I grew up in what is probably best described as a large small town, one on Long Island which is situated just in the middle of the North and South shores and on the boarder of Nassau and Suffolk county. Plainview was a very "nice place to grow up" but in the 80s and 90s was about as heterogeneous and straight as you could get. The biggest diversity element was probably the 3 strands of Judaism (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox) adequately represented along with some Italians.
On the sexuality front, to be gay, lesbian or bisexual in Plainview was an anomaly and hardly publicized information. This was before the age of "Ellen", Lady Gaga, "Will & Grace", Out Rosy O'Donnell and post Living La Vida Loca Ricky Martin. No "My Two Mommies" books or celebrations. "My Two Dads" was around, but it was about two heterosexual male friends who raise a daughter together since both were considered but neither could be effectively identified as the biological father.
Which is why when I went to Cornell a few years later and was going through bit of a rough patch (i.e. eating disorder and major depression) followed by a few changes in direction -- I quit the varsity soccer team after 2 seasons, dropped the pre-med major, started taking Women's Studies coursework, joined Cornell's Feminist Action League (protesting the school's Sexual Harassment policy with a "sit in" on the steps wrapped in duct tape was memorable), was appointed a member of the President's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women and no longer had a boyfriend, some rumors started swirling about me. Plainview, the big small town, loved some grist for the rumor mill. But none disturbed me as the one which I never saw coming and popped up once --
Is Lindsay a lesbian?
Ummm, no. But perhaps they all knew something I didn't?
This began about 5 years of questioning my sexuality. Well, I do love looking at beautiful women. Thought it was admiration and sometimes envy but maybe it's repressed sexual attraction? I'm really athletic and have a very competitive and aggressive streak in sports. Is that normal? I'm not very girly. Feminine at times, yes, but definitely not girly. Hate pink but that's so cliche. Plenty of lesbians like pink. Or not. I don't feel overwhelmingly attractive to the men I meet, let alone understood by them. I love my women's studies classes. My best friend from HS came out and I love her, what does that mean? I prefer not to wear make up but I thought that was just rebelling against my mom. My gay uncle is my hero. I am a bigger Madonna fan than I can begin to understand --
Shit, maybe I am a dyke!
All that song and dance in my head actually didn't lead to experimenting or research. Probably because I was now even more concerned with what others were thinking of me, even if I did have an inkling to experiment with a woman I was not going to, lest there be more to feed a little gossip which may not have spread beyond 5 people. I didn't know, as one can never really tell with gossip how extensive it is or isn't.
Cut to 10 years later and here I am writing this post from my favorite apartment in the history of all my apartments, yay, that happens to be in Chelsea. To those unfamiliar with New York City's Chelsea area (14th Street to the south, 30th Street to the north, the western boundary btw 6th and 7th Ave to the east and the Hudson River and West Street to the west), it is the most homo friendly gayborhood in the 5 boroughs.
After moving here 10 months ago, I realized that there is a small, teeny weeny part of my being that once again feels concerned that people think I am gay.
I thought I evolved past this already but it lingers.
I have literally imagined how I can communicate on Facebook that I am in fact straight beyond just the "Interested in" category, which I'm not sure I even filled out with "Men" thought that is what I now conclude is the truth.
The question I ask myself is why am I still afraid of being thought of as a lesbian? What is really under neath that insecurity? Is that a common fear amongst single women? I mean, it's f'n 2012.
Here I write, feeling as if I am progressive and immune to the word of others (I'm not, apparently) but still sensitive to something that I have no control over any way and is probably just in my head.
It did take a certain amount of time to really understand that while I am attracted to women for friendship, inspiration and even mothering (I have about 5 or 6 surrogates), I do not want to sleep with women. I want to sleep with men and this is very clear to me today but it wasn't when I was younger. A lot of women come into our sexual prime or peak in our 30s, hurrah.
So even though we are as a society light years ahead of where we were when I was growing up in Plainview in the 80s/90s and I consider myself incredibly accepting of LGBT community and life, with some of my deepest, closest friends in the world making up this community, there is still a lot of room for growth in myself and as a society when it comes to true acceptance. I would like to get to the point where I can really say -- and mean it, not just say it -- that I don't care if anybody thinks I am gay. That it wouldn't conjure up any images of which I am the slightest bit insecure.
I stand in solidarity with my family members and deep friends who are gay today in New York City, as it is PRIDE DAY and a time for CELEBRATION.
I also fully embrace own gender and identity, which never fell into a "cookie cutter" mold and never will. I enjoy feeling like a woman and I also enjoy feeling like a man, but since I am technically a woman and not a man then I am left to conclude our entire system of classification and nomenclature is absurd. To say the least.
I enjoy feeling sexy and powerful. I am my toughness and my vulnerability. I am my athleticism and my grace. I am my desires and my passions for love, sex, freedom, ease, inclusion, independence, and, I am realizing more and more, total acceptance of myself exactly as I am, without having to conform inauthentically or put too much energy into non-conformity, which often feels like another form of artifice. I enjoy feeling part of the LGBT community, truly, so perhaps the greatest inspiration I can take from PRIDE 2012 is to finally and officially relax and be myself, without fear of judgment...
...and, to take any judgment that may put me in a LGBT community as a fucking compliment.