I am so gay.
I love books about lesbians. I love movies with lesbian characters even though 90 percent of the time somebody ends up dead. I love rainbows. I love lesbian owned businesses. I Twitter stalk lesbian celebrities, pseudo-celebrities, lesbian writers, lesbian journalists. I frequent sites such as AfterEllen.com and Autostraddle. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to go against the ‘norm’ of the United States. I am proud to be in love with a woman. I am proud to be married to a woman.
10 years ago I was so far in the closet I was a part of the drywall. 10 years ago I was terrified somebody would find me out. 10 years ago I would rather drink myself into oblivion than really sit and think about who I was. 10 years ago I refused to admit what I am so proud of today.
I am gay.
And now that I am 31, nearing 32, I have to say this. I have to say it loud and proud. Fuck what people think. Fuck if you think I’m going to hell. Fuck you if you are worried about my salvation. Fuck you if you consider my gay marriage to be less than your straight marriage. Fuck you if you can’t even extend the courtesy to say congratulations to me in my new marriage. Fuck you if you think being gay is choice.
I refuse to be ashamed anymore. And I refuse to let you get under my skin. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the love I have with my wife.
I am a gay woman and I am proud.
So much has happened since my last post. I don’t even know where to start. Maybe from the beginning. I guess that would be the smart option. We came back from our Belgium and Netherlands trip not even a month ago and can I just say what an amazing time we had? I saw more of Belgium which is hard to believe considering the amount of times I’ve spent there. For such a small country there sure is a lot to see. I spent time with family. I bonded with my niece. I ate some chocolate. Drank some beer. We went to so many war museums. The Atlantic Wall Museum in Oostend. Go there. You won’t regret it. The “Trench of Death” in Diksmuide and the Ypres Tower also there. Go there. Again, you won’t regret it. We stayed at Martin’s Brugge again and I have no complaints with it. It is steps away from the main square. It’s clean and the staff is friendly. We had an top floor room with amazing views!
And…I went to Paris.
And I am sad to say this. I don’t know if I should admit it in my blog but I don’t think Paris is my favorite city anymore. Now, I may get a lot of flack for this. And I am willing to deal with the flack. It has been two years since I set foot in that city. We went on a Saturday, which I can imagine was probably not the best day to go. I can deal with tourists. I can deal with being shoved trying to cross the street. I can even deal with one of the birds shitting on my leather jacket as I stood outside of a Starbucks on the Champs de Elysees. What I cannot deal with is the throngs of gypsies/scam artists/aggressiveness that we had to deal with. The amount of scammers I saw and had to deal with was out of control. It was not like this two years ago when we went. I have always defended Paris. We never had problems with people being rude. We never had people talk down to us because we were American. This was my third time to Paris but my least favorite time spent there. I think it will be a very long time before I go back.
But I do have to say, Paris is still an incredibly photogenic city. If you can ignore the bad, just imagine the gorgeous pictures one can take there.
Then we went to Amsterdam. I went to Amsterdam years ago, for not even a full day and I really enjoyed my time there. But this time was really great. Now, sadly, when we finally got to Amsterdam we were incredibly sick. We had very bad colds, sore throats, I spiked a fever a few times. But we pulled through. Two friends from London flew over to spend a day with us which was amazing. I have ‘known’ Grete and David since we started talking on a travel website 8 or 9 years ago. This was our first time meeting and it was like meeting two old friends! We had a blast together. We went to the Anne Frank House. That was an incredibly moving experience. If you go I highly recommend booking tickets ahead of time. You save a lot of time! We got there right after opening and the line was already stretching around the building and down the block. We went to the Resistance Museum which was incredibly informative. I really enjoyed seeing that. The Prostitution Museum was interesting but I found it more depressing than informative. The Marijuana and Hemp Museum was a lot of fun, lots of cool artifacts and a lot (and I mean a LOT) of history associated with it. We enjoyed our time at a coffeeshop called Basjoe’s. It was right across the canal from our apartment. We went one night and the budtender was very nice and patient with us and we have no complaints with his recommendations for us.
