Throughout the whole coming of age process, these zany Sapphic feelings arose most unexpectedly while watching movie starlets on TV. Making an inconvenient debut, like an uninvited menstrual cycle, this nonnegotiable awakening rattled my already shaky adolescent foundation and penetrated my spirit deeper than death.
I soon learned that transcending all cultures, this God given attribute I possessed was universally despised. And this religious “abomination” was to become my destined path? I assure you had there been a prescription to reverse it, my mother would have seasoned our food with it, but I had no choice, nor did my effeminate brother for that matter. Two out of three kids gay, oy vey!
Contrary to my parents’ hurtful accusations at the time, this was hardly an act of rebellion. I possessed a heated desire for women only, and wanted nothing more than to spend my romantic life in the soft hairless arms of one. In letting my heart navigate the journey, the incompatible fusion of same sex love with society’s standards of normalcy churned and flipped my stomach for years.
When my girl crush left the tube and presented itself real world, I was horrified. It happened in an instant, and I knew, boy I knew. There was no escape, no power button to press off, no dream to awaken from, no med to pop, no religious testament that could point me in the “right” direction. This wasn’t like slapping aqua blue contacts on Paris Hilton’s mud brown eyes. I couldn’t change my trait for the sake of a better appearance. This is an attribute that cannot be evaluated and healed through intervention and rehab, because this isn’t a behavior that needs modifying. Being gay is a characteristic that is either inherent or acquired after years of boredom. For whatever genetic or environmental factor that brings a person to such a place on the continuum of sexuality, it just is. Love is love, cliché and true.
The Death Valley body slam that pummeled my sexual orientation against the ropes ensued in the 4th grade. I was passing the time on the blacktop for lunchtime recreation; in various ways defying gravity and causing a sour armpit odor I rushed to wash clean with pink liquid before class. Into this mundane routine walked a family friend from the 6th grade. She tracked me down to say hello and to introduce me to her much talked about “amazing and cool” inseparable friend Linda Panicola.
In the split second Linda turned to greet me, I was involuntarily swept into a time freeze – the consequence of either devastating horror or divine elation. One harmless glance and my delicate heart freefell like a cinderblock. Without any forewarning, palpitations raced into a gallop devoid of the reigns to guide it. A lump formed in my throat so large I fought to breathe. My being was snatched by this outrageous visceral moment that agitated my brain as fatally as the celebrated British au pair who shook that defenseless baby silent. As hard as I tried, I could not control my escalating feelings. It consumed my heart and overpowered my brain, leaving no time to analyze or in this case rationalize a sensation that I knew was considered by society as fucked.
Once granted the privilege of their senior company, I became insanely enamored, bringing her home in my head till sleep. Oh how exquisitely beautiful she was with her hypnotic cat shaped eyes and broad smile custom-made for laughter. Her quick-witted repartee was a welcomed reprieve from the unworldly adolescent banter I’d grown accustomed to on the blacktop. With the help of my older sister, I was already privy to everything from the cheese like substance that collects under the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis to period clots the size of Jell-O squares accidentally flung to the floor, wall, or in a rare disturbing case onto her friend’s bare foot.
When Linda graduated on to 7th grade and out of elementary school, the only opportunity to see her was voyeuristically, from across the street at my good friend’s house. One particular day we were playing out front. Yes, out front. It was a common occurrence back in the seventies to utilize your front lawn unsupervised without getting abducted, chained up and forever imprisoned in some pedophile’s diabolical basement.
Up the driveway her mother drove the station wagon to the garage and honked for her magnificent princess Linda, who gracefully descended the stairs from the porch in a ballet costume, tutu and all. While I was shamelessly gawking, feeble knees giving way, we weren’t even in her periphery. We were invisible to her. I had no sexual understanding in my head at the time. I hadn’t felt that yet for boys or girls. I only knew that I was in awe of everything about her and I would writhe in unrequited emotional suffering until the day I was appointed her best friend, handmaid, something, anything...
I turned to my pal and suggested we hang out with Linda more often. To that she replied angrily, "What is with you? You've said that before. What, are you in love with her? What are you a LESBIAN?" Impaled by the pejorative she twisted mercilessly into my heart, I couldn't believe my perforated eardrums. A lesbian? Me? What? Are you mad? How dare she nail my innocent adolescent yearnings ten years before I kissed a girl and I loved it. I adamantly refuted the insightful accusation and exorcized Linda out of my skull immediately. From that day on, I could be counted on for every coed spin the bottle or seven minutes in heaven game going. I was straight Goddamn it. STRAIGHT to bed, I was fricken exhausted from the inner turmoil.
For the remaining years of school, I had several lovely boyfriends, but after girl gone wild with other girls up in college, my sexuality morphed from monochromatic to Technicolor. Such overwhelmingly desirous feelings for girls blew away any attraction I’d previously felt for schoolboys. Physically, emotionally, in every way women were unmistakably a luscious hot fudge sundae after years of vanilla scoop. It was when I consciously acknowledged my gayness emerging that I had my Annie Sullivan Helen Keller “water pump” moment and the electrifying revelation depressed the shit out of me.
Wow, what a surprise to discover Linda as well as everyone I’ve ever drifted from in the last thirty years accessible on Facebook. As always, I was compelled to finally divest my mind of this memory, hand it over to her, like returning sentimental jewelry left at my home decades unclaimed. Wiping my hands clean of it, I mustered the courage and professed to her my long coveted secret. I wish I were there to see her expression, however thrilled or revolted. Her words in response were graciously receptive. Thank God, colon hyphen end parenthesis :-). I discovered she had an older brother who was also gay, so she wasn’t the slightest bit freaked by my story. She thought it was sweet and even still novel considering I was the 6th of my childhood Facebook bro-mies to profess their identical story of unrequited love with her.