When I first started dating my wife I was young. It started as a one night stand. I was single, happy, and venturing out into my twenties. At first our relationship was fun and games. The “honeymoon period” is a real thing. Then after about a year I remembered that I am straight and the reality of being in a same sex relationship started sinking in. It didn’t go well for awhile after that.
I remember feeling angry. I was angry that I was in love with her, I was angry that I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I was angry that I wasn’t a “real” lesbian and she was, and I had it so easy with my family and she didn’t. I was angry that I was straight but fell in love with a woman. I was angry that I already knew what discrimination feels like just from being related to a lesbian. I was angry that I couldn’t just have sex with my husband if I wanted kids. That was a big one. I could not wrap my mind around the whole how a lesbian gets pregnant situation. I was mad that no one told me to walk away from her. This sounds very petty and childish but in the moment it’s so intense.
I sort of forgot all of this until I started seeing more and more young adult LGBT clients at my mental health practice. They are all angry. Transgender clients are angry that they are in the wrong body, that they face discrimination, that no one truly understands and everyone asks about their genitals (note to reader don’t do that!). Young lesbian and gay clients are angry that they are gay. They are angry that they are forced into this lifestyle that they don’t necessarily want. They are angry they had to fight with their schools to bring a date of the same gender to prom. They are angry that they have faced verbal and physical violence from peers and/or parents and/or strangers.
At the core of their anger is absolute and utter fear.
Thinking back I recognize that underneath my anger was so much fear. Fear of being a minority. Fear of discrimination. Fear of fertility. Fear of living my life with my wife but also finding it physically painful to imagine my life without her.
It was no picnic for my wife either. She was living with this mess of a human being who one day was firm and solid in her commitment to the relationship and the next day was sobbing because she wanted this whole lesbian relationship to just go away.
People who met me after my wife and I got married just assumed I’m a lesbian. It’s just too freaking hard to explain that actually I identify as heterosexual but happened to fall in love with a woman. People are into labels and our relationship defies labels. I am not bisexual, I am not gay, and obviously I’m not totally straight. I prefer to think of myself as beautifully and happily curved.
For me there was anger for a multitude of reasons. For every LGBT youth who firmly identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender- and for the occasional straight person who finds themselves in love with the same gender- there will be anger. There will be days and moments of pure anguish. I’ve lived it personally and I’ve observed it professionally. Being a minority is hard. Being a minority in a country half full of homophobic individuals is harder. Coming to terms with one’s identity at the age of 18-22 is a normal occurrence, but what about when your identity doesn’t fit with society’s heteronormative culture? So many LGBT young adults become stagnant- they can’t finish college, they can’t hold a job, because developing into a young adult is freaking difficult. Developing into an LGBT young adult is beyond difficult.
It puts every friendship and every singly family member’s relationship on the line. It affects career choices and geographical choices for living. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, coming to terms with one’s own Queer identity will make you or break you.
If you are a family member of some one who is grasping and clawing their way through this journey please reach out to them in any way you can. Let them know their life is valued, let them know that though there are more and more anti-LGBT laws being put forth that you want them to live and you want them to be part of your life. Be a lifeline. Because we all need one.
In the depths of my anger and sadness and fear my lifeline was my wife, my friends, and my family. I got to go through my struggles with only my own judgement, no one else’s. Every one else encouraged me to stop being angry and be grateful I found love. The love is love platitude made me want to vomit though. Because love is love, but it was making my life more difficult.
Don’t dismiss a person’s anger because it generally is a cover for fear. We do have much to fear.
Looking back I regret nothing. Because I love my life and I love my family. But the journey from there to here was intense in so many ways. To anyone gasping for air through your anger and fear- it gets better. But it takes a lot of work.
And to any LGBT individuals who fall in love with a person who identifies as heterosexual but is potentially moving toward “beautifully curved”……gear up, you’re in for a wild ride.
(My cat is not a dyke. She loves boys. But she’s got the angry look nailed)