Live Through This

Family Ties

Here’s to the queers who raised me right.

Once upon a time (OK, two years ago), I moved to Chicago.

I moved from Minneapolis, where I had lived for years and years.

It was really hard to move. Actually…dreadful.

In Minnepolis, I had a big circle of friends. They were wonderful.

I’m a lesbian, and nearly all my friends in Minneapolis were queer. I had a tight-knit group of seriously good friends, and I vaguely knew most of the queer girls in the city. We all saw each other out at night. We all saw each other at the co-op during the day.

It was heaven.

In Chicago, though, I suddenly had no friends. No core group of queers. No friends at all. None. I was starting from scratch.

Where were the gays? I needed them. I needed them now.

I had some hope—I had just started working at a huge internet startup with about 250 stylish-lookin’ kids in my exact target-friend-age-range.

Confident that about ¼ of the girls in the office were at least queerish, I began my investigations.

But weeks turned into months, and months turned up a realization: I was alone.

In my giant office building on Chicago’s Miracle Mile, with hundreds of hipster kids working on my floor alone, with literally hundreds of girls my age all working on the same project, going to the same shows, and drinking together after work every night…

I was the only lesbian.

ALONE!!

Marooned! Surrounded by tales of what everyone’s boyfriend said last night!

A cold wind whipped through the office cafeteria, cutting into my heart with icy fingers. I loved my new job, but I really missed working with ladyfags.

The snow came down. The months went by.

I swallowed my pain, made friends with the kickass straight girls in my office, and learned to live with loss.

But then one Sunday, six months into my job, I saw my boss, Alma*, in a coffee shop. She was with a pretty girl.

I waved at Alma, and she came over, bringing the pretty girl with her, and introducing her as her “girlfriend.”

Alma’s girlfriend.

OMG ALMA WAS A LESBIAN!!!

You guys, my jaw hit the floor.

I was the only gayelle at work! ME!  The only one! What was this???

Y’all, I was so used to being the only lesbian at work that I was kind of shocked to have the title yanked out of my martyr hands.

Alma and I have been tight ever since. Hanging around the office together. And man, it is so nice to have another ladygay in the office.

One day, when Alma and I were having coffee in the break room, she made a li’l confession:

I was her first dyke friend.

Her first! She had never had one before! She’d never been a part of the gay scene. She was almost my age, had been out for seven years, and had never had a lesbian friend before.

I was shocked. How was that even possible?

When I came out, I was lost.

I was raised in the Mormon church, and, as a newly out homo, I had just left the only community I’d ever been a part of—the Mormon community.

My sister was incredibly supportive, but my parents wouldn’t talk to me. My straight friends didn’t understand.

As I understood it, the God I knew had, apparently, been listening only when I was planning on marrying a returned Mormon missionary.

Gay people saved me.

My college queer student union. Gay bars. My new friends at the burlesque show.

They became my family.

Queers swooped me up in their gorgeous arms and hugged me tight and told me it was OK to be happy and like women and look like a freak and it was also OK to be really, really angry.

Apart from being fun as hell and throwing great parties, the queers also split my white, privileged, uptight brain open.

Through homos, and my driving need to be accepted by my new, chosen family, I met people I would never have reached out to, even a year earlier. I met my first girlfriend, Justine, who was dancing at a bar called the Gay 90’s, when my best friend literally shoved me at her.

Y’all, here’s how sheltered I was: the first thing I thought, upon seeing Justine dancing, was “Woah, an Asian lesbian.”

It had never even crossed my mind that there could be Asian lesbians. C’mon now, give me a break: I went to a high school in Wisconsin with exactly one non-white student.

I began to meet amazing people. Transgender folk. Old lesbians. Baby dykes. Burlesque dancers. Bike punks. Queer Christians, drag queens, rollergirls. Gays with babies. Women who laughed a lot and never wore high heels and women who were over 50 and said “goddamn” whenever they goddamn felt like it.

They took me into their community when I needed friends and love the most—as is, no questions asked, no to-do list of improvements demanded.

Now that’s Christ-like love, friends.

I learned from my new family. What drama meant. What being a friend meant. What addiction was. What acceptance meant. What grief looked like. What love was.

