I have always loved women. Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t go through that boyhood phase of “boys are better than girls – na na, nana, na” or “kissing girls – ew, gross” that every 7-year-old male seems to experience. However, loving women everywhere has been part of my life since I was at least 11.
Why 11? Well, that was the age that I experienced rejection from boys my own age. For reasons unexplained to me at the time and even since, boys I thought I had already been friends with since the age of 5 tried to put me through a series of silly tests when I was 11 to see if we “could be friends”. I failed them all, they rejected me and that was the end of that.
So I found myself alone. I felt isolated and cut off. This went on for some time before, one day, I noticed a bunch of girls in the playground at school, talking in a group. I was fascinated! They didn’t brag or boast or talk about their toys or sport or all that stuff boys did. They talked normally, not showing off, connecting, talking about relationships, people – things that mattered. Even standing from quite some distance away, I could feel the connection. I wanted some of that; but how?
Not much happened until I was 14, when my (straight) sexuality kicked in and I began to experience physical attraction towards women. I started making more of an effort towards girls and hoped to find a girlfriend in the future.
When I was 16, I felt ready to start a physical relationship. I left school and started college. I felt this was a better place and I became friends with a range of women there. However, they were just friends and still nothing happened.
At 18, I started a part-time job in a supermarket. I had my first crush on a girl there but she had a boyfriend, so nothing happened with her, either. There were social evenings, where staff would go to barbecues, discos and movie nights. Feeling like my social life was improving, I used these opportunities to strike up conversations with different women. They were friendly and approachable and the conversation was pleasant but it would always end with, “well, it was nice meeting you, have a great night, bye.”
Some guys were, like, “Dude, you have to act big and strong and tough and boss”; I didn’t feel comfortable with that. It wasn’t really who I was, plus I felt sad that if I at fake, girls like me but if I act the way I am, they don’t like me anymore. The advice of these guys made me feel that the real me was unacceptable and only a fake me was OK.
Then, suddenly, I met a woman. She was big and fat, with black hair and thick glasses. Not my immediate type but I was surprised at how friendly she was. She sat down at my table and we talked. I can’t remember exactly what we spoke about but I was struck at her easygoing vibe and friendly, comforting attitude. I felt safe – like I could discuss anything.
This woman turned out to be a great friend. She often invited me out for a beer, where we would go to a bar and just hang out. She seemed to like me and I really loved being with her. In particular, I felt OK about asking her a bunch of questions about women – why women behave the way they do, what I should do in different situations, how women think and so on. It was eye-opening!
After some time, other people began to talk about our situation. I was surprised at their interest – so what? Initially, I put it down to our obvious difference in sizes – she was big and I was skinny as a rake and over six feet tall. I felt connected to her, could share when I wanted and felt like she cared about me.
It was the Christmas party at work when she got very drunk. My boss and his wife decided to take her and I home in their car. They decided to drop her off, then they would drop me off at my place. When we arrived at the first house, my boss instructed me to escort my friend up the path to make sure she didn’t fall over. Once we got out of sight of the car, my friend turned ti me and said,
“My life sucks. I hate my life. I don’t like living with my dad. He makes my life a misery. I’m a terrible person.”
“Don’t say that,” I replied. “I believe in you. You’re the first person outside my family I’ve been able to talk to normally for years. I feel safe with you. I think you’re great. I love having you in my life.”
Suddenly, she moved forward and kissed me. Her lips were soft as velvet and I realised I loved kissing. I gave her four or five more short kisses on the lips. It felt exciting, intoxicating and amazing. I loved it!
We spoke a little more before she finally went inside her house. I went back to the car and my boss took me home.
A few weeks later, my mum finally asked me, “Do you really like her? I mean, do you want to go out with her?”
“Well, yeah, I like her,” I remarked. “We’re not really ‘going out’, as such, though. We’re just friends.”
“Do you want to, though?”
“Well, we haven’t said anything about it. I suppose if she wanted to, I would be OK with that. It might be fun!”
“Olly, I think I need to tell you something,” my mum went on. “I know someone at the supermarket and she knows your friend.”
“Really? What about it?”
“Well, your friend has a girlfriend. She’s a lesbian, love. She’s not interested in boys. I didn’t want you to get your hopes up for something that might never happen.”
I thought about it. “Hmmm, well, she never said anything; but, you know, I didn’t think she was. You see, we kissed on Christmas Eve outside her house.”
“What do you mean, ‘how’? In the normal way, what else?”
“Wow, I didn’t know that!”
“So I’m a bit surprised if she’s a lesbian. No problem, though – maybe I’ll talk to her and find out what’s up.”
About 10 days later, we went out again to another bar. I decided to ask her. “Are you a lesbian?”
“I don’t know.”
“Like, if you are, that’s no problem. We’re just friends, right? It’s just that you and I have been hanging out for a while and I don’t know if you wanted to start something or not. Like, if not, that’s totally fine; but, if you did, I would be OK with that.”
She smiled. “Olly, Olly, Olly! Let’s just keep what we’ve got. I like it this way.”
“OK. Me, too. I feel happy.”
So we stayed friends. This continued for a number of months more, before she eventually changed her job to a new supermarket further away.
That’s really the end of the story; but I’ve never forgotten that kiss nor forgotten how much I appreciated being friends with her; and that was my first experience of LGBT people in my life – and it’s still the greatest.