My 5 Year anniversary

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… of being out of the closet has rolled around.  I remember it well. How could I forget a significant period of upheaval,  emotion and life changes?

I remember speaking with one of my friends whom at the time was very close with me. My mom overheard our conversation,  tempers flared and the news was out. Rather than blatantly tell everyone I let my mom tell my sister and dad. I wasn’t able to face other horrible reactions.  But they came nonetheless. My mom and sister who used to hug me while saying goodnight suddenly stopped hugging me. Because of ignorance,  they worried I was suddenly attracted to them. I fought daily. Mean insults were hurled. Our relationships became more toxic. I took up smoking cigarettes regularly at work.

Fast forward to now. My family knows and I believe accepts me for being gay. At times I wonder what life would have been like if I had waited to tell my family till I was out of the house for good. When I came out years ago, I did so on Easter. I had been attending college and I went to live with my family every summer in between each school year.

The first year was definitely the hardest. I chopped my beautiful wavy hair off a few weeks after I broke the news to a shaggy pixie cut. I loved it. I felt so liberated.

I started dressing more comfortably.  This involved experimenting with different clothing styles. I tried out dressing like a butch and found it wasn’t quite my thing. But I realized that I enjoy cross dressing and rocking a tie some days.

I loved my short hair. I played with my hair and started doing more funky styles. When my hair was longer I kept it in a ponytail most of the time because I didn’t want to bother with styling it. With short hair I felt free, fun and spunky and I enjoyed styling it.

I stopped trying to be uber feminine and fit the circular mould that I as a square would never fit in. This caused conflict with my parents but I was an adult now and as time progressed, they realized I was my own person and they couldn’t make me do anything.

I learned that what I looked like on the outside by not conforming to the standard of feminine beauty most women do makes one an outcast. People look at you differently when you have short hair,  don’t wear much makeup (or any) and you wear comfortable/slightly masculine clothing.

It was a wakeup call. I don’t think I’d been terrible to people before coming out, but I definitely began becoming more empathic to others afterwards. I now knew what it was like to be an obvious minority. I knew what it was like to be judged for something many knew nothing about or didn’t understand. I knew what it was like to feel hurt and have friends and strangers alike be disgusted with me because I made a choice to follow my heart.

As the years passed, my family has come around. I have made new friends. Many of my old ones have stuck by me, and funnily enough they ended up being gay too! A couple friends who appeared to temporarily leave have also returned and apologized.

I have had a few jobs since.  I have settled into a long term career that may last awhile till I can think of something I may wish to pursue after furthering my education.

I have had several same sex relationships in the five years I’ve been out. I have had long and short ones. I learned how to be a better partner. I continue to learn how to communicate more effectively instead of shutting down or running away as those are my default settings it seems. My girlfriend seems to be an expert at communication even though she assures me it’s taken her a long time to get where she is now. I believe she is my soulmate and I want to marry her some day.

I’ve become involved in the gay community. I attend local events, and Pride every year. I feel so great every pride being able to live freely from discrimination or the thought of it for a day/week/weekend.

Life has definitely changed in 5 years. Some of it was an uphill battle. But I didn’t stop working at it.  I’m grateful to those people who stuck by me through the years. But now I can say it does get better. It did get better.  Life is better now.

Flirting with women (when you’re a woman)

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Ok ladies, here’s flirting 101.

1, Make eye contact
Show your beautiful eyes to her. Maybe catch her eye from across the room. Who knows, maybe she’ll happen to catch your eye back! Generally while flirting, it’s a good idea to hold her gaze a bit longer than normal, then avert, then back again to let her know you’re flirting.

2. Smile
Flash those teeth! Smiles convey confidence, a happy personality. It also shows that you’re more approachable. <- This is important. Flirting with someone who looks miserable doesn’t work well. If you’re shy, smile. If you’re not shy, smile. Someone might just attracted to that smile.

3. Talk to her
This is a given. If you want to flirt or chat with her, you have to start talking to her. If she doesn’t make the first move, you have to. This can be difficult if you’re a shy, quiet person. (I know). But if you make the first move I can guarantee at least you won’t be wondering “What if”. I learned that I would rather live a life of “Oh well’s” after trying than wondering “what if” and not trying. As an introverted, and at times socially awkward person I’ve found that helps motivate me.

