When I was 9, I experienced my first kiss with a girl from my class. I also learned in church that my default setting was straight. Everything else was gay, which also meant evil.
When I was 14, I was worried I might be gay. A church counselor told me my sexual thoughts didn’t belong to me. The ideas had been forced into my mind by the devil and sexual abuse. It was my job to guard myself against them.
“You are straight. Satan is trying to confuse you. I’ll pray for you.”
When I was 16, I didn’t allow myself to dwell on sexual thoughts to be safe. Satan’s tactics were no match for my sexual suppression!
When I was 19, I watched a movie called Foxfire and fell in love with Angelina Jolie. I was incredibly excited by her. It was such a strong desire that I didn’t have time to suppress it. I admitted to myself that I was attracted to women.
When I was 24, I began to call myself bisexual. I started seeking sex with women. My husband was bisexual also. The marriage was short-lived, but I learned a lot about myself through the relationships I had with women.
When I was 32, I discovered the term pansexual, and it better described my sexual attraction. I began to identify as pan.
When I was 40, I happened upon the term queer.
The meaning and power of the word punched me in the gut. Sexual emotions I’d suppressed for 31 years, flooded me.
I felt the greasy burn of hot holy oil pouring down my throat to save me from unclean thoughts. I heard the language called “tongues” that was spit into my ear by a pastor who knocked me back, so I fell to the ground. I felt the sexual damage from my lady babysitter, both painful and exciting. I felt the sting of the counselor who blamed the abuse for my sexual attraction to women. I felt the fire and brimstone from every pulpit that told me I was evil.
I also felt the soft, searching tongue of my best friend when we decided to practice kissing each other. I felt the weight and warmth of a woman’s breasts in my hands. I tasted the sweetness of a woman’s nipples in my mouth. I felt the deep penetration that can only come from a woman whose fingers know how vaginal penetration feels.
When I was 40, I identified as queer.
It was about damn time.