Ten ‘90s Movies Beloved by Girls Who Turned Out Gay” (in case you were wondering, I ranked 7/10 on that little list. #NowAndThenFOREVER!). Last year, Kayla bared her soul with “The 25 Gayest Things I Did When I Still Thought I Was Straight” AND “The Gayest Friendship Fights I Had as a Closeted Baby Lesbian”!

“Logan was in the middle school yearbook club, and I was the editor in chief, so she would suck up to me in order to get good assignments. So I asked her to french braid my hair every day in yearbook class, and she did.” – Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, girl this is so real.

Tell me! What are your most cherished, funny, awkward gay stories from before you knew you were gay? What’s that one moment you look back on, shake your head at your former self, and go “Ohhh, honey!”? Who were your secret crushes? Your favorite obviously gay movies? Friends that you desperately wanted to be more than friends with? SUPER GAY HOBBIES that you pretended weren’t gay at all?

I bet you have some great tales to spin! I can’t wait to laugh and cry and reminisce along with you!

Let’s keep the ball rolling! How was the rest of your week? Did you finally get that iced latte you’ve been craving? A hard day at work? Did you catch up on your sleep? Oh! Did you have a Reese’s Cup?? I love Reese’s Cups!

Baby Gay Little Me Can’t Wait To Hear From You!

How To Post A Photo In The Comments:

Find a photo on the web, right click (on a Mac, control+click), hit “Copy Image URL” and then…
code it in to your comment like so:

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

How To Post A Video In The Comments, Too:

Find a video on YouTube, copy the URL, and paste the link on its own separate line in your comment. You no longer need to use the “embed” code!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 712 articles for us.


  1. carmen i knew i was gay when i was 12 and had a boyfriend bc “[name] said he liked you so you two should date” but i didn’t let him hold my hand or touch me or hug me.

    • Once in college a boy I was “lightly dating” came to visit my campus for a BBQ or whatever with my friends. Upon seeing him, I ran inside our student center and hid upstairs in the computer lab so that we wouldn’t have to talk, kiss, or hold hands in front of people I actually knew.

      I had a full on panic attack, sweats and hard-to-catch-breath and all.

      Totally normally heterosexual behavior ?

      • 14 year old Me listening to a lady talk about getting pregnant in high school (and so sorry for judgmental 14 year old me, she’s an idiot): um it seems like it would be pretty easy for me and a guy to not have sex until marriage, that is when I would want to start anyway.

        Basically this thread is making me think, man I was dumb.

    • I had a similar scenario, but I tried to go all the way to attempting to have sex with the guy which got really weird for buth of us. I kept having “bromances” with guys, but whenever I tried to be in an actual relationship with one I became unresponsive and uninterested. Being close to my women friends felt really good, but when it came to physical touch from guys I was just like “huh…that’s it? Straight girls overexagerated how amazing this would be.” I attempted to have sex with a guy (because heteronormativity and people saying I should date him I guess I felt obligated) and it was so awkward because I had to watch lesbian porn before hand to even get into it. Ironically our sex involved activities many would think of when they hear the word “lesbian sex” (mostly toys, fingering, no intercourse except with a dildo) Then afterwards I tell him I just wasn’t feeling it and the guy tells me “I think you’re a lesbian honestly.” ?

  2. When I was 15 years old, I became a Renthead. I was fortunate to live less than an hour away from NYC, and I spent nearly every weekend taking the train to NYC to see RENT on Broadway. I had a little too much love for the character of Mimi. She was sexy and spunky and I wanted to be her…or be with her. I became obsessed with RENT and Mimi, and I once asked the actress playing Maureen what it’s like to kiss another woman. She said it’s like kissing a man, which having done both now, I can say that’s not very true. I mean, maybe it was for her, You Do You.

    Another fun one: when I was ~11 years old, I got a TV with a VCR in my bedroom. My older sister didn’t have a tv, and we weren’t allowed to watch R movies. My sister’s friend rented American Pie from the video store, and the agreement with my sister was that if I let them watch it in my room, I could watch, too. I grew up in a very sex-negative household, and it was the first sexualized time I saw breasts, and I got a little excited. I hate to say that the first time I felt a little aroused was watching American Pie, but it was a pivotal moment in my sexual awakening.

    • I’m SO EXCITED to meet a fellow teenage RENThead! I haven’t even had the chance to use the phrase “renthead” in years!! OMG.

      Despite living in Detroit and therefore nowhere near NYC, I saw Rent at least a 8 times between the ages of 12 and 18. I saw it once on Broadway as a Christmas present when we were visiting family in Brooklyn. Then I became hardcore obsessed! It lit a fire for me, you know? I felt like I had found my tribe (even though they were fictional characters). Anyway, I stalked the national tour all across the Midwest and into Toronto. If it played anywhere near me, I found a way to it!

      OMG This is cutest thing! “once I asked the actress playing Maureen what it’s like to kiss another woman.” Truly living the dream, Rachel!

      And love that you felt a little special heat from American Pie! I had an unexplained attraction to Natasha Lyonne in that movie (Well, unexplained then, now I think we all understand *exactly* what was going on!) Late 90s and early Aughts emo high school bad girls? My. Jam.

      I saw that show every time it toured. And I still remember every single word. I was most fascinated by Joanne. Because Maureen was such a bitch to her and I felt bad for her? Or because I thought she was hot.
      Or both? Probably both.

    • Chiming in as a fellow teenage RENThead. I didn’t see the show for the first time until I was 18 (and with my first girlfriend) but I spent so much of my late teens-early 20s either taking the bus from PA or MD to NYC to see the show on Broadway, or traveling to random places to see the national tours. When the tour came to my hometown I asked the actress playing Maureen if she wanted a “tour guide” on her day off. We had met before, so this wasn’t as weird as it could’ve been, but she still turned me down nicely.

  3. My obsession with Now & Then definitely should have clued me in. Or how I kissed my Kimberly/Pink Ranger trading card goodnight. Or how while everyone else was fighting over NSync or BSB I was listening to Spice Girls (and Hanson lol).

    But seriously Now & Then is so good. If only they made Roberta the lesbian she deserved to be.

    • SPICE GIRLS!!! HANSON!!!! (and yes, even NSYNC)!!

      I LOVED THEM ALL SO MUCH!! Valerie Anne??? Did you live my childhood???

      I had a Spice Girls themed birthday party when I was 11 or 12! We got tickets to see them in concert and then had a sleepover where we watched “SpiceWorld” on VHS! I was… how do you say… very into Girl Power!

      Side note fun fact about me: When I went through my hardcore NSYNC phase, and all the other girls loved JC and Justin Timberlake, I loved…. Joey Fatone? Because I felt bad for him! No one else ever picked him or loved him! So I made him my “special project.”

      That’s the gayest reason to pick a boy band fav that I’ve ever heard of, right?

    • I constantly get Now & Then and the TV show Now and Again mixed up so I was going to come in here yelling DID YOU HEAR THE INTERVIEW WHERE EVAN RACHEL WOOD BISEXUAL SAID SHE HAD A BABY GAY CRUSH ON MISCHA BARTON WHEN THEY WERE FILMING???

    • As someone who was born in 1990 my first crush was on Kimberly Hart “Amy Jo Johnson”. I had soo much Power Ranger stuff (and still have some of it) growing up that my mom got for me; fanny packs, shoes, even Power Ranger gummys. I used to pretend all the time that I was Tommy Oliver, because of his relationship with Kimberly and since he was a once rogue badass.

      I watched Now and Then pretty much every weekend (our VHS collection consisted of a lot of Disney which I wasn’t super into) and ended up shaping some of the things I did at school and my friendships with girls, sometimes for the worse. One time I told a girl I was friends with that her dad should build us a tree house. We weren’t even that close, like we never hung out outside of school. I was weird. So a love of Christina Ricci when I was a kid probably helped the gay be visible in me. She was my “force”. Seriously though, how cute is she in Casper?

  4. Looking back, I should have known based on all of the Liv Tyler pictures I had on my wall when I was in junior high…

    But also, I college my bff and I loved watching The Office. And do y’all remember when Jim got Pam that teapot for Christmas and filled it with cute memories and inside jokes and stuff? Yeah, I did that. For my friend. Because that’s a totally normal, friendly things to do, right?

    • Oh man, Liv Tyler! What a babe!

      Have you watched Harlots on Hulu by any chance? I hear she joined the cast this season? And I think she makes out with a girl….

    • Kay but in The Two Towers when she shows up in Aragorn’s dream wearing that sheer purple dress you can def see some side boob, and I enjoyed that very much.

    • I… actually do think that’s a totally normal friendly thing to do with a proper bff? Like, it *can* mean something else, but I don’t think it inherently does.

    • Oh Liv Tyler… that stupid Aerosmith video still does it for me tbh. (I just watched it again, just to make sure, and yep. Still hot.)

  5. The Fall TV season is about to begin spinning up, and I’m so ready to start hardcore shipping again. I figure I’ll start the week but sipping a tall glass of Eleanor & Tahani, by the middle of the week I’ll taking shots of Deanoru, and by the end I’ll be railing a line of Supercorp.

  6. Carmen! What are the chances I did have Reese’s Cups this week?? And it was an okay week, and now I’m linking those two together so I’m gonna start adding Reese’s Cups into my weekly idk week living!

    Honestly a lot of repressed stuff has been coming up lately and I just remembered freshmen year during one class the girl I had a crush on (but like refused to acknowledge at the time even though it was super obvious) did this thing where she put her hand under her skirt, and mimicked it being a penis? and it went down for everyone except me all-girls’ schools are so strange also every time one of my friends sat on me it was the best day of my life so that should’ve been an inkling

    my mom to this day said she knew I was probably gay when I told her I didn’t want to wear dresses anymore and pink and white (her favorite colors) were colors I didn’t like at all and she got me pants but I still had to wear those colors

    Also I literally remember next to nothing about middle school except two things:

    My Alicia Keys life size poster that hung on my bedroom wall (hmmmmmmmmmmmm)

    kids used to do like bathroom dates? where they’d go to the bathroom within the same time frame as each other and I think someone either got or was about to get a blow job and if you could’ve seen the utter horror on my face and how that solidified my decision to go to an all-girls’ high school

    can we also talk about how my prom date really liked me and it just went over my head. He was like, “send me a pic” and I didn’t know he meant like *that* kind of pic and it basically turned into him telling me how pretty I was before I went to sleep

    HI CARMEN HOW’S YOUR WEEK GOING I start a new job this week and I’m nervous as hell but also v thankful and excited! And I got to listen to Noname’s new album and Bojack Horseman comes out today so I’m very excited that I can get some kind of crying done and mask it over the stresscry that will come the day before I start! I hope you have a great weekend! <3 <3 <3



      O. M. G.

      I am so happy for you, friend! I hope that this job moves you closer in the direction of where you want to be. You absolutely deserve it. ❤️❤️❤️

      Next, as someone who also went to an all girls school, can I just say how gay those spaces are? The amount of girls who “sat on me” or who I sat on, the amount of girls I danced with or hugged in the hallway. It was all scene as mundane and normal. And yet! AND YET! Right? The presumed heterosexuality of it all kind of served as a cloak?