3. Listen
When you’re talking to her, listen to what she’s saying, not what you want to hear. Be polite. Listen to her.

4. Ask her her interests/hobbies
This shows you’re interested in her and her likes. Maybe you’ll find out things that you two have in common to get the conversation rolling.

5. Make sure you’re showered and dressed nicely (good grooming is important too except some ladies like the messy hair look)
Presentation is important. Try to be well groomed and put together. You might just meet your soul mate or next girlfriend running to get groceries for the day.

6. If you’re good at humour, play that card! 
Pull that card out of your sleeve and use it. Most women love to laugh. They will do almost anything to surround themselves with people who make them laugh and feel alive. If you are witty or you have a sense of humour, try it out. She may just be enamoured.

(PhotoCredit: Some e cards)

7. Get a little closer
Stand closer to her and show her that you’re open and receptive to her. Don’t cross your arms, that’s a signal that you’re not interested.

8. Have fun
You win some, you lose some. Through trying you will learn techniques, things that work, things that don’t. And just have fun. Be yourself, and own it.

“My tampon lied!” and other amusing moments in a same sex relationship

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Disclaimer: If you are grossed out by bodily functions, I suggest you stop reading this post now.

I never really gave it much thought to how different a same sex relationship would be  before I began dating women in my early 20s.

Dating a member of the same sex brings new challenges, laughable moments and shared understanding. When you date a woman you can expect to share clothes, share perfumes, makeup, hair products, skincare products and at times bodily functions.

Today was one of those days. My tampon lied! It said my period was over but it was in fact not… as made apparent to my girlfriend and I later. Sometimes tampons can’t be trusted and you have to give mother nature more time but in the heat of a moment who has time to patiently wait to verify that sort of thing?

So that was embarrassing for me, and later amusing. Thankfully my girlfriend isn’t shy or shocked by things like that. It wasn’t like I shared a bloody breakfast similar to the bloody mcMuffin in OITNB. I’m sure that things like that (not the Bloody mcMuffin) happen in same and opposite sex relationships. But at least in same sex relationships, the other partner is more likely to be understanding.

Anyone have any amusing or brave stories you wish to share? Put them in the comments section.

Gifts women love

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What do all women love? Is it chocolates? Whipped cream? Flowery love notes? Or flowers? I would guess flowers and love notes. I haven’t had luck with number two, as one ex girlfriend I surprised with dessert by spraying myself with whipping cream didn’t go well. I did so only to find out that she didn’t like whipping cream. Ouch. Well a girl can try.

Flowers, (provided the woman of your affections isn’t allergic and does not hate them) can be a great gift and way to show your affections for her. Every woman has her preference for which type of flowers she prefers and those that she does not. When you get to know a woman you might want to ask which flowers she loves. Tuck that knowledge away and remember it.

I remember going on a road trip with a friend of my girlfriend’s. She wanted to surprise my girlfriend with flowers and jokingly bought her a carnation. When we picked up my girlfriend from the airport, I found out that she indeed did not like carnations and found it cheap. I suppose I can understand why.

The other day, I was discussing flowers and gardening with my girlfriend when I jokingly said “I should buy some carnations”. Her response: “Do not buy carnations. That is like saying ‘my love is worth $1!’ ” She was genuinely upset and I laughed because I had meant it as a joke. She wasn’t impressed. I reassured her that I was joking.

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(
Photocredit: Dick Miller Florist)

Personally I like all flowers but everyone has their likes and dislikes. For the record, I don’t see my relationship as being worth $1. Our relationship is priceless in my eyes. Flowers are just a way to convey my affection for her, and a method of brightening her day. And who doesn’t love being reminded that they’re loved?

Coming out of the closet as bisexual

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That is what I originally did.

I originally tried to deny the fact that I was attracted to women altogether for several months after finally piecing together some pieces the summer after I graduated from high school. When I went to university, I could not deny it. I had female crushes on professors, and a few of my classmates and females in my dorm. So I attached the label of bisexual to myself because I thought it would somehow be more acceptable if I did so for when I eventually came out to friends and family. I still dated boys, and crushed on girls. Guys appealed to me because I understood them, their moments of immaturity, their love of things nerdy (not as many females like nerdy things). Guys didn’t appeal to me physically, but their personalities did and that’s why I held onto that label still despite fully feeling my head spin whenever I crushed on a female.