The apartment we booked:
I cannot say enough great things about this apartment. It is centrally located. Just a few short minute walk from the Dam Square and the Red Light District. It is quiet, for the most part. With Amsterdam being a city of course there is always noise. The apartment is a basement apartment so we did hear more noise than somebody on the top floor but it didn’t really bother us at all. Just go down the street and you are right in the middle of the tourist track, shops, restaurants, coffeeshops, cafes all within a few minutes. When (yes, WHEN) we go back to Amsterdam I would not hesitate to stay there again.
And this goes without saying but Amsterdam is absolutely gorgeous.
And now for some big news. Big. HUGE!
Last week, on November 5th the gay marriage ban was tossed out for the state of Missouri. Which is great for us. Because we live in Missouri! We were already planning an Illinois wedding for the spring. But guess what we did? We got married on November 7, 2014! We really had no notice, our families couldn’t even come due to it being so last minute. But WE. ARE. MARRIED. In our home state! It was the most amazing day. St Louis City Hall is absolutely beautiful. We were lucky enough that our friend Jenny and her fiance Jon could get off work to be our witnesses. Jenny held our rings, Jon took pictures. We found a minister who was already up there with her church marrying gay couples and she married us with less than 24 hours notice. I still don’t know how we pulled it off. We are married now. I have a wife. She has a wife. Life is good.
Travel plans for the future you ask?
New Orleans next fall. Probably right around November so we can be there for our first wedding anniversary. And for 2016…well…who knows? Right now we are weighing our options. Alaska. Italy. Ireland. Normandy was thrown out there just tonight. We shall see what the next year takes us. Last week I was all about Alaska. This week I envision us in Ireland. This is me we are talking about, by the time 2016 rolls around we could be planning a vacation to Vietnam for all I know.
Until next time…
A family member killed himself Sunday morning. I wrote a long blog post on Saturday about such a mundane topic such as Facebook while this family member was in such pain he had to end his life. A suicide (or just any death) makes one question things after the fact. For me it is ‘I disabled my Facebook account, what if he had wanted to contact me that way?’
Since 2014 started 4 people in my family have died. I can’t say I was close to all of them them, one was after a long illness. My grandpa was was 92, you can’t ask for a longer life. My cousins wife passed away at a very young age and it was quite a shock. And now this latest family member (out of respect I am not saying his name or his relationship to me). This person has been in my life for over 10 years. It is just unbelievable.
So much death surrounding me makes me think about life and really, how stupid it is to get so upset about the small stuff. Do I really care if my boss is upset with me because I called in to work? Or am I really that concerned about a bill I forgot to pay? I mean in the grand scheme of things its all just mundane stuff to get upset over. Don’t sweat the small stuff, right? My mom told me as you get older the less you care about what people think of you, the less you care about the little things. As I get older the less I do care. I still stress out about things but I find myself stressing out less and less.
What do I want from life?
In a word, I want happiness. I want to do what I want even with naysayers talking shit and bills I have to pay and the ever elusive question of ‘what about 30 years from now, how will you feel then?’ I hope I feel like this, but happier that at 61 years old I have lived my life the way I wanted to. This week all I can think about is, of course, getting away. Traveling is my passion, traveling is how I get away, figuratively and literally. It gives me a needed break, a break to immerse myself in another culture and forget about life, back at home.
I think we all deserve a break, once in awhile, right?
I think that sometimes I wear my gay pride as a badge of honor. Some may consider that to be strange but I don’t. It is 2014 and gay men and women are still being persecuted just by being who they are. Do people not understand that? We have come so far but still have so far to go. I love to live openly and freely to show the people who don’t understand this ‘lifestyle’ that we are all the same. My fiance and I love each other, we make dinner together, clean the condo together, go to the grocery store, spend time with our families. We do what every other straight couple does.
