We asked you to tell us all about the gayest things you did when you were 13, and wow, you sure delivered! Here’s a list of Extremely Gay Things you, the 100+ fine readers of Autostraddle dot com who heeded our call and submitted a response to this burning question, did when you were 13 years old. Goddess bless each and every single one of you, amen!
1. I brought a FRAMED photo of Kate Winslet to church camp and displayed it next to all the (unframed) photos of my family.
2. I wrote personalized erotica for my (then-“straight”) best friend featuring her, her crush, and fantasies she had expressed to me. I had kept it hidden in my bedroom so she wouldn’t have to hide it from her even stricter parents, and just found some recently. One line: “he put his tongue in your mouth and you tasted delight” (!!!). I can’t believe I was writing that and ever thought I was straight for this girl! We did end up hooking up in college.
3. At 13 I wore only men’s t-shirts and always tried to impress girls with how strong I was. Also, I constantly climbed trees and crushed on just about every actress who played a non-traditional female character.
4. I had a ‘fashion’ mural on my closet door that was magazine clippings of beautiful women. It was partially because I loved red carpet dresses, it was entirely because I was hot for Cate Blanchett, Emmy Rossum, and Michelle Williams.
5. Wore my guy cousin’s hand-me-down knee length denim shorts because they were “more baggy and comfortable.”
6. At my 13th birthday party I made my friends dress up and play-act a wedding in my backyard. I was the groom. I have a photo of the kiss. Just pals being pals!
7. I was WAY too into drawing shirtless ladies to be straight. “Men are just harder to draw,” said I. No, child, you just like boobs.
8. Can I cheat by a year? When I was 14, I got a pixie cut and checked out every single lesbian pulp fiction book from my local library.
9. Followed a link about I think DIY galaxy shirts? (I exclusively wore loud clothes because I thought that without neon & clashing patterns I would be literally invisible due to how small I was) which brought me to Autostraddle. It immediately became the first site I checked any time I logged on to the family computer — and I still didn’t realize *I* was gay for another year or two.
10. Jewish summer camp, 2004. This cool girl M and I and a few boys were hanging out unsupervised behind the tents. For some reason M offered to let the boys touch her boobs. They obliged, and I guess I stared, because at some point one of the boys asked me politely if I would also like to have my boobs touched. I said oh no thank you. M didn’t think to ask if I’d like a turn touching her boobs…
11. I joined the school play exclusively because I thought this girl Breanna, who had played a (queer-coded) man in the play the previous year, was really cool and wonderful and cute and I did think about making out with her sometimes but told myself I was straight and I only wanted to make out with her during certain times of the month so it must be hormonal. I did not track the times of the month during which I wanted to make out with her. I did help her spray dye her hair green for the play while wearing my white costume.
12. Got my hair cut short! Future haircuts involved the hairdresser confusing me for a boy, which flustered the hairdresser and pleased me terribly. I’m pretty sure I was also crushing hard on my bisexual 40-something Sunday School teacher.
13. Wore a waistcoat over a turtleneck in my school photo, had k.d lang on my purple iPod nano, and secretly watched Law & Order SVU when my parents were asleep (Mariska Hargitay was worth getting in trouble for).
14. My friend Malia from Spanish class (was she a crush? maybe!) and I bonded over our shared heritage, how ridiculously easy the class was for us, and being in school plays. One day, she asked me what it would take for me to go out with a guy, so I made her a deliberately long list to make sure she wouldn’t find one for me. (It worked: she did not find any boys that met the qualifications.) Meanwhile, I dreamed of becoming a writer/artist and spinster aunt living in a cabin with a garden and chickens and/or goats. I do not know how to garden. In the following years, before coming out, I would grow increasingly perplexed to learn that my friends did not want to become spinster aunts with me.
15. Between ages 12-14 I had a series of I think 7 different “boyfriends.” Meaning, boys who asked me “out” and whom I was technically “dating” but with whom I never went anywhere or did anything or even kissed. I claimed it was because I was still too young to want to do things with boys, but the truth was, all my friends were doing it, so why wasn’t I? Answer: Because I was really, really gay.
16. Constantly thought about sleepovers in the same bed as my best friend. I remember wanting to hold her hand while we laid down but afraid of receiving a no, or even more frightening, a yes.
17. As a kid and a teenager, I had this really intense kind of hero-worship for older girls I admired or looked up to. Camp counsellors, student mentors, girls on my hockey team, girls on my swim team, girls in the school plays with me. At the time I really thought these were just a long line of role models, older girls I looked up to and wanted to be friends with or emulate. But looking back I realize it was less about admiration and more that I was just hugely crushed out on all these girls. I can’t even pick just one girl or one anecdote because there were SO MANY. Actually wait, here’s one. I was on a hockey team that had kids ages 6-18. Yes, one team. The 6-10 year olds payed on one line, the 11-14 year olds played a second line, and the 15-18 year olds played on a third. Well I remember one year when I was still on the second line, there was a girl on the third line I was really obsessed with. We would joke around and were friends at games and practices, but then at school she was two years older and so we weren’t friends and didn’t talk or hang out, other than maybe a wave of acknowledgement in the hallway. Well one day I decided I wanted to get her attention at school. It was an ongoing game in our locker room (and probably every hockey locker room ever) to throw balls of used tape at each other. So one day I brought a huge ball of tape to school and tried to throw it at her in the hallway. Yeaaaaah.
