When Did You Know You Were a Lesbian? Shocking Stories of Self-Discovery in the Roundtable Part 2

Stephanie Doesn't Like BoysWelcome to Part Two of the “When I Knew I Was a Lesbian/Bisexual/Queer/Girl Who Likes Girls” Autostraddle Roundtable. Every week or two (or three) we pick a topic and solicit opinions/stories from our team and interns – and sometimes special guests. Previous topics have included Is There a Lesbian Generation Gap? (with special guests Grace the Spot, actress & singer Haviland Stillwell) and Will Adam Lambert be America’s First Gay Idol? (Sadly we now know the answer to the second question, but he’s still our idol obvs).

This week’s Roundtable idea was the brainchild of our TV Editor Carlytron and Photoblogger Robin, a.k.a. the cutest couple ever:

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

Before we get to our second round of stories — with special quotes from lesbian celebrities, writers and artists about when they knew — here’s how you can get in on the fun …

‘When I Knew I Was Gay’ Story Contest

What’s your “When I Knew” story? When was the moment — or one of the moments — when you realized you were queer/bi/lesbian/gay/special?

1. TWEET! If you’re on twitter, tweet @autostraddle with hash tag #wheniknew whenevs and as often as you’d like. On Saturday August 8th we’ll publish all your short clever “when I knew” tidbits, and if you’re lucky you might even see yours show up in our posts too! These are really funny/fun to read at work/unemployed!

AND/OR

2. STORY! E-mail wheniknew [at] autostraddle dot com with your story in 400 words or less. Deadline is Saturday August 8th at midnight EST, so think quick!

WHAT DO WE WIN?

On Monday we’ll announce three winners: our Favorite Tweet and we’ll randomly pick two other submissions. Remember how we said there were no more Really Papi t-shirts? Well, we just found two. So those will be included, as well as Clies Press’ Best Lesbian Erotica of 2009 and an Autowin tank-top & button for an Autowinner! Exact distribution is TBA.

In Part One, our Associate Editor Laneia pulled back the curtain of her interweb life to tell the truth about her family and Editor-in-Chief Riese remembered the summer of ’05 when the shit hit the fan. So on a lighter note … now onwards to Part Two!

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image via saylamarz on flickr

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carly-icon2Carly:
My gay-i-versary is so stupid and silly, I’m laughing-slash-crying just thinking about what I’m about to type. When I was younger I dressed and acted like a boy and got called a boy all the time but it never occurred to me that I might be a homo. That is, until the Spice Girls.

Before long I thought, hey, ok, maybe I’m bi. Yeah, that didn’t last very long.

Yes, that’s right, the Spice Girls made me really start questioning my sexuality. And not because I fancied any of them, either. No no, I started questioning my sexuality when I realized that Sporty had stolen my look and persona, and that everyone thought she was a dyke. So I asked my friend, I was like, “whoa, do people say that I’M GAY too?!!?” and she did that awkward silence thing, where she was clearly saying, “yes” without saying it. And I was like, GASP! So I did what any normal teenage girl would do (I think I was like 16 or 17) and I went home and gave myself a long look in the mirror (which I was already doing anyway, since I was training myself to raise one eyebrow, but this was different). And I asked myself, do you like girls? And I thought about it. I thought about how cute Raine Maida, lead singer of Our Lady Peace, was and then I came to the conclusion that, no, I was not a gay lady. I totally liked boys! Crisis averted. Actually there was no crisis, the whole thing was very Zen.Brandi Chastain shirt

So then, naturally the whole thing started to unravel because as it turns out, I’m like the gayest person ever. After deciding I was totally straight (and, being such a tomboy, defied ALL STEREOTYPES! I even gave myself a pat on the back!) I started researching homosexuality on the internet. I started reading AfterEllen and TechnoDyke (R.I.P.) and a bunch of other lezzy sites that I can’t remember anymore. Before long I thought, hey, ok, maybe I’m bi. Yeah, that didn’t last very long.