When I was a teenager. I was obsessed with Alanis Morissette. I wrote her fan letters. I wrote out her song lyrics and taped them all over my bedroom walls. I realized at 13 this wasn’t a normal fan experience. I imagined kissing her. And I wondered what that would be like. Then I felt ashamed because a girl kissing another girl was wrong. Then people started to realize how obsessed I was with her. My friends and I all read teen magazines. Seventeen, YM, I don’t even remember the others. And some teenager wrote in to one of them asking about their obsession with Alanis and how much they were in love with her. My friends actually thought it was me. The girl said she was 16 or 17 years old and I remember my friend saying “I just assumed you changed your age so that we wouldn’t think it was you.” I was embarrassed and I felt ashamed. Also, for the record, it wasn’t me!
Flash forward throughout high school. I dated a guy, for a little over 2 years. I felt normal being with him. He gave me his class ring, I gave him mine. We went to prom, homecoming, he was a football player and drove a big truck. We’d make out in his bedroom and he’d take me home. I look back now and think that really, all we ever did was make out, watch movies, and make out some more. Was I in love with him? No. When we broke up I thought my heart would break into a million pieces. Because there went my normalcy.
After high school life got a little easier. Mainly because I lost touch with so many friends from school. I moved out of my tiny town. I got a full time job. Spent time in the city, away from all the small towns. I lived with my brother and his girlfriend for awhile. I then moved in with my aunt. I worked random hours. Moved back in with my brothers girlfriend then he moved in. Here and there dated men. Even fell into a relationship that I thought that could end in marriage. All the while thinking ‘is this it?’ My grandpa was a minister. My grandparents were incredibly religious. My parents didn’t understand homosexuality, not at all. I felt incredibly alone, then I started hanging out with this girl from my old job. We’d make out. She claimed she wasn’t gay, or even bisexual. My gaydar is on point but I knew she’d never admit she was anything other than straight. We’d go out, get drunk, make out. Go back to her place and make out and drink some more. I was definitely on a path of destruction. Driving drunk, meeting strange people, inviting them over to hang out. Bar after bar after concert after concert. Drink after drink after drink. I guess in the grand scheme of things it was kind of normal behavior for a 25 year old single female. Or maybe not, maybe I am just trying to make myself feel better. I started to fall for my friend even though I realized it would never work out between us. And I was right. She refused to accept who she was and ended up falling for a guy all wrong for her, married him, and now has a few kids and we never talk after a horrific falling out. Ah. Such is life.
After that debacle one of my friends came out of the closet (and this came way out of left field) and it gave me courage. Even though it was still a long time until I told anyone. I went to see my friend (she lived on the East coast) and she had a new girlfriend. I told my friend “If I was gay, your girlfriend is the type I’d go for” which was basically a hot butch lesbian with short hair, wore flannel, and was all around a cutie. I went home and started watching The L Word and listening to Tegan and Sara. I mean, how gay can somebody get, right? I started very, very casually dating girls. Nothing special, just casual. Hanging out, going to see movies, going to gay bars in St Louis. All the while this was going on I told my parents I was dating this guy or that guy but it was all very ‘casual’. Or I would tell them I was not dating because I really just needed ‘me’ time. I’d nod firmly and puff out my chest a little. Like I was so mature for this, I just needed to be ‘alone’. Then I’d have a girl over and we’d giggle at the deception while inside my heart was breaking over lying to so many people. I finally started to slowly come out to friends. I swore them all to secrecy. The kicker? I don’t think I talked to one friend that was surprised. Most said “yeah, I’ve known” or “really, this is no big surprise to me.” Sigh.
I tried online dating and ended up talking to a girl in Finland. During all that I flew to Belgium for Christmas to see my brother and his wife. I told his wife first. We were in the car, I told her and she slapped my leg and said “I knew it!” We went out to eat after and we giggled over her lesbian encounter the ONE time she had one. We came home that night and my brother wanted to take me out to a bar down the road. His wife told me it was the perfect time to tell him. I didn’t have the courage so she told him. He said “Brittany, I don’t care. Women are beautiful.” Within seconds I felt relief. My best friend, my brother, he knew and I knew he would always have my back.
