The Little Box

Those of you who read this blog have probably figured out by now that I’m gay.

If not… hi. My name’s Kirsten. I’m gay.

I have also never had sex. Ever. With man nor woman.

But Kirsten! I hear you cry. How can you know you’re gay if you’ve never had sex?!

How do people know they’re straight without ever having had sex?

I am not one of those people who always “knew” they were gay from the time they could walk, although my obsession with Xena: Warrior Princess in my pre and early teens should have been my first clue.

Seriously.

Seriously.

I went to an all-girls high school, which was awesome. But it meant that all the crazy teenage hormones were happening and the only people around to feel attracted to were other girls. I was raised fairly open-mindedly by my parents and by the time I was fifteen I figured I was bisexual.

I did honestly feel attraction towards males. But they were anime for the most part and often looked like this:

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Or this:

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Yes. I was an absolute and unashamed geek. I’m not proud of it, but I was a teenager. Who understands teenagers? Trust me, if I could go back and slap sixteen-year-old me, I would.

At fourteen I did have a crush on Tom Cruise. It was just after Mission Impossible 2 came out and I absolutely hero-worshipped him.

Oh, and I still think Johnny Depp is gorgeous, but who doesn’t?

So, most of the male figures I “crushed” on looked like girls. And also, I was mostly fascinated by facial features. Anything below the neck on male characters failed to interest me and anything below the belt pretty much repulsed me. Girls however, fascinated me completely. But I was too dense to realise that I was actually gay. Or if I did, I stuck to “bisexual” because it didn’t sound so… gay.

Understand something: this is all stuff I’ve figured out in the near decade since finishing high school. I have done a lot of soul-searching and maturing since then. I had absolutely no idea who I was then and I’m only just figuring it out now.

My best friend knew from the get-go that I had “bisexual leanings”, but other than that the only person I told was another girl in my class who I knew to be non-judgemental and who gave me advice when I fell head-over-heels in love with a girl I’d known for years (I eventually told her. She wasn’t gay, but was very sweet and understanding). It turns out this non-judgemental girl was also gay. Go figure.

After high school I finally actually had contact with the Male of the Species. I had no social life, generally. I lived in books, as did my best friend. In my gap year after finishing matric, I was involved in the painting of a mural in a church Sophiatown honouring the life and work of artist Gerard Sekoto. I met a lovely guy there who I really liked. We got on well, we had very similar interests and he was very good looking. We spent a long time together and I really thought we might go somewhere. But then we kissed.

Ugh.

I tried to like it. I wanted to like it. I really really did.

But no. It was wet and disgusting. Maybe he was a bad kisser. Maybe it was my inexperience that was to blame. But it felt so horribly wrong.

It clicked for me a few nights later when my non-judgemental friend from school sent me a text reading: “to all the girls out there looking for a man, they can have my share!”.

It made me stop. And think. And realise that every male I’ve ever been attracted to looked like a girl. And that girls were just so much hotter. And I replied back, “Yeah. I think they can have my share too.”

I didn’t leave it at that. I still wasn’t sure. I thought I could maybe be gay, but also thought I could still be bi and just think girls were sexier. I wasn’t afraid of being gay because I knew my family and what few friends I had would accept me, but I wasn’t sure. I was so convinced back then that I had to put myself into a little box and be one extreme or the other or smack-bang in the middle. I didn’t think about the giant mix of shades and colours in the whole LGBTIAQ(Insert any letters I forgot here) spectrum. Or rather, my knowledge of it was limited.

I fell in love with a girl later that year. Real, honest love. She was beautiful and funny and kind. I told her, and she loved me back. Kissing her was everything I had missed out on with that guy. The only reason we never went further than kissing was the fact that neither of us felt ready for that kind of a step. For me, I’ve always understood sex to be about absolute trust  – not just in your partner but in yourself, and I wasn’t sure about myself at that point. I never understood how some of my friends could just go out and shag someone. Sex is something I struggled with, still struggle with.

That relationship lasted nine months. It was that time that made me really understand that I was gay. It had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with the fact that I loved that girl, and that I thought girls were so much more attractive than men. And I still do.

Yes, men are attractive. I like men. I do. But I wouldn’t want to be intimate with them and I don’t like seeing them naked.

So. I put myself into the box labled “gay”. Because that’s what society tells you to do. Sticky lables and boxes and categorisation because the universe might implode if you don’t. I use the words “gay” and “lesbian” to describe myself because it’s easier.

I am romantically, emotionally and physically attracted to women far more than I have ever been to men. “Gay” is a lot less complicated to say. I don’t need to have sex to know that.

It irks me when people say it, actually. “How do you know if you’re a lesbian if you’ve never had sex with a man?”

It’s the exact attitude that leads to the huge problem of so-called “corrective rape” of lesbians.

I don’t need to have sex to know myself. Yes, I’d like to have sex. That’s besides the point.

So. This is me. My name is Kirsten. And I’m gay.

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Heart’s Desire

If you judge by my last post, it’s no secret that I love children. Children and child care is such an ingrained part of my life now that often it’s all I think about.

I long for the day when I have my own child.

When I was about 15 years old I had a dream where I was pregnant. There was a bit of a sci-fi plot to it too, but the dream-memory of being pregnant stuck with me. My ovaries were never the same.

There have been points in my life where the Broodiness has literally taken over my life, becoming all I can think about. The desire to have a baby becomes so great that my chest hurts and the dreams haunt me every night.

After Dad died I went through one of those phases, the worst I’ve ever gone through. I even went through the motions of checking sperm banks and asking a couple of friends to be donors (who declined). Looking back, I’m glad it didn’t work out because mentally, emotionally and, perhaps most importantly, financially, I wasn’t ready for a child. Emotionally, I was trying to fill the void left by Dad’s death, I was trying to replace him in my heart, and that’s not the kind of start any child should have.

I have calmed down and started making preparations again. A friend has offered to donate sperm for me when he returns from his stay in France at the end of this year. I have money in a savings account that I add to every month ready for school fees and uniforms in the future. I’m working really hard to get to the point where I can not only love a child, but adequately take care of one.

This is the logic part of my mind speaking. The emotional (and physical) part screams “NOW NOW NOW!” like some raving psychopath. I think that part is the part run by my ovaries.

The other factor is my nephew. He’s one of the most important people in my life and he’s in the same position in my family that I was in as a kid.

I’m the younger of two sisters and there’s thirteen years between us. When it came to our cousins, my sister was the youngest, before me. Then thirteen years to me and I was the only young child until my cousin’s son was born when I was eight. That boy was the oldest of the next  “batch” of cousins and he’s now nearly 18. Then come girls at 16, 13, 13 and 11, and finally my boy Xavier at 5.

The way things are going, he’ll be 7 before he has a cousin from me. The age gap is already too wide for them to ever have any shared interests in childhood. And for me that’s sad. It really is.

So yes, I’m not naive. I know how hard being a single mom will be. But I’m a lesbian. I’m not getting any younger. I don’t have time to sit around and wait for the right girl to come along, and then wait a few years while we figure out if we’re ready for that step. I can’t. I won’t. There’ll be plenty of time to meet women when I get older. There won’t be plenty of time for me to have a baby.

And hopefully by this time next year I’ll be well on the way to fulfilling my heart’s desire.