      Anyway, I used to daydream about the girl who sat across from me in my high school government class all the time. That was probably the first moment I knew I was gay in a very non-repressed way. Like, it’s not “straight behavior” to spend an hour a day imagining what it would be like to have Tracy’s tongue down your thought, you know?

      (Tracy isn’t her name, I changed it to protect the innocent)

      And last thing – Reese’s?? YUM.

    • Oh I forgot to add this! But my week was long and a bit stressful, but my weekend is shaping up to kick ass! Lots of good food and lots of people I love. So…. yay!

      Thanks for asking!

    • Yes yes yes new job!!! I hope they deserve you and see you and you get to be and flourish and every single interaction is one filled with respect for you <3

      You are worth it

      You are so worth all the respect.

  7. Princess Jasmine.
    Remember that part at the end of Aladdin where she tries to seduce-distract Jafar while wearing that kinky little red midriff and the Ariana Grande ponytail? Baby Hadley was In. To. That. At the time I didn’t know why, but I definitely knew that I liked that part.
    I was also super into The Little Mermaid, likely for similar midriff-related reasons.

  8. Looking back, I probably should have realized that the butterflies in my stomach every time Janeane Garofalo was in my tv meant I had a crush.

    Just last week I remembered this poetry writing contest I won in 2008. I wrote a low key erotic poem about having sex and described my partner’s body as curvy and implicitly feminine. I even remember being very aware of making that choice, even though I felt very straight and had a boyfriend. Female bodies were just more beautiful, awe-inspiring and poetic, right? That’s what I kept telling myself, “I’m a creative, artistic individual with an eye for the finer things in life and I see beauty everywhere and in all bodies”. One judge even looked at me when I accepted the award and said “Huh, I was expecting you to be a man. My bad.” and I just KNEW why.

    It would take me three more years to develop a devastating crush on a classmate and then I had a minor week long freakout and that was it. I knew I was bi. I came out to myself, to my friends, then a couple months later to my mom.

    • Ok but Janeane Garofalo was a total babe in her own right! We don’t give her nearly enough credit, in my opinion.

      And that poem sounds AMAZING? I love it. When I was like 16 or 17 I kept a journal for poetry and short stories that (I kid you not) had a rainbow cover that I was in love with. In it I wrote my first and only piece of erotic fiction in which I definitely finger banged a woman against a kitchen counter.

      I wouldn’t come out, or even accept for myself that I was queer, for years still after that point.

      • The repressed memories just keep coming, wow. I don’t think I ever wrote myself doing anything explicit, but I remember bringing up the idea of a threesome with my boyfriend and really rooting for him when a cute girl flirted with him? He wasn’t into it and I was like WHY, can’t you see I’m a very selfless girlfriend who would have sex with a woman with only YOUR best interest at heart? The way we compartmentalize stuff is wild.

    • Oof, Janeane Garofalo. The first time I saw her, I was like “That is me. That is the kind of weird-dressing, blunt, uncomfortable, totally not into her boyfriend person I am.”

      • I think I first saw her in The truth about cats and dogs and she’s not that ~alternative in that, but I remember thinking “she is gorgeous, why would the guy not fall for her immediately upon first sight? Men are so basic”. And then I saw her in Romy and Michelle and she was all I ever wanted in, at that time I thought, a friend.

    • “Female bodies were just more beautiful, awe-inspiring and poetic, right?”

      Exactly. I think I sort of assumed that all of my female friends in junior high and high school were also quietly checking out the girls while talking about the boys, because women’s bodies were so much more interesting to me.

  9. So when I was in grade 2, the teacher I had had for both grade one and grade 2 got married part way through the year. She was my favourite teacher in the world, and I literally told my friends that Miss L (previous name) was nice and that I hated Mrs Z (new name) because she was mean. Which is obviously an absurd statement to make about the kindest teacher in the world. Jealousy issues much? It should have been suuuuper obvious to me and everyone else that I was gay.

    • LOL LOL LOL!!!!

      Oh man, I loved that story! I loved imagining it! Thank you for sharing :)

      (And, of course, my condolences to little you!)

    • When I was in the first grade, my classroom was on the ground floor facing the schoolyard. When I got to school in the morning I used to stand outside the window and watch my teacher and wave to her.

      I also always wanted to hug her goodbye at the end of the day (so did half the class – she was very popular! which was totally fine in the early 90s but probably wouldn’t fly today)

  10. 1) When forced to play Barbies I always wanted to pair them up with each other, or I wanted to be Ken (ie. Lesbian Ken)

    2) I remember having a convoluted conversation with an older cousin about how Super Mario would be more fun if the princess could be saved by another princess.

    • Umm… little you was absolutely right! Super Mario would have been a lot more fun if it had been about princesses saving princesses!

  11. That’s a tough one for me as I am also agender & trans woman-ish. So, I always knew I liked women(I incorrectly thought I was a straight guy at one point after all, wow how wrong I was), though it wasn’t until my late 20’s(like 27) that I discovered what non-binary, agender, genderqueer, and other trans identities are. When I look back it’s a mess as media and cis people had given me so many wrong ideas of trans identities that I had, a lot of internalized transphobia and homophobia. like I thought my desire to wear bras and try on my mother’s clothing made me a pervert or whatever else, I always heard incorrectly mentioned about gnc people and trans communities. I tried a lot of things to pretend, and cosplay this role of cis-het West Asian, but failed at it. Earlier in the week, I sent my bff an image of me from right before I came out(again to myself) and she replied, “OMFG.” In the image, I had not had a haircut for 7-8 months(it was a mess Jew-fro) or so and was unshaven(and untrimmed) for half a year. It was a bad time for me. On the other hand, I’ve seen many trans women and trans femmes who also had big beards in their closeted/before days, so we have that common.

    How is everyone’s week going? Mines has been pretty solid. I was able to spend a part of my Sunday at Cuties Coffee with some of the regular crew and got to meet more cool people in the community. They were also filming what looked to be a commercial or promotional video for the place, which I hope leads to more people coming and supporting the place. Sunday I plan to go back to Cuties as they will be hosting a brunch there; so, if you are in the area please try to make it! Also, this weekend a friend of mine is throwing a going away party as she wasn’t able to renew her visa(she’s from Brazil). The first time we meet up was at Cuties and she loves it as it’s dog-friendly lgbtq space.

    I don’t have anything new to share as after cuties I went home to help set up for the guest we were having over for the holidays. So, here is some spring flowers.

    Thank you for viewing and reading my post. Have a positive weekend!

    • No worries! I fixed the photo for you! (And also, your photos are always my favorite part of the weekly thread! Never stop posting them!!)

      I’ve always wanted to go to Cuties Coffee. Well, I’ve always wanted to go to LA and explore it in a gay way. Hopefully one day I’ll get to do both!

      • And hopefully, on that day I will be a Cuties and giving you a big gay wave hello. Thank you for the compliment.

    • I can relate so much to the internalized transphobia and homophobia. I’m a non-binary butch, grew up with a butchphobic dad, then my mom’s new boyfriend turned out to be transphobic. Add in the Trans men who didn’t believe non binary identities we’re real plus the TERF butch lesbians I met. I got caught up in arguments between the two aforementioned groups, plus arguments with my dad, and ended up in a downward spiral. Got so bad I had to quit my job because I was deemed mentally unstable and my coworker thought I was suicidal.

        • Also a little confused how you precieved a story about me dealing with an abusive father who hated butch women and how that affected my health as a butch somehow being negative towards other butch women. Is there something about my post that wasn’t coherent?

        • I guess if you need clarification, the main point of my post was that I felt a connection to both the Trans Men and Butch Lesbian communities, so seeing a small portion of those two communities fighting with each other over misunderstandings kinda hurt me to see.

      • I am sorry that happened. Thankfully there are accepting communities like Autostraddle and visible non-binary butches like Rhea Butcher out there in the media.

  12. Even though it irritates me at times, I am forever grateful for Supergirl specifically for Alex’s coming out story because although I thought at some times I might be growing up, her storyline of really knowing when she was an adult so echoes my own. So not for sure until I was nearly 30, but there were so many signs.

    Meanwhile my childhood: No, I just really like the Spice Girl’s music, I’m just really interested in Britney Spear’s outfit on that cover. I’m obviously straight I love JTT with his lesbian hair and Leo in Titanic with his lesbian hair.

    HS-College: What type of guy am I interested in? What are my friends into? Yeah That. I’m just really interested in stories by gay people I am straight not narrow. At one point I thought to myself, “well, I haven’t had a crush on a guy in awhile, maybe I should pick one.”

    • “No, I just really like the Spice Girl’s music, I’m just really interested in Britney Spear’s outfit on that cover. I’m obviously straight I love JTT with his lesbian hair and Leo in Titanic with his lesbian hair.”


      I feel like you just called me out personally, haha.

      (And yes Alex Danvers’ gay silent pause in the middle of her coming out speech? The one where she goes, “There were… pause pause pause… signs.” Oh damn did that moment punch me in the gut! Truly iconic, because it was so deeply freaking relatable)

  13. My siblings are quite a lot older than me, so, when I was about eight or nine years old my brother was dating and living with a young woman who was in fashion design school. She taught me how to make design illustrations, which I copied, constantly, again, and again, and again. The thing is, I wasn’t remotely interested in fashion. I was, however, interested in drawing naked ladies as a legitimate step before clothing them… in the skimpiest outfits known to womankind.

    • ” I was, however, interested in drawing naked ladies as a legitimate step before clothing them… in the skimpiest outfits known to womankind. ”

      Oh man, that is GREAT. Nine year old you knew how to skip right to the good stuff!

    • I TOO drew a lot of naked ladies, circa ages 11-14. I think I often didn’t even bother putting clothes on them.

  14. When I was 12 I was in a long-running, professional production of The Sound of Music. (Why yes, I was Brigita the smartass how did you know!?) And my *memories* of the girl who played Liesl are like “I really liked and respected her and she was super nice to me at a time in my life when I needed that.”

    But then recently I read my journal from that summer and hooooooo boi! It was “Sara’s so smart and Sara’s so pretty and when she hugs me I want it to last forever and I feel like she’s my soul mate, you know? Like, can your soulmate be a girl? That you aren’t dating? I just love her so much!!!!”

    Also add me to the list of baby gays obsessed with Now and Then. And Jo from Little Women. And Anne of Green Gables. So all the literary gays, really.

    • I can’t stop laughing! I love it so much.

      “She’s so mart and so pretty and when she hugs me I want it to last forever and can your soulmate be a girl” I just want to squeeze your 12 year old self in a bear hug of recognition!

      (Also way to go, little you! With that long running, professional, production of Sound of Music! Impressive.

      Baby Gays obsessed with Now & Then. We should start a girl gang. ?