Things with the girl in Finland took a weird turn when we decided we wanted to meet. Then we decided we didn’t want to date anyone else until we could figure out what ‘this’ was. So I planned a 3 week trip to Finland. But a week before I left to follow my heart, my brother and his wife came to visit. And we had all decided it was time to tell my parents. It didn’t go well. I told my mom, over the phone, on my brothers birthday. To this day I don’t know why I chose that day, of all days. My mom, at first, accepted it whole-heartedly. “Brittany, I love you, you’re my daughter, I’d never feel ashamed.” She told the family (which I said was okay because I didn’t have the energy to come out to everyone else). My step-sisters sent me text messages basically also saying they weren’t surprised. My step-brother too. Even their mother sent me a text congratulating me on coming out. Then my mom told my step-dad and all hell broke loose. To defend my parents, I realize this was all a shock. But I had no idea it would turn into what it did. They just could not get over the fact that I lied to them. And I get it, now, I get it. But what exactly do parents of gay children expect? My step-dad wouldn’t talk to me except to yell at me about lying. We had a surprise party for my brother that same week, a hundred people showed up, and I just tried my best to steer clear of my parents. When people were around my parents were nice to me but it didn’t last. The day before I left for Finland my parents yelled at me about what a liar I was. They refused to take me to the airport and I had to scramble for a ride. Before I left I told my mom I was flying to Finland because I was pretty sure I was in love. That if things worked out they could possibly lose me to Finland (and this girl) forever. That didn’t go over well. And I left. I went to Finland and didn’t even call them from the airport. The only reason I even had contact with them in that 3 weeks is because my sister ended up in the hospital while I was gone and I wanted and needed updates.
Things didn’t work out with the girl in Finland. It was to be expected. I had a lot of baggage. I refuse to blame it all on her or all on me. We were just two women that didn’t work out. 3 years later we are practically best friends and email each other at least once a week. Sometimes I wish I could fly back to Finland to hang out with her, just as best friends. Maybe one of these days I will.
I met Angie a month after the girl from Finland I broke up. I think it may have been love at first sight. We spent that first night together, watching 10 Things I Hate About You and she made me her famous grilled cheese and dip. I spent every weekend with her after that and 4 months later I sold most of my stuff and moved in with her only bringing artwork, books, movies, and clothing. My parents eventually came around. They even felt ashamed at how they acted, what they said. They adored Angie. Angie was there for me when my step-dad got sick, when he died. She was there for me when work was awful and I ended friendships and when people on Facebook upset me. If it wasn’t for my whole process of coming out I would have never found her.
I wrote this blog because, as lame as it sounds, things can and will get better. Find a great group of friends, gay or straight. Because if your family can’t accept you, your friends always will. The more we ‘normalize’ gay the more people will come around. A lot of straight people don’t understand gay pride. They don’t understand why we even have it. The history behind gay pride is in 1969 LGBT people rioted after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, in NYC. It is considered the ‘watershed moment’ for LGBT rights of modern times. Gay people aren’t going anywhere. In reality so many are coming out because they feel more secure coming out when before it was scary. No matter what, it is scary. But it is definitely not the end of the world like I thought it would be. Once I came out I felt instant relief even though I had to do deal with so much bullshit after. I really thought I’d lose my family. And for about 6 months I thought I was losing my family. Things were not okay until I basically told my parents that either they accept me and keep accepting me or I was done. I wasn’t going to deal with flip flopping. Being okay with it, then flipping out about it all over again.
If any parents are reading this, some advice. Don’t accuse your children of being liars. Yes, they lied. But think about it. Why did they lie? Why were they terrified to tell you? How are you reacting as they tell you? Therein lies your answer. These are your children. I don’t care if you are worried about his or her salvation. Think of your child now, in this life and what they are going through.
If I have learned anything in 2014 it is that life is very fragile. You say good-bye to somebody and it could very well be the last time you see them. Make that good-bye count. And make wonderful memories before that last good-bye. Don’t worry about who they prefer to share their bed with.
