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It gets better-er

November 24, 2010

It’s Thanksgiving, so naturally I’m working because “the newspaper still has to go out” or something. And when I take breaks from being bitter about working on the holiday, I’ll probably feel thankful. Or hungry for tofurkey. One of those. Just like the pilgrims. So in the spirit of the holiday I’m not observing because I clearly chose the wrong career path, I thought I’d try writing a different kind of post. If you’re looking for the usual snark, please scroll down.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Amid a shocking slew of suicides among gay youths, author Dan Savage and his husband, Terry, co-founded the It Gets Better Project, an effort dedicated to sharing tales of coming out, overcoming obstacles and growing up in hopes that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens will learn that life is worth sticking around for as an adult – that it gets better.

The movement quickly spread through the blogosphere around the same time that I was being rather self-absorbed by lamenting my 30th birthday and trolling for sex on Netflix. Although I fully support the cause, I wasn’t really sure how or whether I should contribute.

In my personal life, I am politically aware and active. If my to-do list had a title, it would be Liberal Agenda. But that’s just crazy talk, because I’m far too lazy to keep a to-do list, even if it had a bad-ass name like Liberal Agenda. Also, the list I’d make if I weren’t such a sloth would be written on kitten paper. To clarify, I’m referring to paper with kittens printed on it. Not paper made of actual kittens. That type of technology hasn’t been invented yet.

My blog, however, purposely isn’t political or activist. I’m not the sort of person to push my beliefs onto others – I’ll even fight tooth-and-nail for your right to disagree with me – although by now it’s probably obvious I’m always right. And by “right” I mean “left.” Rightly left, let’s say. Anyway, I assume that the awesome people who read this blog are for the most part on the same page as I am when it comes to issues close to my heart. Such as equality for all. And cats.

At first I thought there would be no need to preach to the choir. And also, unlike many in the gay community, I’m *so* very lucky that my own story is void of taunting, bullying, shame, self-loathing or abandonment. I never had to pray that it would get better.

Then it occurred to me that my small contribution to this cause could be sharing a piece of my own history to illustrate that some of us are lucky enough to be swaddled in love and acceptance by supportive family and friends from the start. That some of our stories start at better and get better-er.

I realized I was gay my last year of college when two girls had crushes on me at the same time. No boys – rarely boys – but two girls. That prompted some major soul-searching. I wondered what those girls knew or suspected about me that I didn’t. On Valentine’s Day, after a performance of the Vagina Monologues, one of the two invited me back to her dorm room. After watching “Coyote Ugly,” she snuggled up to me while I was reclining on the floor. Before I knew it, her face was hovering over mine, and she kissed me. I kissed back. Then she teased, “You just kissed a girl!” She had a knack for stating the obvious.

It was simple, innocent and sweet. The only shame or guilt I felt was about watching “Coyote Ugly.” It’s awful, you guys. I never worried that what I was doing was wrong. I never wrestled with pangs of doubt or fear. What I did feel was a unique blend of excitement and peace; I was getting to know myself better.

After spring break, I assembled a few of my closest friends to tell them the news. I was so nervous and serious, my dear pal Carol thought for sure I was going to devastate everyone by announcing that I was terminally ill. In a shaky voice, I said: “Umm, what I wanted to say is that … I think … there might be a chance … maybe … possibly … that I’m bi.” “That’s it?” Carol blurted out. “I thought for sure you were going to say you have cancer!” She still mocks me about that to this day.

I didn’t come out to my family until about two years later, long after I’d relocated to rural Virginia to be with my then-girlfriend, Vicky. It’s not that I didn’t want them to know, or that I was scared about how they would react. I just wasn’t ready. But my mom definitely knew. Moms just know. I mean, who sports a red AIDS awareness ribbon on her jean jacket in junior high, decorates her childhood bedroom with Elton John posters and picks up and moves south to the former seat of the Confederacy for a “friend”? Your lesbian daughter, that’s who.

When I finally confided in Mom that Vicky and I were together, she was nothing but accepting, just as my friends had been. Most of the conversation is a blur, but I remember she asked me whether she could tell my dad. I hesitated and said “no.” And then she totally did. It was, in retrospect, exactly like the first time I got my period. He was cool with my being gay, too. He’s still iffy about the period.

