8th Grade

July 9, 2011

Actually, let’s go ahead and recount 8th grade too, I think it is equally as important as my other years and I don’t want it to get forgotten in transition (<–PUN).

Eighth grade, braces, and a middle part.

8TH GRADE:  By eighth grade I had adamantly determined that I was a lesbian.  I continued to date boys, mostly because it was easy (I was an athlete, semi-developed in the boob area, and popular.  Everybody knew who I was because I got to read the announcements and lead the pledge of allegiance every morning for the whole school to hear over the intercom.  The announcements included a little section on “good life lessons” or some bullshit like that, a new theme everyday.  This almost ruined my life one day when my mispronunciation of “courtesy” (peter pronunciation: court-esy, like basketball court-esy) repeatedly rang through the entire school for ten agonizing minutes.  The worst part is that I didn’t realize until afterwards that I was saying it incorrectly and I was increasingly humiliated throughout the day when ALL-EVERY-SINGLE-ONE of my teachers, and even some teachers that weren’t mine, corrected me.  It didn’t help when I came in the next morning prepared to redeem myself and was handed a life lesson paragraph to read on curiosity.  Now I’d be damned if “curiosity” doesn’t sound near exactly like a mispronounced “courtesy”.  Reading announcements=ruining my life…anyways, EVERYBODY wanted to date somebody in middle school, you weren’t cool unless you were dating, so it wasn’t too hard to maintain “relationship” status.) and also because I wasn’t prepared to be open about my attractions.   

Despite my dating boys, I managed to meet an abundance of self-identified lesbians in the area (none in Mount Pleasant, but my hometown is part of a cluster of small towns with more populated gay communities), most of them older than me, but  HEY! I kinda liked that.  And in the Spring, maybe a month before summer started and right after I broke up with my most recent “serious” boyfriend (y’all know two weeks is considered a serious relationship), I had my first sexual experience with a girl.  Actually, my first sexual experience ever.  Up until this point I had kissed boys and made-out with boys (which was movin’ REAL fast in 8th grade, if you remember), but nothing like what happened that day.  I was at a friend’s house, she kissed me, we went to her bedroom, and she taught me how to fuck her.  She never did anything to me, it wasn’t reciprocated, but I was totally okay with that.  I still consider that the time that I lost my virginity. 

I didn’t see my friend much after that, not because I didn’t want to but mostly because both of us were too young to drive and it was hard to organize ways to see each other.  It was kind of understood that the sex between us was a learning experience, there were no emotions involved and we weren’t trying to date each other.  Looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.  A completely detached learning experience is exactly what I needed and wanted.

Soon after that, I turned 14 and spent my summer before high school searching for other girls who wanted the same thing that I did: sex.

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Straight–>Lesbian

July 7, 2011

In seventh grade….

(BAM!!! There I am, 7th grade.)

….I learned these terms and definitions:

Gay: when a boy is attracted to another boy
Lesbian: when a girl is attracted to another girl
Straight: when a boy is attracted to a girl and vice versa
Bisexual: when a person is attracted to both girls and boys

Up until that point I never questioned the social construct that girls get with boys, men marry women, and there is no other path.  But in seventh grade I met my first real-life lesbian.  She was my gym teacher.  And my health teacher.  And the softball coach.  And the basketball coach.  I wasted no time and joined the basketball team and became the manager of the softball team.  I watched and mimicked the way she talked (adapting a southern accent that I had so far been able to avoid with the help of my mom, the speech pathologist), the way she walked (I went pigeon-toed for almost 3 years trying to perfect my lesbian swag), and the way she dressed (basketball shorts, sunglasses tan lines, and sports bras, OH MY).  Her mere existence in my life changed my entire outlook on EVERYTHING.  Things started making sense, first in my brain, I began to remember asking girls to kiss me on the playground, having major crushes on my female teachers, not ever wanting to slow dance with boys at the school dances, and being embarrassed of being called pretty.  I started to question where my attractions lay and that is when my heart and the butterflies in my stomach caught up.  I no longer gave boys the time of day (in fact, I only had one friend, who is still my friend, who is male identified) and was totally and secretly obsessed with being a lesbian.  Things progressed quickly, there was never really a time when I was unsure or questioning or “tryin’ it out” or whatever.  In short my StL phase (straight to lesbian) went as follows: I met Colonel Gym Teacher, little Johnny taught me some new vocab, I researched it on Wikipedia, thought ‘hmm, uh huh, yep that sounds about right’, and within the year I was unwaveringly sure of one thing: I was a big ol’ dykey dyke.

I grew up in a family of four: my two parents, my younger sibling, and me.  I will talk in more detail about my family life later, but this post is mainly dedicated to my hometown.  I was raised mostly in Mount Pleasant, NC and how I would describe this town is much less than pleasant (but, of course, this is just my personal opinion).  Hidden between a chicken coop and a cornfield, Mount Pleasant is known for its What-A-Burger, its churches, its teenage pregnancy rates (rivalry schools called us Mount Pregnant), and its segregation.  In this place, the confederate flag flies higher than U.S.A. stars and stripes, the baseball fields are muddin’ pits (muddin’ pit (n): a giant shithole where people seek entertainment by doing high-speed donuts until every inch of their lifted Jeep Wranglers is covered in a thick coat of mud), and the schools (there are only three: Mount Pleasant Elementary, Mount Pleasant Middle, and Mount Pleasant High) are quite literally 99% white.  I did my time, laid low and made good grades, graduated high school, and signed up for 4 years at UNC-Chapel Hill.  It wasn’t until I was out of Mount Pleasant that I truly realized how uncultured and unprepared I was for the real world.  I was brought up in a school system that enforced and supported many societal ideas that I am embarrassed to admit I once believed.  Some general examples:

White is better than black
Male is better than female
Rich is better than poor
Blacks used to be slaves, but now they are all gangsters and thugs
All Asians are geniuses
All Middle Easterners are terrorists
All Africans are poor and starving
All South Americans are Mexicans
All Mexicans are illegal immigrants
Canadians suck (for whatever reason)
All of Europe is socialist but leaning towards communism
There are only two ways to live a respectable life: farm or enlist
And-God is our only lord and savior.

The upsetting part about looking back on my hometown is that I had absolutely NO IDEA that there was anything wrong with those ideas.  They were common knowledge and accepted and it took me moving to another city and getting continuously reprimanded and corrected for my learned racist and sexist language and behavior for me to realize what an oppressed community I come from.  Now it is painful for me to revisit without feeling enraged, depressed, oppressed, and misunderstood.  But as long as my parents and my sibling live there I will continue to go back unwilling to abandon them, and every time I return I hope that maybe my presence evokes a question in someone’s mind.  Maybe one little kid sees me in the grocery store and asks me if I’m a boy or a girl allowing me an opportunity to open their mind to the reality that there are more than just boys and girls in this world.  Maybe someone sees me at the bank and thinks I’m super cute so they begin to question my gender and in turn their orientation.  Maybe people see me in a restaurant and my appearance sparks a conversation about something not tainted by heteronormativity.  If I’m being honest, then I would say that since my little sibling just graduated high school and my parents are on the verge of moving away then I will probably never visit Mount Pleasant again in this lifetime.  I do believe in the possibility of Mount Pleasant becoming a more progressive environment, but I’m not holding my breath for the idea that it might happen anytime soon.