I am driving Angie crazy. I mean, more than normal at least. She told me a couple of days ago that the condo will be paid off in 4 years. 4 years! Do you believe that? I will be done with school in roughly 2 years. My car will be paid off in 3 years. I am getting a degree in a job that will be easy to come back to if I take a year long break. Or longer. You know. Depending on what I can save in the next 5 years.
Yeah. I’m already planning our 1 year+ trip around the world in 5 years. I’m driving her crazy. I’m already asking her where she wants to go. So far we said Sydney for New Years Eve (on a yacht in the harbor preferably but I won’t get too picky). Two months in New Zealand. Cambodia. Indonesia. At least a month in Paris. Iceland. Finland. Sweden. Switzerland. Denmark. Croatia. Ireland. Italy. I mean the list just goes on and on. And how does one plan a year long trip? How do you stay in another country for longer than 3 months without a work visa? I mean isn’t that the rule or am I mistaken?
So now I won’t stop talking about it. Or thinking about it. I have a new fascination with Bali. I think Angie does too. First of all, holy shit, what a photogenic place! I don’t think it is possible to take a bad picture there! I have no real desire to go to Cambodia but Angie has wanted to go there for years. She said she’ll be happy just going for a week which I decided I could handle. I’m sure it is a wonderful country, I’ve just never had a reason to go there, nor a desire. Of course, I want to stay in Paris for a month. Maybe longer. I wouldn’t mind 3 weeks in Paris and then explore the rest of France and go into Switzerland for another 4 weeks or so. A month in Australia at least. I don’t know. I just feel inspired. It gives me a goal to strive for. Start paying on my student loans NOW, not later. Get bills, credit cards, hospital bills paid off. Be debt free in a few years. My only concern would be leaving our babies (the cats) for too long.
I really should just concentrate on our trip coming up. 2 weeks in Europe in October. Belgium and The Netherlands. Seeing family. Seeing friends. Taking more pictures. It is going to be an incredible trip. I am in desperate need of a vacation even though it hasn’t been a year since my last one!
Until next time…
It can really let you down, huh? Work, school, bills, sick parents, stress, gas mileage, new contacts and eyeglasses. It is always something isn’t it? But I guess the key is to not let life bring you down.
My new job didn’t work out. Well, it more than didn’t work out. I quit 8 days in and went back to my old job. I did not see that coming! Nobody saw that coming. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I hate that clique but it’s at least true in this situation. I’m back at the old government job. I shouldn’t hate on it too much. I sit in a corner, alone, people leave me alone. I’ve learned a few lessons in leaving that job, starting a new one, leaving that job, then going to the old one.
Don’t get so close to co-workers. There is a reason they are just co-workers. They aren’t best friends. You shouldn’t share your life secrets with them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to make friends. I have a few that I do consider ‘true’ friends. But while one spends 8 hours (or more) with co-workers that also doesn’t mean they should know details about your personal life.
Political and religious talk shouldn’t be discussed around the water cooler. That is a lesson I learned early on. But it seems some don’t understand that notion. I don’t care how much you hate Barack Obama or how much you despise gay marriage because it is the devil. Guess what? I doubt you care that I voted for Barack Obama or that I love the idea of gay marriage (since, you know, I’m gay).
Don’t be afraid to just be who you are. A lot of people don’t know that I am gay at the job. I came out after I started there and just never go around to coming out to co-workers. I find letting them know is probably for the best. It stops the gay marriage debate, at least around me. A co-worker didn’t know I was gay. He made an anti-gay remark. I came out to him in anger. I don’t want to have to do that.
But besides all this, besides the lessons I’ve learned recently, the ups and downs of life I have to say. I have the best life. I am 30 years old, in school for a degree that requires very little studying thanks to working in the field for so long. I have a good job even if it is a job that I wasn’t a big fan of. I make good money, I have insurance, I have life insurance. I have a wonderful, amazing, incredibly patient fiance. The 20th is our anniversary. 3 years. I can’t believe I found somebody as great as her. I have an amazing family. A family that I have grown even closer to after my step-dads death. I have two cats I love to death. Some will scoff but those two furballs are my babies. I dare you to say otherwise!