    • I definitely relate to this! My best friend and I created a competitive book club (points went to the person who finished the book first, haha). Anyway, I believe I lost on Little Women because I wanted to spend more time with Jo March. Anne…was such an influential literary character, ohmygoodness.

      Your young performer status and childhood journal archiving skills are both awesome. Well done, you! :)

  15. I went to an all girls secondary school. I had a crush on my R.E. teacher. When I went to college I had a crush on my psychology lecturer. I didn’t think I was gay or bi or whatever because all the media around that time (80s) was how it was normal for girls to have a crush on older women but they “grew out of it”. I didn’t come out to anyone until my 30th birthday. Still not out to my family as bi and not really out – in that I haven’t explicitly used the language – as asexual to anyone. Although I have talked to a couple of people about not ever wanting a relationship once I grew out of my childish fantasy of getting married in St Paul’s Cathedral (I was 8, I didn’t know any better).

    • I wonder how many of us delayed our coming outs because we got those kind of mixed messages from the media? I know I did.

      • Yeah. 90s teen magazines taught me that it’s totally normal to have funny feelings in your pants when looking at people of the same sex, it doesn’t mean you’re gay, you’ll probably grow out of it.

        So I was super relieved to finally have a crush on a boy in 9th grade. I grew out of it!

        <— bi/pan/fluid

        • OMG! YESSS!! THIS EXACT THING!!!!!!!

          And maybe some “straight” girls do grow out of it? I have no idea how teenage hormones work for those who are straight, because I never was straight. BUT I do know that my adolescence would have been a lot less confusing if one of those good-intentioned teen publications had just presented gayness as a legitimate option for what I was feeling!

        • Yes absolutely. Those magazines were really unhelpful. I assumed all my straight friends also had crushes on female actors and teachers etc, because the magazines said they did. Now I really want to ask straight women if they did actually have an attraction to girls stage, but it is too weird a question. Maybe I’ll ask my sister.

          I also believed for a long time that girls only pretended to be interested in boys because that was expected of them. I remember being genuinely baffled by some of my friends’ boyfriends for that reason.

          • You all, I have confirmation: some did and they DO NOT grow out of it and still think of themselves as straight.

            Group text thread that JUST HAPPENED as a result of this comment thread with 3 straight women friends:

            Me: Ok, my pocket straight women: did y’all have crushes on women and or girls when you were a kid or teen or whatever? Because I definitely spent a whole chunk of my teen years thinking I was straight because obviously everyone was attracted to women. Thank you in advance for being my focus group. I will drop off your gift cards on Monday

            ARM: lol, totally
            ARM: and sometimes, still

            DG: oh, yes yes yes

            Me: HUH
            me: See, I knew heterosexuality is a farce
            Me: I’m like 51% kidding

            DG: also, what’s the gift card? ?

            Me: I feel like it should be something super dykey, so TBA

            ARM:please, heterosexuality is a farce

          • THIS JUST IN FROM THE 3rd straight woman:
            KM: Shannon Dougherty when she was a bitch in 90210
            KM: obviously

          • It is my pleasure! I’m a researcher, this is what we do.

            What is WILD to me is that they are all self-identified straights (we are all feminist academics—you gotta come out AS straight in that space) who are married or engaged to be married to heterosexual men and they’re like “I mean, it’s basically fake.”

      • I was aware of bisexuality as… idk, maybe a concept, or, like, I had heard the word. But I didn’t see any representation on media, and the few times there’d be a bi character it would be more about a poly relationship, not just a fluid sexuality within monogamy.

        The queer women I saw in media were never attracted to men at all, so it was an easy leap for me to assume that because I liked boys, that meant I didn’t like girls. Liking boys was easy and expected, so I didn’t really question it. I live in a culture where platonic touch amongst friends is very usual so my girl friends and I would be very touchy feely, we held hands, hugged, greeted each other with cheek kisses. In one infamous occasion with a classmate who is to this day my best friend, we took a shower together, completely naked. We knew we were pushing it, but we didn’t have words to articulate what that was about.

        • When I was 19, I had a crush on my philosophy professor so bad, I had to finally accept I was into women, after years of repressing it.I remember almost nothing of that class, but I remember her, so well.

  16. Oh my god I could write a book full of my “should have known I was gay” moments so I love this open thread topic! Some of my most cringe worthy, how the hell did I not know moments are the following:
    – the time I dated a guy for a year my freshman year of high school because my best friend said he liked me and was cute, and did not kiss or even hold hands with him once. A YEAR.
    – the time 10 year old me stumbled upon the concept of lesbians in some book and then heavily researched the topic. I even went around asking all my friends if they had ever heard of the concept, which caused a lot of neighborhood drama
    – as a kid I thought I was scared of shimmying, as in the dance move, because whenever my older sisters friends would do it, I got weird butterflies in my stomach and the only emotion I could think of that matched that description was being afraid
    – every time I hung out with my best friend my senior year of hs, I was very invested emotionally in making sure we hugged goodbye

    • “As a kid I thought I was scared of shimmying, as in the dance move, because whenever my older sisters friends would do it, I got weird butterflies in my stomach and the only emotion I could think of that matched that description was being afraid”

      I did this, too!!! Watching the girls in my high school dance at parties gave me such confused feelings! And I had no idea how to name them or what to do with them, so I settled on “fear! scared! this is bad!”

      Friends, it so wasn’t bad!

      • I am so happy someone else has experienced this same thing!! I remember telling some straight friends about my “childhood fear” before I knew what it really was and just getting blank stares because it was v unrelatable to them haha

        • OMG, I had completely forgotten about this, but when I was 11-12, I went to a theatre class after school and there was this girl with a sharp asymmetrical bob, who looked a bit like a young Clea Duvall. I couldn’t pay attention in class because I was obsessed with knowing where she was, what she was doing, how she was reacting etc., but I had no frame of reference for my obsession, and I’d never even wanted a girl to be my friend (I was a tomboy, girls were silly), so I decided it must be because I hated her! She was super quiet and shy and didn’t do anything wrong, but something about her must be painfully annoying, because why else would I keep staring?!

  17. I really should have known (or at least my parents should have) when I was in preschool and I had a crush on a girl named Mia. I should say, I *really really really* wanted her to be my friend. I distinctly remember asking my mother “Mommy, what would happen if two girls got married?” but I don’t remember her answer. I didn’t have any concept of ‘gay’, though, until I was around 12. I came out as soon as I realized, and I’m grateful for how supportive (if a little shaken) my parents were. We also have a picture of my sporting a cape and a press-on mustache when I was 7. I was real gay, y’all.

  18. I knew I was gay way before I consciously accepted the fact that I’m gay.
    We were learning what the word “lesbian” meant after someone had thrown it around as an insult and I thought, “wait, is that why I try to play the husband coming home from work every time my best friend and I play with my kitchen set? Could I be one of those things?”. Then my little 8 year old brain went *shrug* “that’s a problem for another day!” and I forgot about it entirely until I fell madly in love with a friend a few years later.

    • Oh man that whole “child me shrugged it off and we forgot all about it until a later day” thing is SO REAL. I repressed my 12 year old self’s crush on Angelina Jolie until I was in my early 20s, at least.

      Just plum locked it away in my brain and forgot about it!

      (Also I really love that you always wanted to be the dad/ husband when you played house! Those are my favorite kind of gays.)

    • I was called a lesbian as an insult when I was about 9 or 10 before I knew what it meant. Then I was confused about how wanting to hold hands with girls was anything unusual.

    • ALL the comments on this thread. I was always the boy/dad/brother whatever when playing with my sister or friends, mostly because my name is Charli but also because it made sense to me?

      And I DEFINITELY shrugged off my crush on my best friend in the 8th grade and the confusing feelings about wanting to hold her hand and spend all of my time with her and why was I sad when she wasn’t at school? Didn’t all 14 year old girls want to hold hands with their best friends? Shrug.

    • CLASSIC!!

      And I mean, really, bursting into tears is the only appropriate reaction to sharing space with Ellen DeGeneres.

  19. looking back in middle school I had a massive crush on the most popular girl in my class, I just thought I realllly wanted to be her friend. I wrote her a long sappy yearbook message that probably read as a love letter. the first of many girls I would fall head over heals for and call it friendship.

    • Being “best friends” with pretty, popular girls that I secretly had a crush on was MY WHOLE THING for like, 10 years of my life. Easy.

      (Also my thing? Crying my eyes out when said girls got a boyfriend.)

      • That was never my thing. Mine was apparently the opposite. I moved out of the country right out of high school and at the same time my (male) ex of several years, also my best friend at the time, started dating this girl, who started sloppily cyberstalking me, so I obviously checked out her profile and photos right back, and this is how it went:

        “Is that his type?
        She’s nothing like me.
        She’s not really his type.
        She’s kinda mine, though.”

  20. My mom would talk about her friend “the dyke” and I had no idea what that meant at the tender age of 10, but was like heck yeah I would love to hang out with my friends and dance and hold hands and live together. Oh they kiss? Yeah ok, my best friend and I practice kissing ALL THE TIME! That’s what best friends do, right? Like, normal best friends? Just normal best friends for sure.
    The moment of actual AHA came when my new best friend in 6th grade showed us her mom’s porn- her mom is a lesbian (STILL didn’t get it when she said her mom had a girlfriend, because my mom called all her women friends her girlfriends!). But when I opened that magazine, and I was like yes, this makes so much more sense than my brother’s playboy. WOW lookit these folks doing that, right here in front of my face. Something about porn made for straight dudes didn’t sit right with me, but I couldn’t stop looking at this new stuff. Then I was hastily shoving it away cause “you’re looking TOO LONG! DON’T BE A WEIRDO!”.

    • But that’s kind of awesome!?!?! I mean, I wish I had been able to have such a sex-positive, queer exposure early on. Way to go your best friend sneaking into her mom’s gay porn stash! Way to go.

  21. Earliest I can remember is around age 11 or so, suddenly noticing the cheerleaders in a way I hadn’t before. However, being a trans lesbian (and not having figured that out at this point), it didn’t seem out of the ordinary- I was a “boy”, I liked girls, that’s how it’s supposed to work, right? My first real crush on a girl happened a year or two later.

    Now, I didn’t realize I was trans until I was 26, but the fact that at age 18 I regularly daydreamed about being in a loving, supportive lesbian relationship despite ostensibly being a dude really should’ve clued me in…

    • I love that you fantasized about yourself being in a loving committed lesbian relationship as a teen. I wish I would’ve had that kind of (subconscious) clarity!

    • That is very relatable, and know what you mean. I think media and society had some effect there and why we think that can’t be me. Plus, at least of me, I didn’t think trans women could like women until I was in my 20s.

    • This is an actual description of my life!
      When I came out to my family as trans I felt the need to tell them “don’t worry, I’m super gay”. It wasn’t until i saw how confused they were that I realized how wierdly horrified I was to even imagine myself as straight!

