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:

images-ouran-high-school-host-club-20094852-400-300

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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Woot, an Update!

Such a great day today with the kids! We did our first workbook sessions today, and most of them managed to follow the instructions without a hitch! The only ones who struggled are the ones I’ve already put into a group for more intensive work, so it makes me happy to know my initial perceptions of them were correct. They all did me so proud today. I can’t wait to do more work with them!

Tomorrow is Baking… haven’t quite decided exactly what we’re going to make, but I’m banking on something simple. Our colour of the week was red, and the shape was circle, so I’m thinking of putting red icing on a marie biscuit and giving them circular sweets to stick on… maybe some jelly tots and some marshmallows. When we do more complex themes like the seasons or animals, I get a lot more creative. My favourite thing to make is trees. ^_^

On that note, it’s pretty late for me. I’m off to bed, but I wanted to post something before I do. Blog every day and stay disciplined – I’m determined that this blog shall be my procrastination cure!

One last thing though: I was introduced to the following video via http://www.gaystarnews.com. Being a lesbian, and knowing what others “like me” face every day is heartwrenching. To see people attack us for who we are, and condemn us, and drive children to suicide while murdering others… this is something that needs to be shared, so share it I shall. Maybe things will change for us, if only the perceptions of us change first.

I am gay. I am not a monster. Ask anyone who knows me.