On coming out. Every damn day.

They look at me, they look at her, they look back at me. It’s the quickest of glances, the smallest of pauses, and they say “just confirming that’s a double room?”

Yes. It’s a double room.

  

It gets tiring, you know, constantly coming out.

It happens more at the moment, what with the new country & new people & everything.

I knew, before I came out, that it would happen. I mean, I’ve had people do it to me – the assumption of heterosexuality is something I think we’ve all been guilty of at one point or another. But it wasn’t until now, almost two years after coming out myself, that I decided on the right feeling. It doesn’t make me angry, it doesn’t insult me, or make me sad; tired is really the closest I can get.

I’ve been thinking about this as we travelled around Britain, renting hotel rooms, setting up a bank account, getting a room in a flat, meeting recruitment agents, meeting new co-workers. Every time, a little voice just peeps in the back of my heard, a note of caution. But (so far and fingers crossed) everyone’s been … fine. Completely fine. 

But still, the constant tiny little corrections get tiring. Worse is not correcting people. When I do that I’m tired and a little sad.

“My partner’s on a two year visa so we’ll probably head back to New Zealand then.” “Oh okay and what kind of work does he do?”

That was a moment I didn’t correct. I didn’t correct her and we continued the conversation but I had a ball of sadness in the pit of my stomach.  

  

There also seems to be a trend among … allies (oh I do not like that word – I mean people who are down with the spectrums, gender and sexuality etc.) to say that sexuality should be a “who cares” or “need-to-know” kind of thing. 

And while I support the sentiment, I can’t help but feel it’s dismissive of the importance of visibility to gay people. 

It’s great you’re on our side but also um I care that Ellen Page is out, I care that Amber Heard is bisexual, I care that Angel Haze is pansexual. You can care in a positive way.

  

Also, I do truly believe you can’t live as a gay girl, with a girlfriend, renting hotels and hiring hotels and setting up bank accounts, without coming out to people who really don’t need to know about your sexuality. Whether those people care or not. Whether they care in a positive way or a negative way. That’s the risk we run to live our lives openly, to love openly. It’s a risk that’s ultimately worth it.

  

Because sometimes it’s kind of fun. Like getting a question from a new acquaintance, at a bar one Friday night …

“Is he not your type?”

“N… no, she’s more my type” she said, gesturing in my direction.

I grinned as I watched the realisation flit across his face. I wouldn’t change my life for anything.

  

Caveat: I’m very lucky – an educated, white, femme-of-centre lesbian living in a large city. I am swimming in a sea of privilege. I know this.

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Months ago in Mataikona

Mataikona Escape

Months and months ago my girlfriend and I headed up the coast for a weekend by the sea.

Mataikona Escape
(gayyyyy)

Mataikona Escape

We found an isolated cottage. It was like a single hotel room but all on its own. A bed, a couch, a table and chairs, a sink and oven, a tiny bathroom. An amazing view of the sea and the sky.

Mataikona Escape

Most of the entries in the guest book talked about how cheery the owners (who lived next door) were. So friendly, popping around with paua fritters and inviting the guests to tea.

Mataikona Escape

We were heartened to see there were some gay couples in the guest book. It’s a new thing, for me, this double checking of strangers’ prejudices.

Mataikona Escape

We met the neighbours. We weren’t invited in. We didn’t get paua fritters. Maybe they were having a bad weekend. Maybe they will rent their room to a gay couple but they’re not wanting to make friends.

Mataikona Escape

But my girlfriend and I, we read and walked and napped. We cooked good food and drank beer and wine. We got away from it all. It was everything we were looking for.

We have enough friends.

Mataikona Escape

What I learned from my [first] year as a lesbian

I read an article today, 11 months & 1 day since I came out online, titled “what I learned from my year as a lesbian” and oh how it left a sour taste in my mouth.

I was actually kind of offended, as someone who struggled with my sexuality over the past few years, by the thought ones sexuality can be something so flippantly chosen.

It included lines like “the events that became what I affectionately call my “lesbian year” was the result of one too many glasses of wine, as many unplanned adventures are.” and “Waking up the next morning, I was surprised to discover her beside me in my bed. So surprised, I couldn’t get her out of the house fast enough.”
Delightful. Disgusting.

I’ve been out for almost a year now. So. To cleanse my palate, here’s what I’ve learned in my [first] year as a lesbian:

Coming out is difficult
I was 29, nearly 30, when I realised I wasn’t just bisexual, as I’d always believed, but gay, actually really rather gay. I was 29 and married and I knew that to stay married, to keep lying to myself, was going to hurt more than the alternative. So I didn’t. It was rough.

The first ten, twenty, thirty times I said “We split up. Because I’m gay” my head would spin, I could hear blood rushing in my ears, and I’d stop breathing for what felt like minutes. It was probably just seconds. At least until the other person responded.
“What?? Oh. I’m sorry” or, “… congratulations?” or, sometimes, “Huh. You know, I’m not surprised.”

Even in minorities there are minorities.
My story doesn’t match the narrative other people have for coming out.
If I was really gay, I would’ve known when I was younger. If I was really gay, I wouldn’t have spent years in a hetero relationship. Maybe this was just a phase, maybe I was just tired. Maybe it was the birth control I was on. I wasn’t on any birth control. I didn’t need to be.

