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[coming out stories]

Susan Gonzalez
Elementary School Teacher, San Francisco, CA
October 11, 1997

I remember my very first crush on a girl. Her name was Maria. She had long dark brown hair that flowed down her back. She loved playing tetherball at recess. I always watched her from a distance and wanted so very much to be her friend. I wanted to hold her hand and play with her hair. I was only 8 years old. I didn't think twice about my crush on her until years later when I came out.

I had moved to San Francisco to attend graduate school. It was Fall of 1989. For the past 5 years, I wasn't into dating or sex. Education was my partner. But for some odd and delightful reason, San Francisco changed all that. I fell for two different people. . .one womin and one man. My infatuation with the womin baffled me; my attraction to the man scared me. I knew this guy had a partner; I didn't know what to do with this womin. Finally I got the nerve up to talk with the guy and found out in the process that he was gay (he still is by the way and still with his partner.) And I just turned around and asked the womin out, without a second thought. It all felt natural and comfortable.

My mother started to get very cranky about the hours I was keeping. Going to school during the day and staying out til the wee hours of the morn. I really didn't have a clue what it would be like for my mother to hear the words of my coming out. Largely because I never had a problem within me about dating a womin and had not experience any backlash to my coming out to my peers. One night as I was getting ready to go out, my mother asked me where I was going and when she would meet this guy who was monopolizing my attention. I told her where I was going and it was not a guy I was going out with. Her eyebrows folded into each other in puzzlement. I continued and said, "Mom, I date womyn." My mother's response (and continued to be for about 5 years), "Oh, this is just a phase you're going through. What you need is a good fuck from a guy and you'll be fine." Well, it's been 7 years since I came out and I'm still going through the phase. Mom has more or less accepted the fact that I will always go through this phase.

The one experience that hurt me the most was how my bestest, closest, and dearest friend reacted when I came out to her. I came out to her in 1990. Jo met my first girlfriend and liked her immensely. I suspect that because Jo liked her so much, it was okay that I was dating her and not a guy. The three of us hung out together a lot and always a lot of laughs to be had. But when I started dating my second girlfriend, something changed. I noticed that Jo was spending less and less time with me. I decided to see if Jo would take the initiative in getting together with me. I didn't call her for three weeks; Jo never called. It was then I realized that I was losing someone who was very much a sister to me. I called her Joser and she called me Suser. . .we had gone through college together and lived just a few minutes apart in San Francisco. When I confronted Jo, she said that she could not continue to be friends with me if I continue to date and develop relationships with womyn. It was not according to God's word and it went against everything she felt and believed in. How odd that my being a lesbian was okay at first and then became something that she could not respect. To this day, it bothers me, mostly because of the fact that we were so damn close for six years and all of the sudden, we had nothing together. It's been 7 years since I came out to Jo and I still have moments of sadness, largely because I miss the "sister" relationship we had.

I really have to say that my coming out experiences have not been all that bad. I didn't have any problems with identities. I've always been the kind of person who just does whatever feels comfortable for herself, regardless how everyone else including society, might view it. My mom did give me a hard time, enough to the point where she told me to move out of her home because she could not tolerate my dating my first girlfriend, nor could she tolerate the girlfriend. I did lose a very best friend. Yet looking back, I am so relieved and grateful that I didn't have a much more traumatic coming out. I know I am a very strong and independent womin; I've never been big on putting up with a lot of bullshit from others. I've always been very "straight"forward about how I view the world around me. I believe that the qualities of being strong, articulate, independent, and practical has helped me get beyond any issues that could have developed during my coming out. Once in awhile I do meet a person who has a problem with my being an out Deaf lesbian. I simply make it clear that it is their problem and not mine when it comes to my lesbian identity. I am out wherever I go, be it at work or among my family of friends, or within the blood family. I came out of the closet October 1989 and have no intention of ever going back in. I'm very proud of who I am and where I am today.

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