18. Another girl in my grade level taught me how to masturbate at a sleepover after we skimmed the books each of our parents got us to explain puberty. We spent all of our numerous eighth grade sleepovers experimenting with our bodies and exploring our anatomy.
19. I was always a curious pre teen, especially at that time as I was just discovering my sexual orientation. Realizing that I was a lesbian scared me more than anything, but I wanted to read anything I could get my hands on. Or watch anything lesbian on TV, even if it was repulsive (this was the 1970s after all). I have to thank my late mother for this, but she bought me the notorious lesbian classic “The Well of Loneliness” by Radclyffe Hall! I had been asking her over and over about homosexuality and I guess she wanted to do the right thing. So she gave me the gayest, most depressing, most controversial book on the topic. Maybe she wanted to discourage me, but it honestly changed my life for the best. The book gave me such clarity about myself that I read it over and over and over. It’s beautifully written and a heartfelt call for tolerance, which is what I really needed. You can imagine how my young mind reacted to the amazing first kiss between the main character Stephen Gordon and the beautiful but married Angela Crossby. I read THAT part an extra thousand times!
20. Really, really, really “admire” my fellow softball team mates. Like, just think they were super, duper cool, and I wanted to be just like them. (Spoiler, turns out I was crushing on them, and of course also wanted to be like them… and MANY of them are queer and trans identified now… the queer/homo/genderqueer in me saw all that in them :) ;) )
21. Made an entire Instagram account dedicated to posting photos of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss / on Hunger Games press tours.
22. Painstakingly copied out metaphysical poetry in secret notes that I passed with a girl I admired and desperately wanted to be friends with.., “about [fictional, for me] boys.”
23. Daydreamed and obsessed about having a best/romanticized “bosom friend” like Anne of Green Gables and her Diana Barry.
24. When asked by a school bully if I was a lesbian had an overwhelming thought that “god I wish that were true but I’m probably unlucky.”
25. My favorite outfit, which I wore MINIMUM twice a week age 13, was as follows: red and black horizontal striped tank top underneath an extremely bright red graphic tee purchased at an Orlando mall Hot Topic during a family vacation (which read “BITE ME” (Vampires Only, Please)), underneath a Twilight branded zip-up hoodie, also purchased at Hot Topic, paired with black skinny jeans underneath red and black striped leg warmers.
26. No fun gay things happened when I was 13 (sadly), but when I was 12, I wrote a short story where the only plot was that a girl kissed another girl at a party.
27. My MSN name had 🌈”best friend’s name” is gorgeous🌈 permanently attached to the end of it. To help her self esteem.
28. I got my mom to take me to Lilith Fair and yet it still took me another seventeen years to realise I was very, very queer.
29. I loved to wear big leather jackets and I would take group photos with my arm around my just friend’s shoulder and think “wow this is the coolest thing.” I also had an unfortunate 2010s fake mustache and XD so RaNdOM phase with a pair of my friends who I always went to the mall with and we called our trio the Lesbian Lovers. Two of us turned out to be bi! The gayest thing of all is realizing just how many of us in our late middle school group ended up later realizing we were queer.
30. When my camp friend got a boyfriend, I was devastated, and I started a No Boyfriends Club in an effort to convince her to dump him. NO ONE joined my club, but that did not stop me from delivering nightly diatribes to the entire cabin about Why Boys Were a Waste of Time.
31. When I was thirteen, I absolutely fell for my middle school best friend without having any frame of reference for what being gay meant. I just knew I wanted to give her presents and make her laugh and braid her hair. She did, however, have a boyfriend at another school. So before Valentine’s Day, I approached him and suggested he do something to surprise her. I, of course, planned every single detail: we hung hearts that I crafted out of lace from her bedroom ceiling, we put a giant teddy bear on her bed, I picked him flowers to give to her, and I conspired with her mother to get her out of the house while we did it. When she came home, she was totally floored. But then I had to leave them to their date, so I sat across the street at a park until they were done. I was so thoroughly invested in this that our other friends became really suspicious and accused me of having romantic feelings… for the *boyfriend.* Because thirteen-year-olds can be ridiculous.
32. Accidentally left my phone at the dentist. The last thing I was looking at was explicit gay Wonder Woman fan fiction. My dad went to pick it up when I was at school and I was convinced that he opened my phone and read everything. Either way we’ve never spoke of it since.