  22. Too many stories but I’ll try to just pick a few. And for a bit of context, I grew up in an aevangelical church where I not only thought it wasn’t possible to be gay but that it was the worst thing a person could be. So suppression was a skill I learned from a very young age.

    So in middle school during the summers, I would wake up in the middle of the night, sort of compulsively and turn on the TV to MTV. It was a tube TV with no remote, so we had to press the buttons on the physical TV to change the channel and volume. I would sit with my face as close to the TV as possible, my finger on the power button, the volume on as low as possible. This was the era of those dating shows MTV had, like Next, that one where parents would try to get their child to date someone else, Tila Tequila, etc. At 1:00/2:00/3:00 in the morning, they aired the lesbian/gay/bi episodes. I did this compulsively every night and would just sit and weep, both at the TV and when I would return to my bed.

    A similar habit I developed around the same time was creating lesbian couples on the Sims (the original one. I would build them a beautiful home and get them to kiss one time and then delete everything, including the house, and make sure there was no trace of me ever being on the computer in the first place.

    Also I cried every time I heard “all the things she said” by t.a.t.u and just like didn’t think about it until after I came out.

    • The whole “delete everything on this computer so that no one knows I was ever here AND watch everything an millimeter away from the tv so I can change the channel in case of footsteps” thing IS CHILDHOOD QUEER CULTURE.

      Haven’t we all been there? Yes? Yes?

    • This comment made me remember all the lesbians I created on the Sims when I was in middle school! Thank you!

    • MTV and tatu were similarly instrumental in my “before I was gay” life, I am with you Hayley

      gay sims too!!

  23. In the second grade a girl I obviously had a crush on left her Halloween costume at school after our parade. I rode my bike to her house like 3 miles away to get it back to her so that she wouldn’t miss trick or treating. My mom was pissed. Anyway. I remember thinking that was more than I would do for some random dude in my class so that’s when I had the first inkling.

    Me on the far left. My brother’s hand me downs but still… sitting pretttty gay even at 4

    • YOU ARE THE CUTEST!!! OMG!!!!!!!!! Childhood pictures!!!!! *heart eyes forever*

      Also, I love how chivalrous you were as a second grader! A tiny little gentle-queer.


  24. I was chatting about Reese’s just the other day and realized I had spelled it “Riese’s”.

    This is not a story about how I realized I was gay, but about how deeply AS has infiltrated my subconscious.

    • HA! I have done the “Reese’s” // “Riese’s” mix up many times, my friend. You are not alone in this world.

  25. I didn’t know I was gay, or rather accept my gayness for a very long time. But my first gay moment was when I was around 7 or 8, I was in a theme park, and I was standing with my mother in a line for a ride, we were standing behind a group of twenty year old girls I think. I didn’t realize I was staring at one of them for the longest time…. she turned around and her eyes casually fell on me … she held my stare and then she winked at me. I thought my heart fell out of my chest, I didn’t know what happened my brain stopped and I couldn’t breathe,I couldn’t understand what it was, but I knew it was the most important thing to have happened in my entire life.
    Not surprising though, always been into older women.

  26. When I was a teenager my friends were all making “to do lists” of their celebrity crushes. You could have 5 people on the list.

    My list:
    – Lord of the Rings Orlando Bloom
    – Dougie from McFly
    – Roger Federer?

    By number 4 I was running out of enthusiasm. I had to admit to myself that I wanted to add Uma Therman and that actually a list of my “girl crushes” would probably be a lot longer.

    Started thinking maybe I wasn’t very good at being straight shortly thereafter.

    • Hahahahahaha! I wouldn’t have gotten much past the first three or four either!

      I think my list would’ve been something like:

      1. Will Smith
      2. ……
      3. ……..
      4. ……….

      Yep. I was never built for it. lol.

    • This was also around the time I’d somehow acquired a “proper” boyfriend. A few months after we started dating I stumbled across this tv show online called the L Word, which was…illuminating.

  27. When I should have first known isn’t very answerable for me because as pretentious as this is going to sound I’ve always known and had be aware of straightness first.
    Compulsory hetero and girl stuff missed my ass okay? I was marked outsider from the age of 5 and always questioned things, rarely accepted JUST BECAUSE as the answer. Maybe I’d shut up about a thing but I would not accept it as good enough a reason and ruminate about how stupid it was.

    Instead I reflect on how the heck people not me didn’t realise my queerness.

    Did einy meeny mo for a Valentine crush duty thing when asked

    My eyes would follow women closely(still do but adult me isn’t as blatant about it) and I’d look down women’s shirts if they bent over me, get a glazed look on my face. My mother assumed it was fascination with their garments and likely still does.

    Boys made easy friends as another player in a ball game is always needed, girls not so much

    Would not be deterred in being called my preferred unisex name

    When we played Gargoyles I would always pick Goliath and stared down anyone who tried to tell me I shouldn’t like they were idiots speaking utter nonsense

    If my parent had cameras in the house they would have seen me in kissing games with other children of multiple genders starting at I think I was 4 when initiated a kiss with another child


      • I want the respect of young fierce determined me, sometimes I doubt I’d have it. Children are fearless in a way adults can’t be or unlearned how to be.

        Other times I believe with hardly any doubt I would because no matter what knocks me down I get up and push back just like I did on the playground.

    • yo i was in third grade and i told my mom i wanted to be a fashion designer for shirts bc i wanted to stare at women’s chests

    • Kissing games! Spin the bottle at my third grade slumber party, “practice” kissing on a school field trip…good lord, I’ve been kissing girls since I was 9!

  28. Hmmm, moment when I should have realized I was queer but didn’t… Probably lots of moments, but especially this: I remember being in high school and watching V for Vendetta, and just feeling really drawn to the letter/flashback scenes about Valerie. At the time, I was like, “Wow. This is such a moving story, so beautifully written…” and completely ignored the possibility that there might also be other reasons why that part of the movie felt so important to me, lol.

  29. My favorite pre-gay gay moment was when I was in middle school and I had to do this play (our teacher just gave us parts, we didn’t audition) where two boys were fighting over me. In the performance, I was supposed to pick one of the boys based on the poems they read but instead of picking one, I declared, “I don’t need a man!” and grabbed one of my (girl) friend’s hands and walked offstage. So, y’know, that was probably a pretty big clue.

    Also, it might have been inspired by my favorite scene in Catch that Kid when Kristen Stewart pretends she is going to kiss one of her best friends but instead she runs away. Now that I think about it, K-Stew in Catch that Kid might have been my first crush.

    My week has been sad because I have fallen in love with the dog I am watching and I am convinced the dog’s owner doesn’t treat her properly. I am so tempted to steal the dog and drive the dog across the country but since microchipped dogs are easy to trace I’m going to try talking to the owner instead. Wish me luck and hug your dogs a little tighter today, folks.

  30. First things first, O came home today to an envelope with stickers from you guys! I’m so happy! Sometimes Autostraddle is something that only happens in my head since I don’t know anyone irl to connect with, but today there was an envelope! handwritten by someone from Autostraddle! It’s! real! :D

    And I should know that I was full on the lesbian truck when I was 12 and my first kiss was with a boy because I was pissed that I liked my best friend so much and wanted to kiss her instead.

    Idk, I always been queer, like straight was something I have never been, so my phases were toddler, little boy, not so little boy, tomboy, maybe bissexual? ’cause I wanted to kiss someone and everybody was doing it and I grew up in a fisherman village, fuck this shit I only kiss girls now, tender soft butch. :D

    • My tender soft butch, I love you so much!

      And I’m so glad you got your stickers! I remember the first time I got stickers in the mail from Autostraddle! I legit had butterflies. I think you phrased it so well, something about the stickers made our “online community” tangible and real, you know?

      Also “toddler, little boy, not so little boy, tomboy, maybe bisexual, and finally tender soft butch” sounds like the best journey to have been on, friend!

  31. I remember LOVING Lizzie McGuire and Hilary Duff. Like I remember the exact day that metamorphosis came out and it was a pure happiness for me. Looking back I think that was my first crush ever! I don’t usually like thinking of times before I was out because it wasn’t a fun time but that is such a good memory! And I feel like something about Lizzie McGuire/Hilary Duff is especially gay because other girls I know that turned out to be queer also loved her a lot back then. Anyway, I’m going to go rewatch the Lizzie McGuire Movie now!

    • I watched Lizzie McGuire recently as an adult, and I am here to tell you: it held up so well.

      Happy watching!

    • Yes I was in love with Hilary Duff from when I was 12 to like 15. I didn’t have cable so I had never seen Lizzie McGuire until they started showing it on ABC Saturday mornings and I would get really pissed if I didn’t wake up in time to see it. The day her album ‘Hilary Duff’ came out, after school I had my aunt take me to Best Buy to get it because it came with a free poster which I needed. I got her first three albums (after 2006 I weened myself off her for a saner life), the Lizzie McGuire box set, solo DVDs, books. I had my fourteenth birthday at Denny’s because of the ‘A Cinderella Story’ promotion they were having with special menu items and free posters. Then went to the theater afterwards by myself to see the movie which had come out two days before. Pretty much if it had her face in/on it I had to have it. She was an expensive crush/obsession for me to have. A positive is I stopped drinking soda at fourteen because of her and years later still don’t. I read an interview in a teen magazine where she said she didn’t drink soda because it caused bloating and made you look bad.

  32. Looking back it’s incredible I didn’t realize I was gay sooner because as a kid and teen I was super obsessed with so many female celebrities and I didn’t want anyone else being friends with my female friends, particularly my one best friend. I’d get very jealous anytime she’d spend time with anyone else. However, this one memory sticks out, I was 11 or 12 and was super obsessed with the Spice Girls, Emma was my favorite. Anyway, I was at Hastings (R.I.P.) and was looking through a magazine there was a picture of Emma with her boyfriend at a hotel pool they weren’t kissing she just had her arms wrapped around him (don’t ask how I remember this) I was so upset I quickly put the magazine back and walked off. At the time I assumed it was because I wanted a boyfriend, it took a long time for me to fiqure out that wasn’t why.

  33. Xena, Warrior Princess was my,“See, two girls can be really good friends without having to be gay.“ argument.
    In season two there’s an episode, „The Quest.“where Xena is briefly dead and Gabs decked out in amazon garb and they kiss. For no water transfer, breath of life,whatever reason.
    The episode ran on a Sunday afternoon, but I actually staid up until the 1am (!) same day rerun to see it again. On a school night. At fourteen.
    Also, I haunted the TV Guide for literal years, years! to finally record „When Night Is Falling“ because I wanted to own it,and rewatch forever, because it was so romantic?
    Bush decided to invade Afghanistan on the day it was finally supposed to air, and they canceled the movie to show a documentary about Afghanistan instead. I was heartbroken.
    And then Buffy.
    I still am terrified about all things horror and Buffy certainly fell into that category, but there I was, watching it with my mom every Tuesday.Because I had seen a a brief preview of the show, and the way SMG turned her head into the camera spoke to me.
    And I don’t know what I was thinking when I rented Bound,etc. from the Blockbuster?
    Or why I went and bought the Sailor Moon magazine at..18, explicitly hoping for Haruka,Michiru and Pluto content?
    Anyway, I needed to sit on the couch with my mom every morning and watch Ellen, who I had known for so long, who I had laughed with so much, come out and still be herself, and be a little speechless over sit ins and gay ice, that I finally was able to say that it was ok to be gay.

