The problem now is that after all this time I am still having problems with acceptance. I have told only my 2 best friends (who have been in a committed lesbian relationship for over 15 years but only came out to me 4 years ago). And now my relationship with my partner is in jeopardy. Part of me believes that I will never be able to accept this because I know that there are some things that I will never be able to have with her…
I don’t know what you should do, what with not being you and everything, but I know some things about me. None of this is intended to imply that I understand what you’re going through. I only understand what I’ve gone through.
It is absolutely true that if today continued forever you would never accept being a lesbian (or pick any identifying word). Coming out is a part of acceptance, not a result of it. If you keep waiting for the lightning bolt from heaven that makes everything OK, you will probably be waiting forever.
Right now you’re dealing with two things: you and you & her. I think maybe approaching it from the point of view of the latter is trouble. You will not learn to love yourself if your reason is to make someone else happy. Maybe you should start by learning to love yourself because it will make you happy beyond your dreams.
Everything in life is a little bit broken. We live with that brokenness daily. What we all do to make everything feel better is seek beauty in the brokenness. Love, romantic and respectful, is a tiny solution to the big problem.
The issue at hand is not lesbianism or sex or attraction. The issue is love. Lesbianism is not about sex or attraction; lesbianism is about loving women. You don’t have to be a lesbian; you only have to be in love–with yourself first, and then with her.
When I say that anything you can have with a man, you can have with a woman, I mean that. Holding hands and kissing in public? Think about what’s stopping you from doing that exactly. How much of it is really fear about what other people will do to you and how much of it is shame about who you are and fear of what other people will think? I live in the big city these days, but I have lived and loved and held hands in public in West Texas, so don’t think it can’t be done. The first time is the hardest.
Straight women cannot all have children with their men. Many many of them turn to things much ickier than a turkey baster to get pregnant. There is no longer any “natural” way to get pregnant any more than there is a “natural” way to have sex. If you choose to not have children, consider that a valuable choice made, not something forced on you by a “lifestyle.”
But I suspect that you’ve been told in a million different ways why coming out and being a lesbian or a bisexual woman or yourself or whatever isn’t worse than being straight. That never really seems to help at all, though.
I can tell you why it’s better. This is not a curse. It’s not even a black cloud with a silver lining. This love, this life, this “lifestyle” is a blessing.
Coming out is the most excruciating, exciting thing I’ve ever done. It’s with me now, even though I haven’t come out in a while. I no longer come out. Now I am out. I haven’t started a conversation with, “I have something to tell you…” in years. But when I was doing that, when I was consumed by the desire to share who I was and what an amazing, beautiful thing I’d discovered and simultaneously consumed by the desire to hide under my bed until Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was rescinded, I was flying.
There is nothing like lying to yourself and to everyone else for years and years and years and then stopping. It’s like being unshackled. Everyone was not fine with it; heck, I don’t remember being all fine myself, but at least I was free. Walking into a room of lesbians for the first time was like the first time I’d ever taken a deep breath.
Because I am a dyke, I have met an array of the most amazing, diverse, intelligent, twisted, damaged, and human people on the planet. Because I am gay, I have seen and heard and become things I never would have seen, heard, or become without my orientation. I have learned more about real love for my lovers and for my friends by taking the time to tell them the truth and by simply being gay. I am alive now because gay people take care of each other, and some have taken unbelievable care of me.
Honestly, before I came out, I had no faith in humanity, and now I am constantly amazed by the lengths we go to love each other across brokenness. Lesbianism is by far the best thing ever to happen to me, and a lot of great things have happened to me.
When I was coming out, someone said this same thing to me, and I thought she was nuts. I thought, “it’s just a gender!” in my politically correct sort of way. And in a politically correct sort of way, I was right. If you let it, sex will be just sex, and a woman will be just a woman, and your life will intersect with a million different actions and people, and you can wave on your way past. If you let it, this could just be about gender, and gender could be unimportant.
And if you let it, this could be the most amazing, joyful, painful experience and part of your being. None of us have ever become anything. We are all of us in the process of becoming, and the secret is to never believe that we are done growing up.
You do not have to be anything at all. But a part of the deal when you sign out the life you have is that you will be exactly and completely what you are right now. Exactly and completely afraid, exactly and completely excited, exactly and completely confused. Part of the deal is that you will get all the way inside your life and be everything, understand everything that it is. That is the gift.
You can find Helen in the Lesbian Worlds forum.