I am a brand new adult. It’s been barely a year since I graduated college and moved to North Jersey for grad school, conveniently located next to my one of my favorite places in the world: NYC. At an infantile 23, it seems like even though I have been in school my whole life– I know literally nothing. I spent my senior year of college scrambling to find a backup plan since I had not yet been discovered as the next sultry stand-up superstar.
On top of trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I was trying to figure out who I wanted to do. A few weeks after graduation, I kissed a girl for the first time (sober), and I loved it. I wanted to do it all the time. So I did. But as if it wasn’t hard enough to transition into a responsible state of adulthood, simultaneously learning how to lesbian has stripped me of my straight smarts and catapulted my naked, naive consciousness into a new normal.
Because I have the fashion sense of a basic white girl, I fly well under the gaydar. When I go out, I wear only black, white, or pink. I put on enough makeup to suffocate a clown, and my long, fake blonde hair is always burnt into whatever style I have chosen for the night. Like many other femmes, I spend a lot of time trying to prove that I actually am gay. When I used to hang out at straight bars, I used to walk through straight bars on air, wrapping men around my pinky as I glided from the bar to the dance floor and back again. Now that I’m out, I spend my night dodging every drunk straight guy in a button up who thinks that the only reason I put on tight jeans was to have him peel them off of me.
This confusion follows me into every aspect of life: with friends, with family, with dating. On dating apps, lesbians would assume I was looking for a threesome or looking to be flipped. In bars, men would insist they could turn me straight. I’m too straight for the gays and too gay for the straights. I feel like no matter where I go, I’m faced with skepticism.
This treatment and access to both worlds makes me feel like I want everyone to know I’m not straight, but I still want them to treat me like I am. I needed to do something to make myself comfortable with myself, who I love, and how I present myself to the world; long blonde hair, crop top, and all. That’s when I made the decision to venture into lesbo-land: a night out The historic Stonewall Inn. When I first walked through the doors, I felt like I was stepping into the Mecca. Everyone in there, like me, was looking for a place to live it up freely and ended up in the safest of safe spaces. My outfit was my usual Going Out Uniform: black jeans, black heeled booties, a sheer top, and my favorite pale pink pom-pom dangly earrings. My big barrel curls framed my false eyelashes, and I had gone with a bold lip to match my bold motivation to be part of this new world. I spent the whole day nervous and excited to experience whatever was on the other side of the door. What I was met with was a projection of my own fear: I thought everyone staring at me and thinking that I’m another attention-starved straight girl “sick of boys” infiltrating their gay haven. Gay-ven, if you will. This was a conjuring of insecurity mixed with a handful of tweets I had read about how annoying straight girls in gay bars are. No one was actually sneering at me, but my anxious mind read their neutral faces as negative.
I navigated carefully through the crowd. I found the one place where I always feel at home, the dance floor, and tried to forget about all of the self-negativity I had pent up inside of me. The DJ immediately took me to pop heaven. I was singing at the top of my lungs and dancing like I do in the mirror. Other people started joining me on my pink-colored cloud 9. It didn’t matter anymore what I looked like or who I was because everyone was there to dance. But as soon as I went back downstairs, I felt the same simulated stares. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and compared my reflection to everyone around me. I still had a basic haircut and a basic outfit and a basic face. I still felt like I didn’t deserve to be there.
On the train ride home, I sobered up and had a fleeting moment of clarity; I just spent the night with hundreds of people who were just like me. While I was busy being an egocentric, whiny brat, everyone else silently accepted me.
It’s like I was expecting all of them to line up and shake hands like I was the newly elected mayor of Lesbianland (my winning platform: tax cuts for the middle class and a mandate of at least one cat per household). As far as they know, I’ve been crushin’ puss since the late 90s. The audacity I had to assume that I was the only one who was struggling with my sexuality or identity was more sickening than the several Jager bombs I had taken. The notion of finding/being yourself is the basis of the entire effing establishment. EARTH TO BABY DYKE: THIS HAPPENS TO EVERYONE. I’m not reinventing the queer wheel here; I’m hopping on the high-speed train on the Rainbow Railroad that has been running completely fine without me for decades.
I just got here. It hasn’t been long since I first tweeted on National Coming Out Day. It’s been even shorter since I called my parents and very casually told them that I was dating girls because if it was normal to me, maybe it would be automatically normal to them. Their initial shock was expected. It took some time for them to get to know the new me, understandably (it took time for me to get to know the new me). But as hard as I try, this isn’t something that I’ll be able to come to terms with overnight. You know, this whole oppression thing or whatever. Although I feel like this imposter syndrome is exclusive to myself, something is telling me that I am not alone. I’ll keep being the femme firecracker that I have come to know, and one day it won’t be the new me anymore. It will be me.