Beverly's Column

by Beverly Greene
January 1996

Coming out. Woah, what a concept! Perhaps enlightenment would be better suited for this lifelong process of learning about yourself. For me, it started in middle school, when I had my first crush on another girl my age, but it would take me until my second year of college to finally begin to accept who and what I am.

High school is rough for everyone, but it gets even more complicated when you are lesbigay and trying to come out to yourself when everything around you is telling you that straight is the way to be happy. I come from middle Georgia, where there are not a lot of out lesbigays. I knew none in my high school, which is not unusual. So, because I thought it was wrong, weird, or deviant, I pushed my feelings and fantasies to the back of my subconscious, and justified their presence by saying it was just the attraction of the forbidden and unknown.

Like almost all girls, I dated in high school, but not a lot. I always felt something was missing in my relationships with men. I'm not blaming them, though my choices were not always the best when it came to choosing them. There was just something different about me.

I went to an all women's college in my hometown and made a few good friends. I dated a guy from my high school during my freshman year at college. It's funny now, but when we were dating, he was the one who told me he thought I would have a homosexual experience at college. Boy, was he right!

When my sophomore year began, something was changing in me and I knew it, yet for the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was. I was fighting with my roommate and best friend from freshman year constantly, which eventually led to us deciding it was best that she move out of our small room. I needed space to figure out what was wrong with me and why I just was not happy. By the end of the year, I would learn more about myself than I ever imagined.

An acquaintance of mine from my freshman year moved in next door to me and we quickly became friends. Her best friend stayed with her a lot, so we also became friends. Rumors started going around about them being a couple, but not many people took them seriously, least of all me since the same rumors had gone around about my roommate and I during our freshman year. Those rumors couldn't have been more off about me and my roommate, so I had no reason to think they were right this time -- but they were.

About a week before Thanksgiving, my neighbor asked me to go shopping with her and get a pizza afterwards. As soon as we got in the car, she started it and then turned to look at me. She started a speech then that I will never forget, because it helped change my life. She told me about the rumors about her and her best friend and then she told me that because I was their neighbor, she thought I had the right to know that they were true. Then she just sat there and stared at me. I just looked at her and said, OK. Then I confessed to her that I didn't know if I was really straight or not. We talked a lot about it all that night, and it seemed like I finally had found a confident to share these hidden feelings with. It was wonderful.

After that night, I became almost obsessed with thinking about lesbians. All I could keep my mind on was the possibility that I might be a lesbian. Homosexuality ruled my thoughts and kept me from being able to concentrate on anything else, though final exams were quickly approaching. After many hours of crying, worrying, praying and just plain curiosity, I decided I was bisexual.

I think that a lot of gays and lesbians say they are bi at first to try to hold onto, at least in their mind, some of the safety of the heterosexual world. I'm not saying that there are not people who are in fact bi, but I do know that myself and many other lesbians I know claimed to be bi in the beginning stages of coming out. However, this does not usually seem to last long, and it did not for me.

I began going to our town's only lesbigay bar with my neighbors. It was so nice being in a safe space. Of course, it was only safe because it was not advertised as a lesbigay bar. In fact, there are not even any signs on the warehouse type building it is housed in. I think that this helped me a lot to see other gays and lesbians living their lives, and being happy with who they are.

That year during my Christmas break, I told one of my best friends that I was bi while we were making cookies. She took it very well and was pretty supportive, though very surprised. Everyone was always telling me that I didn't "look" gay. I always joked and told them that I must have missed the chapter on how to look gay when they gave me my handbook.

It took me almost three full months before I could tell my best friend that I was a lesbian, even though I had been sure since January. I was open with everyone else, and often talked about my fears of telling her with my neighbors, who had, by this time, become very good friends of mine. I finally decided it was time one night. I called her and asked if I could come to her room because I needed to talk to her. I sat down on her bed, and just blurted it out and waited for her response. We both still laugh thinking about this night and her response. She just stopped typing, turned and looked at me and said "I know that! I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to tell me!"

We spent the next hour or so just talking about it. She had picked up on the hints I was giving her in the hope that she would ask me. She thought I would tell her when I was ready, though she was very hurt that everyone seemed to know long before she did. I tried to explain that I was afraid to tell her because if others did not approve, I lost nothing, but she was my best friend and I needed her support now more than ever. And I got it.

She was great and I now regret not telling her sooner because she was the one who was there with me when I went through my first break up with a woman, and then through a rough relationship. She was always nice to my partners and happy as long as I was happy. She turned out to be my best friend and even savior in some ways. I went through a period of suicidal thoughts, like many lesbigay youth, and she was the one who was there for me, holding me until I cried myself to sleep. She gave me something I wish every lesbigay person had, and something I will never forget, the unconditional love of a true friend.

I met another woman who became an extremely close friend. She fell in love with me, and told me, but I was scared. Eventually, I admitted that I had fallen in love with her as well. We had by this time become best friends, and now more. After I had been with her for three months, I told my mother I was a lesbian. She took it better than I had thought that she would, but was still not happy about it. She said she just wants me to be happy, but it is still hard for her.

I have since moved to BC, Canada where I'm a visitor while I work on immigration so that I can be with this woman. We are getting married on the 14th of January and I have never been happier in my life than I am with her. All of the pain that I have been through, coming out and before, have prepared me for this, and it has all been worth it.

Coming out, like I said in the beginning of this article, is a life long process that is never truly over. Everyday, I learn something new about who and what I am, and how I love, but, it's a constant battle within us all to fully realize that we deserve love and happiness just as much as anyone else, even if we seek it out in different avenues than most people do. Everyday, I look at my wife-to-be and know that something this strong, true, and pure can only come from something right...ME!

Beverly Greene, 20, is from British Columbia, Canada. She can be reached online at: poetica@Unix.infoserve.net.
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