When I was 16 I lived in Los Angelas. It was a tough year, my parents were fighting about the business they owned, and my step father was always on my ass about being lazy, even though I was the lead in the school play and had many other extra activities at school (including auditions for LA movies and TV shows, and Commercials)
For a while, I didn’t have my own bedroom, and when I finally got the space I needed I would lay in my bed and just be thankful for a closed door.
I would wake up at 5 am and go to school, and many nights I would arrive home late and exhausted, from going to school during the day and the rigorous rehearsals I had after.
There was another teenager in the apartment across the parking lot in our complex and I would occasionally see the lights on across the way as I lay in my bed in the dark. Listening to the fights go on in the other room.
I had decided to make up some fantasy about this person… He was in the local high school, maybe a loner like me or on other nights a football star, that had just won the cup (I’ve never been good with sports).
Watching him, from across the parking lot, talk on the phone, listen to CD’s and study was in a way for me a bit calming, like I had a friend or a pet fish… cause I was being a voyeur and I knew it, (at this time making real friends was almost impossible for me, as we had moved around so much that my social skills were, let’s say, below par).
I watched him, and one night, he started undressing. I went to close the blinds but was also mesmerized by the shape of his body. At 16 I knew I was doing something wrong by watching, however, I couldn’t stop myself. I had wanted to see his chest, his back, his hips…
Only, with his shirt off, I realized that he had breasts and that the person I had thought was male and a football loner, was actually female.
I closed the blinds IMMEDIATELY and slumped against my wall. This was now the second female that I had a genuine attraction to, and at this point being gay or bi, or whatever I was… Was completely out of the question.
I felt like a freak. Like my impulses were wrong or strange.
I did not open my blinds again for a long time, and by the time I did, The person on the other side had moved out and the person living there always kept the blinds closed.
After that, I went to the PFLAG group at my school. There were about 7-10 of us who would meet for group counseling, about our queerness (only at that time there was no name for what I was, except “human sexual”). I didn’t tell my parents what I was doing on the nights I didn’t have rehearsal at school. I felt I was still on the edges of “school society”. and didn’t need to be questioned.
I had a boyfriend, but I wouldn’t let him touch me, as I had been raped in the past, a few times, and couldn’t bring myself to feel comfortable with him. He called me frigid and threatened to kill himself if I wouldn’t have sex with him. I stuck to my guns and he broke up with me.
When my BF at the time broke it off, I ended up dating this girl in my PFLAG group. We held hands and were freaks together, around the school.
She came to my house one night for a “sleepover”, we ended up exploring each-other – under our shirts… when my step dad walked in (without knocking, cause he was like that, and worse) on us making out…
All he could say in his surprise was: “NO MORE SLEEPOVERS”.
I was 16, I didn’t have any more sleepovers till I moved out of the house. I didn’t acknowledge my sexuality again until I was about 18, and didn’t feel comfortable with it until I moved to DTown Toronto, where the gay scene was very inclusive.
This was in 1998-99 for those of you who are counting.
Toronto, and being on my own changed my life.
I am thankful for Slack Alice, for letting me dance on the bar in whatever I picked out to wear that day.
I am thankful for Foofer the Karaoke Queen, who once mistook my mom as my date.
I am thankful for the Dyke March where I went topless at the front of the line to make the point about breasts being free.
I am thankful for freeze tag in the park after midnight, and the D&D sessions on Thursdays.
I am thankful for the “steps”, and all the “gays” that came before me.
I am thankful for my drag daddies, and drag mamma’s who took me under their wing, held me, and told me everything would be okay….
I wish and hope that the next generation of kids, LGBT+ find the same comfort I did.
I hope this year we can inspire people to be loving and compassionate.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. XOXO