It’s been almost a decade since I began questioning my sexuality. Once a shy girl who could barely find the words to come out to my friends, I’m now a blogger who openly and happily shares the nitty-gritty of my dating life or lack thereof with strangers on the interweb. It has been and continues to be an extremely positive experience. Out of the 1,600 comments this site has received so far, only one was homophobic. (I’ve left it up, because censorship doesn’t make the problem go away.) As long as I write honestly and candidly about my misadventures and post cute photos of Teva and Isabel, you guys don’t seem to care whether I’m being dumped by men or women. Failure, it seems, is universal – and funny. Progress.

Every cat lady dreams of having an audience for her photos. I'm living the dream.

Not everyone is as blessed as I am, however. If there are kids or even adults out there who are struggling with their sexuality, being ostracized by family and friends and feeling hopeless and alone, I hope reading this helps you realize that there are so many people in this world who will embrace and support you, no matter whom you love. We are here. We can’t wait to meet you. And worry unnecessarily that you have cancer, and laugh with you when you fail, and endorse your highly lucrative and ingenious inventions like kitten paper, and fawn over adorable photos of your cats. And you definitely will have cats.

I *promise* you it gets better.

And if you already have it better, then I’m here to tell you it gets better-er.

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51 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 5:49 AM

    I got goose bumps when I saw the Dan and Terry video. I just love it when people are so in love. It makes so feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I get so upset when I hear about these kinds of things! My uncle is gay and it was so hidden that I didn’t learn of it until I was an adult, although my Granny, and his sibling knew long before. It’s that kind of thinking that perpetuates stupid stereotypes. It makes me very aware of how I raise my daughters. I wouldn’t disown them if they were gay, but I might if they harassed someone who was.

  2. November 24, 2010 6:41 AM

    How could it possibly get better than a basin of cats?

  3. November 24, 2010 7:02 AM

    Thanks for writing this. I think it’s an important project and yours an excellent contribution.

  4. November 24, 2010 7:44 AM

    as a local theater volunteer (reformed), i’ve spent lots of time with teens and twenty-somethings who are just approaching the ‘come out’ decision. it’s hard to watch when the family is oblivious, or worse, ignorant and scared. my sister was lucky enough to have parents who had gay and lesbian friends – but she still had to wrangle her own demons regarding when and how to talk about it. glad it’s just getting better-er for you. can you work the cats into your video?

  5. November 24, 2010 8:07 AM

    Loved this post! I have a good few friends that have both had really shitty experiences and great experiences when coming out. It is always really strange to me that some people cannot accept that love is universal and the gender of the person you love really shouldn’t make any difference to anyone.

    And yes…cats are great.

    Right back to work… no holidays here unfortunately and even if there was I would have to work… am already preparing myself for a onslaught of work at Christmas…yay.

  6. November 24, 2010 8:09 AM

    I hear purring.

  7. November 24, 2010 9:44 AM

    It’s great to hear that everyone has been so supportive!

    As a side note, Dads and periods are funny stuff. I remember the first time I had cramps and my dad was home. I was rolling around on the couch and agony. He just stared at me in disbelief and asked if I was ok.

  8. November 24, 2010 10:55 AM

    I love this post! My thoughts have always been that it’s hard enough to find someone to love who loves you back that it is not my place to judge who that person might be. Love is a gift and we’re lucky when we receive it. Let’s not focus on the wrapping!

    xo Susie

  9. Laura permalink
    November 24, 2010 11:08 AM

    Check this out: http://vimeo.com/17101589

  10. November 24, 2010 11:30 AM

    Did you know I have a mild-sized obsession with Dan Savage?

    True story.

    In college, I spend weeks going back and reading every single article of his column. And then when he offered answers for people contributing to No on 8 I gave (well, partially for him, partially for the cause.) so he could email me, which was one of the giddiest emails I’ve ever received.

    Not that the email itself was giddy.

    But that I was giddy to receive it.

    And then Lindsey discovered he was speaking at the University of Maryland, which is close in that it’s-actually-hours-away kind of way, so we took off work to go see him.

    And that all day long at work I look like I’m listening to music when in fact I’m listening to his podcast?

    Basically, I’m kind of a creepy Dan stalker.

    So was SO FREAKING HAPPY to see him interacting with Terry in that video, as it’s so hard to see Terry, given his shyness.

