time & distance

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted my birthdays to be less about me and more about putting effort into other people and causes that I believed fiercely in. At the time of making this decision, I hadn’t been living in the Northwest for a year yet, and wasn’t connected to folks or organizations.

branside

May ’10, Bellevue, Washington

These days, that excuse can’t really be used anymore. If the recent shockingly sunny weather has been any indication, summer is fast approaching and the season’s all but booked with events I plan on engaging in one way or another. Here are just a few I’m planning on volunteering a bit for:

    • Trans* Pride Seattle. A few local organisations (Seattle Out & Proud, Gender Justice League & the Gay City Health Project) have rallied together to make this happen on June 28. Here’s hoping that a good deal of dialogue and community gathering will take place between trans* and gender non-conforming folk in the Northwest.
    • Genderfest. Entering its second year, Genderfest is a queer all genders celebration going on July 25 – August 4 in East Vancouver on Coast Salish Nations territory.
    • GaymerX. This convention proudly boasts being the first of its kind to have a focus on LGBT geek culture. It’s all set to take place August 2-4 in vibrant San Francisco.
    • Vancouver Queer Film FestivalAugust 15-25 ushers in this festival’s 25th year, offering a beautifully diverse array of queer cinema, dedicated artists, panels and performances.

rainier5

May ’10, Seattle, Washington (Interstate 5 southbound)

This is a fairly tall order of activity, but it should provide valuable opportunities to learn skills, meet people and contribute energy to stuff bigger than myself. Good things to absorb right around the time I get a year older. Factoring in the few days I’m spending in LA in just a few weeks as well, I expect to have great fun travelling the west coast this summer. I am looking forward to the days ahead.

suppressing sexuality

August ’02, Los Angeles, California

I’ve told people for years that my first kiss was on the 21st August of 2002, the day after my eighteenth birthday, top of the Griffith Observatory. I’ve even believed it, because it’s the more romantic story, the ‘one that counted’.

But that’s not actually true.

My first kiss was at a club in LA when I was about 17, in a washroom. It was someone I was courting at the time, and terribly at that.

Why does this even matter?

Because the subject of the Official First Kiss Story is a man, and the subject of the unofficial story is a woman.

There are still some who will not understand why this is significant, other than it being a first for me. Those who know me personally likely see me as someone who is fairly open with her goings-on, so again, why the big reveal?

 

 

Let’s backtrack a bit.

I came out to one of my parents when I was 15. Not having ever talked at length about anything other than heterosexuality (unless we’re counting “____ is gay, didn’t you know that?”), I fretted over doing so for a while. The few friends I had at school at the time knew before the parent did. The reaction?

“Oh, I went through that stage too.”

Perhaps this was said to assuage me of my worries, and it certainly didn’t add to my anxiety, but I was confused and disappointed simultaneously. Weren’t we supposed to have a conversation about it, like the sex conversation and the puberty conversation in my earlier years?

I went on with my brave efforts. I was convinced that somehow I wasn’t being taken seriously, and I would simply hint at my attractions. However, this seemed to have the converse of the desired effect: my saying that Angeline Jolie in Hackers was cute got absolutely nothing in response. Edgy hairstyles and music (or ones seen as such) had no place in the household.

I wasn’t aware of it then, but I took that as ‘it’s not okay to date women’, without even knowing why it wasn’t.

So I didn’t.

 

 

Of course I bloody well did.

I saw someone in bits and pieces. We’d go to a restaurant, a coffee shop, or the occasional club (which I abhorred) – anywhere we believed allowed for a bit of anonymity.

I got kisses that felt stolen in washrooms, the rare holding of hands. Then I got the brush-off because I found out she not only had a boyfriend, but one with an anger problem to boot.

 

 

I spent a lot of time writing Open Diaries. One account was personal but I didn’t have much going on, so I wrote several others that were based on fictional characters of mine in my written stories. Eventually to spice things up, I blended the accounts so that they had interactions with one another.

Not long after that, I explored meeting more people online for the first time. Mel was colourful and vivacious, and we had a blast making the most mundane tasks interesting (ex: cavorting in grocery stores, making up songs while schlepping round town). Feelings were definitely stirring in me, but Those Feelings Were Verboten. How could I deal with this?

I used one of the Open Diary personalities to interact with her, passed along messages, dropped hints. Eventually that caught up with me, so I fessed up. Unfortunately, I scared her away for good. Hell, she probably still thinks I’m nutters at this rate.

 

 

I lied about so many things as a teenager, but the Open Diary stuff is probably what I regret most. There isn’t a whole lot I can do about that lonely 17-year-old me, especially feeling so far removed from that person at 28.

July ’08, Los Angeles, California

It would take me some years later to let the honesty speak for itself and see and enjoy being with women romantically. I never told my parent about any of it, which likely perpetuated the “it’s a stage” comment. I shudder to think that I had much to do with keeping that idea alive.

 

Sometimes I still sit and wonder what to do, how to properly communicate that not being heterosexual is a key part of me that I cannot and will not ignore. Perhaps I have done so by writing this blog — I do find it easier to have words with others when it’s in text.

It doesn’t matter the subject of the first kiss really, and it shouldn’t matter at all.

What I’ve told you doesn’t discount the Official Kiss Story in any way, shape or form for me, but it does allow me to tell what I feel is the whole truth, at the risk of compromising my relationship with some of my family.