Happy National Coming Out Day! Today is an amazing day where we get to celebrate being able to openly be who we really are. It’s Pride in October, because we can’t let these straights catch us slipping. And also, we’re amazing. And fantastic. And we deserve Pride all the time.
In honor of today’s holiday, I’ve decided to ask GO staffers and some other queer friends of mine to tell me about their roots. Not familiar with the term? It goes way back to one of the most well-known lesbian movies (and one of my personal faves) “But I’m A Cheerleader.” In the movie, the camp attendees have to “find their roots,” aka they need to figure out what made them gay. But, hey, you and I both know that nothing makes us gay — we just are! Thus, “roots” got absorbed into the queer community as a word meaning the things that made you realize you were gay (very important difference). It could be anything from a person to a sport, and it’s different for everyone.
From all of us who are proud to share our roots: Happy National Coming Out Day!
“Women.” —Amy Lesser, Publisher
“Growing up in a three-bedroom apartment with five people meant that privacy was a thing of myth. Thus, my tv time was after everyone was out or in bed. One evening while channel surfing, I happened upon Channel 35. Back in the day, there used to be a public access channel in the city called The Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN). This channel was a free-for-all mélange of local folx who had something to say. By day, the content varied widely, from a local town hall to teens lip-syncing to Tony Toni Tone. After 9 p.m., however, it morphed into a sexual deviant’s playground. And the night I happened across this hidden-in-plain-sight licentiousness (as my Jamaican mother would call it) – I WAS SHOOKTH. It was mostly sex chat ads (do they still have 976 numbers?) and snippets of ’70s porn, but it blew my 9-year-old mind. I didn’t understand why I had a flush face and heat rising from “under my tummy” every time a lesbian scene played. I found myself waiting for these scenes, disappointed with anything else. I played Russian roulette with the “last” button on my remote, hopping between “The Robin Byrd Show” and Disney channel any time I heard a sound outside my closed door. It was exciting, it was dangerous, and above all, it was naughty. I had to be the “good girl” all day, but now, at night, I could be bad — real bad. It felt so good to fantasize about the gorgeous women that called out to me from the glow of my TV screen. It was at that moment that I knew two things to be true: I like liked girls, and there was nothing I wouldn’t do to feel that feeling every day of my life.” —Michelle Perez, Associate Publisher
“My roots are my dad’s motorcycle magazines that I’d ferociously tear through and obsess over the hot girls (and bikes) in, the butch lesbian I had an adolescent affair with in my religion class (iconic), and “The L Word” episodes that rocked my f*cking world as I watched them in secret with the remote firmly gripped in my hand. I knew I was gay before the theme song was even finished playing.” —Dayna Troisi, Managing Editor
“I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to figure out my roots. Two of them are now certain to me. One is The Hex Girls from ‘Scooby-Doo.’ They were a badass group of singing vampires who had confidence higher than anyone I’d ever seen and, boy, did I feel some type of way about them. (Also, just, like, Daphne in general.) The second one is ‘A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila.’ I discovered it in elementary school, and I’d spend nights sneak-watching it with amazement all over my face. She could have guys AND girls? And everyone was hot? Wow.” —Isabelle Lichtenstein, Associate Editor
“My root, 100 percent, was watching the made-for-TV biopic ‘Gia’ with Angelina Jolie when I was in the eighth grade. The intensity of the love between Gia and Linda was like nothing I had ever, EVER seen in movies with heterosexual characters! I knew this was the kind of fiery, passionate, beautiful, hypersexual love I craved. I knew in my gut as I watched Gia that I would never feel those kinds of feelings for a man, but I absolutely could (and one day would) for a woman. It also made me realize I wasn’t crazy! I was just a lesbian! And lesbian love is wild as fuck. You have double the oxytocin rush; you have double the acute emotions, double the power of the divine feminine. It’s bound to make a girl feel like she’s full of fire all the time. Watching that movie, I realized the fire that burnt inside of me, the disconnection I felt from my peers and this relentless longing I always felt but could never identify, was because, at my core, I was a flaming dyke.” —Zara Barrie, Senior Staff Writer
“The scene in the ‘Scooby-Doo Movie’ where Fred is in Daphne’s body and he says, “I can look at myself naked!” My 8-year-old self really felt that, because I, too, wanted to see Sarah Michelle Gellar naked, even though I didn’t know why at the time. Also, as a kid, I was a huge fan of fantasy and girl-power shows like ‘Sailor Moon,’ ‘W.I.T.C.H.,’ ‘Winx Club,’ and ‘Totally Spies.’ The scenes that captivated me the most were always when the characters would (usually levitate into the air and) transform into their cooler, hotter, more magical and badass selves. At the time, I totally brushed off my ‘special interest’ in these shows as just wanting to be like the characters, instead of what was an obvious attraction to them. Hot girl cartoons kicking some bad guy ass in thigh-high boots?? Femme top fantasy.” —Zoe
“I would watch TV, be more compelled and attracted to the female characters, and not understand why. Some of the major ones were ‘Lizzie McGuire,’ ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,’ ‘Power Rangers,’ and ‘Saved By The Bell.’ Sometimes I’d try to convince myself it’s because I could appreciate how beautiful a girl was without thinking she was hot, if that makes sense. I just started seeing girls in a different light and didn’t pay that much mind to boys.” —Katherine
“There was never like an ‘aha!’ moment where everything clicked, and I was like ‘Oh yes, I like girls.’ I feel like sometime, in junior year of high school, I started watching ‘Jane the Virgin; and got really into Luisa and Rose as a couple, even though I’m pretty sure we were supposed to be rooting against them. After that I was like ‘Hmm, women?’ And there was a slow year-long realization of ‘Yes, women’ that came along with the more gay content I watched, aka ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘The Legend of Korra.’ Also Stacy from ‘Pitch Perfect.'”—Izzy
“I realized I was queer because my best friend told me she was in love with me, and then two months later said she was over it and it made me sad. Then, over time, I realized I felt the loss of having someone that wonderful become uninterested in me, and it didn’t matter what their gender was. I fell in love with her over the course of the next year, and we started dating at the beginning of our junior year of high school. But also, Megan Fox in transformers. Her power.” —Jerry
“Mine is really simple. I used to do gymnastics when I was young, and I carpooled with another girl in the class. One time, two women picked us up from class instead of just her mom. The next day, I asked my mom about it. She told me that they were both my friend’s moms and that they were lesbians who were in love with each other, just like my mom and dad. I stared in amazement. ‘You can do that?’ I asked. It was the first time I heard the word lesbian and that dating a woman seemed real to me.” —Caroline