Years later, when I decided to come out, I came out as a bisexual woman because I thought that dipping my toes in the heterosexual and homosexual world at the same time (metaphorically speaking), would somehow be more accepted than being lumped into the homosexual category. It was easier in respects to most of my friends. But it wasn’t as well thought of by my family. My family didn’t take me coming out [of any closet] very well. One of my coworkers called me a fence sitter. Uh… ouch? He was a jerk and just jealous that I wasn’t attracted to him though.

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(Photocredit: Deviant art)

I was called me a slut by a family member. That was lovely. When I told my family I preferred women (still trying to get closer to the truth without giving up the label that I might be slightly straight), I was told “You are disgusting and you would be perfect if you weren’t gay.” I couldn’t win either way. So I finally gave up and came out fully as being a lesbian.

I don’t think some people truly understand what bisexual means. It does not mean whoring around and sleeping with everyone. Anyone can do that whether they are heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, transexual, pansexual, intersex etc. Sexual orientation does not determine if someone will be promiscuous. Unfortunately when some people think of any sexual orientation other than heterosexual they immediately think of sex and somehow think we have wild sex lives. Wouldn’t that be nice? 10 STD’s, a messed up heart and plate of drama for 1 please. *sarcasm*

So I apologize to the bisexuals out there. I did use that sexual orientation label as a metaphorical stepping stone for fully coming to terms with admitting I was gay to myself and to the world. I apologize. I didn’t mean to make it harder for those who are truly bisexual. I know that some people don’t even think that your orientation exists. That is really unfair and I’m sorry that some of you have to face that. I know that you face scrutiny from the heterosexual and homosexual sides of the sexuality spectrum. You may be scrutinized by the heterosexuals because they don’t understand why you enjoy the same sex. And the homosexuals might judge you because they think you can enjoy perks of hetero normative society while batting for the same team. That is not fair. However you love is how you love and you should be allowed that right. I mean don’t go crushing hearts for the manipulative pleasure, that’s just plain mean. But whomever you fall in love with good for you. Don’t let go.

I thought it would somehow be easier to categorize myself as such while denying the fact that I was truly gay all along and this wasn’t right of me. I let homophobia damage my self and that is never a good thing for anyone of any sexual orientation.

LGBT movies on my to watch list

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This year I’ve made up my  mind to try to catch up on more LGBT movies. This isn’t to say I will ignore any films that do not have LGBT characters or story lines, I am simply going to watch more of them. As someone who is part of a minority of the world, it is sometimes comforting to watch story lines and films that depict similar lives to your own while you are consistently surrounded by films that don’t necessarily speak to you and how you love.

Alright. For the list…

1. Blue Is the Warmest Color
I have read mixed reviews of this film. It’s the story of two young women who fall in love.
Trailer here.

2. Reaching For the Moon
A writer goes to Brazil in order to escape and try to find inspiration. She finds more than she bargained for. Let’s hope there’s a happy ending?
Trailer here.

3. The Dallas Buyers Club
This one had several nominations for the Academy Awards the other night. It is set in the 1980’s when the AIDS scare was rampant and an electrician sees the need for AIDS medication after being diagnosed himself.
Trailer here.

4. Boys Don’t Cry.
Born as a woman, Teena Brandon adopts a life as a male and attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska. I haven’t seen this one even though it came out in the late 90’s because I was just a kid back then.
Trailer here.

5. Concussion
Abby, a lesbian who is hit with a baseball thrown by her son, receives a concussion. After her concussion, she becomes a prostitute for other women.
Trailer here.

Use of Pronouns: “I”and “me” to “us”, “we” and “she”

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Somethings that’s been on my mind lately has been the use of pronouns. People use pronouns in the English language without really thinking of them. “I” and “me” signifies singular uses where one flies solo and does something alone. “Us” and “we signifies something more of a partnership, friendship or relationship. When it comes to relationships, pronouns often change and are used on a more regular basis.

When someone is involved in a heterosexual relationship, one rarely has to think about the pronouns that they use with their opposite sex partner. In the case of a woman dating a man, she would say, “My boyfriend and I went___ last weekend.” In same sex relationships pronouns might be used liberally if someone is not closeted or depending on a situation (for instance someone not being “out” at work). “We”, “us”, and “our” becomes a normal part of reference to us and it might be used instead of “My boyfriend” or “my girlfriend” because it might feel awkward or if one isn’t sure of how the other person will respond to the subtle or blatant use of pronouns that differ from the hetero normative end of things.