    (Except for that photo he once posted on his music blog. Yes, I’m that good of a creepy stalker.)

    Also? I love you.

    And if I was younger and more open to starting new obsessions, you’d definitely be my first pick.

  11. November 24, 2010 11:45 AM

    I actually just watched the Pixar “It Gets Better” video, and it was great. (My brother was short listed for a job there last year. I’ve never been so disappointed over his not getting a job EVER).

    I grew up in a community with a very large gay population, and I was oh, well into college, I guess, before I learned that there were places where being gay was cause for prejudice and abuse.

    I’m glad it was good for you, and got better-er.

    I want it to be that way for everyone.

    Everyone who’s different.

    Which, really, is about 99 percent of us.

    If we only understood the strength in our numbers.

    Someday.

  12. November 24, 2010 1:01 PM

    Before I was so politely fired from my newspaper job (kind of an awesome story, actually), I, too, was in That Business. It was a small town paper, so we only came out 3 times a week, therefore being able to work it so we didn’t have to work on the actual holiday DAY.

    A few years back, however, I had to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, and my editor was all, “Go to the stores and take pictures of people shopping and interview them.” So I did. Since it was a small town, the so-called Black Friday was so polite. . .a lot of “excuse me” and “y’all”.

    How does this tie in to what you’re saying? I found the ONE GAY COUPLE I’d ever seen in the county and interviewed them. When I presented Das Editor with the copy, she took out the “Guy One AND HIS PARTNER, Guy Two,” because I “didn’t need to be inflammatory.”

    I can’t say I’m 100% sorry for the loss of that job. Minus, of course, the being poor now.

  13. the1abner permalink
    November 24, 2010 1:25 PM

    This post was significantly more fulfilling to read than any of the material I have in front of me that is supposed to go towards writing a story about a bridge in Shenandoah County. Kudos from Woodstock.

  14. November 24, 2010 1:28 PM

    Right on, dude.

  15. BeneathTheSpinLight permalink
    November 24, 2010 3:17 PM

    This is my second Thanksgiving in a row without tofurkey. I thought about buying one and then realized burning down my apartment on Thanksgiving would be a lot more trouble then eating a MorningStar veggie burger instead of trying to make a tofurkey.
    I loved this post, even in such a serious post your sense of humor was right on! 🙂

  16. November 24, 2010 4:13 PM

    I loved this piece. Coming out…being out doesn’t have to be all angsty and awful…sometimes our fears are completely unfounded – the people who love us, just love us…even if we are the sort of people who make paper out of kittens – we all have our dark side.

    BTW – My friend once bought me an eco-friendly diary made from elephant poo – maybe you could check into that cuz the kitten thing is a skosh creepy…..no judgment – just giving you an option.

  17. November 24, 2010 4:31 PM

    Hooray! Lovely of you to share your story.

  18. November 24, 2010 4:43 PM

    that’s it. you’ve inspired me to do my own “it gets better” post. sometime before the end of NaBloPoMo, since on december 1 i will flop over from exhaustion and never want to blog again, at least for a very long time. but anyway. inspiration. yes, it can start better and get better-er.

  19. November 24, 2010 4:54 PM

    I knew my son was going to grow up gay from a very young age. The only hard thing about it was waiting for him to tell me in his own time. If anyone wants my secret recipe for producing gay children I’m willing to share. but be warned – it does require eating a lot of chocolate while pregnant….

  20. November 24, 2010 5:01 PM

    wow that IS aweful. Coyote Ugly is a terrible movie.

    seriously though, I love ya hard!

  21. November 24, 2010 5:47 PM

    I’m making a linoleum block stamp with my initials so that I can personalize your kitten paper and use it as stationery.
    s

  22. November 24, 2010 7:37 PM

    The only universal fact is that dating sucks, whether you’re gay, straight or bi! 😉

    And yeah, you ought to be ashamed of yourself…for watching Coyote Ugly.

  23. November 24, 2010 7:40 PM

    Am I seriously the only person that sees the Awesome in “Coyote Ugly”?

    Did everyone else miss the hot girls dancing on the bar? Was that just me?

  24. November 24, 2010 8:39 PM

    I had two children before I came out, even to myself. So for that reason I am glad I was so incredibly repressed.

