When I Knew

Feb 1, 2012 | 2012 Winter- When I Knew, Articles

By Rae Fine

In middle school I wasn’t really attracted to anyone – it was middle school, everyone was awkward and gross. But everyone around me was discovering their status as sexual beings, however mild those sexual feelings or encounters might have been. Once an acquaintance of mine asked if I liked any boys.

“No,” I answered, “not really.”

“Ewww, does that mean that you’re, like, a lesbian?”

“Oh, no, no. I was totally kidding. Um, Jim’s pretty cute, huh?”

That interchange stayed with me for a long time. I didn’t feel like I had a sexual orientation at all, but it was so much easier to go default straight. Non-straight requires declaration, and I didn’t have anything to declare.

Once I got to high school and actually made friends of people of both sexes, I started to understand my attractions, to a certain extent. I understood how I felt about certain guys. I understood what desire felt like for them. I thought that some girls I knew were beautiful, but I wasn’t sure whether what I felt was appreciation of beauty or attraction. You can acknowledge someone is attractive without being attracted to them, which I knew well enough. I couldn’t theorize my way out, so I decided to wait until someone was willing to give what was floating around in my head some physical meaning.

My two best friends ended up being my guides from the world of thinking about sexual feelings to acting on them. One day they both came over after school. We were hanging out on my bed, talking about whatever, when out of the blue Clarisse* says “Alex*, Rae, I’m going to teach you how to kiss. It’s a vital life skill.” It was a sort of makeout threesome, awkward at first, but ultimately exactly what I was hoping for. When it came to a natural stopping point, Alex turned to me and asked who I had enjoyed kissing more.

I couldn’t decide.

So that’s when I knew.

I came out to my mom about six months later. “That means you love twice as much of the world.” she said, “And more love is always a good thing.”

And that’s when I felt right.

*names changed

Rae, originally from the Boston area, is a freshperson at a woman’s college. She has been active in the LGBTQ movement since she was 14.

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