I have a name. I could be your neighbour, your colleague, your friend. If you met me six years ago, you would have known me as a lesbian. I had my hair short, wore polo shirts, cargo shorts, birkenstocks, I guess I was the stereotypical lesbian of the time – whatever that means. But now, I choose to remain silent. Why? Because I live a different life now and am closeted again. I am from Brantford. I was out to everyone in my life. I was a professional in the city I lived in and was identified as a lesbian.
It created a difficult situation for me when I found myself attracted to a male colleague. Lucky or unlucky for me, we explored each other. I enjoyed it. I beat myself up. I’m a lesbian, I said to myself, confused. Everything I had worked to gain respect for as a lesbian, to teach people to accept me for who I am and not for who I am in love with. I came out to my family. I had a long-term relationship with a woman. We were engaged to be married. we were house hunting; that was my life. I had to keep it to myself because I found that the lesbians I was friends with, were cliquey and judgmental of women who slept with both sexes. I probably judged them, too. Pick a side, or whatever I said. Suddenly, I was a hypocrite. It made me feel nauseous and horrible.
I moved back to Brantford and still maintained many friendships with lesbians. I started dating men, exploring my sexuality. It seems funny to say that I was exploring my sexuality by dating men when commonly, that would be the exact opposite of what people do. I continued to be a hypocrite, or so I felt. I lost many friendships with lesbians; I no longer fit in with them to some regard or I’ve betrayed them.
Then suddenly I learned something; I like people’s personalities. I had talked to people through text message as I got to know them. The screen didn’t have a gender or a sex. I learned to like people for who they are rather than what sex they identify with. Why am I anonymous you ask? Because when I moved back to Brantford, I started making new friends and during this friendship making, I was dating men. I was going to talk to a new friend about my sexual orientation when I was ready to, but she blatantly asked me before we were going out somewhere “does this short haircut make me look like a dyke?” There was instant non-acceptance without her even realizing it. I still have friends from my past, but they don’t bring up my past experiences. If you hear me talking about my ex, I don’t give HER a name, I don’t give her a gender title. She is “they; my ex; them.”
I don’t know why I’m afraid, I wasn’t afraid at 17. I have a family now and maybe I protect them. But from what: from my own insecurity, fear of judgment, people’s comments? My brother’s partner does not hesitate to let people know I’ve been with women, but does so cattily and inappropriately and without one ounce of respect in her intonation. She tells people I slept with men so I didn’t go through life being known as a dyke.
Maybe I’m afraid of the judgment from people when I feel so strong and secure in so many other facets of my life, this is the one that causes me the most strife because it feels like I’ve lived a double life. I don’t want to remain quiet because I know it’s not helpful, but I also don’t want people believing that homosexuality is a phase that people can just grow out of as some people naively see my past as. A phase.
I want to feel safe and comfortable to be able to discuss my past relationships without anyone batting an eye when I say she in reference to my ex. Until that day happens, I’ll walk on eggshells hoping my secret doesn’t get out.