    My oldest was 10 when I came out to her, and she said “Mom, you deserve to love who you want”.

    Go parenting.

    One thing though..and this is by no means a criticism, I just have a thing with “words” and “terms” and clinging to the chains that bind us, for instance; I refuse to use the made up word homosexual because it is meaningless and has no authentic etymology (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=homosexual).

    To the point, same-gender love is less about “sexuality” and more about feelings, this I swear from the back side of 40.

    I always say, gays have the right to get married and not sleep together as much as strait people do. My orientaion is less about between my thighs and more about between my ears and under my ribs. I really think we all can agree that once the urges of youth subside, you better know who makes your heart pound with thier clothes on.

    Sorry to pull threads from the glorious sweater you knitted here, I mean zero disrespect!

  25. The Bad Lady permalink
    November 24, 2010 9:30 PM

    Okay, not to be all nit-picky, but you came out to Carol and me BEFORE spring break–March 12, 2002, to be exact (according to my journal). We didn’t leave for spring break until March 14, and the Indigo Girls concert was March 18. Aren’t you glad you have me to remember these important moments in your life?

    • November 24, 2010 10:54 PM

      … and that’s why we broke up.

      Just kidding. Or am I? Yeah, I am. Mostly. Without you, I wouldn’t remember what I was wearing and what the weather was like the time we did the thing with the person from that place. You know?

      • iarewearingthejeanpant permalink
        November 25, 2010 6:44 AM

        You should get back together with *the bad lady*.

      • iarewearingthejeanpant permalink
        November 25, 2010 6:46 AM

        she sounds feisty, in a very organized manner of course.

  26. November 24, 2010 10:26 PM

    “I’m not the sort of person to push my beliefs onto others…. although by now it’s probably obvious I’m always right. And by “right” I mean “left.” Rightly left, let’s say.”

    Your blog has my favorite witty rambles

  27. Roxanne permalink
    November 25, 2010 3:52 AM

    I am so so so so so so jealous of the kitty-picture platform you’ve set up for yourself here! Btw, I just discovered a new favorite website, which I hope you’ll appreciate: http://butchesholdinganimals.tumblr.com/. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Roxanne permalink
      November 25, 2010 3:54 AM

      And just to clarify “favorite website”: of course, I mean “favorite photo blog”! This has been my favorite blog since I discovered it last winter when you were just a few posts in!!!

  28. November 25, 2010 6:49 AM

    You just got awesomer-er… If that’s even possible.

  29. November 25, 2010 1:57 PM

    Nice job, lady, you just made me tear up a little in the common area of a cheap hostel in Dublin (hey – I’m at the end of my travels and the end of my budget, I can handle it one effing night in the interest of financial survival). Now I’m the weird old lady (because everyone here is 15 I mean 21) whose computer makes her cry.

    It is so easy for us to focus on the shit – and for good reason, too. But. We need a place for the happy. I have so many friends with shitty situations/experiences/pasts/etc… and yet so much happy too. So much better-er. We need both experiences, for different reasons, and hopefully, in time… we have less and less and LESS of the former and more and more and more better-er-er…. ( wait… did I just write more better? Am I using made-up words again?).

    Thank you for the happy today. I am ok about being the crying old lady in the cheap Irish hostel.

    • November 25, 2010 3:34 PM

      Just saw in your comment that you are in Dublin. Hope you had a good time here!

  30. November 26, 2010 3:52 AM

    It is great to hear about other people’s good life. Although I do think that these days there are more people willing to accept homosexuality, a lot of people are still very nasty about it, others are neutral (which really helps no one, but is at less damaging) and still others are great with acceptance unless it happens to by their own kid or family.

    The greatest harm though, in my personal opinion, comes from the lack of acceptance by your kin. I am bi (often convinced that most people are), although married to a wonderful man with whom I often check our other woman. He has terrible taste though. He thinks this is grand, his friends whish all woman were like that and still others find it weird. I never did tell my parents though, mainly because in the time I was dating a girl, we were not living in the same town and it simply never came up. I know though that my mother would be wonderful about it and my father would try and inform me on which level I am wrong.

    Anyway – loved the post and will pop in regularly to see some more.

  31. November 26, 2010 3:11 PM

    That was wonderful.

    Thanks for that.