To be specific, it lasted until Brandi Chastain scored the winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup and ripped her shirt off on national television. I didn’t even like soccer, but I was suddenly a super fan! I was also a lesbian. A giant, giant lesbian. And then I spent a year acting like a giant lesbian but being too terrified to come out, which is another hilarious-slash-lame story for another roundtable. So thank you, pop culture, for helping me to realize that if it dresses like a boy and acts like a boy, it’s probably a lesbian.

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“I came to understand that what I wanted was to kiss ladies through feeling the way that I did about Dana Catherine Scully from The X-Files.”
Kate McKinnon, comedian [Autofocus! The Big Gay Sketch Show’s Kate McKinnon: The Autostraddle Interview & Photoshoot]

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Intern Hot Laura

The first thing you should know is that, up until age 16, my only flirtation with homosexuality existed in an accidental visit to Kings Island, the amusement park down the street, on Gay Day.

girl tattoo on backFast-forward to my last year of high school and I’m in Chicago, taking classes at the Art Institute. There are a lot of people at the school, but I’m all about Becca. Becca just got back from a trip to the Middle East and spends class telling us stories about sleeping in the desert with Bedouins. She’s got a chai tattoo behind her ear, has perfectly messed-up hair, and doesn’t wear makeup—“except when I go to bars,” she tells us, “I’ve got to look old enough to get in.” She’s too cool to handle.

One night, I’m up in the studio with my friends when Becca walks in and says, “Hey, I heard you do henna. Wanna do my back?” Something probably should have clicked here, I mean it’s not exactly straight to feel like your head might explode when a girl takes off her shirt, lies down, and says, “Alright I’m ready.” But what can I say? Something about hindsight and 20/20, probs.

So I henna her, she leaves, and my friend says, “God, She’s such a lesbian.” Since I’m clearly not in control of my own body, my mouth goes, “I hope so!” and my friend says, “What?” and my head’s all, “Wait, what? WHAT?!” This is the part where I start turning really, really red.

We play the confusion game for a few more minutes before going to bed, and by the time I wake up the next morning from a dream about being lost in a sea of hundreds of sweaty-matching-t-shirt-and-fanny-pack-wearing-roller-coaster-riding lesbians, i’m finally starting to realize that I might be more than a little bit homosexy.

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#wheniknew
“I knew when my very attractive boyfriend told me how he loved me and I kept wishing he was the hostess at Chop House.” – @hnicole_09

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daphne-iconIntern Daphne:
I don’t really have a “gay-iversary”. I’ve been gay for like forever, well at least 10 years that is but I really came out at about 16. Even before that I used to crush on both boys and girls, then girls and girly boys, then only girls. It was more of a process. I remember my first posters in my room were those of the Beatles, Blondie and Kurt Cobain. Later people like Ville Valo from Him, Jamie Cullum and Karen O appeared on my wall. I was a pretty gay kid, ask my mom.
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“People might get confused,” a woman once told me. She was a therapist and a socialist, but she worried about what people thought.
“People might imagine that sexual abuse makes lesbians.”
“Oh, I doubt it.” I was too angry to be careful.
“If it did, there would be so many more.”

Dorothy Allison, author, “Two or Three Things I Know For Sure”

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stef-iconStef:
Easy – the night I first kissed a girl. It was a Saturday night at Don Hills in Manhattan: April 29, 2006. The whole thing kind of blindsided me when I was 22, after having never really considered the whole thing in depth before. After it happened, we laughed about it and didn’t think it would happen again, but then it did… and did… and did. Gradually, as the whole thing became an increasingly Big Fucking Deal, I was forced to confront a side of my personality I hadn’t actually known existed, and I struggled with it quite a bit – and in some ways still do. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t consider myself gay or even really bisexual – it seems so cliche to say I don’t like labels, but I’ve yet to find one that I feel totally comfortable with or that I feel describes me and how I feel about attraction or gender. Being unable to define myself has made my life more complicated in some ways. I don’t exactly celebrate my gay-iversary every year, but I’m very conscious of that night marking a huge change in the way I perceived my own sexuality and myself as a person… I guess even though I don’t talk to that girl anymore (so much drama), I owe her some kind of thank you.
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#wheniknew
“I knew when was 10 and at the end of recess I was looking at the girl in line in front of me thinking: god, she has a nice ass.”@ms_anne_thropy

