I sat on the living room floor with my laptop, hoping no one could see me, even though I knew no one could. The amount of shame I felt was palpable.
Yes, I was on a dating website – only, this time, I checked the “women seeking women” box. My anxiety was through the roof.
My basement studio apartment was dank; with wood paneling on all the walls and only very small windows that allowed me to see feet walking by, it was naturally dark. Not having much money, I couldn’t do much about the lighting.
So, there I sat. I couldn’t believe what I was about to do, but I did it anyway.
Women seeking women.
I looked at the search results and was surprised by how many women were actually out there. There were butches, lipstick lesbians, and everyone in between.
Where did I fall? I wondered.
What’s more is that I didn’t know who I was looking for. I had lived as a heterosexual woman for 35 years and had no idea what my “type” was, or even if I had a type.
My willingness to look for women was brought on by the recent revelation that I was attracted to them. I had no idea! I hadn’t been living in denial, keeping such a big secret from everyone in my life. I just didn’t know. I had no idea I was a lesbian.
Then I met Carrie. We worked together at a local nonprofit. We became good friends and often went out together on the weekends. Carrie was straight. I thought I was, too.
One Saturday, we went to the movies. I had butterflies in my stomach, but I didn’t know why. As we sat in the theater, though, it became clear: I had a massive crush on Carrie. I kept hoping our knees would “accidentally” touch, or that she would suddenly make a move on me.
But that experience awakened something inside me that had been repressed all my life, and I chose not to fight it. Not for long, anyway. I was in some sort of sexual limbo for about nine months, not knowing if I was straight, bi, or gay. I dated a couple men, which made me feel like a fake.
So I went back to my computer.
After several searches on the dating website, I came across a profile that intrigued me. Her name was CeAnne. I decided to send her a message.
After messaging for a short time, we started talking on the phone. Now, it’s important to know that I hate the phone. It makes me very anxious to know that I have to make a phone call. But with CeAnne, it was different. Everything was new and exciting, we were learning about each other. And we were both brutally honest about ourselves.
After a few very lengthy phone calls, it was time to meet.
Our first date was at a local fast food restaurant (my choice) and a cat show (figures, eh?). Let’s just say it went well. In fact, on our next date, she told me she was going to marry me someday.
We spent our waking moments together, our cats met (and loved each other from the get-go), we spoke on the phone. I think I still owe my old carrier $435.
After a couple of months, I thought it was time to break the news to my mom. She lived over 1,000 miles away, so there was no way to tell her in person.
How bad can it be? I asked myself. One of my brothers had come out a few years ago, and he was doing okay.
So, while at my new girlfriend’s apartment, I picked up the phone and gave my mom a call. You know what she said? She said, “As long as you’re happy.”
A couple weeks later, it was time for a family reunion. I brought CeAnne and a friend with me for moral support. I eventually made my way over to each of my four brothers and let them know we were together.
They were all very accepting, and dare I say, none of them seemed that surprised.
Coming out to the family: Check.
CeAnne was all the way out of the closet, and she did not apologize for who she was. I was a little more on the shy side, lacking confidence and self-assuredness. I kept her to myself for a few months, fearing rejection.
And then I thought, “This is ridiculous. She’s all the way out. What do I have to be embarrassed about? What am I afraid of? People just need to mind their own bleeping business anyway.”
So, with CeAnne’s full support, I took more and more steps to come all the way out of the closet myself. I addressed her as my girlfriend during conversations, sometimes testing the waters, but mostly not caring what others might think.
My confidence soared. I was no longer wondering Who am I? at every turn. I even sent my ex-husband an email and told him all about my new life. He was happy for me.
I still come out daily to those around me, in small ways. I’ll show someone a picture from our wedding, or I’ll mention “my wife” in a conversation (where appropriate). I never say things just to shock people; I bring it up if it fits the conversation. I just assume that it’s not a big deal – and that makes it a non-issue to most people.
Obviously, my whole life changed. CeAnne and I moved in together after five months of dating. We’ve been living together for twelve years now, and have been married for ten, although we had to go to Canada to do it, since it wasn’t “legal” here yet.
One of the most fun things we do is point out to each other when we see a woman who we think is sexy. We usually agree with each other. In fact, we both have crushes on two TV anchors who we think are just sexy as hell. And we joke around about it because it’s harmless.
There is no jealousy in this relationship.
Several years ago, I sat on our city’s Diversity and Human Rights Commission as the lone lesbian, advocating for LGBTQ+ issues. I was accepted by all the Commission members and was encouraged to speak up.
I only wish my dad was alive to meet CeAnne. He would have loved her, and she him. His approval and support would have been icing on the cake.
Our daily lives are pretty boring. We run errands, we go out to eat, we work on the house – just like every other couple. We have the same worries: Money, aging parents, the political climate – just like every other couple. We are the same.
I love our life together. With the exception of taking care of CeAnne’s mother (who lives with us) and some fairly serious medical issues, our lives are pretty good. I mean, I could complain – you can always find something to complain about – but why bother?