Growing up in a small, rural town in Colorado during the 80’s and 90’s meant that I had very little real life exposure to anything queer. Despite that, when I reminisce about my youth, I knew I was different by the time I was 13. I suppose I could thank Anne Rice and Anais Nin for introducing me to the idea of same-sex relationships (and my parents for never censoring anything I wanted to read). I knew I was very curious about other female bodies early on; spending 10 years in ballet gave me plenty of opportunity to think about them. I got my first big crush on another girl when I was 15. She was new to our small school – such a novelty! – and I found myself drawn to her in a way I could not explain or admit to anyone. She inspired my first fantasies about kissing another girl even while she dated the captain of the football team. I don’t think she ever even knew my name. Her family moved away at the end of the year.
Going off to college in Boulder changed everything for me. Leaving a small town where everyone knew me and whose entire population wouldn’t fill a quarter of Folsom Field, for a lovely clean slate was often overwhelming. But it wasn’t long before I had a whole new crush on one of my new friends. She was the first girl I ever kissed, and I still remember how sweet and sexy it was.
Throughout all of this, I was still very interested in men, too. I was never confused by my desires. It seemed only natural that I would be attracted to an attractive human being, regardless of gender. Making friends with people who were openly, and occasionally flamboyantly, gay helped me come to terms with myself quickly. The idea of being bisexual – a name and a concept I had never heard of before – seemed to fit. In fact, it came as a surprise to me that everyone didn’t appreciate the human form as much as I did. I came out to my friends my junior year and no one seemed particularly surprised and everyone just moved on like nothing was scary or different. I was very lucky.
But then I decided to join the military after graduation. 9/11 happened not long after receiving my degree and I was set on the idea of serving my country, as much of my family had done for generations. My sexuality was not something I considered to be an issue, but I soon learned that, in the US military, it was. I worked in a specialized field that required special clearances and in order to obtain those clearances, I was interviewed numerous times about all facets of my life, my beliefs, my relationships and my activities. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still the law. The military was very clear – I could be with whoever I wanted to be with, but they’d better not find out about it if the relationship was against their norms. I saw several queer friends kicked out of the military during my active duty and I was scared. I didn’t act on my queer desires at all. That’s when I fell into the world of BDSM – which the military didn’t care about – mostly because this community would occasionally allow me to be intimate with another woman. I was starved for the femanine touch. I was already planning to start dating women as soon as I was out of the military. Two years after I got out, DADT was repealed and I celebrated with and for all my queer military friends!
Unfortunately, the military left me scarred by some of my non-consensual experiences, and it was many years before I felt ready to get back into dating and intimacy. By then, I was in my mid-thirties. I had lived with the knowledge of my bisexuality for 20 years, I was back in the very liberal Boulder County, and I wasn’t scared. I met a nice woman and that’s when I came out to my parents. It was not a big deal for me – I just told them I was going to date a woman for a while. Maybe they were surprised, but not once did I feel unaccepted. They accepted her as part of my life and my matter-of-fact way of talking about her seemed to help them adjust.
After that relationship ended, I found I was really disgusted with online dating. I didn’t want to be a married couple’s threesome partner. I was grossed out by the messages I would get from straight men. I was disappointed by the dismissive messages from lesbians. And I really wanted to make more friends who could help me feel safe just being me, whatever that entailed. That’s when I found BConnected, and I am so, so grateful to have found this community filled with all manner of interesting, compassionate and self-confident human beings. I feel safe at the events I attend and I have made some really fulfilling and enlightening friendships. When I am ready to get back out into the dating world – post-pandemic – I know I will feel confident and supported by a group of really lovely people who have taught me so much about setting healthy boundaries, being true to myself and not settling for the sake of just being in a relationship.
Overall, I have been very lucky to have been accepted by friends and family, and I appreciate that even more now that I know so many people who have not had such a positive experience.