We were sitting side by side on her small dorm bed watching Netflix. We had just gotten back from a house party where we knew no one and had left just as the cops showed up, a typical Saturday night for us. We were drunk and giggly and at some point had started holding hands. You know it wasn’t entirely unusual thing for us, we were both touchy affectionate drunks, always cuddling up with whoever was near and yet this time was different. I can’t remember what we were saying or even watching but I can see her face and feel her hand in mine when I lifted it up and rested it on my leg and thought, “Oh. Oh no.”
It was this moment that I finally admitted to myself that I had feelings for one of my best friends, and that maybe, I wasn’t as straight as I always claimed to be.
Claimed… but didn’t always believe but okay let’s rewind.
Before I was there, a freshman in college with a huge crush on her new best friend, I was a teen who buried any thought of liking girls. The knowing and the feelings would often hit me out of nowhere. A friend brushes her hands through my hair and I like it a little too much, or I learn of someone’s aunt or cousin that had come out and I think “Oh, I wish that were me.” Before I’d shake myself out of it and tell myself, “come on you don’t like girls stop thinking you do” as if I could somehow control it.
I remember a time in middle school when I was at a friends house with a bunch of girls for a sleepover, we were playing truth or dare when one girl turned to our friend and said, “Sara*, I dare you to kiss Raye.” The feeling that went through me can only be called gay panic. Why were they choosing ME, could they tell? Could they see it on me, did I say or do anything that may have hinted it? Luckily, Sara mumbled something about not knowing me well enough and everyone laughed and moved on while I sat there in panicked silence.
Looking back at all the times I realized I was gay* and immediately shut it down makes me sad for young me. I wasn’t raised in a homophobic household, I had friends and family who had come out and yet the fear of liking girls was so strong that it took me until I was in college to finally take the first steps to accepting who I was.
So back to the dorm room. I had realized I had feelings for my friend but was in no way prepared to deal with those feelings. She was straight, as far as I knew, and I hadn’t even uttered the word “gay or bi” to myself yet. So I did what I had always done, bury the feelings and try to not let them show. The rest of my friendship with this girl was amazing at times, and extremely hurtful and confusing at others. I never admitted my feelings for her, instead was content for drunk hand holding or kisses until the time came for us to grow a part.
I wish I could say that after I realized my feelings for her that I happily came out of the closet but in reality that’s not what happened. I still had to have certain experiences and relationships before I could be comfortable with who I was but this crush? This crush was a step, and I’m thankful for it.
Happy Pride Month friends, I’ve been wanting to write about coming out for awhile now but haven’t figured out how so I decided to start here. This might be part one in a series or I might chicken out and never write about coming out again but I doubt that.
*Name changed because who knows what people from middle school may be reading this
*I use gay, queer, and bi interchangeably some people may not agree but all three identities feel right and comfortable to me