    • Oh, YES! If I had known about Xena back in the day, I would have known a LOT sooner that I liked girls. Sadly I didn’t discover Xena until 2010 but it is now my all-time favourite show ever! I mean, check out my username.

      And Lucy Lawless is my honorary first crush. I even have a blanket with all the characters on it, with Xena being front and center.

      Xena and Gabrielle are my favourite couple too. Because they totally were a couple.

      I recently did a re-watch of the series and I greatly enjoyed it!

      Sorry for the long rant but when Xena is mentioned, I get obsessive.

      • No prob, it IS pretty fantastic!
        I am also into bad martial arts movies and I loved Xena for its crazy and self ironic fight scenes,too.

    • I was obligated to reply to your comment so that it could be beside my Michiru avi. All these years later and I’m still looking for Haruka Michiru and Setsuna content :P

  34. Hello! I read every day and don’t comment often, BUT I have a burning question for my fellow queers. I’m headed to Las Vegas in mid-October for a conference (GLMA baby!) and I need recommendations. Are there any good spots or events for a queer cis woman and non-binary transmasc person that you can recommend? Ideally not crazy expensive. Everything I’ve seen online looks very gay-man-focused (sigh).

    Also, my I-should-have-known-I-was-gay moment was my obsession with Marilyn Monroe, complete with multiple giant posters all over my room, ages 10-12.

  35. The first time I *officialy* knew I was bisexual, I was lying in my bed in a flat in my 2nd year if uni, away from home for the first time and I literally just realised in the peace and quiet. I don’t have such specific moment for when I realised I was an enby womxn or demi-rom/sexual. I will say that going to a Janelle Monae concert in London made me fell super proud to be a free-ass motherfucka.

    (The concert was literally one of the best nights of my life Janelle Monae is PHENOMENAL and I will love her forever).

  36. 1. My should-have-known-I-was-gay moment was when I was in a community production of The Music Man when I was ~7 and a professional photographer came to take the cast’s pictures and I asked my mom to buy a copy of one of the picture’s of an older girl in the cast that I liked for me. (She did, thank you Mom).

    2. Important question, fellow queers! I’m headed to Las Vegas in mid-October for a conference (GLMA baby!) and I want to know if there are any good spots or events for queer/trans/nb people (aka not cis gay man focused). My internet search isn’t turning up much… Vegas residents, help me!

  37. For the “should have known” moments… My mom, for whatever reason, didn’t buy me a Ken doll even when I told her I needed one, so from the age of 4-7 my Barbies dated each other. Never thought anything of it but looking back it seemed gay.

    I was also very intrigued by Willow and Tara’s relationship on Buffy.

    It wasn’t until I was 14 that I fell for a girl in my class and then discovered The L Word, and that was it! Girls were my thing.

  38. I knew for sure I was gay at the tender age of 30 when I had sex with a woman for the first time while still married to my husband. Like right in the middle of it too, not even an hour or week or month later. It was like a surprise party that you maybe kinda knew about but were still caught off guard when you open the door? That was me figuring out I’m a lesbian.

    I’ve spent waaaaay too much time in the last couple of years combing through my past to look for all these little clues. I should have known when I was in high school and my mom asked me if I was a lesbian and I said “uhhh no I’ve only ever had boyfriends but thanks.” Also when I had a huge crush on my best friend in the 8th grade, or when I wouldn’t let my first boyfriend hold my hand or even let anyone other than my closest girlfriends know that we were “dating.” Oooor when I always talked about the celebrity “girl crushes” I had which were Angelina Jolie and Maggie Gyllenhaal and Helena Bonham Carter, who was my reason for my obsession with Fight Club.

  39. I love these!

    I first Knew I Was Not Straight when my freshman year high school debate partner and I had a very intense fight for no reason after a big national tournament, and we were on the road, we were sharing a bed in our hotel room, and I definitely got more emotional than I had any right to be, and I asked myself why I was feeling my stomach flip so much.

    In Catholic school in the early 2000s, I basically had no vision for gayness outside of like, the theater boys or this one women’s basketball player. So I didn’t really validate my own queerness until the summer I turned 19, and I started reading Autostraddle (26 now)!

    But I Should Have Known when my favorite item of clothing was sweater vests for a good 3 years, or when I would snag the Victoria’s Secret catalogs and read them “just for the clothes” and flip very quickly through the lingerie pages because I would feel guilty about lingering too long, or being caught lingering too long… Anyone else remember that?

    • Oh, the flipping through lingerie pages! How could I forget about that?! Especially since I was far too young to be thinking about wearing lingerie. Lol

  40. Ohhhh goodness. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? I remember loving my 1st grade teacher SO MUCH. And always wanting to impressing my teachers who were almost all women.

    Then in middle school I’m pretty sure I was having some Feelings™ for my 6th grade science teacher. I may or may not have written a short story about her and also it was kinda fucked up, but I think I had a lot to unpack at the time? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ In 6th and 7th grade I played flag football which was almost all boys, except for a few girls who played to try to get attention from the boys but I was not I wasn’t interested in that, I just wanted to beat them (and I did, because I was GOOD.)

    Then in high school I had some more Feelings™ for a girl my junior year. I remember a very specific sleepover where she ended up sitting on top of me while I was lying on the floor and she tickled me and boy howdy did I sure enjoy that. She and I ended up hooking up on and off for most of our senior year, but she was Bad News.

  41. It’s funny that I didn’t realize I was gay until I was 22, but growing up in Utah will do that to you… People always joked about how I had “lesbian” qualities about me but I brushed them off. Then I moved out of the state to a bigger city and saw the newer Ghostbusters movie. I was OBSESSED with Kate McKinnon’s character and one of my closest friends who is gay was like… dude… I’ve been telling you. You’re gay. And that was it.

  42. I love this question, and everyone’s answers are really adorable. A few anecdotes come to mind:

    1) I really wanted to have an “authentic teen experience,” which according to YA books meant I needed a boyfriend. My journals from middle school are filled with musings about which boys I could “choose” to like. When a perfectly nice friend-boy asked me out, I got incredibly anxious, told him I needed time to think about it, and eventually turned him down. It didn’t click that the anxiety was because I was gay; I thought I just didn’t like him specifically.

    2) Over the years, I was obsessed with many of my camp counselors and got upset if I found out they were dating anyone.

    3) I went to see Get Smart in theaters four times because watching Anne Hathaway gracefully evade lasers in a slinky dress made my stomach do sommersaults.

    4) In 4th grade, we did a history unit on ancient Greece, and every student was assigned a Greek god/goddess or writer/philosopher to “be” for the duration of the unit. I really wanted to be Artemis or Athena (gay) but was assigned Sappho. One of the other kids said, “Did you know Sappho was a LESBIAN?” I didn’t, nor did I know what a lesbian was, but I also didn’t like admitting ignorance. So I replied, “Yeah, so?” Later that afternoon, I asked my mom what a lesbian was, and she explained that lesbians are women who love other women. I thought that made Sappho almost as cool as Artemis and Athena.

    • oh my god I too was v invested in having an “authentic teen experience” (god knows why) and I decided that meant I had to kiss a boy in high school. Of course I worried that it wouldn’t just happen organically, because honestly I was not trying very hard, so I silently chose a boy I knew and thought, ah yes if this doesn’t happen by the time I’m 17 I’ll just ask this guy to do it, he’s inoffensive but not terrible.

      Needless to say by the time I was 17 I was nuturing several baby crushes on female friends and was not too jazzed about the whole kissing a dude thing anymore…

  43. When I was 14 and a freshman in high school there was a senior who was the lead in the spring musical and had the most beautiful soprano voice and I was IN LOOOVE. We walked in the same direction to our 4th period classes so I always ended up walking behind her and I would quietly swoon over her beautiful curly hair.

    She only spoke to me once I think and that was because I had seen Wicked on Broadway (this was late 2004) and she thought my official Wicked branded sweater was SO COOL. It basically rocked my 14 year old world.

    Anyway the next school year my best friend would come out as bisexual and being a GREAT friend I would go on a journey to find as much queer lady TV representation to show her it existed and then realize that oops everything I found made me feel very profound things and that’s the story of how I figured out I was gay.

  44. i was… a super gay little tomboy child and my life is replete with should-have-known moments, but one of my most cherished hilarious baby gay incidents was in kindergarten when we had to write and draw a picture of what we did over the weekend. it so happened that the highlight of my weekend was watching my mom’s rec-league softball team (majority women, majority 50+, statistically significant minority actually gay) and then going out for dinner and drinks after the game. we stayed out past 9 p.m. and watched the bartender light tiki drinks on fire, which were major events in my five-year-old life. so on monday i proudly turned in a drawing of a softball team and wrote “i went to the bar with mommy’s softball team.” (it was a restaurant, not a bar, but that’s not the point.)
    i think “i went to the bar with mommy’s softball team” explains a lot about how i turned out as a person.

  45. When I KNEW, Angelina Jolie as Legs in Foxfire (but also hedy burress ans jenny lewis in that same film – god it was pure lesbionic glory). But looking back even earlier, I def had a thing for Topanga Lawrence and Mary Kate Olsen – specifically in Billboard Dad

  46. My uncle always likes to remind me that when I was about 4 years old,I was really into Peter Pan and wanted to BE Peter Pan. Not Wendy, to my parents’ dismay. I also wanted to be Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. I also never had any guy friends until probably my sophomore year of high school (other than family friends who I considered my brothers anyway) because I still considered all boys gross and immature. I dated my guy friend who asked me to prom for OVER A YEAR because I liked having it with him and thought he was funny, and I thought that meant I had a crush on him. My parents let me have sleepovers with my guy friends in high school because I showed not even a remote interest in having sex with them.

    Anyway, I have a date in about an hour with this really cute woman who I can’t stop thinking about kissing (and inviting back to my place), and let me tell you! High school me was so very wrong about what “liking someone” feels like!

  47. haha yeah, it’s Angelina Jolie for me in Foxfire, Girl,Interrupted, and Gia and I was like, “holy shit, i’m gay!” Oh yeah and when I had a crush on a girl in 9th grade, haha.