I have had incredible opportunities in my short life. At 30 years old I have traveled more than anyone I (personally) know. During my road trip through Europe last year I posted this list on Facebook. It was my lessons for road-tripping through Europe.
1) Wear sunscreen even if you are in the car most of the time. I now have severe sunburn on my arms.
2) The French countryside is stunning.
3) I want to retire in Switzerland.
4) Europe needs to put street signs on their roads.
5) Lilly is very patient for a 3 year old.
6) Mont Blanc is beautiful.
7) Don’t eat pizza then get into a hot car. Hello carsickness.
8) I have experienced more than most people and I know how lucky I am.
I worried I came across as ‘uppity’ in that post but it’s true. I’ve had amazing opportunities to see the world. And I’m only just getting started. I worry sometimes that I annoy people on social media in regards to my travel updates. But I’m to the point where I don’t care. Why should I? I work hard to take these trips. I spend a lot of time planning. I spend too much money on guide books that I don’t often spend much time reading. (Don’t tell my fiance that).
I can’t let life bring me down. So I can’t travel the world 365 days a year. I have responsibilities here. It should be enough that I travel at the very least once a year. It should be enough that I have seen more of the world than most people I know. Every day I am yearning to see another place. Or hell, go back to a country I’ve been to just so I can experience it again. I need to try to remember to look on the bright side of things. Is immersing myself in all things travel a good or bad thing? I’m going to go with it being a great thing! Why not, right?
Until next time…
My new motto.
Do you have a ‘go-to’ move when your wanderlust strikes? Do you have a certain film that satisfies your yearning for travel until you are able to go on a trip? The movies I tend to gravitate towards aren’t the best movies ever made but some of them just get me, you know?
Joshua Jackson, Leonor Varela, Timm Sharp, Ruthanna Hopper, Dennis Hopper
Chris McKinley, recent college graduate, is backpacking through Europe with 2 friends and is in Pamplona, Spain for the Running of the Bulls. There he meets Adela in his last few days of ‘freedom’ before he starts his career. In the film he participates in the bull run, sees a bullfight, has his backpack stolen, and deals with an interesting (to say the least) owner of a bar, played by Dennis Hopper. He has has to deal with his friends, Ryan and Michelle, a couple that are at the end of their relationship. He falls for Adela, in between calling the US and receiving voice mails about his new 9-5 job. *Spoilers* In the end he leaves Adela and his friends go back to the US. You don’t see Chris going home, you see him walking, in an ambiguous ending that leaves you wondering, did he go back to Adela or did he go home to start a career, a job that he didn’t seem to be that excited about? I like to think that he went back to Adela and and said screw the man! The movie inspires me. My favorite line is “Promise me…Do what scares you.” Really, do what scares you. Because even if it scares you…no, terrifies you, it is more than likely exactly what you want. But do you have the courage to do so? I hope Chris had the courage to do what terrified him and staying in Spain with Adela was what scared him.
The soundtrack is great too. So fun and upbeat, my favorite track is “Si, Si, No, No” by Maria Conchita Alsonso. The part of the movie that song is played is, ahem, pretty damn sexy as well. You won’t soon forget that song or that scene! Besides the obvious reasons why I love the movie the scenery is stunning! It was filmed in Pamplona during the actual Running of the Bulls and then in the Spanish countryside. Spain is such a gorgeous country and every time I watch this movie I am inspired to go and enjoy that same scenery. The only issue I have with Spain is that I want to see all of it and it will be hard to narrow it down in a 2 week vacation! Before seeing Americano I never had a desire or yearning to see Spain. I figured I’d go eventually but it wasn’t at the top of my list. It is right now, in this moment, my number 1 spot to see after our Belgium and Netherlands trip this year. I am inspired to know more about Spain, to understand the history and customs. When I think about Spain it makes me feel like I could be going ‘home’. That may sound crazy to some of you but I don’t care. Everyone is a little crazy, right?
“The story of our life, in the end, is not our life, it is our story.”