so, what do lesbians do in bed? a personal account of coming out
If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me ‘what do lesbians do in bed?’ I’d be a lot richer than I am today. However, right after that they usually ask how difficult it was to come out. It’s an interesting question, because the coming out experience is unique to the queer community and completely different for everyone who does it. I once dated a girl who was kicked out by her dad when she told him she was gay, so as far as my story goes, I had it pretty easy. Weird, but still pretty easy.
I realised I was a lesbian when I was eight, and at nine, I tried to tell my mother. It beats me how I figured it out so young, but apparently I did. She told me I’d grow out of it, and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have believed me at that age either. Unfortunately it sparked three years of troubled self-doubt, and it wasn’t until I was 12 that I decided I’d been right all along. So, when I was 13, I told my mother again. She told me she still believed I’d change my mind, and then she changed the subject, which didn’t concern me too much. Funnily enough, she reacted almost exactly the same eight years later when she found out I’d gotten a tattoo. She looked at me, pursed her lips slightly and said ‘That’s interesting,’ before returning to what she was doing. Her attitude suits me well, because I easily avoid awkward conversations about my love life and have never once had to introduce a girlfriend to my mother.
My father’s reaction was completely different. He told me right away that he ‘didn’t give a shit’. He must have seen my face, because he quickly corrected himself and told me he loved me no matter who I was with. He asks me every time he sees me if I’ve met anyone (or if I’ve gotten laid), and I often feel he’s more proud of my sexuality than I am. He regularly outs me to acquaintances because, well, he can. One of the funniest moments was a few years ago, when I was helping him repair a staircase for a client. The homeowner came in to find me sanding the stairs, and she thought she would make polite conversation by remarking that ‘my future husband would be glad to have such a handy wife’. I smiled and nodded; however my father, who is about a subtle as a sack of bricks, jumped in and said ‘Oh no, my daughter is gay’.
From memory I escaped the house at that point to avoid the awkwardness. As I explained to Dad later on, I don’t see the necessity to come out to every person I meet (and probably will never see again, like that poor client). I don’t introduce myself by saying ‘Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m gay’. I admit that I sometimes find it advantageous to work it into a conversation, usually when meeting a cute girl or giving a subtle hint to a guy that I’m not interested. But I mean, imagine if heterosexual people started walking up to people and introducing themselves as straight… who actually cares?
Coming out to my friends was completely different – in fact, the story sounds like it could almost be a deleted scene from Mean Girls. It goes something like this: at eight, I told one friend I was a lesbian. That friend wrote it in her diary, and subsequently showed it to another friend. She told one of her friends, who told two other girls… you get the idea. I was completely unaware of any of this, so imagine my surprise when I started to come out at 13 and found that everyone already knew. Then I realised two things: first, it saved me a lot of awkwardness, and second, that I’d never lost any friends over it.
The only significant person I haven’t told about my sexuality is my younger sister. She’s 14 and has Down Syndrome, and I’ve never been sure how much of a coming out conversation she’d understand. However, I’m going to have to tell her at some point – the other day she said to me ‘you’re getting old, you should find a husband soon!’ My mother, ever the diplomat, said something along the lines of ‘Well, not everyone wants a husband…’ I just had to choke back laughter, because she’ll be waiting a long time for that wedding.
I just hope she never asks me what lesbians do in bed!
By Hannah McIntosh