    I try, as a parent, to model accepting behavior for my daughter and her friends. And my friends. Because it scares me when I hear, from people I thought were o.k., that the idea of having a gay child would be too horrible for them to contemplate. That they think that is too horrible for me to deal with.

    LOVE YOU!!!

  32. redg_rl permalink
    November 27, 2010 8:58 PM

    well put cat-lady extraordinaire. i’d like to think that in this day in age, folks have made some progress in the homophobia department but it clearly still isn’t enough.

    i too am thankful to family. i’m thankful that i was raised in a family that embraced everybody & everything the world over. when various family members have come out over the years & the news circulated, it was just business as usual, as it should be. love, love, love, period.

    it will be fantastic when folk realize that the value of a human being is not something that’s based upon sexual preferences. why that can’t already be intuitive is beyond me.

  33. November 29, 2010 1:24 PM

    I remember coming out to a friend years ago when she wanted to set me up on a blind date with a guy. I told her I don’t play with boys and it took a second and she said…OHHH, lol. I’m very lucky that my family and friends are oblivious to it all…it’s just another piece of who I am. It does get better-er.

  34. November 29, 2010 2:14 PM

    I am behind on commenting on this but I am glad I read it! I am straight but a LGBT friend and supporter and I love, love, love seeing this outpouring of support and strength! Thanks for posting. I love the “We can’t wait to meet you” line, because, seriously, I can’t!

  35. December 1, 2010 2:48 PM

    hey coyote ugly wasn’t *that* bad! hello, they look hot dancing on that bar! (great post, btw. i still need to add my contribution.)

  36. December 3, 2010 3:06 PM

    I’ve really been thinking about what to say here for a long time because I love your story and it means a lot to me that you shared it– mostly because I’m curious about lesbians but also because it’s so important to me to get the word out that it really does get better.
    This whole suicide thing kills me– well, not me, but you know what I mean.
    Anyway, thank you so much for sharing this and being open and confident and lovely! We’re all very lucky to be able to read about you every week.
    LOVE, L

  37. Carolspy permalink
    December 5, 2010 8:29 PM

    You know usually I read your new posts within hours. This is the ONE time I’m not right on the ball, and I look like a total asshole! That being said, I’m honored I was a part of your coming out. It was almost as fun as when Vicky said, “why do people always think I’m gay?”

    Anyway, I digress. I love It Gets Better and I love you. But not in a gay way. I’m leaving that to those who live too far away to actually be attainable.

  38. December 7, 2010 11:59 PM

    I’m straight and Republican and rightly moderate and love cats and you. Thanks for writing. Please continue.

  39. December 12, 2010 5:33 AM

    You are making a difference right here. Here’s to Better-er!

  40. December 12, 2010 7:00 AM

    My brother’s son had a hell of a time in primary school but seemed to enjoy everything about high school. His family was fine. He was having such a bad time in the last year at primary school and he kept asking why the other kids were calling him names except for this one boy. He was either very young for his years or didn’t want to realise that he was gay. The whole family had a talk about some girls liking girls and some boys liking boys. They had this talk much earlier on but it didn’t seem to help. Maybe they should have had the talk more often. Who knows, but they tried. Anyway,this time it did seem to help a bit but things only really improved once he went to this great high school.

    For some time now I seem to be interested in women. I have always had male partners. Am I bi?

  41. December 13, 2010 10:35 AM

    I know this is probably extremely shallow of me, I enjoyed this post. But the only thing I can think of to say in response is “Equality for cats? Wouldn’t that be a come down from their godly status?”

  42. December 17, 2010 1:16 AM

    Alone …..

    You said in a previous post that you like Julie Andrews.
    I think that she is a classy lady.
    It’s sad for her that her husband just died.

  43. Foreigner permalink
    December 19, 2010 4:41 PM

    Bravo!

    My best friend is gay and she had to strugle a lot to get where she is now.
    Her parents are very narrow-minded and that only made things worse. She dated a guy for ages and she wasn’t happy because she knew that she did it just to keep her parents happy.
    Now she’s dating a beautiful girl and I just love to see them together.

  44. December 19, 2010 10:34 PM

    (Laura permalink
    November 24, 2010 11:08 AM

    Check this out: http://vimeo.com/17101589)

    Thanks! I did.

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