I’m an introvert and a total lesbian---two key pieces of information that would’ve been useful to connect much sooner than I did. Because I spent a decade looking for my own pride in all the wrong places. Surprisingly, and much to my dismay, when you come out you don’t receive a guidebook in the mail that tells you how to become part of the gay community. And your life doesn’t suddenly mirror an episode of The L Word overnight (or ever). My twenties were defined by failed attempts to connect to this elusive gay scene. I had the skinny tie, high-top sneakers and asymmetrical haircut, so where the hell was my dyke posse?
I started to break out into emotional hives at the sight of the rainbow flag. I'd see it flailing in the wind, or stuck to a storefront window and it seemed to taunt me and remind me of my lesbian shortcomings.
"You need to go out and make some gay friends, Abby," my mother would "helpfully" suggest, like it were as easy as having a pizza delivered. This became her signature line, and it irritated me more and more each time she suggested it---the way only your parents' advice can.
I preferred quiet activities like reading a book or following a YouTube trail of cat videos on a Friday night, but this was getting me nowhere. So I forced myself out of my comfort zone in pursuit of becoming a better lesbian---still having no idea what that meant or how to achieve such status.
I went to a concert alone at The Company House one International Women's Day (sure to be a hotbed of queers, right?) and felt so uncomfortable in the crowd that I instantly sought solidarity with rye. Later that night, from the safe confines of my apartment and Gmail, I would think it was a super idea to email the opening act and ask her out. She would opt to politely decline. Instead of magically waking up with a newfound feeling of gay pride and a bevy of lesbian friends, I just had a headache.
I made another attempt by going to a Pride parade. This would be the ultimate test. If I didn't feel comfortable amongst a crowd of tens of thousands enthusiastically celebrating diversity, it was probably time to pack up my plaid shirts and call it a day. Cut to me at the end of the parade desperately shoving through the people, dialing my best friend with tears in my eyes. I remember sitting on the Common asking her why I felt so out of place where I was supposed to feel at home.
After many more attempts that end much like these previous tales, I finally realized I wasn't failing at being a lesbian, I was just failing at being myself---someone who thrives on the quieter side of life, someone who gets kinda anxious in crowds. Why was I expecting some super dyke powers to kick in and provide me with social prowess?
Had there been a guidebook to being gay, a must-have chapter would've been titled, "Define your own community and celebrate your pride whatever way you want, you fool!" When I let go of that internal pressure to fit in in the ways I thought I was supposed to, I felt comfortable in my own skin. If borrowing queer-themed library books connected me to my inner gayness and the gay community at large, who was I to get in my own gay way?
To those who will walk down the parade route with flags this year and highlight the awesomeness of our city's diversity, I salute you. Needless to say, the very idea causes my breath to quicken. But for the first time I know that about myself and I'm perfectly OK with it.
Cheers to the quiet queers among us. Happy Pride, however you choose to celebrate.
Abby Crosby is a happy Haligonian who met her wife on Twitter while wearing sweatpants. She has even made a few gay friends. (Her mom is so proud.)
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