  48. First inkling: 1977. 10 years old. Jodie Foster in the Disney film Candleshoe. Then I spent the next 9 years having SERIOUS crushes on older girls in Catholic all-girls school and all-girls Catholic summer camp. But I didn’t label them as such. I just thought they were ABSOLUTELY THE MOST AMAZING PEOPLE ON EARTH. I remember one girl in high school who was on my softball team I was smitten with. I sat behind her and her friend on a bus ride to an “away” game and eavesdropped on their conservation. When my crush described how she gave blow jobs to her boyfriend, she was dead to me. From then on, I hated her with a passion. However, thanks to my impressive powers of denial, I really had no idea what was going on with my feelings. Time went on. After my first year of college, I got a summer waitress job in New Hope, an arty (read:gay) town in Bucks County, PA. I developed a huge crush on the cook, a very butch lesbian with a beautiful alto singing voice. Tourists stopping by for lunch probably could see how I felt. The only one who didn’t was me. She kissed me one night and gave me the book “Rubyfruit Jungle” to read. And that’s all she wrote.

    • I love these stories, especially the butch cook. I want to make it movie!! You know, something in the style of Dirty Dancing, but gay. Which makes it so much better. ?

  49. In retrospect it’s amazing I didn’t realize earlier, but I attribute my denial to a youth that was mostly about eating disorders (so distracting from libido) and fear of what others thought of me.

    One of the first clues was how deeply I envied my brother and wanted to be him.

    Later I went on to creating a male online persona for roleplay messageboards and using that to romance the women.

    In college I secretly watched all of the L Word and felt somehow fascinated by it and also jealous, and I wondered why I wasn’t goodlooking or skinny enough to be a lesbian, because that’s how my brain tried to make sense of things for me. At the time, I was still using hookups with men for validation and proof of social status because of course everything is relative to men. I wish I had discovered feminism earlier.

    I also developed a huge crush on my college roommate that I ALMOST recognized for what it was at the time.

    … After that, I befriended someone online and traveled hours to see for reasons that are now obvious. In general, I’ve sought out gay people’s company for many, many years, but never recognized WHY. I thought I was asexual before I thought I was gay. I’m just a huge idiot that way.

    • You aren’t an idiot in any way, Sam. Life is complicated, society can be influential in some emotionally growth-stunting ways (especially when we’re younger), and eating disorders are so massive and complex that they don’t leave room for anything else. You’re a fighter; cheers to where you’re at now. :)

  50. When I was in theater camp (exhibit a) in the 1st grade. I used to follow this girl around who was a few years older and I just wanted to know everything about her. I was obsessed. I thought she was so pretty, and smart, and talented, and had the voice of an angel. It got to the point they separated us and told me to leave her alone. And I didnt understand why that hurt so much more than normal.
    She ended up being Miss Massachusetts a few years ago… so I had good taste?

  51. From the age of 12 I started having crushes on girls I went to school with, on my bff, and yet I didn’t fully realised I was queer till my late 20s, because I also liked guys and didn’t realise bisexuality is a thing and yeah representation matters! There were so many things I told myself to justify it, like

    -well all the straight girls do it too (I was in an all girls school and wow are things weirdly intimate there between girls all the time!! but still I loved it there, that period of time when there were no boys. Hmm…)
    – It’s a thing straight girls do right??? have crushes on other girls, fall in love with their best female friend
    – It’s only cause there are no boys in school
    – My counsellor said if I hadn’t kiss or had sex with a girl I’m not gay, so yeah! My counsellor said so!
    – It’s just a teenage phase and I’ll grow out of it

    Turns out it’s not and I didn’t.

  52. Remember that episode of Voyager where Janeway is all sweaty in a tank top, carrying a phaser rifle, and she saves the ship?

  53. Honestly? I cant remember realizing I was gay. I was just 14 and suddenly very very very attracted to this girl with blue hair. Everything clicked then though it was like ohhh thats why I liked elastigirl so much

  54. -Recently found a short essay on Sandra Cisneros’s “My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn” from my freshman year of hs in which I went on for maybe 3 pages about the passion of friendship between girls.
    -Also I remember volunteering to have all my friends dogpile on top of me? Many, many times?
    -I went as a boy for Halloween in 7th grade with this girl I had a major crush on and was very fond of the line “if she was a boy…”.
    -And of course all the bad memories of terrible and emotional fights with friends in reaction to feelings I didn’t understand and other things being in the closet complicates <3

  55. I started realizing/acknowledging that I might be not-straight in my senior year of high school. Kate Winslet in Titanic (the “draw me like one of your French girls” scene, specifically) was the catalyst for that realization.

    However, in retrospect, I definitely had a crush on one of my best friends in middle school. I still remember the first time I noticed her. 6th grade, in language arts class. She was talking to her friends about a dance party she was having (or wanted to have?) and I remember thinking she sounded snobby and was trying too hard to be cool. But at the same time I couldn’t stop eavesdropping on her conversation. She ended up being the first popular girl I befriended and subsequently had a lot of confusing feelings about. I still remember noticing little things about her, like the way she held things in her hands (which I now recognize as being suuuuper gay). The summer after 8th grade I went with her family on vacation to the beach. One night we got into a little argument, I don’t even remember what about, and I called her “flat chested” as an insult. I immediately felt terrible and apologized and thankfully she let it go, because what I really wanted to say was something like “I see you” and “you’re pretty.”

    • I think I said this to someone further upthread, but becoming best friends with the “pretty, popular girls” and feeling intense and confused about it, was one of my main pre-gay tropes! I was very into it. So I feel you!

      For sure.

  56. Oh,geeze, basically everything about myself growing up? I wore cords and a vintage denim jacket I covered in patches all through my jr high years. I spent a lot of time trying to understand what all the fuss about boys was for, and also having really weird obsessions with girls and women I knew (crushes, they were crushes). I was a massive theatre nerd. I was way happier playing romance roles when they gender swapped someone in Shakespeare and it was girl/girl, of if one of us girls was playing a boy.

    I was obsessed with fictional and historical gay men. (I think gay women would have hit too close to home).

    Yet, somehow, I was 19 before I admitted to myself I was queer?

  57. When I was 12 and found out that Bend it Like Beckham was originally supposed to have a lesbian romance and was really disappointed that they’d changed it (I also totally had a crush on Kiera Knightly).

    When I was 14 and fantasised about having sex with a girl in my class but somehow convinced myself that it was just teenage hormones and I was probably straight ’cause most people are right?

    When I was 17 and discovered yuri and downloaded a whole lot of images to look at, but still didn’t actually accept that I was gay until I was 18.

    Anyway, I had a pretty good week this week. It was my crush’s birthday on Thursday so I took her out for lunch which she seemed to really appreciate, and then last night we went out for cocktails with one other guy from work to celebrate and it was a lot of fun :) Also, I finally got insulation at my flat woohoo! (now that winter is over lol)

  58. I didn’t realize I liked girls until I was 24, but looking back there were a fewww things that should have tipped me off….

    – I remember thinking that I wanted my best female friend in high school to sit closer to me on the couch so our legs would touch. Normal friend thought? That’s a stretch.

    – Was very invested in Naomi and Emily in Skins to the point where I would skip the rest of the episode to only watch their scenes (anyone know who I’m talking about?)

    – My hookups with guys would only go to a **certain point**, after which I wouldn’t reciprocate….told myself I “wasn’t ready” but the truth was that I had no desire to ever be

    I’m 28 now, living with my girlfriend who I’ve been with for 2.5 years and we’re super happy.
    Noticed a lot of you guys realized you were gay much younger so hopefully my story can help another mid-twenties (or older) person coming to new realizations. :)

  59. When I was in middle school, my friend and I skipped all the school dances to watch the Twilight Zone together. I remember one time we were sitting on her couch, and she got scared suddenly. She grabbed my hand and I looked at her and wondered what it would be like to kiss her. I still managed to convince that straight girls thought about kissing their friends all the time…right?

    • I really loved imagining this in my head. Skipping school dances to watch The Twilight Zone and hold a girl’s hands has to be some kind of gay scout badge or something.

  60. 1st grade: i said i wanted to dance with my first grade teacher and kept talking to my friends about how much i loved her…

    5th grade: noticed a lot about the girls i played soccer with

    7th grade: was obsessed with my soccer carpool. I didn’t realize at the time, but I had a massive crush on her. I wanted her to laugh at my jokes, i thought she was so funny and nice to “weird me”, she had the best curly orange brown hair. I would hope that we could hang out more outside carpool. We were friends but I def saw us as closer than we really were. I saved up my money and bought the same phone as her? To be fair, a lot of people were buying the lg phones at that time.

    7th grade: I remember writing in my diary “I think i’m gay”, then burning the pages on the oven. One of my friends said I gave weird hugs, and I never ever gave my female friends hugs/ any affection. I thought I didn’t like it but I was scared they would know something?

    9th grade: I had a friend breakup and I got super depressed. I used to get happy when we would touch legs watching tv (cringe)

    11th grade: recognized a crush on a friend for what it was. did 0 about it. started to come to terms with maybe being gay.

    now (21): starting to become comfortable with being open about my crushes on girls and getting over my internalized homophobia

    so much i didn’t mention, but my point is it’s a journey.

  61. Omg Carmen I too had a serious Angelina thing going on- I remember having a dream that I saw her at the shore and she kissed me by the postcards stand in a beach store LOL still didn’t realize I was gay tho

    • OH WOW. What a dream!!!!

      I think Angelina was a lot of girls’ first real crush, even before we knew why.

      And for good reason.

  62. So far it appears that I’m the latest to the game.

    I always considered myself to be bi and I was very open about that. Even my kids know that I dated women when I was younger. But I ended up settled down with a man. Unfortunately for him, any attraction I felt towards men in general has been in a steady decline over the past 12 years. He knows I’m gay, I’ve come to realize I’m gay (not bi) and at some point, when I’m interested in someone, we are going to have to figure out what we will do about it.

  63. 3rd grade- a neighbor friend would come over to play. We would lock ourselves in the playroom and play “teacher” – she was the teacher and I was the student. I had to talk to her after class for being bad, and my punishment was that we had to practice kissing on the floor. Never thought anything of it. Then of course there were the countless Michelle Branch, then Avril Lavigne, then Jennifer Aniston posters that wallpapered my bedroom growing up. And the girl in 9th grade who I would spend all day excited to have the opportunity to walk her to her band class and hug (my class that period was at the opposite end of the building- I was almost always late). And the Rent soundtrack… always the Rent soundtrack.

  64. In primary school, I wanted to do nothing except play football (soccer) with the boys at breaktime. I felt like I was one of them. I didn’t want to wear skirts or dresses, always wanted to wear my hair in a ponytail, much to my mother’s dislike. I was obsessed with the Spice Girls.

    In high school, I became close friends with a little group of unusual people who didn’t really fit in. When I look back on it now, we were a bit of a queer group whether or not we knew it at the time.

    At university, I had various teacher crushes, probably the most notable being on my Sprachpraxis (German conversation class) teacher. I wrote a rap song about her. I was also writing songs with my friend Maja during this time, and we always wrote and sang about imaginary female characters.

