In sixth grade all the elementary-schoolers came together in a common middle school. That's when I met her. A beautiful, smart, athletic Irish girl with a very Irish name. We'll call her Meghan Flanagan. She and I became friends immediately, and had grown inseparable by the eighth grade. We had a lot in common. We were both very athletic, both honor students, we even both played the drums in the band! I began to notice that when her knee touched mine, or there was any other kind of physical contact between us, I felt all funny inside, a rush would go through me, and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This feeling made me want to increase the amount of physical contact, naturally. It was also about that time in life, when all the other girls our age started to talk about boys constantly, and tried to arrange kissing parties and crap like that. You couldn't even have a conversation with one of them without the subject of boys coming up.
"You know, it's when a boy likes boys, or a girl likes girls, homosexuals!"
Inner conversation: Holy crap, I'm part of something bigger. I'm a homosexual! I'm not the only one, there are others like me. This is great! Where are they? How do I find them?
Rumor had it that the high school PE teacher was queer, and I thought about talking to her about it, but I was too scared. What if she wasn't? What would happen to me, if I told her I was? Would I be kicked out of the girls locker room, unable to participate in sports, forced to where a big orange sign declaring that I'm a sexual deviant and should not be trusted?!
Things were different back then. It was 1974. There was no gay visibility. No role models, no alliances, organizations, community centers, and certainly no Internet! I looked up homosexual in the dictionary, found the words, deviant, pervert, lesbian and Sappho. I went from there, trying to find out about my culture, my social possibilities. Somehow I found some books on homosexuality in the town pharmacy. Too embarrassed and ashamed to buy them, I shop-lifted them, took them home and read them. What I read painted a dark and dismal picture of what my life might be like. Most of the information was about men, and it was explained that data on women was not easily obtained because they were not as visible or accessible. It seems there was also a very high percentage of suicide by lesbians who, because they were catholic, were told they'd burn in hell if they lived their lives as lesbians. Pretty bleak. My take on it was, you also burn in hell for killing yourself, so why not try to enjoy your life? Seemed like the lesbians were all becoming nuns, offing themselves, or living in seclusion with some other lesbian they'd somehow managed to find, or just lots of cats. I wondered if I would ever find anyone I was attracted to, that also happened to be a lesbian. The odds seemed to be against it.
I also was babysitting around that time in my life, and one of the guys I babysat for liked the Penthouse Magazines, and had issues dating back for ten years or so. I would look through them, and occasionally they would have a spread of women pictured together. When I found these, I would cut them out and take them home with me. They went into a drawer at my bedside along with all the stolen books.
My parents arranged for me to see a psychologist, because they had no clue what to do or say. I obliged them, since they promised it would just be the one visit, and it went like this.