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I Didn’t Know My Girlfriend Came With a Il-Haul
Unexpected Love, Tenderness and Being Queer in a Confused World
I am a straight male, My significant
other is a queer female. This is our story.
Invariably, when the situation first
comes to light with a given person, I
get asked a question. The question is
always worded differently: "How does
that work?" "And she's with you?"
"Doesn't that make her bi?"
My answer is usually the same. I
rarely have enough time to explain the
whole thing, so Tm glad to have that
I first met her at a party, almost ex
actly a year ago. We flirted, we hit it
off and things went well that night.
When I volunteered to drive home
some various drunken people (I often
don't drink at parties), she volimteered
to keep me company. After I drove back
to the party, we ended up sharing a
couch to sleep that night and left in the
morning with a promise to call each
Two days later we spent the after
noon together, wandering New York
City. As evening got closer she sat me
down on a bench in Battery Park and
nervously faced me, announcing she
had something to tell me.
I immediately thought the worst,
thinking she had a boyfriend or didn't
like me in that way. Through trembling
lips she nervously managed to stammer
out, "Tm queer."
I was a music major, I had lived with
two gay roommates, one of whom was
among my closest friends from college,
and my last girlfriend had been at least
bi-curious. What she told me was mi
nor, insignificant even, to what I had
feared. I looked at her and replied, "OK
So my girlfriend is queer —what
does that mean? It means she's faced a
tougher life than a lot of us straight folk.
She didn't ask to be gay, just like I
didn't ask to be born with red hair.
Most of us have experienced parental
fears no larger than telling mom and
dad that we failed a test or dented the
Imagine for just one moment how
scary it is to tell your parents that you
are gay. Imagine what their reactions
might be. Imagine what your parents
would feel inside if you told them that.
Forget about your family, what about
the social stigma? Ignorant, mean
people calling you "dyke" or "faggot"
because you have a rainbow sticker on
your backpack. People avoiding con
tact with you in some way as if you had
It gets a little better once you're out.
You find support groups and you find
friends who understand because
they've been there themselves. Now
thi^ about how much trouble the av
erage guy or girl has finding a date,
then imagine how much harder it must
be for a gay or lesbian. Again, Tm sure
the friends and support groups help.
Now imagine having been out of the
closet for a year and falling in love with
someone of the opposite sex, someone
whose gender you universally dis
missed a year before. After spending a
year getting close to your gay and les-
lips she nervously
managed to stammer
out, Tm queer.’”
bian friends, what would they think
of you for returning to a "normal" re
lationship? Think about what it's like
to come out of the closet and then go a
step beyond that.
That's what it's like for her, but for
me it's very different. I went through a
questioning phase for a while, asking
myself if it was me she liked or some
thing she only saw glimpses of in me. I
realized that was stupid. It's the same
questioning I gave up worrying about
in all my other relationships. I love her,
plain and simple. From day one I de
cided to just let go and see what hap
pened. A year later Tm very, very glad
Doesn't that make her bi? If I decide
to press the issue I will get her to admit
that she is technically bisexual, but she
is a person that does not like to use la
bels to describe a person. If labels were
all people were about, we'd get cookie-
cutter people out of fictional charac
ter molds and that would really suck
When asked what she is, the answer
will always be, "Tm queer." To the both
of us that means the same thing: Dif
ferent, but definitely not bad or wrong.
But people still ask me, "Why you?
Why not a woman?" I've asked myself
that question many times. I've asked
her that many times. I've endangered
our relationship many times because
I've pressed for an answer to that ques
tion after getting one I could not and
would not believe. The most basic an
swer I get from her is the one that
makes the most sense now — we can't
help who we fall for, just as we can't
help if we are gay or straight. The com
plicated answer comes in the form of a
quote from the movie "Chasing Amy":
Alyssa Jones: You know, I didn't
just heed what I was taught, men and
women should be together, it's the
natural way, that kind of thing. Tm not
with you because of what family, soci
ety, life tried to instill in me from day
one. The way the world is, how seldom
it is that you meet that one person who
just *gets* you—it's so rare. My parents
didn't really have it. There were no ex
amples set for me in the world of male-
female relationships. And to cut one
self off from finding that person, to im
mediately halve your options by elimi
nating the possibility of finding that one
person within your own gender, that
just seemed stupid to me. So I didn't.
But then you came along. You, the one
least likely. I mean, you were a guy.
Holden McNeil: Still am.
Alyssa Jones: And while I was fall
ing for you I put a ceiling on that, be
cause you *were* a guy. Until I remem
bered why I opened the door to women
in the first place: to not limit the likeli
hood of finding that one person who'd
complement me so completely. So here
we are. I was thorough when I looked
for you. And I feel justified lying in
your arms, 'cause I got here on my own
terms, and I have no question there was
some place I didn't look. And for me
that makes all the difference.
I just hope I handle things a bit bet
ter than Holden did in the end.