I remember when I first struggled to come out about my life and live as honestly as possible. I wasn’t sure how people were going to take me when I revealed that I wasn’t exactly like the majority of people. I was rejected by some friends, a couple of them close. That hurt. And as time progressed, I learned to surround myself with supportive people who didn’t see me as any different than them. I was just me.

Before I came to that point of confidence in my life and friends, I would carefully censor myself with use of pronouns. If I was asked about my dating life, or what I was up to, I would censor my speech after thinking about what I was going to say. I used a lot of “we”s, “they” and “our”s instead of “she”, “my girlfriend”, and “partner” in an attempt at feeling out the situations ahead of time or to avoid awkward or stressful situations. I don’t feel ashamed at being gay anymore. That time has long since passed (thankfully). I know it is not an illness, or something I need to be cured of. I am simply attracted to the same sex.

Image(PhotoCredit: CdnUrbanIslandz)

I still find myself doing so at times when I feel self doubt the situation I’m in. But over time it has become less and less and I’m able to say, “she”, “My girlfriend”, “My lady friend”, “my babe” and other terms with endearment devoid of shame.

I’m dating my wonderfully beautiful, caring, intelligent, funny and hardworking girlfriend right now. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m glad I am no longer “me”, but a “me” in a “we” partnership. I’m glad I’m not afraid anymore of having to censor my pronouns. Hearing “us”, “ours” and “we” makes my heart sing a little and I can’t help but smile.

It’s a gay life after all..

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It seems like some people have pictures in their mind on what it’s like to be different types of people. I think this goes for people of different races, cultures, and those in different careers. We use these ideas and ideals on how things (might/could) work to make sense of our world. We base these things on our experiences and things we’ve been told. These can form stereotypes or ideas on what it means to be a part of a subculture, culture, gender or race.

Sometimes these things can be hurtful to me. I sometimes find they can be amusing and sometimes they aren’t worth provoking a reaction for.

I have a deep and fulfilling connection with my girlfriend. We connect on all levels. Our relationship is based on mutual love, trust, respect and support. There are no things that I feel the need to hide from her, unlike some of my relationships I have had in my past. I feel so blessed knowing that we are part of a unit and team. She won’t judge me and I won’t judge her.

Well the other day we were discussing the lives of lesbians. I am the first woman my girlfriend has dated. Although she falls in love with the person, she has just never fallen in love with a woman before. She was saying that her friends were so surprised that the lives of lesbians weren’t so over the top. I asked what she meant. I think she was basically saying that some people think that the lesbians have a more wild and kinky sex lives than the average person, with more threesomes, possible swinging and less vanilla (if you know what I’m saying.)

I was surprised at hearing this. Maybe this is why people have such issues with gay people? If we as a group are perceived by shows like “Queer as Folk” or “The Lword” then I suppose I can understand where these preconceived images are coming from. I’m not sure on what it’s like being gay elsewhere in the world or if it’s more wild and kinky in other parts of the world but where I come from – or rather where I currently live there is a small gay scene but we don’t line up and swap each other around faster than one showers. These images, while amusing because I know the people who had them would not be amusing to someone who is ignorant to what it’s like living a “gay lifestyle”. (I hate that term lifestyle. More on that topic another day.) But education is key. If we are to shatter the stereotypes that are damaging and can at times cause hatred on an intolerable level (in some parts of the world more than others), we need to educate people on how we simply want to live, love and laugh. We don’t want to indoctrinate children or convert people “to our side”. We don’t want to take away religious freedoms from those that believe in religion (by the way, some gay people are religious). We just want to live and have the freedom to do so.

Our partners in the GLBT community may look different in that they are at times same-sex partnerships but other than that, there are no differences.

We all want to live, love, hope, dream, and have support in a partner don’t we? That’s all I want. If that’s gay, so be it.

When your girlfriend introduces you as her “friend”

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Something I’ve realized as a lesbian, is the fact that you will most likely date a woman who is closeted at least once.

My girlfriend is not closeted from everyone. Her close friends and kids know that she’s dating a woman (me). The rest of her friends do not. Her family does not. Work does not. It’s probably best that some of those mentioned do not know that we are dating. It is still early in our relationship. This is a whole new world for her. She has dated men for her whole life up until we met. She has met and been with women, but for some reason she decided that I had a place in her life. As soon as we recognized that we had both fallen for one another, we grabbed our invincible stars and dashed through the metaphorical Mario level of seeing stars and being love struck while the rest of the world blurred by.

