So, the most often asked question is, “Maisie, how could you be married for twenty years to a man and not know you’re gay?”
And my answer has always been, “I have no idea. I honestly don’t know.”
I think back to my high school days. Was there any indication? Any hint? Was I secretly yearning for girls?
No. At least I don’t think I was.
I loved high school and had crushes on the cute guys, just like all my friends. But the difference with me was, that was as far as it went. Inside I was scared as hell. And at the time, I was certain I was the only one who felt this way. A bit of a spaz, I guess. Overthinking everything. So, I kept it to myself.
My first kiss (with a guy) was in grade nine and I almost had a nervous breakdown. Spin the Bottle. Who invented that game? I was a reluctant participant, silently praying the bottle would miss me every time, watching that minute hand creep closer to midnight, when Mom was supposed to pick me up. As I peered around the circle of guys and girls, I realized everyone else had a look of eager anticipation while I just wanted to disappear. Then it was Eric’s turn. He grinned at me and reached out to spin the bottle. It was two minutes to twelve, by my watch, so I jumped to my feet and yelled good-bye to all and raced up the basement stairs.
As I searched through the mound of running shoes, Eric followed me into the kitchen, holding up the bottle triumphantly.
“Hey Maisie, I think you owe me a kiss,” he said with a shy smile. My heart slammed in my ears as I glanced out the window and saw Mom’s headlights just outside the door. Yet so far away.
He dipped his head and as his lips slid over my watermelon Bonne Belle lip gloss, I stumbled back. Then I turned and wrenched open the front door and ran to the safety of Mom’s Camaro, only to face her bewilderment at my distress. “Why didn’t you just kiss him back, Maise? It’s just a kiss! I loved kissing when I was your age!”
But I wasn’t Mom and it wasn’t just a kiss to me. It was my first kiss. And it felt wrong. And I felt confused. But I thought it was just me. I thought I was a weirdo. My blundered kiss didn’t bother Eric a bit though. On Monday, he asked me to be his girlfriend. And I said yes. Because wasn’t that what you were supposed to do?
But I never dated anyone for long. I’m sure it was because I was uptight. And because I was just a better friend then a girlfriend.
And then high school was over and I married my high school sweetheart. And as I stood at the back of the church, holding tight to Dad’s arm, unease weighed heavy. Wasn’t this supposed to be where I was overcome with emotion…where I cried tears of joy? But tears of joy did come later when I held my newborn son in my arms, when I watched my daughter sleep.
Twenty years later, I came to the sad conclusion my marriage was over.
And I had my other first kiss.
I kissed a woman. I kissed that sauntering, arrogant woman. And I didn’t run away in a panic. And it turned out she wasn’t so arrogant. She had a heart of gold.
But guilt gnawed away at me. How could I possibly be considering the impossible? How could I feel the way I was feeling? What the hell was wrong with me?
And then one day I got home from work a little early, before the kids and I sank down onto the couch…weary inside and out. I flipped on the TV to Oprah and half-watched as my thoughts waged war.
But then I started listening – really listening – to the program and I remember sitting up – my ears tuned to what Oprah was saying.
Poppy cuddled in my lap as I leaned forward. And I learned something new. Something that was amazing, something that gave me a glimmer of hope, a tiny bit of relief.
The Kinsey Scale – a scale that runs from 0 to 6 – with 0 indicating someone is exclusively heterosexual and 6 indicating someone is exclusively homosexual. The idea behind the scale is that sexual orientation is not black and white; that we all have preferences, whether for the same sex, the opposite sex or both and those preferences may even change over the course of a person’s life. And those preferences are not something we choose, but something we feel.
But the part that hit me hard were numbers 3 and 4 on the scale. 3 was equally heterosexual AND homosexual while 4 was predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual.
And I knew exactly where I sat on this scale I’d never heard of.
And then…well then, I just cried.