  65. When I was 12 I went to summer camp and wrote entries in a notebook every day, and at the end of the week this was one of my entries: “[My best friend’s name] thinks I’m obsessed with [our counsellor] but I just think of her as a comfort cushion”

    GAY GAY GAY. I was very obsessed. I literally would try and spend as much time hanging around this counsellor as possible. Playing an all camp game – where’s this counsellor? Can I tag her? Can I run around with her? SO MUCH GAY Y’ALL.

  66. I tore down my Hillary Duff poster in a fit of tears to prove to my sister that I was NOT in gay love with HilDuff.

  67. I was homeschooled by a hippie mom and therefore shielded from any pop culture that wasn’t deemed “high quality” by my weird ass parents, so one of the only shows I was encouraged to watch as a kid was The X Files. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but 10-year-old me became the biggest Scully fan to walk the face of the Earth. I tried to dye my blonde hair reddish with Kool Aid (it didn’t work), I used my Barnes and Noble gift certificate on a giant copy of Gray’s Anatomy because SCIENCE, I kept a secret cache of Gillian Anderson photos in one of those photo lock apps (usually used for porn, apparently?) on my iPod Touch, and I distinctly remember taking little breaks between studying to pull the DVD cover of TXF Season 3 off the shelf and stare at Scully’s beautiful face until I starting feeling self conscious.
    Flash forward a few years, and I’ve gotten over my Scully fever (for now) and bought Captain America on my phone to watch and screenshot all the Hayley Atwell parts “because her makeup is so good”, making sure to save a few pics of shirtless Cap, because I was DEFINITELY STRAIGHT.
    A few more years later, I’m in public school, I’m 15 and my mom and I have a mother/daughter movie night with my friend and her mom. I’m sitting next to this girl on her couch, and BANG! Like a lightning bolt, I get this flash of a daydream that’s all sunny and lit like a CW show in which we’re hanging out in a big fluffy white bed together, not doing anything, just smiling at each other. I can’t think about anything else for the next few weeks and realize I might like girls. And try to forget all about it.

    A mere five years later, after skipping every school dance, never dating a boy, getting jealous every time my best friend gets a boyfriend, convincing my marching band director to let me (a drum major) wear a tux instead of a dress, going to college to find a nice boy and never have to think about girls again and failing miserably at that, developing an eating disorder, and going to therapy every week for two years, I finally figure my shit out and come out to my brother, then my parents, then the rest of the world via a Facebook announcement my parents pressured me into writing.

    So there’s not really just one moment, or a before/after time. It’s been a friggin rough journey getting here, but by god, here I am.

  68. Should have known when I couldn’t stop staring at at a fourth grade teacher when I was in third and couldn’t figure out why. Definitely should have known when I entered high school ( I was going to a all girls catholic one) and the weekend before the only thought in my head was do not check out any girls for the next 4 years. Did I mention I chose to go to a all girls school, I like to hurt myself I guess

    • “Did I mention I chose to go to a all girls school, I like to hurt myself I guess” Hahahahaha, awwwww honey! I feel this deeply. I also went to an all girls school by choice!

  69. one of my should-have-known pmoments came when I was 12 and watching the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters with Kate McKinnon. Her beautifully tacky style and over the top confident lesbian-ness solicited in me a medley of feelings of which I proceeded to bury for another few years.

    as a kid, I had several not-so-openly gay teachers with whom I had many “Ring of Keys”-esque moments of desperation to know more about them and confusion about why.

  70. I feel seen at the mentioning of both Angelina Jolie and Christina Ricci.

    I was a late bloomer in discovering myself. I didn’t fully realize I was gay until Autostraddle fave Sara Lance came into my life. But when I look back, I sure did love “Tomb Raider” a lot. And something definitely happened to me when I first saw Wednesday Addams all grown up in “Sleepy Hollow.” To add to the stereotype, I was also obsessed with Michelle Rodriguez since age 10 so that should have been a red flag.

  71. Small me looking out of car window: ‘I just don’t really get how guys are attractive, I can appreciate girls, but guys? Just don’t get it. Oh well, I guess I will when I’m a bit older’
    Current me: ‘how did I not notice!’

  72. OH BOY do I love these kinds of stories!

    1. 5th grade: First friend breakup.

    2. Middle school: “I must just be really *jealous* of Keira Knightley. Yeah, that’s it. Jealous.” To this day she’s still my fave and best believe I am READY for ‘Colette.’

    3. High school. Overheard: “Omg he is sooo cute”
    Me, internally: “Is it….is it because his face is very symmetrical? How do you tell?”

    4. Lots of reciprocal back rubs at sleepovers.

    5. Senior year: Very suddenly lost interest in my (conveniently long-distance) boyfriend of 1 year and had no idea why.

    6. I remember learning what gay people were and thinking “Huh, weird, I mean, consenting adults, whatever.” Later I looked back on that moment and thought “OHHHhhhh…..It me.”

    Finally realized it after freshman year in college, and have realized it over and over ever since.

  73. I love this thread! I may have told these stories here before, but they’re good stories and I’m a gonna tell them again.

    When I was 12 I was obsessed with this girl’s butt – she was in my art class, she wore skinny designer jeans and hung out with the stoners. I doubt she even knew who I was but omg, her butt. I spent more time than I want to admit walking behind her in the hall and trying to come up with the perfect description – what I came up with was “squish” – she had a squish butt.

    In high school, I just smiled and nodded when my female friends went on about this boy’s butt and how fine that boy looked in his Jordache jeans. I’m bi but men’s butts have never appealed to me the same way that women’s do.

    In high school one of my best friends from church camp started dating my brother and I was SO devastated. So. Devastated. 16 and 17 yo me had no idea why. I certainly didn’t think that I had a crush on her (but I totally did).

    My very favorite shirt in high school was a blue and black flannel shirt – I wore it everywhere, with everything. I think I even wore it to church over a white button down and a black wool skirt.

  74. Signs I was gay (and should’ve known sooner):
    When my mom’s friend hung up posters of the Jonas brothers in my room as a joke in like middle school and I was very excited to find Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and Demo Lovato on the backs.
    The fact that I wrote two research papers on marriage equality in high school (in which during the first one sophomore year my teacher basically asked if I was gay and I told my mom about it very confused).
    When asked for a celebrity crush as a teenager on the way to camp Daniel Radcliffe was the only man I could think of after I was told I couldn’t say Taylor Swift.
    How badly I wanted the senior student body president who was rumored to be gay to be my “friend” freshman year of high school.
    My obsessions with badass female characters and dislike of teenage romantic novels.

    • In high school, I wrote a research paper arguing that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was unnecessary and unfair. Five years later, I enlisted. I still remember signing a piece of paper acknowledging that homosexual behaviors were against the UCMJ and were grounds for discharge. Four years after that, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. Another five years down the road, I finally, fully, came out to myself.

  75. My mom always claimed that my first crushes were on two boys I knew at ages 5 and 6, respectively. Indeed, I was obsessed with them. The gay part is that they both had names I didn’t recognize and long hair– so I thought they were girls.

    Those same two years I was also fascinated by the high school girl who gave me swim lessons and by Keiko on the PBS show ZOOM. (I definitely remember kissing Keiko goodbye on the television…)

    But it still took me another 14 years or so to come out to myself!

  76. At a 1920s all girls murder mystery party at age 13 I was one of the male characters…and I distinctly remember being told my info-gathering flirting was “too realistic”.

    At the local theatre group I turned up with a boyfriend, and received a whole range of “You have a BOYfriend?” comets

  77. Also…I had a HUGE crush on my bff at school. We spent most of our free time together and would go over to each other’s homes “for an hour” after school and end up staying over 3 days..

    I remember asking her if she could just hold me and stroke my arms and hair, and her saying “Isn’t this something a boy should be doing for you?” and my being MORTIFIED.

    I moved recently and found a box of her letters last week with a photo of us when we were 18…I’m the clueless one on the right…

    • Oh my GOD! I totally had the i want to hold you… but shouldn’t a boy being doing that?… mortifying conversation with a best friend before!

      So gay.

  78. My first crush was on Ariel (the Little Mermaid) when I was 5. In elementary school, I was always more into female characters than male characters in fiction and tried picking boys in class to crush on. Didn’t know gay was a thing a person could be. Then I found out, and there followed several years of repression and religion.
    When I *should* have known was in high school when I was going around thinking to myself, “Wow, girls/women sure are beautiful… I guess I think this way because I’m an artist. Yup, that’s that.”

  79. Looking back now, I had a crush on a student teacher in 2nd grade. Her name was California, she went by Cali, and she played softball. I’m not sure how more stereotypical that could have went for me? Anyhow.
    Later in highschool I took a lifeguarding certification class with a group of my friends and an older girl in college. She was known to maybe be a little on the gay side. It was time to pair up for the infamous drown and save drills. My friends all paired up with each other rather quickly, and I made sure I was with the maybe lesbian for this once in a lifetime chance to live out my Wendy Peffercorn dream. I saved her. She saved me. I got hot flashes. The rest is well, herstory. We actually swiped right for each other about a year ago on tinder while I was visiting back home. It didn’t end up going too far, but attempting to “talk” to the person you discovered your gayness with was pretty rad while it lasted!

  80. Watching Entrapment with Catherine Zeta Jones. And rewatching it. And rewatching it again. And also when I got mad at all my friends for starting to date boys and not having enough time for me, why would they waste their time with those idiots?

    • OMG hard same. In retrospect that movie is… not good. But I watched it so many times. That, and The Mask of Zorro. Catherine Zeta-Jones was mommi.

  81. i mean like, i slept in a closet in volleyball camp(yes i know) cause i was in a room with 5 girls and there weren’t enough beds so i was like imma sleep in the closet to be nice to the cute girls cause i claimed that i already have severe back pain as a fucking 12 year old. But then,it gets better, my big sister entered the room in the middle of the night with a flashlight to steal some socks from me and when i woke up everyone accused me of being a lesbian that took photos of them sleeping and i was like no ew and then i said this: the fact that i slept in the closet doesn’t make me a gross lesbian. 3 years later one of the girls that were in that room was the best friend of my super serious crush and i was fuckin horrified about the whole experience instead of laughing my ass off.

  82. Picture this pretty scene: I’m a 13 year old awkward duckling at an all-girls horse camp, sitting around the evening bonfire and thinking about my super awesome counselor/riding instructor. She was always dressed in a kind of butch way, but her whole demeanor was confident and commanding, but also kind and warm? I think my first inklings of queerness floated across my mind as “I wanna be just like her”, when really I wanted to be around her all the time.

  83. Well, I didn’t realise I was gay until I was 21. It’s fair to say I’ve done a lot of looking back on my childhood and thinking “really? Reallyyyyyyyy? I didn’t realise!?!”

    One of those moments was when I was thinking about a show I was obsessed with as a kid which was “Bad Girls” *insert eye rolling emoji here*. After this realisation I looked up when it aired and it was ‘99, making me probably 6 or 7 when I watched it!

    Fast forward 15 years and one of the reasons I realised I was gay was meeting a girl travelling who looked exactly like Piper from OITNB…

    It seems that female prison dramas really helped me figure out my sexuality!

