By Amanda Rose
The first time I saw a naked woman with my own eyes was on my very first date with a woman. Impressive, right? Well, let’s go back a bit.
I had been raised and lived my young life with the assumption that I was straight. That’s our heteronormative society for you, right? I was very aware of my crushes on boys—that was something I could readily process. I was exposed to so many examples of that. It was much harder to process how I was feeling about some of the girls in my life. I just assumed that was how other young ladies viewed their friends, too.
For a long while, dating didn’t really happen for me. Filled with a fraught mix of self-doubt and fierce independence, I never really made any moves in my high school years, and no one made any moves on me. To be clear, while dateless, I wasn’t having any sex either.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college, when Tinder came into my life, that I started dating. I was newly questioning my sexuality at that point, and quietly coming to terms with my ever-present, if latent, interest in women. So when my friends took it upon themselves to set up a Tinder profile for me in September, I decided to go for it, and started swiping for men. Within a month I was seeing someone who turned out to be a polyamorous, pansexual, non-binary person. It was a lovely but short-lived relationship. Speaking of firsts, they were actually the first person I came out to about realizing I was bisexual. Eventually they realized that their spring semester workload didn’t leave enough time for more than one relationship, and the one they picked didn’t involve me. We’re still friends, though, and I am grateful for their support.
I continued on my Tinder journey, meeting men for dates over beers in campus bars, but nothing really stuck. It was January when I finally decided to add women to my preferences on the dating app. In February, I was messaging with a cisgender gay woman named Kaitlin (name has been changed), another student at my university. After a week of near-constant messaging on the app, we decided to meet in person. We planned to see a play produced by the graduate theater department, and then we would get coffee after. By that time, I had told a friend that I was interested in women, and, as I got ready for the date, he attempted to be encouraging by assuring me that “vaginas are great.” Well, that did little to calm my nerves.
Kaitlin picked me up in her car, a little late, and we sped to the theater, making finally-in-person small talk along the way. The box office managed to find two open seats for us in the packed theater, and we shuffled awkwardly all the way into the middle of the crowded row. We settled into our theater seats and the play promptly began. It had all been such a rush we had barely made any eye contact yet.
The stage lights go up, and right there on stage is a young actress yawning and getting out of a bed, completely naked. I feel my face flush, and fight the urge to glance over at Kaitlin, my mind racing with the weird irony of this turn of events. I couldn’t believe that here I was on my first date with a woman, my first foray into my queerness, and we were side-by-side gazing upon a naked woman as she spoke her monologue.
Maybe it wasn’t such a big deal to Kaitlin. It probably wasn’t. She likely didn’t think anything of it. It was just art, and she was, in fact, an experienced lesbian. Our relationship ended before I ever got the chance to ask her what she had been thinking in that moment. But to me, it felt important.
As a newly queer-identified person, that night meant a lot. I was on a date. I was going for it. After so many years of avoiding it, I was finally putting myself out there. And Tinder, strangely enough, helped give me that push. I had a new sense of self-awareness, and I was making things happen. I was giving myself the space to explore. I was on my first date with a woman, effectively starting a new chapter of my life. The surprising theatrical introduction to real-life female nakedness was merely an added bonus.
A music educator living in a midwestern city, Amanda Rose is passionate about the arts, reading, hiking, and vegetarian cooking.