1) Your sexual orientation or gender identity.
(Why one or the other? Everyone has both.) Honestly, I identify both as queer. For me, being queer is about my politics and inclusion, which is the "radical" notion that all people should be treated with respect and equality. Queer is how I explain my sexual attraction, which is not limited by someone else's gender. Queer is about disrupting norms and refusing classifications, which I firmly believe in and practice. Queer is about sex and gender as shifting, fluid, and often ambiguous. I am a cisgender female, though I don't have a tight grip on that identity. It's something I'm still figuring out. I'm not genderqueer, by most people's definition of that word. But I also don't subscribe to a lot of tenets about gender, so I do queer it in some ways. Call it what you will -- I usually don't call it anything.
2) How old were you when you knew?
Knew what? I was 3 when I knew I hated mustard. I was 21 when I knew I wanted to live in New Orleans. I was 15 when I knew I was sexually attracted to someone of the same sex.
3) The first person you came out to and that story.
I did a couple shots of whiskey and realized I wanted to kiss my best friend. And I didn't want to stop there. A few days later, I called my most recent ex-boyfriend. We'd only been broken up for about two weeks. The break up was completely mutual; we stayed close friends until his next girlfriend got jealous of our friendship. (I miss him. Haven't seen him in years. Can't seem to find him, though) I told him about that night, and that I thought I was attracted to my best friend -- me, not the alcohol. He was completely supportive. No jealousy, no creepy "I want to watch" crap, just support. I remember him telling me to talk to her, to go for it. Even now, I'm still floored thinking back on that moment.
4) Thoughts regarding inner turmoil about your sexuality; did you have any? Did it escalate to self-injury or suicidal thoughts?
I really didn't. Back then I followed my heart before my head. (Not till years later did that get me into trouble) I remember trying the word "lesbian" on for size, and not really finding comfort or understanding in it. Looking back at my journals from high school, I never used it. I didn't need a label. I had love.
I was suicidal and prone to self-injury in high school, but that was not connected to my sexuality. I was severely depressed, angry, and in the middle of some fucked up family stuff. Anything I could claim as my own, including my sexuality, became a source of power -- not a detriment. I didn't give a shit. I jumped head-on into dating a girl. I had few fears. It wasn't until it started raining hell -- my parents, hers, people we knew, bullies, etc. -- that I realized I was in well over my head. But I had the honeymoon period of a relationship with a girl I adored to gloss all the rest into the background. I was very, very lucky. I can't imagine going through that hell alone.
5) Did you face any problems regarding religion?
Personally, no. I had walked away from the church by that point. I was already on a politically and socially radical path. Like I said, I followed my heart then. '
My mother wasn't a big fan. But she had trouble with the God argument. She and God were never that close.
6) How did your parents take it?
Not well. My mother asked if we were together before we were, and I told her the truth -- that we weren't. So months later, when I decided to change that story, I knew it would be rough. I chickened out and wrote her an email; it had some other stuff in it, too. We didn't get along well. Ok, that's an understatement. We fought probably 2-3 times a week. That night, she came home, and she was dead calm, which was very unusual. She wouldn't come near me. She cried and said she would "fix this." She drove me to a psychiatrist the next day. I talked with him for a bit, and he told her he "didn't see what the problem was." I wish he had straight up told her she was the problem.
I've had a tumultuous history with my mother. She's in a ten year divorce; they haven't handled property settlement yet. She has let it eat away at her and my family, and I wish she end it. We don't agree on much. She has never admitted I was queer out loud, not in front of me anyway. She has trouble acknowledging anyone I'm dating. We don't talk about a lot of things. It's still very contentious. I've been out to her for six years. I realized long ago that my biological family will never provide unconditional love or support. I don't even speak to half of them. I have an incredible queer family, though, who has taught me the power of giving and receiving strength and support. I love them all.
7) Your favorite LGBTQ movie.
Oh, so many. Angels in America. D.E.B.S. 20 Centimetros. Soldier's Girl. Loving Annabelle. But I'm a Cheerleader. Bent. Queer as Folk. Hedwig and the Angry Inch. That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but there are definitely more.
8) Your favorite gay joke.
What do you call a lesbian dinosaur? A lick-a-lot-o-puss.
I know, it's ridiculous. :)