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robin-iconpolaroid - girl in front of wallRobin:

My gayiversary was probably the first time I kissed another gay girl. It took me a long time to figure out what I was feeling. In college I had some lesbian friends and I loved hanging out with them hearing about all gay stuff and I even went to the gay bar with them, but not until right after school did I ever act on anything. I went to the movies with one lady in particular who “didn’t like labels” and we held hands after it. I chatted with her the next night about how I really wanted to kiss her and she really wanted to kiss me, so we did that soon after. I’m sure I was entirely awkward. We sort of dated for a few months and of course I got super attached and she broke my heart. The whole thing was very middle school.

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“I just sort of arrived at it through rational deduction.”

-Rachel Maddow, MSNBC host & political commentator

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Intern Elizabeth:
So, my gay-iversary is probs Pride Weekend (last weekend in June for Chicago) because Pride Weekend 2006 is the first year I ever attended the festivities. I was like, eff it, hey guys, um, I’m going to the gay pride parade this weekend, who’s with me? Also I got a tattoo of rainbow stars that same weekend. And I met the first/only girl I’ve ever been in love with (obvs that didn’t work out)… Until then I was ‘processing’ and had only told like 2 friends that I thought I might be a big old queer (I didn’t know they had secretly already spilled the beans)…
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#wheniknew
“Eliza Dushku swaggering into the gym in Bring it On.” – @missapplepants

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katrinaIntern KC Danger:
Remember that time t.a.T.u. performed at the VH1 Movie Awards, and at the end a sea of schoolgirls filled the auditorium and danced around in their underwear? Whoa, I do. And though I couldn’t quite place the feeling then, I’m going to have to admit that t.a.T.u. may well have been the catalyst to my gay-iversary (marked by my coming-out-iversary) two years later.

t.a.t.u. movie awards
Like most important things that happen when you’re 15, my coming out was simple, awkward, and took place during a sleepover. I wasn’t planning on it, but when my friend unexpectedly came out, and our gracious host jokingly asked, “So. Is anyone else here bisexual?” I felt I had no choice but to raise my hand. I realized I was gay another two years later, but by then everyone was so used to me scopin’ out chicks that I never really bothered to make a public service announcement, and left my gay-iversary as is. February 11, 2005. Feel free to get me a gift this year. Or a girlfriend.
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#wheniknew
“I knew when our sleepovers stopped involving actual sleep.” -@brendog

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tink-icon1Tinkerbell:

hello autostraddle. this is tinkerbell. once upon a time, i was born in a gift shop in miami from four homos. lesbians were all i could see so i knew anything was possible. then riese took me to a party and i wanted a vodka tonic and carly said put that shit away. i still had a strap on so i was still a purse. then later i wasn’t a purse but was i like everyone else? no i was a dog. then i met littlefoot and realized i liked dinasours and was a trisexual. i think this is because carly denied me a vodka tonic. however i have kisses from leisha hailey, and michelle paradise when i felt that if i were not in love with littlefoot, i might be in love with ladies but only the very pretty ones. mostly i am lying on the floor in my outfit. really i’m too young to know anything. if you know anything or even have a heart then you are lucky just to have a heart and to have it feel things, some of us have no hearts, only stuffing, memories of straps and miami. love everything would be my advice.

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Cofounder and Design Director of Autostraddle. Professional web/graphic designer. Whiskey enthusiast. Drumming hobbyist. A past speaker at the 2010 BlogHer Conference ("Good Blog Design: The Role of Layout in an Online Medium"), 2013 Salon LGBTQ Conference ("Innovative Best Practices for Brand-Blogger Campaigns") and featured in the Los Angeles Edition of Refinery29's 30 Under 30 in 2013. Co-owns and manages Tully's Training, a dog training company in Los Angeles. Twitter: @a_ex Instagram: alexxxvegaaa

Alex has written 120 articles for us.

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