    P.S. I LOVE this thread! I don’t have that many queer friends and I never realised so many other people have those “times you were gay but didn’t register it was gay moments!” THANK YOU!

  84. i realized i wasnt straight at like, 11? i think it was after 6th grade but before 7th
    anyway throughout my childhood i would always be like “im never getting married!!!! im indepedent *goes home and watches britney spears videos for hours, looking over my shoulder to see if im in any trouble*
    also i would jerk off to mlp:fim rule 34 (noted girl show) when i was 10. PRE AWAKENING
    why did nobody tell me i was a homo
    also anecdote about self-discovery… for a while i thought i was pansexual and aromantic cause i was like “i would have sex with a man but i wouldnt date one” and that turned into i would have sex with people but wouldnt date them? compounded by my overwhelming adolescent horniness. thanks compulsory heterosexuality
    also i would literally pick boys to have crushes on in elem school cause i thought girls were supposed to have crushes on boys

    • also my sister was being called a lesbian cause in 8th grade she had this short haircut (it was so fuckin ugly she looked like berries and cream or a hellish chie satonaka) and i was like i wouldnt mind being called a lesbian cause theres nothing wrong with that!!! im a good ally!!! SURE.

  85. My first day going to school for first grade, I was just thinking about how pretty, smart, and kind all the princesses were in the movies I watched and books I read, and while we were getting into the car, I straight up asked my mom, “Mom, what if I want to marry a prince AND a princess?” because I was imagining all three of us falling in love and it being great and us frolicking in our giant, extensive library in our palace together. And then I kind of forgot about it for several years because, you know, I was six.

    But I was always trying to pair up two girl dolls and told one of my best friends that one of the dolls I had was “hot,” I found myself really fixating on the girls I knew who liked to be close and roughhouse with me, and I thought up several ways just to get to hold my friends’ hands. Also, I was like “Hmm, boys my age and even through high school just…aren’t worth my time. They’re still lame and immature. But girls are just naturally pretty and great even now? Girls are so great.”

    I figured I was bi/pan in middle school, but now that I’m 18 going on 19, I’m kind of on the fence now because I’m thinking at least some of my feelings towards guys were just compulsory heterosexuality? I don’t know! What I do know is that I love women so much and am looking forward to all the great women I’ll meet when I go to university next year!


      I said the doll was “hotter with her hair down.” And the stories for the dolls I wanted to set up as couples were that they were queens who ruled together and were loved by all for their beauty and kindness, and they loved each other.

      I pretended to forget the trick to remembering which months of the year had 31 days and which ones didn’t by counting them on your knuckles so that one of my best friends would hold my hand and “show me how to do it again.”

      My best friends and I were always so close and had a lot of skinship going on (supportive WOC childhood friendships for the win!) and some people were saying that we were lesbians, and I heard this and was like, “Guys, did you know some people are calling us *lesbians*?” but my tone was like…one of wonder and excitement.

      And in the end, at least half of us are part of the LGBTQ+ community, so like…people weren’t too far off back then.

  86. Thinking back on it 2 things come to mind immediately, but there are probably a lot more.

    1. Sharing a fantasy with an old boyfriend about inviting a girl into our bed…and in the fantasy I described, she was only interacting wth me…not him.

    2. Being obsessed with a story by Miranda July, Something That Needs Nothing. A story about 2 lesbian/queer women. It was in Miranda July’s book of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You. There are so many amazing stories in that book, but I especially loved that one and read it multiple times…

  87. I spent two years of my childhood engaged to my best friend whilst all the other girls entered week-long flings with other 8-year-old boys. (My ‘secret girlfriend’ and I used to talk about how sad it was that we couldn’t get married in real life but how we would always love each other. Well, I think I was mainly doing the talking there. I was a bit more invested in it than she was).

    Then I exploited games of 10-year-old Truth or Dare with my female friends. “I dare you to strip!” “I dare you to kiss each other!” Which in retrospect, is completely creepy and I’m surprised none of my preteen companions called me out as a pervert or something.

    And then I was becoming a teenager and there was the year when my best friend, a straight(?) (oh that question mark is just my wishful thinking) girl wrote me Valentine’s Day cards and told me how she loved me and called me sexy and I just denied every last bit of it and then spent several months writing poetry about her late at night.

  88. Ohhhh emmmgeeee. I am a femme pansexual, so I had a much harder time realizing just how queer I truly was until I got my first girlfriend at the age of 27 (because the patriarchy and media stereotypes of a what a lesbian “looks like”).

    There should have been a few clues, however, including but limited to:

    – My interpretive dance performance at the school talent show to “Little Earthquakes” by Tori Amos in 3rd grade
    – My childhood obsessions with Dolly Parton, Fiona Apple, and Joni Mitchell
    – My best friend Katie “teaching me how to masturbate” in 8th grade
    – My journal from 9th grade which includes a list of the ‘hottest girls at school’ as well as my description of touching a penis for the first time which includes the sentence “I totally understand lesbians now”
    – When I was 19 I wrote a love song to my guitar. Here are the (mortifying) lyrics:

    Just like a woman,
    there’s a certain way you need to be touched
    And just like a woman, I
    could never love you too much

    I’ll pretend I’m Sappho, and you can be her lyre
    And together we’ll seduce girls
    and drive all the men wild

    But you shouldn’t be jealous
    My other lovers are nothing to me
    I much prefer that feeling
    that fills me whenever I stroke your strings

    On baby, guitarita
    won’t you let me play a song on you?

    – Also, I was realllly into Sappho. So much so, my college boyfriend bought me a Sappho finger puppet as a gift. A SAPPHO FINGER PUPPET.

  89. In Kindergarten, I was so obsessed with this precious girl, Debra. She was blonde and freckle faced. I remember wanting to know what her underwear looked like HAHAH

    In second grade my sweet (and w year old) teacher’s bright, baby blue bra strap would hang out sometimes, and when it did I was so distracted when it did.

  90. I’m an olderstraddler and should have realised earlier, but I spent from age 5 to 17 studying ballet so it was totally acceptable to obsess and fawn over ballerinas like Natalia Makarova and the one from my ballet school I just adored…..she was just a vision…

    During the 1984(?)wimbledon final I wished with all my heart for Martina Navratoliva,(oh those shorts) to beat the living heck out of Chris Evert Lloyd and her pom pom socks….I probably should have had an idea but at the time I was just fighting my mums wishes for me to “why cant you dress more lady like…like Chris evert..such a beautiful dress shes wearing and keeps her jewellery on too” yes thank you Mum but Martina, looks just as womanly and strong ( queue Phranc’s ode to Martina ) like really, you didnt even think just a little bit gay?

    Getting closer was having a total meltdown trying for weeks to recreate Molly Ringwalds prom dress from Pretty in Pink to wear to the year 12 formal – the australian version of a prom. It was hideous, i cried, and i went to town to calm down. I found myself at Gowings, at the time ‘the’ menswear shop and bought a ruby glass jewelled bola tie and a pair of red Dr martens pointy toe winkle pickers kinda like ducky dale!

    I knew really for sure when I was at the movies with my girlfriends watching Desperately seeking Susan,and theyre all talking about Aiden Quinn and I cant even speak after watching Madonna get out of the pool in her bra and boxers. She was amazing looking in that scene!

    But you all have no idea about these people do you! So old, so gay? and i’m loving all your beautiful stories.

    • #OlderStraddlers represent

      I get all of your references ;)

      My mom was a big tennis fan – I remember watching a lot of Chrissie and Martina and Billie Jean.

  91. From about age 12 I was obsessed with Rent. That summer, I was “caught” looking at a girl’s butt at sleep away camp. When a friend and I “practiced touching” i wanted to kiss her but she refused. i was super confused as to why we couldn’t. I wanted to be a “punk rocker” (lord only knows what i meant by that) and i regularly wore all black. In high school, I was a theatre kid and stage manager for at least 4 plays, ring of keys on my hips and everything. After high school I worked at the same summer camp and quickly realized I had a full blown crush on a girl. the rest is history

  92. I knew from early puberty because I was very very keen on watching Star Trek: The Next Generation because Deanna Troi oh my oh my. That hair! Those eyes! That face! That uniform top that I knew very well I shouldn’t be paying so much attention to how low the neckline was. Now I’m a little miffed she didn’t just have a standard uniform like the rest of the crew, but ah well, she sure was easy on my eyes.

    Even though I knew I liked girls and boys, reading all your stories has made me reevaluate a number of memories that I had previously chalked up to being very shy and awkward and younger than everyone else in my year. Playing soccer with the boys all the time at recess? Check. Massive crushes on female teachers? Check. Staring at pretty girls too much (but policing myself so rigorously I never got caught)? Check. Avoiding dancing, especially shimmying or anything even vaguely sexual, because I was terrified of anyone seeing me in the way I saw girls when they danced like that? Mmhmm. Not dating in high school, yup.

    Even though I knew who I was, spending years relentlessly making sure no one else figured it out left me in some ways kind of like someone who didn’t know, maybe? I have utterly awful gaydar for women (something I am only beginning to improve on in the past couple years thanks to AS and honestly I still don’t know if it’s getting better or if I am just hopefully projecting!) because when you grow up Catholic then a) thinking anyone might be queer is unkind and of course you don’t want to think something bad of someone without really strong evidence! and b) kind, competent, awesome authority-figure women with short hair and no romantic interest in or attachment to men? Those are nuns!

    FSM help me if Marina Sirtis ever plays a nun. I will be so, so confused. But happily. ;)

  93. It was more me trying to condition myself to like boys… I followed this ‘hot guys’ account on Instagram and would just stare at pictures of shirtless mess forcing a reaction…
    My first recognition of lesbians was probably a sign, I was obsessed with Leela and Amy from Futurama so when they kissed in that lotr-esque episode I immediately looked up ‘lesbians’ on youtube on my iPod (this was when I was 8 btw), I didn’t know what I was feeling was being turned on so obvs I was like oh I’m just developing,,, this is super normal,,,, plus I literally thought ‘I want to be a lesbian when I grow up’ like… how did I not know
    I was obsessed with almost all female characters on TV and never got my friends’ attraction to boys… plus I’d get turned on looking at my classmate’s legs in their short pe skirts (thanks all girls school)
    not to mention my love of Santana on glee…
    thanks for coming to my ted talk x

  94. I’m only fourteen, lol. I was questioning for a long time(I’m a theatre kid and I always knew I liked Gypsy a little too much) and last Christmas my mom got Meet Me in St Louis from the library. I had only ever seen Judy Garland as a little kid in the Wizard of Oz and when she started singing The Boy Next Door, that was the conclusive evidence I needed.

  95. 8th grade, after seeing the movie “Little Darlings” for the first time.

    Why “Little Darlings”? Kristy McNichol.

    Incidentally, this is what (my now) girlfriend looked like when she was 16-17, which was around the time that Little Darlings came out:

Comments are closed.