33. Ah, 13… the tender age when my young, overdramatic self really wanted her First Queer Kiss with her First Goth Girlfriend. Both of us wanted this to happen. Neither of us wanted it to happen in public in our conservative-leaning town. So we did what any self-respecting Hot Topic-clad baby dykes of the early aughts would’ve done: Staged a handfasting ceremony in my childhood bedroom, complete with a note (printed on graph paper, because my Capricorn ass was the one in charge of logistics) reading “Do Not Disturb – Pagan Ritual In Progress.” I remember exactly nothing about this ceremony other than the dragon’s blood incense, which stuck to my curtains for a solid week afterward, and the makeout segment, which confirmed that I was DEFINITELY not straight.
34. In 2007, at the age of 13, my best friend and I took turns giving each other back rubs on a field trip. Criss, cross, apple sauce…
35. I turned 13 in 1986, in super-conservative South Africa. I didn’t even know that women could be gay or that lesbians existed until 1991 when I saw CJ and Abby kiss on LA Law! But during the July holidays of 1986, I slept over at my best friend’s and one night she and I were “practicing” close dancing and we ended up kissing. It was my first kiss, and it was pretty intense. I never kissed anyone again until I was out and 26! 1986 was also the year I went to boarding school, and I would let this very popular boy in my grade carry my book bag from the school gate to the girl’s dorm every day (he asked if he could). I was completely oblivious that this meant that he liked me, and I didn’t walk with him or speak to him at all… I just left my bag at the gate for him! Meanwhile, I had a giant crush on one of the (woman) teachers who lived in our dorm (she was 21). Not that I knew that it was a crush at the time…
36. I was in my community theater’s production of The Sound of Music and brought a little jar of wildflowers for the woman playing the Baroness every single show.
37. I was the only girl on the football team, back in the early 90s when it was mostly unheard of.
38. I chopped off all my hair, with help from a friend, and we bleached it in my parents’ kitchen. Then the mean modern dancer from my after school dance class invited me over to her house and kissed me then told me not to tell anyone.
39. So many options to choose from, including writing a love note to my best friend but never giving it to her (still have it somewhere tucked in a lockbox). Having a wardrobe consisting only of t-shirts and basketball shorts well into high school would also qualify. But I’m going to have to go with watching the second installment from the Star Wars prequel series ‘Attack of the Clones’ on repeat, along with all the bonus features on the special edition DVD. Not because it’s quality cinema, arguably the worst movie in the entire Star Wars canon. The movie may have been trash, but Natalie Portman has never looked better. I watched the movie on repeat, because I wanted to watch her on repeat. Portman in that movie had such a strong effect on me that my type many years later is still pretty brunettes.
40. I went on a school field trip to the village our music teacher grew up in, and her parents were involved in the church and I think maybe we sang in a church service or something? so we slept in sleeping bags in the church hall. I slept next to a friend in my class who I liked but didn’t hang out with that much, and we had a whispered conversation after the lights went out and we like stroked each others’ arms gently? It didn’t seem weird or like something we should talk about and I don’t think we ever did anything similar again.
41. (I’m the same person from the school field trip with church hall sleepover): I really liked my music teacher like a lot and I joined the choir even though I can’t sing and don’t particularly enjoy singing, and when we had to choose which subjects to keep doing for our big exams I chose music over art even though I couldn’t sing or play any instruments. I still vividly remember a class where she played us a tape and asked which instruments we could hear, and I wasn’t sure if one of the instruments was a clarinet or oboe, so I wrote both down, and she told the class I got extra points because I was the only one who wrote oboe, and I was so proud.
42. Had a sleepover with my friend sleeping in the same bed in which we watched Moulin Rouge! and talked about how pretty Nicole Kidman was.
43. Wrote Kristen Stewart a fan letter (BEFORE Twilight because she seemed so gay in the terrible movie “In the Land of Women”).
44. Joined my high school’s GSA because I was “such a good ally” and “just really interested in queer issues.”
45. I had an absolutely all-enthralling crush on Rachel Weisz which resulted in me watching both Mummy movies over. And over. And over. On TV? Drop everything to watch. Seen it in a movie store even though I had the VHS? Buy it as a backup. Friend coming over for a sleepover? Background movie. I told people I wanted to be an archaeologist (lmao) as a cover for being a closeted little lesbian. I still, to this day, see the wet nightgown scene in the first memory without a single flaw.
46. One summer my special friend and I would do the gayest beauty treatments together, usually involving co-showering or giving each other shirtless massages “to help our sunburns.”
47. Heavily prepared for and won the arm wrestling competition for my entire girl’s middle school cabin at my (very conservative) church camp. I just wanted the other girls to know I was strong, ok? It would take a few years before I sorted myself out, believe it or not.
48. For the first time I was allowed to dress myself for school pictures. Moving away from the frilly stuff my mom was fond of, I picked a red checkered button up over a muscle tee and a very baby gay “hair slicked back so tight it hurt” style.