Then again, I didn’t have the struggle of being a gay teen. I didn’t have the struggle of being non-gender-conforming. I didn’t have the struggle of an unsupportive family. I’ve had it, relatively, extremely easy. I know this.

But I’ve learned to accept my story. I accept the messiness, the nuances, and I’ve learned to know myself.

Visibility is important
I pretty much felt like all this change was written on my face. But it wasn’t. It isn’t.
So I went through a phase of mentioning it whenever I could. I was obnoxious. I was just excited and happy; I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
I like to think I’m a bit less obnoxious now (she says, writing screeds).

I’ve only had one person ask if I was going to cut off all my hair … because that’s what lesbians do. Cute as I’m sure I’d look; my head is just too big for super short hair.

Sometimes do I wish I looked more outwardly (pun intended) gay. There’s so often the casual assumption I’m straight. It’s something which bothered me when I identified as bisexual, and it bothers me more now. I spent so long stuck between what I knew of myself and what others assumed. I don’t like being stuck in that box (pun very much UN-intended) anymore.

Then there’s the “but you don’t look gay!” how am I supposed to respond to that? Certainly not with thanks, though I suspect that’s what those who say it are expecting. I’ve settled for a slightly confused, chilly look and “… well, I am.”
(Related: if you have anything wittier I can file away for next time, let me know!)

I’ve found myself googling “*female celebrity* + gay” a lot more than ever before. When Ellen Page came out, I grinned. When Ruby Rose was on the cover of a magazine with her fiancée, Phoebe Dahl, I grinned. When Angel Haze hit back at articles which call Ireland Baldwin her ‘friend’, I grinned.

We fuck and friends don’t fuck. – Angel Haze

Most importantly, perhaps, I met this wonderful girl. She doesn’t live her life online. I respect that.
We’ve been seeing each other for quite a while now and moved in together in April.

A few months ago I kissed her, my girlfriend, in a crowded concert and someone stroked my arm and congratulated us. Dancing, in a now-closed hipster bar, we kissed and a drunk dude in a snapback nudged his friend and said “woah” as they moved to watch us.
At moments like that I would much rather just be invisible. Being affectionate isn’t a political statement.

It’s less of a big deal than you think. It’s more of a big deal than you think
My family has been pretty incredible. They absorbed the news and carried on, making fun of me just like they always have. My mother ties herself in knots sometimes in her efforts to be supportive. Which I appreciate more than I think she knows or I can articulate.

Some old friends have fallen away; some new friends have become closer.

There are moments when you remind your family you’re not going to have kids. Which I’ve always said but now I think perhaps now they believe me. In the split second silence between the statement and carrying on on I can feel it.

Overall, overwhelmingly, the response has been supportive.

And, you know, if reading about the stories of an interior designer in Louisiana, or a writer from Orange is the New Black made me feel less alone, then perhaps reading about my story will help someone.
Or maybe writing it is part of helping me.

Lauren Morelli wrote “I encourage you to embrace your own narrative, whatever that may be. It will be worth the effort. I promise.”

I’m 30, nearly 31 and I’m coming to the end of this year feeling lighter and happier. I I’ve embraced my narrative and the freedom is electrifying.

I’m not entirely happy with this whole turning thirty-one thing though.

So. I have some news.

So. Here’s the thing. I have been going through A Time recently. I think I’m ready to tell you about it now. I wasn’t going to. But then … this website has been part of my life for so long.

Pretty pretty peonies

At the heart of things, I’ve been struggling with this for years. Unfortunately it’s only in the past few months where everything has up and fallen in line, leaving me standing here with my realisation and a big fat “oh.” on my face.

I’m gay. Like… quite gay.

Yea, I know. Believe me, I know. I know. It was a surprise to me too.

I’ve never ever been straight, I knew that, everyone knew that, but I’ve also had Craig since I was 16 so I guess I just never actually got to see which way my heart was headed. He was my best friend, he still is my best friend, and for 13 years that was … almost enough.

Earlier this year I was going through a ‘bad brain’ time and all of a sudden thought “well, maybe I’m gay” and then everything over the past two, maybe three years fell into line and I saw exactly the path that lead me here.

I would give pretty much anything to have realised this at 18, or 22, or 28. But also not. I don’t regret the time I’ve had with Craig. Not even a little bit. I loved him, I still do love him. He has been, and will remain, one of the most important parts of my life. He is one of the absolute best people I know.

But yes, Craig and I are separating.

When I told Craig he held my hand while I talked and held my head when I cried and was the most supportive person you can imagine.

It’s been the strangest few weeks. First there was talking with my counsellor, then there was telling Craig, then our families, our friends. And then after that comes the internet.

My mother’s immediate & panicky response to hearing that I have news was “What‽ I’m not prepared for news!”

But, you know, not one single person, upon hearing ‘the news’, has been anything other than amazing and supportive. To me and to Craig. We have an astounding group of people in my life and I am entirely thankful for all of them.

Craig and I are not rushing anything. He is still one of the most important people in my life and I hate that any of this has hurt him. We are moving forward together as friends and I am always trying to be mindful of and kind to him. And vice versa.

I used to think I was just a deeply unhappy person. It turns out that I was just doing a pretty good job of lying to myself. Being true to who I am has been such a weight off my shoulders.

I’m not lying to myself anymore.

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