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Inspired by doorwaystraveler and saslockey, here is my own Monday Me:

It’s Monday. Again. I’m doing laundry, as I do every Monday. The simple act of folding clean clothes makes me smile, then yawn. It’s the same each time. I put in a load, go upstairs and become thorough occupied in something else, then remember it, head downstairs to move along the clothes and put in a new load (about which I promptly forget), and repeat this process until somehow, finally, the clothes all get washed, dried, folded, and put away. Some weeks there are more loads than others. Some weeks it is just towels and sheets.

This week it is everything. We were even running out of underwear. Unfortunately this was not due to dirty clothes, but due to a lack of folding last week’s laundry, which was done on Friday, not Monday, since we were both traveling. I have gone up and down the stairs from my office on the second floor to the machines in the basement more times than I care to remember.

But it does give me time to think, all this walking and stair-climbing.

Today, I am thinking about Bea and her bravery at the TedxSydney conference. I have watched this many times since she posted the link. {Not because I think she’s beautiful — though she is soul-crushingly beautiful to her core.}

Nope, I keep watching this video because I get it. I mean, I really, really get it. I know EXACTLY what she is describing.

When I was seventeen, my family told me to leave. There were many things not working in our house, but as a young woman attending college instead of high school and preparing to graduate high school in 13 months, I was not expecting to be homeless. Underlying the fighting and the arguments was my blatant lesbianism. I mean, full-on dykehood, in the very throes of a flannel-wearing, granola-eating, Melissa-Etheridge-listening coming out experience. I had known I was queer since 13, but I grew up in a VERY conservative home. Coming out wasn’t an option. But I also wasn’t going to live a lie, or even a double-life, by being “not queer” at home, and gay as a peacock feather everywhere else.

To set the stage further, I grew up in a small, rural town. I didn’t have a ton of support, though there are many open-minded people whom I credit with saving my ass through the long and trying time I lived under my parents’ roof.

So I got kicked out. And I stayed with friends for a month, until finals were over, and then went to stay with some relatives for the summer. The worst that could happen was I would graduate from high school in a different state, then head back to my local university to finish my writing degree. Near the end of my summer stay, when I was registering for undergraduate classes just in case, my aunt had a conversation with my mother. I don’t know the details of the conversation, I only know this:

My aunt said I could live at home and finish my last year of high school (as a college student) as long as I was NOT gay. I don’t know if my mother gave this stipulation, or if my aunt enforced this idea as a way to help me graduate. Regardless, I did what any scared and studious young woman would do. I went back and became a heterosexual.

Ugh. Even reflecting back on this time brings great sadness and heartbreak.

I knew that my family would not believe my “conversion” by my simply not dating anyone. I needed to make it look, and seem, totally real. So I, not being one to do ANYTHING half way, found a boy. Well, a man. A real man. Like, macho and all. But in a Quaker, pacifist kind of macho. A man who was, at 25, much older than I and therefore convincing. And he was mine. We dated. And dated. Starting in August and going on, we were practically inseparable. At Christmas, he proposed.

I know.

Yep, he proposed. I was 17, he was 25. We had been dating 4 months. The plan was to get married after I graduate university, and buy a house near his mum and nephew in Iowa (hot, dry, ugly part of Iowa at that). A real gem of a deal, a total fixer-up (read: a dump. A former “squatter’s paradise”).

He even gave me a ring. A real diamond ring.

I tried to be happy. I tried to love him completely (the best acting of my life). I tried to be “straight.”

After a year of engagement, I failed.

He came back to school a year after that Christmas morning proposal to start the Spring semester, and I broke his heart. I had gone to visit a friend for New Year’s who looked at my ring with astonishment, my bloated face and gained-sixty-pounds body, and asked me what I wanted.

And I bawled like a slapped newborn.

OF COURSE I wanted out of this dead-end relationship. OF COURSE I wanted to dump him and find the next willing lesbian, just to remember who I really am (this did not happen, by the way). OF COURSE I wanted to find my core, my center, my truth. I was no longer living with my family, so why was I keeping up the charade?

Oh yeah, I thought, people accept me when I’m straight.

It’s true. I had more friends than ever. I could talk to just about anyone, and they could relate to me because my fiance was a male. We were invited to social gatherings. No one stared at us on the dance floor, except with bugged-out eyes at our grace and aplomb. I had never been accepted like this. And even the friends I had (who remained my friends throughout) acted a little bit differently toward me with him in my life.

It all made me want to vomit.

So I broke it off. It was over. I was over. I had no idea who I was anymore, no idea who I could have been or would be. I needed to start fresh.

Unfortunately, I was deep into a writing degree and could not just skip town. I stayed and finished my degree and university. He graduated that spring (after we separated), and my mum threw him a huge graduation party. And made him a quilt. They’re still friends.

As for me, I went back to being a crunchy, flannel-wearing lesbian. Then I realized that the only acceptable time for wearing flannel is while camping, and tried to discover my inner fashion sense. I learned that lesbians come in all shapes and colors, and in both high-heels and combat boots, and I could just be me.

Just be me.

Here I am, oh so many years later. I’ve never looked back, never wished I were straight again. I’ve loved and lost and loved some more. I’ve dated and wished I’d never kissed her, and looked on from afar and thought, “Why didn’t I ask her number?” I’m happy, I’m sad, but mostly I’m just queer.

And while this self-outing is not nearly as big as Bea’s, I hope it puts another face to the fight for marriage equality as something we need across the globe.

Love is not something that can be regulated, or legalized. Love is not something you can choose.

Love just is.

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