49. Making ladies kiss each other on the sims. And woohoo ofc.
50. I started properly realizing I was queer around 13 so the list is endless, but queer media is my one true love so that’s where my big gay behaviour was most obvious. Notably I frantically consumed everything about Lady Gaga, I first learned about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell at 13 because of her and talked about it incessantly despite living in Canada. I’d also watch pirated queer movies on YouTube at midnight back when they were easier to find, Lost and Delirious had me HOOKED. Last but not least, Buffy the Vampire Slayer — holy hell was I gay for that show! When I found out about Willow being queer I read the plot synopsis of practically every episode on Wikipedia before I’d even started watching regularly because even then I was super committed to queer media (by the time I started it was only available through reruns on one channel), and I’d watch the little free minute and a half clips of the episodes on iTunes in between the reruns. When I happened upon the clip for Seeing Red (big ouch) and realized it was literally just a chunk of that scene at the beginning with Willow and Tara in bed together I watched it on a loop constantly. Looking back the fact that I ever thought I was doing a good job hiding my queerness from the people around me is pretty laughable but here we are, still super gay and still obsessed with queer media!
51. Brought a huge poster of Katharine McPhee with me to camp for one week — the poster was so big, it took almost the whole door. Crushed on my English teacher but was in serious denial about it. Casually became obsessed with Sara Bareilles, but it had nothing to do with how pretty she was, obviously.
52. There was a short-lived Christian youth outreach in my small town that I started attending for game nights/youth groups. The people who ran it were trying to be ‘cool’ and cater to the local skater kids — there were ramps and rails around the building and like, skateboard decor inside? (What was this skateboard aesthetic, you may ask? Think black spray painted walls, skateboards hung up everywhere, concrete floors, a video game section, etc.) Anyway, I could not skate for the life of me but the girls who went were all so cute! The first night I went to the girls-only youth group, we were told to go around the circle and write a list of nice things about each other; I think I fell in love with like, three girls that night. It was also one of the first times I’d been around actual out queer girls, but the only reason I knew they were queer was because I overheard the adults talking about the kind of prayer the girls needed for their “confusion.” Shout-out to religious trauma!
53. My lil gay tomboy self was wearing cargo shorts to middle school every day.
54. Against all better judgment, I agreed to watch and pretended to be interested in watching the horror film Orphan in the basement of this girl’s house because I had a years-long massive crush on her and I thought maybe if I agreed to watch the scary movie (even though others were watching Night at the Museum upstairs that I could have chosen instead) that maybe we would cuddle or HOLD HANDS during the scary parts. This did not happen as I was on the floor and she was on the couch the entire time. The only lasting outcome was that I could not sleep for at least three months afterwards and forced my mom to sleep in bed with me for that entire time.
55. I had my first boyfriend at 13. This involved sitting awkwardly beside each other at lunch, passing notes during class, and zero physical contact. I thought this arrangement was perfectly fine and acceptable.
56. At 13 I realized I was into women because I was thinking about how hot Tegan from Tegan and Sara is while waiting in my friends closet for her to finish changing. I came out of the closet and then I CAME OUT OF THE CLOSET.
57. Watched Lilly Singh dressed as her mum react to the “Anaconda” music video every day when I got home from school, because the semi-naked women with their butts out were definitely hilarious. Seeing as Lily has also come out as bi in recent years I feel like there are now extra levels of gay to this story. Like a rainbow layer cake. Now I’m hungry.
58. The gayest thing I did at 13 was fall in love with a friend and spend hours staring at her school photo, memorizing her boobs and collarbone and admiring how pretty and perfect she was. I did not recognize this behaviour for what it was and instead participated in what I assume is another queer rite of passage: dating a gay boy. The next gayest thing was probably when I went to see Titanic, was secretly thrilled to see Kate Winslet’s boobs, and developed a crush on Leo. (The gayest thing I did at 14 was fall in love with Dana Scully, and the gayest thing I did at 15 was fall in love with another friend and write “I AM NOT GAY” in my journal. Very straight behaviour!!)
59. I wore cargo shorts and genuinely thought it projected ‘sexy, edgy tomboy.’
60. At 13 I had a dramatic, entangled friend breakup with my close friend at the time, and we didn’t talk for years. (In middle school I was “straight” and we were both “cis”.) Now we’re both nonbinary trans lesbians and have been dating for a year and a half.
61. I was homeschooled when I was 13 (by choice, I was a weird kid). I had a huge crush (though definitely did not recognize it as such at the time) on a girl a few years older than me who volunteered in my Sunday school classes and in my church’s homeschool co-op. My 8th grade year she was teaching a Japanese class for elementary schoolers at the co-op, and I somehow finagled my way into the class despite being much too old because “I just really want to learn Japanese!”
62. Played spin-the-bottle at my 13th birthday party but shied away from kissing boys, and when the bottle kept landing on them, added stuffed animals to lower that probability.
63. Wrote notes back and forth with an older girl in my math class that only consisted of Ani DiFranco lyrics. As friends, of course.
64. Spent hours on the Nike.com website designing sneakers on Nike Id and emailing them to myself.
65. For a few months I wore a blue ribbon in my hair to synagogue because an older girl who I “just really admired” always wore a blue ribbon in her hair.