For most heterosexual couples, introducing the person you are dating is simple: “Darrin, this is Sarah, my girlfriend.” That’s part of the privileges that heterosexuals have. Things go a bit differently when you date a person of the same sex who isn’t out of the closet as bisexual or gay. Introducing you as their partner isn’t always an option. Sometimes this is a safety issue because you’re not in a safe place to come out of the closet (ie: you live in a very homophobic country or rely on others who are homophobic). Sometimes it’s because you’re unsure of how the other person feels about you and you don’t want to damage rapport with the other person. Other times, it’s because your world has just topsy-turvied and you flipped over into a new realm of existence that you are struggling to make sense of dating someone of the same sex.

I have dated a few women where I was their first girlfriend. I am used to this. Sometimes it doesn’t make it easier to hear you introduced to friends as their friend. When the conversation carries into dating realms and your girlfriends friends ask her “Have you met any nice guys?” and she will reply with “No.” I admit it is a bit hard to hear her talk like that and trying not to feel like you were a kicked puppy. After all, when you love someone, shouldn’t you have the right to show that person to the world like any other couple? But I know that her situation is one that I was once in years ago when I was first trying to find myself as a person so I am able to empathize.

She pulled me aside the other day after a similar conversation and told me that she was sorry that she wasn’t able to be brave, yet but she felt that she had a lot on the line. I know how she feels in a sense. I am not asking her to be selfish on my part and introduce myself as her girlfriend to the public yet. I know the courage to do that seems impossible to muster. Even now, I feel out people and introduce myself to them accordingly. If the topic of dating comes up I do not tell everyone I speak to that I date women, I just don’t see the point of putting the effort in; I am pretty intuitive and I can also perceive if people will positively or negatively and so I’m not honest with them all because I have had some pretty nasty and scary responses to being honest.

I told my girlfriend that I loved her and as long as she was honest with me, and the close people in her life then that was good enough for me. I know that she loves me in return by her gestures, behaviors and words. She shows her love for me. I feel it. That’s all I need.

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(PhotoCredit: The Feminist Wire)

For now, I leave the figurative closet door open for when she’s ready, however long that may take.

Lesbians and the Uhaul

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What do lesbians bring on a second date? I think I hear the screech of a uhaul’s brakes. The stereotype that lesbians bring a uhaul to the second date stems from the fact that women tend to move fast when they date other women. I’m not sure why this happens. Perhaps our emotional bonds with other women burn on overdrive and we become attached once we find out we have things in common, have the same social expectations, and similar experiences. We fall head over heels, profess our love and talk about the future because we are… well women.

Women talk about everything from our thoughts, our feelings, and our goals, to our dreams and failures. When you get two who decide to date, fall in love over a period of time over lattes shared and erotic sex sessions that leave you reeling, feelings are bound to form. Men (many that I know) tend to hold back on these tidbits of information. I’m not sure if it’s because women are socialized from birth to take care of others and give into their emotions more than men but it’s interesting to contemplate.

I am getting off topic though. In the past I have contemplated the lesbian uhaul stereotype and if it applies to me. In my every day life I like to work, pursue creative hobbies and see my friends. A few days a week I will see my girlfriend.  I am finding that my current relationship moved fairly quickly. I’m not sure if it’s because I fell harder and love this woman more or if it’s another reason altogether.  I have barely slept in my own bed for the past couple months that we’ve been seeing one another. My girlfriend offered me space in her room to put things such as clothes and toiletries so I’m set for when I stay over. Am I becoming a lesbian who fits the stereotype? Maybe.

When I told her of the stereotype a month ago, she laughed at me and told me it was silly that gay culture had so many rules and stereotypes. When I jokingly asked if she was asking me to uhaul this month she told me she just wanted me to know that she wanted me to feel at home. I have told her that I am not ready to make the serious move into her place this early on (we’ve dated less than two months), but that I will consider it in the future.  I am not ready to give up my identity as a 20 something woman living life and pursuing art in my free time. I feel that I will lose my identity if I do that at this point in time.  As long as I keep communication lines open about my needs and wants, just as she does then I feel we’ll be ok.

uhaulNo, I am not in this photo. Nor is my girlfriend.

(Photo credit: FeministDating )

I am gay, but this introverted artist is not ready for the uhaul. The number to the uhaul company is somewhere in my mind but I’m not sure where. When I’m ready I’ll recall the number and uhaul will gain another lesbian requiring their services. Until then uhaul…