I was straight in university. Yep, that’s where this story begins.
There wasn’t much before that. I was late to hit puberty, and didn’t experience those hormone-induced-semi-rational high school crushes. My sexual awakening didn’t start until university, after I had been unquestionably straight for 18 years. I continued happily along that path.
And oh what a path being a straight and single woman in university can be!* For me, I was lucky enough for it to be a mostly positive one. I enjoyed hook-up culture. I liked the conquest of it and the stories it fuelled.
My friends were mostly straight women who all considered themselves feminists. We shared stories of the sex we had and the feminist men we wanted to find. We, half-jokingly, decried how we would be #foreveralone (yes, it was very circa 2010). We were all intelligent, hard-working young women who wanted to make something of ourselves, and didn’t want a subpar boyfriend holding us back.
Very few of my fellow straight, lady friends found a man worth their salt in university; very few found a man they really connected with; very few found a man for whom they were willing to make time. I didn’t feel unusual. Even when I dated this guy who checked all my boxes and I didn’t click with him, I didn’t question anything. Simply not finding a meaningful romantic relationship with a man didn’t make me question my straightness. Such is the power of heteronormativity.
Many of my straight female friends and I joked that we wished we were lesbians because we had so many cool, attractive female friends. I remember genuinely wishing I was gay because I wanted a meaningful relationship. But I just wasn’t. I tried to imagine it. Not my thing, I thought.
I say this with my tongue partially in cheek, but I think it is harder to realize you are a lesbian when there are so many subpar men in the dating pool. All women are unsatisfied. I thought not liking men was normal. When all your friends are single too, how do you know whether you just haven’t found the right man, or you’re not into men? Perhaps, when you fall wildly in love with a woman…check out my next post to hear about my first queer love (and a time I got stuck in a dress in high school).
*Rape culture and misogyny are rampant on campus. If someone discloses a sexual assault to you, the most important first step is to believe them. You can also offer to help them find a local feminist sexual health center, which can guide them through their options.