66. Wrote my teacher’s name — first, middle, maiden, and last — over and over inside the cover of a notebook.
67. I died my hair purple, was wracked with extreme jealousy when another girl came out to me, and wore a top hat and tails with ratty jeans to middle school graduation. 🌈
68. I wrote a poem to my best friend about how we were soulmates because we had the same birthday and we met on our birthday. I read it to her in front of everyone at her birthday party. Now it’s clear I was deeply in love with her. I honestly think she felt the same way. She used to rub my leg under the lunch table. We would have long conversations about how “weird” it felt when we touched each other. We convinced ourselves it was because our connection was so strong because we were such good friends. I wish I kept the poem, but I do recall how it ended. “I’ll always remember the 12th of December.”
69. When I was 13 my school did a very heteronormative thing for the Valentine’s Day dance where all the girls got hearts, and if a boy gave you a compliment you’d give them your heart. During the dance there was a draw of names and you had to GET UP ON STAGE and slow dance with whoever “stole” your heart. Naturally, my (girl) best friend gave me a compliment so I gave her my heart and lo and behold my name was drawn. What followed was the briefest and most mortifying slow dance experience of my life. I truly think holding hands and swaying to Drops of Jupiter in front of the whole junior high is why it took me almost 10 more years to come out.
70. We took on each others middle names, and wrote each other letters while we were away with our families for our ONE WEEK spring break. Never thought about how gay this was until now!
71. Obsessing over my ‘friend’ with whom I somehow always ended up cuddling any time we watched a movie together.
72. I wrote poems about holding hands with the girl who sat in front of me using a symbol code I made up. I was terrified the notebook with the cypher would get lost, or stolen, so I ended up burning it.
73. I had a huge crush on my best friend (spoiler: we dated after college, the feelings were mutual but it took us TEN YEARS to act on them). Here are some gay things we did together: We would play a “game” where we would specifically dress each other up in the way that the other thought was sexy, a lot of dancing to ABBA and Beyonce, reading smutty fanfiction together (on the school computers?!?) and reading explicit romance novels (which we also somehow got from school), making a pact that we would die together!
74. I wrote Anne of Green Gables fan fiction including a musical where all the men died in a war and bosom buddies Anne and Diana had to raise a baby together.
75. Cry-rage quit pre-teen marching band due to mandatory high-waisted slacks and ongoing feud with piccolo player.
76. Said my career aspiration was “Weird Al.”
77. Swapped USBs full of scans of yuri manga with my best friend (who I had an incredible crush on) at school.
78. When I was 13 I walked to school carrying a basketball under my arm, because I thought I was So Cool. I was also wearing a gigantic baggy t-shirt and zip-off cargo pants to really complete the look. I also had a big crush (that I didn’t realize was a crush until much later) on my best friend and together we enjoyed exploring in the woods and camping and wading through streams to find crawdads and cool rocks and stuff. Afterwards we would go back to her house and hang out with her cats who were always having kittens. I wanted to keep one or more of these kittens so badly that I checked out at least 10 books from the library and wrote a report which I presented to my parents on Why I Should Get A Kitten. They didn’t go for it. I did not realize I was gay until I was 20.
79. I had an entire wall in my room devoted to my obsession with Julia Roberts. When I came out to my then best friend two years later, she wasn’t surprised.
80. My best friend offered me her epic typing skills to type up an essay I procrastinated for the small small price of kissing one of our friends. I met him in the back stairwell of our small middle school, at the top, while my friend stood below watching, laughing, waiting. I took one look at him and… literally ran away. Down the stairs, out the door, to the subway. Went home and played Rollercoaster Tycoon and ate pizza bagels with my cats and listened to early Taylor Swift.
81. As the most androgynous person in year 8, getting cast as Puck in our school’s attempt at A Midsummer Night’s Dream and having a suspicious amount of fun with the male pronouns/eyeliner combo and being mean to fairy girls?
82. I had this very detailed, elaborate private medieval world I spent most of my waking hours daydreaming about and in which I just *happened* to be a boy (because swords) who just *happened* to kiss a lot of girls. The kisses were also elaborate and detailed because I was committed to my Art. Although now I’m remembering certain, er, stories my best friend and I used to tell each other during sleepovers in her basement. And certain dares that went along with them. So actually that was the gayest thing.
83. I was with my first girlfriend at 13! I asked her out by writing her a little book with song lyrics that made me think of her (Tegan and Sara featured). She was all my firsts from kiss to heartbreak, we ran the GSA together, hung out all the time, basically did all the “kids in love” things. We’ve gotten through some tough times together since as friends. She’s the best, and I remember fondly reading Autostraddle at the time with her (the Carmilla recaps, etc). Happy 13th birthday Autostraddle!!
84. I stuffed a book from the LGBT section at Barnes and Nobles down my pants and read it in the handicap bathroom stall for over an hour.
85. I sang the entire Barenaked Ladies Stunt album with my BFF out loud, in harmony, while walking home from the Barnes and Noble where I stuffed my pants with an LGBT book to read in the handicap stall in the bathroom.
86. I got drunk and slept with my also 13 year old best friend every weekend, and never once thought that I might be gay. Yes, I’m in therapy now!
