Friday, February 16, 2007

On coming out, unintentionally...

A submission from Artemis (A South African now living in Canada):

I am a thirty-something lesbian, and have been with my partner for 10 years! (Didn't ever believe that I was the great commitment type, but clearly I have found someone who makes me a better person, simply by being in my life!)

The road to this point (in respect of acknowledging my sexual orientation) has been an off-road motorcycle enduro, complete with rivers to cross, cliffs to jump off, and a few hard falls.

However, no story begins at exactly the beginning, so I am going to start my tale at around the age of 15 or 16. For years, I had found myself besotted with female teachers, paralysed in the presence of female beauty, and unsure as to what the fuss was all about as I tried to comply with the boy-crazy fixations of my friends....until I met her.... We were in different classes, in the same year at high school. She was independent, wicked sense of humour, and fearless in respect of challenging teachers and older students....and she could sing! Wow, this was the foundation for a friendship that I knew would be deep...

We became extraordinarily close (in retrospect all I can think of is that we started dating, but couldn't put that language to it) Then the kissing started...the world exploded in the mystery of private fireworks displays, as the kisses got deeper and deeper, and the hands started exploring with greater fervour. Well, our rationalisation was that this was natural exploration...only we weren't such eager explorers that we were seeking the unexplored territory of the opposite sex, not even vaguely!

The "friendship" was progressing along quite nicely. We had many "pyjama parties", indulged in elicit kisses in the library at school, or in the girls change-rooms, when no-one was around. Those elicit moments were filled with adventure, and danger...leaning against the door so that no-one could walk in on us...holding hands under a blanket in the presence of others, and exchanging notes with coded language. The passion was deep, and the touches, glances, and kisses were extraordinarily meaningful.

Would we have progressed, had sex, and acknowledged that we were a couple? I will never this story had a pre-emptive strike against us that was destined to force her into the land of religious fundamentalism, and me into a closet from which I only emerged at the age of 19!

So, this is what happened, that caused such a cataclysmic regression in all that was normal to us:
I was at her house, and of course in her bedroom, where I had spent the night (allegedly on a separate bed) with the door closed. It was early in the morning, and her parents were supposedly still asleep. As usual, I had crawled into bed with her, and we were somewhat entwined physically, while deeply engaged in some serious tongue action, when the door burst open to reveal her mother! With dignity, we separated, and the one great act of compassion was that her mom exited and quietly closed the door. The blood rush was unbelievable, as was the fear, and the beating of our hearts. Nothing was said. Nothing....! I left, and still nothing....

The following week, our worlds were spent in a dungeon of unmitigated and unspecified terror, based on repercussions that were only as large as our own self-loathing. Internalised homophobia is often the worst punishment that we can administer to ourselves, as we anticipate what the social repercussions will be.

The repercussion was sad - I, to this day, do not know if my parents were told. I assume that they were, as we were watched like hawks, and kept apart for several months. My mother's fixation on femininity, and marriage, and all things male increased, in our conversations together. I administered my own punishment, beating myself up for having been caught (note, not for what we had been doing!)

To my "friend" the psychologist was the route selected. Apparently he seemed very nice. Agreed with her denial that she was not a lesbian (because she hadn't had sex with a woman, I guess??!!) He did say that if she were a lesbian that he would help her (we never worked out whether that was to assist her not to be, or to assist her along the path towards full lesbian admission- toaster oven and all. Although frankly, I am unsure as to how he may have "helped" her to work this out)

So the barriers went up, and while we still kissed and made out sometimes on rare occasions, the passion was dissipated. Our young lives went into a defensive mode, and we existed to try and conform. This only lasted about 3 years for me, before I fell head over heels in love with a woman, and embraced the reality...I am proud of who I am. My sexual orientation may be only be one part of who I am, but I am proud to be called lesbian, and to stand with dignity within society. But, it is hard when the coming out process is stunted by what we learn, and people's reactions. I know that we stand in great company with one another, and this solidarity is very special.

(Have your own story to share? E-mail and I'll happily publish it.)

1 comment:

Her Story SA said...

Brilliantly written! I am sure many of us can relate to certain aspects of this. Although, fortunately, I never had to face a stoic mother catching me kissing their daughter!