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Our Lesbian Journeys: The Path to Finding Ourselves

Flashback Friday, a column on feminist notions...

Fetsiboomsticks at Flying Shortbread invited me to write a post for her blog, and may I just say, I was so flattered!  I have never been asked to be a guest writer in someone's blog, and maybe I'm being dramatic, but it's an honor.  :-)  So here's my story for her, and a thanks.

This is something that has just really been made painfully aware to me recently, and makes me feel very thankful for how far we've come.  Yes, we still have quite a journey ahead, but hey, at least we're moving in the right direction. 

I have a friend, T.  T is 47 years old, and I have been doing her hair for about 2 years (I'm a hairstylist).  I have recently gone into business for myself, and left the salon where I was working, and am now going to my client's homes to do their hair. You wouldn't believe how many of my clients have COMPLETELY opened up to me about their lives since I have started seeing them at home, and T is definitely one of them.  When I first met T, back while I was working in the salon, I knew instantly that she was a lesbian (let's face it ladies, sometimes it's just unmistakeable hehe).  So, it was quite confusing to me whenever she'd talk about her husband.  I honestly would think to myself that maybe she was uncomfortable with speaking freely about her 'wife', so maybe she just pretended to be straight in public or something.  I wanted to come out to her so many times, thinking that maybe she'd be more comfortable with me if she knew (no one can ever tell that I'm gay just by looking at me, everytime I come out to someone new, I get a pause... and then a 'reeeeallllyyyy??????'), but there was never exactly a good time to say "Hey T, I'm gay, so what are we doing with your hair today?" :-)  I met her two children shortly after meeting her, she brought them in for hairdos as well, one daughter who is 16ish, and a son who is 14ish.  About a year into doing their hair, the husband was the one to bring in the kids for hairdos, and I was literally shocked to see him.  For a year, I honestly thought that this man didn't exist.

It was right around the time that I had decided to leave the salon and go into business for myself, that I had also joined a Meetup Group for gay women in my area.  Guess who was a member?  Yeah... T.  When she saw that I had joined, it took her a few days, but she actually called me and came out to me over the phone.  She said that it was difficult for her to talk about it, but that she was going through a divorce and and this was all new to her.  I let her know that she could talk to me about anything and that she could feel comfortable with me.  The next time I saw her, she unloaded.  She told me that she is nearing the end of the divorce with her husband, and that she feels like a completely new and different person.  She and her husband had been married for over 20 years... and for the most part, she felt that she only stayed in that relationship because she thought she had to.  She never, in her wildest dreams, thought that she could make the choice to find herself.  T grew up in a very small town, where the word 'gay' was as bad as a curse word.  She always knew that she was attracted to women, connected with them on such a deeper level than with men, but she never let herself even realize what was behind it.  It was never an option.  She said that one of her sorority sisters in college came out to her in a letter, and that she literally felt sick to her stomach when she read it.  It was that bad.  So, she married a man because she thought that was just what she was supposed to do.  Her husband turned into an asshole over the years, and kept her pinned down into this box of what he thought a wife should be.  Over 20 years later, she finally came to her breaking point.  She didn't know what she was going to do.  The fear that came over her, when she realized that she had been living a lie, was so overwhelming that she even considered ending it all.  I'm so thankful to say that she is now a very close friend of mine, and I'm so proud of how she has turned her life around.  She's an inspiration to me, and I always get excited when I know I'm going to go see her.  We can't help but talk about her journey, and how she's finally realizing, at the age of 47, who she is.  She's come out to her ex husband, her kids, her friends, and has fallen in love with a woman, the first real love of her life.  Their relationship was short-lived, but it didn't matter, because she was finally able to feel what it felt like to matter, what it felt like to be true to herself, and best of all, what it felt like to truly love. 

What is so amazing about our friendship, is that our journeys are so unbelieveably different.  I'll be 26 years old next week, and I have truly never felt the pain of not knowing who I am, like she has.  Comparing our journeys is something that is talked about continuously everytime we see each other.  For me, I was never forced to hide who I was, I never even felt like it wasn't just completely ok to go ahead and figure it out.  It did take me some time to figure it out, I ended up going back and forth between men and woman for a couple of years before I realized that nothing excited me more than the touch, smell, taste, mind, and just simple presence of a woman, but I was always free to do the searching.  T is always in complete awe when she asks me questions about my past, and how easily I came out to people (once I knew myself).  She threw her arms up and exclaimed with a smile 'oh my god!!!' when I told her the story of how I came out to my father when I was 21 by telling him that the last 'friend' that I had introduced him to had been my girlfriend, and how he gave me the famous *pause*, tilt of the head, and "really???"...  and then said "well damn Kelly, she was hot!!!"   (thanks dad, I know! haha).  The truth is, I never really gave anyone in my life the option to not be ok with it, and thankfully, I have always been surrounded by nothing but supportive people who have never wanted to question my sexuality.  But that does have a lot to do with the times, and I am so thankful that we are progressing.  I can't imagine growing up back then (even though the music was a million times better, I'm a classic rockaholic hehe) and feeling so stifled that I didn't even have the freedom to know me.  For that, I'm truly thankful.  We still have a long road ahead, but like I said, look how far we've come!!

...
Thanks Stargazer at Not the Only Dreamer

The act of coming out is such a revolutionary one to women who were born into a world that hates them. I am so grateful too that the times are a-changing. Thanks for being there for T. I am so pleased that there are girls like you, unrepressed, open, warm, confident and eloquent, who can write about the out-gap and bridge it in a leap so full of elation. The honor is mine. Fetsiboomsticks
...
Cinnamon Gurl sparked this off. Thanks. Each week the Flashback Friday: Feminist Edition will feature a story that has something to do with being or becoming a woman or feminist. This series will continue until I run out of stories. I love having guest bloggers. If you have a story you want to tell and you want to be a guest blogger here, please email me (fetsiboomsticks@gmail.com); or feel free to link to your own story in the comments. 

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