87. I dreamed that I kissed my female English teacher who I was obsessed with, then woke up and panicked about it so I told my best friend about the dream but re-framed it as a nightmare and we laughed at how gross it was. 😱😱😱
88. I was actually going through a “straight” phase when I was 13, picking up boys hither and yon with abandon. But I did do one extremely gay thing, I went to riding camp that summer and spent such a wonderful time around horses. And older teenage girls riding horses. (I’m pausing here to remember the soul-shattering beauty of girls on horses.) When I came back I was definitely a changed person because even though I talked a good game about my boyfriend, I wasn’t fooling anybody. You’re GAY, my nemesis said, and everyone else seemed to agree. So when I was 14, though I was changing schools and leaving my nemesis behind, I did some scientific investigation on myself and realized that heck yeah, I’m GAYYYYY. That was a very happy and liberating moment.
89. I had this friend who, in retrospect, I was clearly attracted to in a gay way. My middle school had two elementary schools feed into it, so half the kids were new to each other when we started 6th grade. I remember the first time I noticed this girl, A. I overheard her talking to her friend about a “dance party” she was having that weekend. I thought she sounded snobby and like she was trying too hard to be cool, but also I really wanted to be invited to that party. Somehow we became friends. I remember noticing the way she held things in her hands and kind of fixating on it, which is just SO GAY. I was hopeless at anything “girly” so I’d let her curl my hair and do my makeup, whatever she wanted, because I just liked being close to her. The summer after 8th grade she invited me to go to the beach for a week with her family. We spent the week trying to meet boys, wearing bikinis and telling everyone we met that we were 16 instead of 13/14. One night we got into an argument about something, I don’t remember what but it was one of those arguments where you’re trying to play it off like you’re joking, and I called her “flat chested” as insult. It upset her (because I did already have boobs and she didn’t) and I immediately apologized but I just remember feeling so dumb because that was not at all what I wanted to say to her, or how I felt. I thought she was so cool and beautiful but I could never ever ever say that out loud. Because even though I didn’t know I was gay or even realize that being gay was an option (it was the ‘90s, representation was not what it is now), I did know that telling your friend she was beautiful — in a serious way, not a like “oh that dress is so pretty on you” kind of way — was not “normal” and therefore something I could never do no matter how much it was the truth.
90. When I was 13 (1993), it became a trend among all the popular girls at my school to wear their dad’s button up shirts and ties. I guess it was the preppy version of the grunge flannel shirt trend? IDK but it was very intriguing to a baby gay like me, who had no earthly idea she even was a baby gay. I didn’t participate myself because my dad didn’t really own the right kind of shirts and ties, and I also didn’t want to be accused of being a poser since I wasn’t in that popular crowd, but I remember thinking they looked very good on the girls who did wear them. GAY.
91. The first time my best friend at Catholic school came over to my house we went up to my room and she picked me up and carried me over the threshold and tossed me on the bed. 💕 And I figured she was gay but it didn’t occur to me that I was because she was the butch. 😂
92. In the mid-90s — I read everything I could about AIDS, watched And the Band Plays On, and did my health poster about AIDS. All because that’s the only access I had to gay culture.
93. I was internally obsessed with Ann Reinking as Grace Farrell in Annie, and Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass, but also thought I was in love with a boy in my class (looking back, I think he was gay). There was a movie called Flipped that, if I remember, was a sort of romance between children that ended with them holding hands, that for some reason my two best friends loved and watched over and over, and I remember just kinda sitting there… I also had a pair of dark red cargo capris from Garage that looking back, were gay. I wore them at my 13th birthday party, which I remember distinctly because I had my period and bled on them, but they were red so it wasn’t terrible.
94. Went to my local library to ask the very pretty gay librarian for queer book recommendations (thinking I was straight the whole time).
95. It was 1983 and I didn’t even know the word lesbian existed. But I did know I liked looking at Jessica Lange in Tootsie, which I did a lot — as much as one could in the pre-internet days. And I played softball, which is pretty gay no matter what generation.
96. Wrote entries in my diary about an English teacher at school WHO WASN’T EVEN MY TEACHER, detailing how pretty she was, how muscular her calves were, what her first name was, what clothes she owned, and many other observations I had made about her in the school corridors. This woman did not know I existed.
97. Took a bath with my two best friends in my parents’ spa-style bathtub. The tub was huge, the water heater was not. 30 years later, I’m a married queer with my spouse of 15 years and one of the friends has a wife and two kids.
98. I used to wrestle with my best friend. I also spent a whole weekend sewing her a Jake Gyllenhaal doll because she loved Donnie Darko.
99. My RE teacher had spiky hair with frosted tips and routinely came to school dressed in cargo pants and a leather jacket. I was physically incapable of talking to her in any capacity.
100. Being in love with boys and girls but telling myself I was only in love with boys. Also planning a wardrobe from the menswear section.
101. Had a crush on my best friend. Made a collage of Scarlett Johansson pictures. I secretly watched The L Word on the lowest tv volume late at night in my room.
