I was 15 when I first realised that I was a lesbian, sure, there had been many signs before then, but like with the nutritional information on my food, I had completely ignored them.
At the age of nine I was blissfully unaware that cutting out pictures of Kate Winslet and putting them into a photo frame was an odd thing for a young girl to do.
This pattern of “odd behaviour” continued when I put a poster of Geri Halliwell wearing a small army outfit on my wall, and my brother told me that girls weren’t supposed to have pictures of women on their walls. This was a deeply concerning time because not only did I find myself really liking the look of Geri in those small camouflage shorts, but it also put into question whether or not Sporty Spice was still my favourite.
This period of wanting to look at women continued to grow as I found myself “accidentally” switching over to the Living TV channel where I came across a programme called The L Word. Hmm what on earth could the “L” stand for? I wondered as I sat there in the lounge late one night after everyone had gone to bed.
Of course 13-year-old Jenna knew very well what the “L” stood for, but when two of the main characters, Bette and Tina (two 30-something lesbians) started getting it on in the kitchen, I was disgusted. Two old ladies kissing… gross!
I quickly changed the channel and tried to shake off the dirty feeling that had come over me. It’s sixteen years on and I’ve re-watched that scene many, MANY times with a more, let’s say, open-minded and positive type of reaction.
It was when I fell in love with my best friend that I knew for certain that I was gay. It was a period of unrequited love… God, what a feeling. I didn’t know how to handle all the love, puberty and hatred that was swimming around my chubby little body.
To make things worse, I was bullied a lot at school. Mainly because I had hairy legs and a manly voice, things that rather work to my advantage these days, ladies… *tilts fedora hat*.
My dad is a gorilla, you see. He’s dark, hairy and flings his shit at the walls. But because of his opposable thumbs and diploma in domestic electronics he was accepted into the human race where he was free to procreate.
Because of my dark looks, hairiness and deep dulcet tones I was called “boy”, “bloke” and “fella” a lot at school. Combine that with the fact that I was 16 and still hadn’t started my period yet and you can understand why I felt that I had more than enough evidence to support my conviction that I was actually born a boy, and that my mum had done some special sort of surgery to make me a girl.
That might sound odd to you, but you’ve not met my mother. She really, really wanted a daughter, so I had the theory that perhaps I was born a boy, and then my mother chopped my willy off and raised me as a girl. Which, in my teenage head, explained my absent period, the thick fibrous hair all over my body and me fancying girls rather than boys. Makes sense doesn’t it?
Well, it did until I turned 17 and started my period. Ok, so I was definitely female, and a very law-abiding one at that, there was never a chance of me becoming an underage mother, what with me being unable to let go of any of my eggs until after the legal age of consent.
So, once I’d finally worked out that I was a shirt-and-trousers type of woman, it was time to tell everyone about it.
My parents separated when I was just an angelic little child, so I decided to tell them about it separately. It seemed only fair that if I get double the presents for birthdays and Christmas that I should have to endure double the coming out.
I told my mum when I was 16 and it went something like this:
Me: Mum, you know the boy that I said I was in love with called Darren?
Me: Well, Darren is a girl, and her name isn’t actually Darren
Me: I’m gay.
That was when she got up off the sofa that I had watched The L Word on all those years ago and hugged me. When I told my brother he just laughed and called me a lezza. Older brothers, ay?
After telling my Mum and brother, I was ready to tell my dad. So I did… five years later:
Me: Dad, I’ve got something to tell you.
Dad: Move, you’re blocking the TV.
Me: I don’t really know how to say this.
Dad: What is it?
Me: I’m bi-sexual (I thought that telling him I was bi-sexual would somehow be less of a blow than me being a full-blown gay)
Dad: Oh, ahahahahahahaha.
Me: It was really difficult for me to tell you.
Dad: Really? Oh yeah, I’ve seen it on TV when people make a big thing about it. It doesn’t matter to me.
Dad: Is that it?
Dad: Great. Now shut up ‘cos I want to watch the rest of this.
By the time my dad realised that I was in fact a full-blown gay he had gotten used to the idea and wasn’t surprised when I only ever brought women around for weekly dinners.
Who am I kidding? I’ve had two girlfriends and only one of them can be called “girlfriend” at an absolute push. Also, neither of them were invited around for dinner, because if they were then they might have seen the Geri Halliwell poster still up in my childhood bedroom.
And that would be embarrassing.