#TBT: The Time I Played Strip Poker at All-Girls Camp And Panicked

What happens at camp doesn’t stay at camp…when you’re a writer.

Do you ever look back on an event in your adolescence and reflect upon how incredibly and utterly GAY it was? Yeah, that’s how I feel when I think about the time I went to an all-girls public speaking and debate sleep-away camp. I know, pretty freakin’ gay. But it doesn’t stop there: after lights out, we would all play strip poker. Getting slutty at camp was kind of my thing.


Being the narcissist and the performer I am, I LOVED public speaking. I recognize this statement is totally mental considering that it is most people’s biggest fear, but I thrive off of it. I also thrive off girls. So can you imagine my delight when my parents surprised me with two weeks away at an all-girls public speaking camp for my birthday? I remember my mom, who definitely already had her suspicions about my raging lesbianism, cautioning me to be careful of girls who pressure girls into *things* when she dropped me off. K, mom. I’ll keep that in mind.

There was something a bit ~notoroious~ about this particular boarding school where the camp took place….it was lez, lez, lez. My roommates were two regular year-round students that stayed for all the summer programs. They were hilarious, independent, obscenely wealthy, and queer as hell. Ciara* was this impossibly tall beautiful black girl. She had the loudest, most infectious laugh. Kat* was a brooding emo white gal like yours truly. (I hadn’t entered my guidette phase yet.) Kat was slightly more rebellious than me: she had her clit pierced. At 15!

They seemed totally different but they were as thick as thieves. They had ~the gay bond.~

I decided that I wanted to be their best friend. We didn’t explicitly establish that we were all queer but you know when you just know? It’s like this weird primal instinct for gay kids.

As if it wasn’t gay enough that we spent all day reciting monologues and debating (the expression madame speaker still vaguely turns me on) we did actually gay shit at night.

Let me clarify: they did gay shit and then I panicked.

After feeling me out through a few nightly rounds of 21 questions, my roommates deemed me worthy of their late night “meetings.” Ciara nudged me awake. “Let’s go,” she smiled. I wasn’t going to say no.  She and Kat led me by the hand down a dark hallway, laughing quietly the whole time. We entered an unmarked door: an old bathroom. “This is far away from the RAs, don’t worry,” Kat said. She could sense my hesitation. (They had the inside scoop since they were regulars at the school.) A group of about 5 other girls were gathered, sitting on the floor in a circle. I can still see the small pink tiles and hear the dull hum of the fluorescent lights.

“We play strip poker,” one of the girls explained to me, raising an eyebrow. Some of them erupted into a fit of giggles. Others remained serious.

“Okay,” I squeaked, trying desperately to sound cool and experienced. I had had a girlfriend before, and had my share of sapphic sleepovers, but this was new territory.

Kat took out the cards. I had no idea how to play poker, and neither did they. We didn’t know shit about cards. This was just a cheap ploy to be gay and slutty.



Before you start thinking that this was hot, let me remind you that I was a fat, pale weirdo with an awkward haircut and shoddily done black eyeshadow. We basically played “War” and removed clothing arbitrarily. It wasn’t sexual…but it wasn’t not sexual. I thought it was hot, but I was too self-conscious and nervous to be turned on. I played it safe by starting with socks, then my sweatshirt. When it got down to taking more clothing off than my top, I panicked and bolted. I literally ran back to my room to cry about how fat and ugly I was. Hot!

I hated my body, and certainly didn’t want these hot girls to see it. I ruined the sapphic fantasy of my adolescence by being anxious and insecure.

The next morning, I purposely got up earlier to avoid Kat and Ciara. I was so embarrassed, and worried they thought I panicked over being gay, when in reality, I panicked over being ugly and fat. I sat by myself at breakfast, but my friends weren’t having it. Kat scooted up next to me. She asked if I was okay. “Yeah, I just hate myself,” I joked. Self-deprecation and online shopping are my coping mechanisms, after all.

The rest of camp was a blur of Anne Frank monologues (the edgier girls did monologues from Lolita) and debates about abortion and gay marriage. I never returned to the secret girl’s bathroom, but I vowed that next year I would.

My life subconsciously circles back to that moment in a lot of ways. As someone who constantly teeters between utter self-obsession and utter self-loathing, there have been times where my insecurity has gotten in the way of my sexuality.  Just because I desire women doesn’t mean I don’t compare myself to them. Just because I want a woman doesn’t also mean that I also wouldn’t mind being her. Being gay doesn’t automatically turn off the voice in women’s heads that say: she’s thinner than me, she’s prettier than me.

Insecurity is a bitch, for everyone of every orientation, that’s no secret. But there is no magic formula for getting rid of it. It’s a life-long journey of slowly loving yourself.

The only thing that has helped with my crippling self-doubt and loathing has been maturity. Each year that goes by, I feel more like myself. I feel more secure. I feel sexier. In college, my girlfriend was hot AF. Though my attraction to her was strong, sometimes my hatred for myself was stronger. My most recent ex was ridiculously hot, which I appreciated instead of envied. I finally felt happy with myself and where I was at in my life. I also felt happy that I could score a girl as hot as her.

When I’m feeling panic-y about my looks, I think back to that moment in the girls’ bathroom at debate camp. I think back to how awkward and anxious I was. I think back to my dirty Converse sneakers and oversized sweatshirts. I think about how now, I’m standing in a gay bar filled with beautiful women.  I look down and take in the sight of my boobs (because I frequently wear a bra as a shirt, honey.) Isn’t it affirming to look back on yourself when you know how much you’ve changed? Now I can’t keep my clothes on!

I feel proud that I’ve come so far out of my shell. I take a deep breathe. I remind myself that another woman’s hotness isn’t the absence of my own. I remind myself that you need to push through your insecurities to overcome them. And once I’m hooking up with a girl, my mind is far away from the place of insecurity.  Sexuality, to me, is the most powerful force on earth. It can silence the shit-storm of anxious thoughts swirling inside me. The primal desire for another person, the sacred and sexy AF feminine connection, the mind-blowing girl-on-girl sex; these forces are all way more powerful than the thoughts that tell me I’m not pretty or skinny enough.

A few months ago, I was at The Box. A woman in a tight black gown kept smiling at me, but I ignored her because I was anxious. When she followed me to the bathroom, and asked: “Can I kiss you?” (I know this sounds exaggerated and too good to be true but I promise you this kind of shit happens on the reg at The Box, AKA the happiest place on earth) I felt that sense of panic bubble up. She was so much more attractive than me. Then I thought of my adolescent fat ass running out of the bathroom when I was 15, and thought, I’m sexy too. We had a (short-lived) drunken make-out in the bathroom.  Then she asked if I wanted to have a threesome with her and her boyfriend and I was like, gotta blast!

So my darling dyke readers, if you feel the insecurity bubbling up inside you, trying to yell over your attraction, take a moment. Think about your little queer self and how far you’ve come. Remind yourself that little queer you wouldn’t want you to miss out on a good time because you were feeling ugly. Little queer you would think you are the coolest. Remind yourself that it’s okay to have conflicting, complicated feelings.  Then take a shot and remind yourself that you’re a bad bitch.

@thelilycproject @thistleandspire 🖤

A post shared by dayna troisi / carrie lezshaw (@walkingintospiderwebs) on

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