A GIRL YOU USED TO KNOW

A GIRL YOU USED TO KNOW

Somebody recently reminded you of a good friend you used to have. A female friend. A very lovely girl, whose smile possessed the wattage that endeared her to many,

and whose amiable personality hid the ugliness of her prejudice, until it could stay hidden no longer, until all it could accomplish was fracture the friendship between the two of you.

No one who knew how close you two were six, seven years ago would believe how distant you’d become in the years since your friendship ended.

And all the ‘crime’ you committed was to no longer apologize for who you are.

You came out to the world – and perhaps to yourself – in stages. The journey from the boy whose environment thought of him as just like all the other boys to the adult who is different and has made his peace with it wasn’t a linear one. There were pit-stops, reverses and breakdowns, as you struggled to make sense of your identity.

When you had your first kiss at age 13, and it was with a boy, you liked it.

When he touched you, and you touched him back, the sensations evoked a passion that felt so right.

But when you set your eyes on the most beautiful girl you’d ever seen at age 17, you felt a flicker of awareness that was both confusing and thrilling. You embraced that flicker, fanned it vigorously until it turned into a flame. It was the first time you’d ever felt like this for a woman, and in a world that approved of interactions like this, you wanted it desperately to be true, to mean something. So you pursued the feeling, overtook it even. You do not know when it stopped being about liking a girl and became about needing a girl.

But the cold rush of reality doused the fires of that quiet desperation when she finally said, “Yes, I will be your girlfriend.”

So, whenever she puckered her lips at you, expecting a goodnight kiss at the end of the day you’ve spent with her, whenever she touched your thigh in that manner that suggested she was ready to take your relationship to a more intimate level, you remembered the passions of the 13-year-old who strained to touch and be touched by his fellow boy. You remembered how his kisses set you on fire, and how you went home from boarding school for the holidays, positive that you were in love with him.

At 17 years old, with this very beautiful girl, you felt none of those things. Her inviting lips didn’t make you want to pull her altogether into an embrace, so you could more comfortably wrap your mouth around hers, to mine the desires waiting to be discovered inside her. Her suggestive touches only ever stoked the cold embers of dread, every nerve ending in your body shrinking from the imagination of what she wanted you two to do together.

You did not know the word for it, but you knew you did not want her the way you wanted the boys you had in boarding school.

In the following years, that word would come to exist for you:

Homosexuality.

But it was a word that carried with it such a burden of secrecy, of pain, of fear, of self-preservation – that you knew, without a doubt, that the pleasures you sought with other boys were to be pursued with the skill of a soldier navigating his way through a minefield: always careful, always second-guessing, always duplicitous, one face for the world and another face for the shadowed halls of your personal life.

Before you were 20, you had become an actor more deserving of an Oscar than Leonardo DiCaprio.

The diaries of your twenties bear record of how much you struggled to find who you are:

the quiet solemnization of your homosexuality, emphasized by every moment you fell in love with a boy;

the raging conflict that bettered at your insides every time you went into church, and the pastor’s sermon turned the toga of self-assuredness you had on into an unclean flesh you felt you must scrub off;

the confusion as you sought to make sense of how something your brethren had deemed so abominable could feel so good, how the smile of the boy you were seeing could seem to have the power to make the world a better place, more power than the righteous recriminations that came from the pulpit;

the frantic bargains you struck up every time you went on your knees before god, as you struggled to find a balance between what he expected of you and who you wanted yourself to be.

That was when she came into your life, dazzling her way into a corner of your heart with her megawatt smile, her genial personality and her strong sense of self. She was beautiful. She was smart. And you liked her.

Yes, you liked her.

It was déjà vu – your 17-year-old passions all over again. It was as though the only way you could explain your affinity for her was through the lens of a possible romantic connection.

You knew how to be with a boy, you knew the ins and outs of dating boys. You could recognize the desires that made you want to be with a boy, and the feelings that made you appreciate a close friendship more.

But out here, on these foreign lands of relationships with girls, you did not know your bearings. And in a world where men and women are expected to be together, you figured that any feelings of overwhelming affection – such as this that you had for her – must mean that you had to be with her.

And so, the closer you got with her and the fonder you became of each other, the more certain you were that perhaps, there was room for more than one attractions in your heart. The word was new to you:

Bisexuality.

It wasn’t any more ideal than your existence as a homosexual. But it would have to do, if you were going to make your parents happy one day when you bring home a girl.

And this had to be that girl. This had to be the woman that would validate your existence as a “normal” member of society. The future wife. The mother of your children. The symbol of everything you needed to finally become a man.

She had to be the one, right?

Right?

Sigh.

Wrong.

You tried. You really tried. You focused on her. You wooed her. You eschewed the attentions of men.

You tried.

But what the heart doesn’t want cannot be.

It became clear very quickly that you were not discovering another part of who you are. You were simply being intentional about a lie.

You would never be “normal”.

You would always be different.

And you were nearing the end of your journey to self-acceptance. All the encumbrances that weighted you down were getting discarded faster and faster, the closer you got to the end.

You were making your peace with who you are.

And this apparently came with a price.

You could have stayed the course of a romantic involvement with her. You could have continued to mask who you are so you could be with her.

But you didn’t. Instead you pulled back from that space, and focused more on building up the self-esteem you needed to survive the world that is designed to break the man you wanted to be.

She must not have liked who you were becoming. She must have been startled by the things you were now saying, resented the identities you were now accommodating. And instead of making the effort to understand your journey, she shuttered her humanity and pushed back. Her ugliness rose, and the friendship that could have been long-lasting crashed and flamed out.

Somebody just reminded you of the good friend you used to have. And in that conversation, you found yourself remembering and wondering:

Why did she not appreciate the authentic person you chose to become, instead of the man that could have lied to her all the way to whatever future you both may have had?

Why did it seem she preferred to have a relationship with the lie and stay estranged from the truth?

Written by Pink Panther

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6 Comments

  1. Tariq
    July 08, 16:37 Reply

    This is a beautiful read…. reflective too.👍🏾

  2. Precious Oraz
    July 08, 18:51 Reply

    Why?

    Because that’s what Christians do. Claim to love the truth yet are the worst kinds of liars — lying in the nane of God.

  3. Loki
    July 08, 22:46 Reply

    Lying is easy. It takes pain and courage to not just listen but believe in the truth. It takes a certain level of understanding to understand the truth and pattern your life around it.

    She was wrong yeah, but then perhaps she just couldn’t deal? Some people don’t like their perfect lies being shattered else they go mad. Living the lie is just how they cope.

  4. Rudy
    July 12, 20:00 Reply

    This brought a lot of flashbacks and I could not help but appreciate my journey into finding & being me.

    A very relatable & beautiful write-up through & through.

  5. Hubert
    July 21, 19:09 Reply

    I know this is our story, a beautiful story of self discovery and acceptance. But we must not discount the hurt that journey brings to others, especially the lady in the relationship.
    For seven years, she loved this person, and made some sacrifices because she believed she was in a relationship. So, to come to the realization that all of her seven year relationship has been a lie is a pretty damning and heartbreak revelation.
    So, while we’re victims of society and our stories must be heard, the lady is also a victim of our actions, and we should not blame her because she’s not understanding enough. She’s hurt, and heart broken. She deserves the distance of she needs it, and also our apologies.

    • yinks
      August 29, 00:46 Reply

      Wow, this is a very thoughtful comment..

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