102. Thirteen was the start of my “I’m not like other girls” era — which I guess was true for reasons I didn’t fully understand back then. I disliked school spirit, I disliked school pride, I disliked pep. And yet, I really really liked the head of the school pep squad. I had a huge crush on her. So despite my objections to the entire institution of school pride I went to every home sports game, wearing my boots and one vaguely school-colors flannel — I was such a stereotype and had no idea — to cheer next to her in the student section. The most that ever happened was one time we shared a bucket of popcorn and a coke together but at thirteen that felt earth-shattering.
103. The way I would listen to the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack and replay every scene in my mind. The POWER of Barracuda paired with Lucy Liu in *that* outfit plus Cameron and Drew cross-dressing???
104. Wore Timberland boots on the regular as a fashion statement, eagerly volunteered to participate in the all girls classes the school was testing out, read anime and would secretly google yuri on Tumblr, read gay themed books like Kissing Kate, hung out in the gay chatrooms on Gaia online, played RPG’s, showed a picture of a girl anime character with a short bob to my hairstylist as hair inspo because I thought she was hot, owned like 10 flannels, spent days painting a special handmade card for my best friend on Valentine’s Day of a literal heart, made out with pillows with my friend during a sleepover and traced letters on each other’s backs like that scene of Van and Taissa in Yellowjackets when they’re in the water together, I felt that was pretty gay lol.
105. Being 13 and in summer camp was really my peak gayby era. Somehow, between mismatching my socks on purpose because I thought it was cool and being the only person in my bunk who would willingly swim in the lake, I found time to contrive as many interactions as I possibly could with a counselor I was crushing on. Although, let’s be real, I was Not At All Self Aware and just thought that “she was cool and I wanted to be like her.”
106. I joined the field hockey team because I “really wanted to spend time with my friends” but tbh I was so madly in love with a girl named Sharon who was also on the team.
107. When I was 13 I had these orange cargo shorts that I wore basically every day. When I say cargo shorts, I want you to think JNCO’s that were orange parachute material. Arkansas has hot summers, parachute material breathes way better than denim. These were always paired with a dark navy blue Life is Good skateboarding tee. If you’re thinking, did you mean to look like Goku from Dragonball Z? The answer is a RESOUNDING yes. He was my idol. I wanted nothing more than to grow up to be a super saiyan. I was 13. I understood this to be impossible, and yet hope springs eternal. I had two very good Girl Friends, not girlfriends. They were very popular with the boys. I did not understand their interest in boys, but I LOVED when their boyfriends screwed up because then I got to threaten them. Did I ever punch anyone? No. Did they all think I was going to? Oh yes. I do think I might have kicked one of them (sorry Clayton!!!!). They loved it. I loved it. I did not understand why I enjoyed the idea of beating up my totally-not-a-crush-just-a-best-friend’s boyfriends so much, but boy! Did I! At my school, 13 was about the age you signed up for band. I tried out to be a drummer. Sadly my dreams were crushed (“Girls rarely make it as drummers because there are too many boys, and no girls. Why not the saxophone?”) and I ended up playing the saxophone, much to my mother’s relief. I think she thought the saxophone was somehow less gay? She wanted me to play the flute, but I said I would literally just not be in band if I had to play the flute, so we compromised on the saxophone. I was objectively terrible at it. I was also the only girl in the saxophone section, so good thing I didn’t get to play the drums! Although the gayest thing I probably did was read a book called The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. (I have zero idea how well this book holds up, it’s uh, been a while since I was 13… but I loved it then.) It’s about a pair of Jewish cousins in the early 40’s who write superhero comics and one of them is (gasp!!!) gay. (If I could put gay in superscript here, I would). I did not know that this book was about gays. I thought it was about comic books. But it ended up being one of the very first times I saw a healthy gay relationship anywhere. I don’t think I’d had to go through the terrible loss of Sandy Lopez on ER yet (or the wonderful discovery of Kerry Weaver), so Kavalier and Clay become one of those Core Gay Memories. It depicted a real relationship, between real characters, not just a ‘dalliance’ that ended in disaster. Or a rough allusion that ended with someone being murdered. Or that terrible thing where you have to squint to see the queerness. It was just there. In white and black. On the page. Love between two people of the same sex. Love and heartbreak and commitment. All things I didn’t think were possible. Things I didn’t know I was allowed to have. I read that book under the cover of darkness and turned it in when no one was on duty to see me return it. And I hoped and prayed that the book wasn’t somehow flagged in the system as “homo stuff” or something and that a letter would be sent to my parents about my misdeeds. You know, my misdeeds of reading a book about gay people that showed them as actual people. That showed me that maybe gay people *were* just actual people. I don’t know how that book ended up in a junior high library in rural Arkansas, but I thank my lucky stars that it did. It changed my life. It’s always stunning to me the amount of underground queerness I lived out, even in a time I didn’t really know what it was or what it mean.
