Indigestion, PBS, email and the long road to lesbianism
After several decades of marriage, children,grandchildren and great grandchildren a dear friend discovers she is gay. Unable to sleep, she writes me a lengthy email about her life. I have her permission to tell her story as long as I do not reveal her identity as her discovery is new and most of her friend and family are unaware.
Alice (not her real name) grew up in small mid western town. The nearest town of size had four thousand people. Our community was very small, everyone went to the same school, everybody went to church. You were either Baptist of Methodist, I was raised Methodist. ” We didn’t go out like people do now, no restaurants or hamburger stands” “First time I went to a restaurant I was about 14 years old”
We didn’t have a TV, a few of our neighbors had one, but it wasn’t a big deal to me, I always like to read and listen to the shows on the radio.
Alice had always like girls and through the years had several crushes. She liked men but not the same way she liked women. She knew she was different but one thing she knew, she wasn’t one of those dykes.
Growing up she heard ,sissy, dyke and queer. That’s how people in her town described gay people. Overtime she learned the proper term was homosexual.
Her crushes continue through they years. Hugs from certain women had a different meaning. In her forties she developed a major crush on neighbor and one day they were talking and the woman suddenly kissed her. It was out of no where. Alice froze, ( she said “I must have looked crazy”) and the woman kissed her again and Alice kissed her back. The two of them stood in uncomfortable silence in the wash room. Alice walked out of the wash room and down the road to her home and from that moment on, avoided her neighbor.
I was a mess, why would she?why did I? Maybe I had a certain look. What if others knew? For a while, everything in her life suffered. The family, the house “I spent a lot of time daydreaming” While she had crushes before, she had never acted on it or thought about kissing or touching . “The dam broke in me” “I thought about that woman all the time and her lips and how natural it felt to kiss her. I think I made more of it in my mind, but it was wrong, a sin. I prayed, and prayed .
Troubled and needing someone to talk to, she drove an hour to a church in another town it didn’t matter what church but I couldn’t speak to anyone in my town what would he think of her, what if he accidentally told someone else?
“I spoke to a very young preacher who asked me if I had relations with her ? He told me she was a product of the devil and it was good that I wasn’t speaking to her. The devil is cunning and comes in many disguises and the kiss was his way to confused you, but your faith is strong! She said she drove away uneasy. I didn’t tell him of my feelings and how my body felt when she touched me and how I thought of her every day.
Months, years passed, I avoided her. If I saw her, I would turn around and go the other way. I didn’t have to worry about seeing her in church cause she was Baptist. We never spoke again one day driving past their house I noticed the truck was gone,they moved.
Her husband had a long battle with lung cancer. She believe his cancer was a result of her sins , because he never smoked.
A few years ago she sold the house and moved closer to the city. One night she had major indigestion ,she believes due to too much Alfredo and Summer Sausage.
Channel surfing, she stopped on a channel where they were talking about the Stonewall riots in the 70’s in New York. She says an older lesbian couple were talking about how they met and one of she women said she knew she was different but did not believe she was gay or homosexual. What she knew from her upbringing, gay women dressed like men and wanted to be men. She couldn’t relate to that. She liked, soft pretty clothes dresses,still does. She didn’t want to dress like a man “I like being a woman”
Alice said, I sat straight up in the recliner. The TV was on, but she didn’t see or hear it. Could she be gay? That was her story. A long time ago ,her brother showed her a picture of a gay woman. The woman wore what looked like to be men pants and shirt, the woman’s hair was slicked back, the shirt she was wearing was rolled up with a pack a cigarettes in the sleeve. It never occurred to her that there were many different types of gay women. Well of course, it makes sense, she said to herself. There are many types of people. why wouldn’t there be different types of homosexuals.
She fell asleep in the chair and woke up troubled. Is she homosexual? If she is, how can she reconcile with the fact that it is a sin. How do homosexuals meet other homosexuals? She considered driving to San Francisco to meet a homosexual and decided against it.
Alice thought she would go to the library and study up on homosexuality but someone at the library might ask her why she was checking out books on homosexuality and think she was a homosexual. “I drove all the way to Reno to a bookstore there and then I panicked ,who would I ask? —so I walked around the store looking for the homosexual section until a worker took to Gay and Lesbian section. I learned gay meant men and lesbian meant women. I spent close to four hundred dollars on books. At home I worried my daughter would find the books.
Alice read and re-read the books, that was two years ago. She has shared her story with me and a select few. She said for the first time in her life she can put her finger on it. Lesbian. When I asked her if she had a girlfriend? she laughed and said baby steps. While she hasn’t told her children, two of her grandchildren know and one nephew. Doesn’t seem to bother them a bit and my nephew is very supportive.
She doesn’t know if she will ever be out, I do know my god loves me. Alice says,she is at peace, maybe for the first time in her life. You know something? she says? I’m a Lesbian.