Have I mentioned that I came out later in life? I’m a late bloomer. When it comes to major life accomplishments, I always have been a late bloomer. I definitely was late to lesbian life and gay girl dating!
It’s Memorial Day today. There are going to be parades and events across the USA to celebrate. I’m heading out in a few minutes to get a ride in before traffic picks up. I hope you’ve got plans with friends and family and people you love for today. And say thank you to a military man or woman for their commitment to serving, even if you disagree ok? My son is a former Marine. I’m anti-military but I’m pro people.
Some of you have been telling me you are recently out. Here’s some of my coming out story for you to enjoy today.Rest break at Portland Headlight, Cape Elizabeth, ME
My story includes my always knowing I was attracted to girls, never being able to make the connection with a girl and finally deciding I could make it work with a guy. Let me also include the fact that I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family with all the assorted craziness of alcoholism, abuse and neglect that you’ve read about in the epic Irish tales like Frank McCourt’s book, Angela’s Ashes. I felt like I finally understood so much about my father when I read that book.
That’s another story, but you get my whole Irish-Catholic guilt, going to hell, God is a mean man with a big stick and I’m a bad girl story. Enough said then…
Compared to friends, I married late at 26 years old. I also had kids late in the game at 27 and 38 years old. I started college right out of high school but didn’t have the emotional stamina or a personal vision that helped me see it as something I should stick with at that time in my life. I quit after a couple of years and focused on “doing what I want.” Going back to school at 40 years old to finish up my bachelors degree isn’t so unusual these days. I’m glad I finally did it. It changed the entire direction of my professional and personal life.
How’s that? My personal life was changed. Yes. Dramatically. While finishing college in my 40’s, I started to meet some amazing lesbians and I could no longer deny who and what I was. I was also finally in a position where I realized that I would be able to support myself and my young daughter on my own – honestly something that had scared me for a long time and kept me married was how to support my kids on my own.
This is all to say that we all have our coming out stories. Then we have our “being out” story. That particularly sweet and often bitter period when we are first exploring what it means to date women, love women and make love to women. If you’re seeing a really good therapist, she is telling you things like go slow in dating lesbians, don’t change what doesn’t need to be changed in this period, important dating tips and the big one… you’re like a 14 year old learning to date gay girls!
It took me getting to therapist #3 to get this important bit of information. I was shocked to say the least. Damn… you’re kidding I thought! I’m over 40. Yikes, 14 in lesbian years sounded awful. This meant I was still way behind the curve, terribly immature and with all kinds of pent up feelings and desires. How was I ever going to conquer lesbian dating? Ugh! How can this be? Well it is this way, isn’t it?
This is a hard lesson for late-comers to the gay girl party. You can’t fake the experiences you haven’t had. Sure you can try, but often we stink at it or let me say, I stunk at it. Holy cow, I sure did.
You know the story about learning to ride a bike. You never forget. You might need to work on balance if you hop on a bike after not riding for many years, but the mechanics of it come back immediately. Your muscles and your brain neurons remember and fire off the commands you need to get the bike moving.
Well if your dating experience includes only guys, guess what? You have no muscles or neurons that know how to date gay girls! You’re going to have to grow those neurons and develop those muscles and it’s gonna get messy now and again. Guys are pretty simple creatures when you compare them to women.
The amount of drama I created for myself was astounding because I didn’t understand this whole repeating adolescence piece. I HATED my early teen years. I hated the sense of awkwardness and not knowing how to relate to the boys I wanted to date or the girls I wanted to kiss! I hated the competition to be liked and be part of the cool clic. I hated not knowing what to wear or how to fix my hair. My early school years were spent at Catholic schools wearing uniforms. Now I had to wear “regular” clothes every day. Ouch! And what the hell does a lesbian wear?
I know I swung through all those old adolescent fears in my first few years of being out. Some of my feeling crazy in my first years out was my own doing. My excitement at being out, finally dating women and being visible in the lesbian community meant that I made some pretty poor choices. I also made some really great choices and had some amazing experiences. Everything was new and I was letting myself feel things I’d been denying myself for years.
I loved going to the local gay girl bar. It was a seedy little place with a pool table, an outdoor smoking area with a large dead tree in the middle of it and the tiniest bathroom stalls you’ve ever tried to squat in. I’m 5’2” and my knees hit the door. Pity the tall girls! But it was the only place in the city that was strictly for gay girls. Nirvana! At least for a little while.
Just openly watching women was exciting! Come on, you do remember that? Especially when it was a room full of gay girls dancing, mingling and romancing. That’s part of the adolescent experience. I was clueless to all the drama that was being played out all around me at the time. I was totally in the high of finally being out and open in this environment. It felt amazing.
Along with the bar scene and trying to figure out how to pick up women, I was also living on my own with my daughter. I moved out of the house I owned with my then husband. I didn’t want it. I had felt myself drowning in that married with children life and all I wanted was to be free to live honestly and openly as a lesbian and raise my daughter as my true self. My son was almost done high school and decided to stay with his dad. The good of being openly lesbian had some pretty tough and painful lessons attached to it and my relationship with my son was one of them.
The adolescent lesbian in me held on to the excitement of this new life but the mom in me had a lot of heartbreak about my son and his reactions to my coming out and leaving his dad. I am grateful that he and I have patched up our relationship over the years.
Oh and I should say that I did the leaving part while not being in a committed relationship with a woman. Now, that first relationship came pretty damn quick, but my actions were based on my coming out to myself and deciding I could no longer deny who I was.
The repeat of my adolescence as a lesbian included learning how to live and relate as a lesbian in a relationship were tough, confusing and a mix of sweet and sour. Women who came out while young often have little patience for women who’ve come out later in life. I actually can respect that now that I’ve gotten a little older in lesbian years.
This adolescent thing we grow through is important stuff to understand. I feel like I’m finally on the other side of it after 10 years of being out. That would make me about 25 in lesbian years!! That’s progress right?
Leave me a comment. Let me know what you think about this idea? And thanks for being a reader. xoxoxoxo.
Mary Gorham Malia is a gay girl who’s passed the age of 50, survived menopause, hot flashes and night sweats, raised two children, came out later in life and divorced, grew from being a baby dyke to a lesbian with many dating experiences, has been rescued from cubicle nation and now finds the wisdom of being a bit older as the salvation she always wanted. She’s gone from being lost and late to lesbian life to being a seasoned life traveler who has a commitment to reach out to the lesbian nation and make a difference for lgbt women.
Her business, Gay Girl Dating, LLC, was founded on the belief that lesbian, gay, queer, bi and transgender women can live extraordinary lives when they understand the principles and practices that make life great and put these practices into action in their own lives.
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