108. I was crushing on a soccer teammate who was dating an awful, gaslighting dude. Once when we were just hanging out before practice, I just couldn’t handle what a prick he was being to her, and reacted by kicking the ball hard to his body. He was a drama queen about it, and my friend didn’t talk to me for a good while, but it was worth it. All these years later, we’re still close (eventually the crush passed), and awful dude has been long forgotten.
109. My best friend Maren from next door and I played “Dirty Dancing,” meaning we lay on top of each other, fully clothed, a bit of grinding but no touching or kissing. I think we also played that pre-13. We never saw this as a gay thing, since we were only roleplaying our fave film. Though me being the heavier of us two, I was always laying on the ground, and she lay on top of me even though she was way more femme and delicate than me, she always “played” Patrick Swayze. It was the early 90’s, but Dirty Dancing still was very popular in Germany. Once, my best friend sat with me in the dark in her room while a romantic song was playing, but nothing happened, she probably waited for a move from me. She being so pretty and I, being insecure and having very low self esteem, and a bad opinion of my looks, would have never made the move. She always danced very sexy in front of me, she was obsessed with dancing the Lambada and incredibly short skirts… I always liked watching her but being so closeted I didn’t realize why.
110. The era, the 80’s. Getting a race bike for boys for my daily commute to school. And it was OK with the world because Jennifer Beals had one in Flashdance.
111. I wrote hundreds of love letters to Janet Jackson. I never sent them, but was convinced that we would end up married some day.
112. Be totally in love with my BFF at the time and not fully realize it until years later 🙃.
113. Listened to a LOT of Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman, and tATu.
114. Anytime I’d write a love scene between a man and a woman in a fanfiction, I would write from the man’s perspective because I thought putting myself in the headspace of someone touching a man intimately was icky.
115. During my middle school humanities class, we would always spend the first ten minutes reading whatever we wanted. I usually read a book, but sometimes I would read the kids-focused magazines that my teacher had available. Once when I was reading said magazine, I noticed that they had cards of sports players that people could tear out if they wanted. I looked at the cards with mild interest until my eyes landed on a basketball player decked out in a Tennessee Vols jersey, looking like a complete badass as she dominated the court with the most gorgeous face known to mankind. In that moment, Candace Parker made my thirteen year old self gay, and without thinking twice, I tore the card from the magazine and proudly displayed it on the front of my binder. Listen, even though I was on my middle school basketball team, I did not love the sport that much, but here I was praising Parker’s talents to all who would ask (there were stats of hers on the back of the card that I had memorized) and never interrogating why I would feel weirdly excited every time I looked at the card too closely. I had never even seen her play, and yet, I was a Candace Parker stan (and still am!). Looking back, this was one of the gayer moments of my youth and imagine my full circle moment when I learned that Parker married a woman!!!! Truly proof that the gays stay winning.
116. Rewatched Josie and the Pussycats over and over and over again to figure out what I was feeling for Rachael Leigh Cook.
117. Fondle sessions with my best friend — like wow who knew nipples could feel like that ??
118. When I was 13, I watched Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and I could not stop thinking about the white shorts that Blake Lively wears when she’s in Mexico. I fully believed that I was thinking about them because of ~fashion~, despite not giving a single fuck about fashion as a kid. I even bought my own white shorts so that I could be like Bridget. Which I literally never wore. It shouldn’t have taken me a decade after that to realize that I wasn’t straight, but so it goes.
119. I cut my hair like Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago for absolutely no reason at all and definitely not because I was obsessed with watching her gyrate in what is basically lingerie while she talked about doing murders. (This was also the year Bend It Like Beckham came out. It was a formative time.)
120. I bought the season 1 DVD set of Queer As Folk from FYE in the mall. I also had a hidden folder on my family desktop computer full of pictures of t.A.T.u.
121. *~ told my first boyfriend I was bi ~* (and he responded “well duh”).
122. When I was 13, I had two best friends and one of them was moving away. I was the most sad I’d ever been, I think. This was the friend who wrangled a confession out of me about “liking” our best guy friend not long before, then gave me the smile of shared secrets as she left my house that day. We were all friends at church and the day of her family’s going away party, we all said our goodbyes but that wasn’t enough for me. I went on my own outside and ran after her car, waving as they drove away. Not long after, my family moved too and she sent me a beautiful letter about how much it meant to her that I’d been the only one to come out and wave goodbye. I sent her one back detailing all the reasons she was my very best friend and how much I missed her. I grew up and came out and she grew up and stayed in the church and I’ll never forget how much it hurt the day I saw her make anti-marriage equality posts on Instagram.
123. Watched a lot of “A Shot At Love” by Tila Tequila and kissed my middle school best friend because we were “pretending” to be wives.
124. Wrote a sad song on the piano (I could not play the piano) because the girl I was obsessed with was leaving school for a few months.
125. I figured out I was gay at the championship game of a soccer tournament. Immediate huge crush on the opposing goalie. After we won the shoot out we hugged. I have picture proof. Perhaps the gayest part of this story is that we still keep in touch 7 years later.
126. I came out.