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I’m going to tell you a love story. Or rather, several love stories I suppose. Because I feel as though that’s what our lives are ultimately about, right? This blog is a testament to the fact that we all approach this life from vastly different perspectives, and as such we come away with a very unique set of experiences. But no matter how different we are, we can always relate to one another through this most innate human experience—love as our common thread.
I saw her from across a crowded bar. She was wearing this really cool vintage-like, masculine jacket and a dark blue sweater with little white stars on it. Between her dark clothes and relaxed demeanor, she nearly blended right into the wall behind her. Never in my life had I felt so completely drawn to a person. To this day, I’m still floored by how absolutely certain I was that I needed to go talk to a complete stranger (especially given that I would consider myself to be a relatively quiet and reserved person). I think we have certain moments in our lives that we know immediately will be ‘significant’—this was one of mine.
Before I continue, I should back up and tell you that for me, coming to terms with my sexuality was a very long and a very slow process. It started out with little hints that something was…different. The problem was that I couldn’t figure out what it was that was different: I didn’t feel any different, and yet I just wasn’t the same.
These whispers eventually grew into a little lump in my gut. I wrestled for a long time with this little lump that seemed to grow bigger and bigger every day. When it finally became a tangible idea, I was glad that it was something that I could identify and label, but it still felt very foreign. I kept waiting for something to change, for me to feel different, for me to truly become this idea: gay.
I never experienced the blatant shift in my thinking or experience of the world that I so desired. I thought that if I was ever going to be certain about my identity then I would need to be able to tell the difference between my ‘straight’ life and my ‘gay’ life. But I think that what I actually experienced was so much better. That moment in the bar when I saw The Girl, something clicked for me. However, it wasn’t the ways in which I was different that clicked, it was the ways in which I was the same. I felt more like me than ever before—I felt my authentic self.
One day, a while after The Girl and I had started dating, I asked her if she ever struggled with her sexuality. I was still trying to understand how my world fit together, but quite frankly didn’t know where to begin. She sat there with a look of utter confusion, and responded with what may be some of the most honest words I have ever heard: “Well, no…I don’t think I do. I suppose it’s just normal for me…why would I struggle with it? It’s just who I am, why would I be bothered by it?”
This is the heart of the matter. Coming to terms with my sexuality had nothing to do with accepting the fact that I was ‘different’, and everything to do with accepting the fact that I was the same. I never felt a shift in how I experienced the world because there was nothing to shift to—I was already me. The key to understanding my identity was realizing that I could, and did, experience love and attraction in the same way as everyone else.
Now, my real love story comes later, but I think I’ll save that one for next time. I’ve found out that the fine print of loving authentically is that you also experience pain and heartbreak authentically— though, that’s a whole post in itself. I’ll leave you with a quote from Andrea Gibson, whose words make a lot more sense to me than the ones in my own head: I am whatever I am when I am it, loving whoever you are when the stars shine and whoever you’ll be when the sun rises.