The queers raised me into adulthood.

Not to get too sappy on you guys, but when Alma told me I was her first lesbian friend, my heart exploded. How had she survived this long???

Amazed, I asked her whom she talked about girl problems with. She shrugged and said, “I don’t, really.”

I tried to wrap my head around it. Tried to picture my life without having spent the last eight years so fully ensconced in queer culture that at one point, I realized I knew exactly four straight girls, and three of them had definitely “dallied.”

I couldn’t even imagine life without homos.

All this time, Alma had been a card-carrying member to an awesome club she’d never even gone to. She’d never seen a drag show! Never gone to a queer party! Never marched at Pride!

OH MY GOD.  We had some serious catching up to do.

But…why does having gay friends matter, anyway?

Well. It doesn’t matter. To some people. Some gays are totally fine being the only one in their friend group. In fact, I know a couple mo’s who really just don’t give a dang.

“Friends are friends,” they snort, batting away my “ohmigodyou’regay?let’sbebestfriends” overtures.

And that’s so. Friends are friends. Friends love you for who you are, not whom you sleep with.

But I need other queers, too. It’s not an exclusionist thing. It’s a physical need. Even though I have wonderful straight friends, it’s just such a comfort to have dyke-minded individuals (heh) around you sometimes.

Just as Mormons go to BYU to be surrounded at college with other Mormons, and classic car people get together so they can talk about ’67 Mustang engines ad nauseum without fear of boring anyone, I need to be around lesbians so we can talk about dykey stuff and understand one another instantly.

Y’know, so many of us are lonely.

There are so many girls who think they’re the only lesbian at their school.

The only queer at work.

The only lesbian whose parents are uber-Christian, the only gay girl who wears dresses, the only mo in the whole damn town.

The only lesbian in the world.

But it’s not true! It’s just freakin’ not.

You can find a community of your own.

You will find your family.

Even if all you’ve got is the internet right now. ♦

* Not her real name.

27 Comments

  • thelittlepotato December 23rd, 2011 3:14 PM

    Hai there, creepy 27-year old here who is reading this lurvely teen zine ’cause of my love of all things written by Krista. FANTASTIC article. I was one of those queermos with all queer friends, and when I moved up to Boston, I was doing my own lone wolf howl for a while. Turns out straight people are pretty kickass too, and now my friend-group. But my queer friends totally and irrevocably occupy the “home” place in my soul.

  • horusfitzfancy December 23rd, 2011 3:24 PM

    Great article! Although I’m a little partial to Minneapolis myself.

  • Nishat December 23rd, 2011 3:35 PM

    I actually love being straight support and reading things that gay people write. I’m just a full-on supporter of love. You rock. That’s all.

  • Cloudy December 23rd, 2011 4:00 PM

    Love this article, ’cause sometimes i really feel lonely about that..
    I live in a little city, wich most of the people have structured ideas about sexuality..
    and this is so stimulating for me..
    that i only want to say: thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    :)

  • marimba_girl December 23rd, 2011 4:15 PM

    Great article! Some of my best friends are gay and lesbians and I always wonder if they feel weird when I talk about my boyfriend. Now I realize that I was being kinda stupid. This also applies to those of us who are part of other ” outgroups”, I’m a practicing pagan and often feel very left out during the Christmas season especially. Hopefully when I’m out on my own I can find others who have similar beliefs. Although I am usually fine in a group of nonpagans, like Alma I feel very alone without others like me. Happy Winter!!!!!

    • Filia-Zissy December 26th, 2011 12:47 PM

      I’m kinda wiccan (just without a coven and all this stuff) and I don’t know a single person with similiar beliefs. I found some nice persons at a social network… My friends are all atheists and christians and buddhists and muslims… Only few people know of my religion and sometimes that makes me feel very lonely. But I’m not alone, nore are you!

      Love,
      Filia
      http://filiasenchantingworld.blogspot.com/

  • rabidd December 23rd, 2011 4:39 PM

    this is truly wonderful

  • Maialuna December 23rd, 2011 5:31 PM

    Ohmygoodness. I loved this. SO MUCH. The fact that half of my friends kissed someone of the same gender before anyone else made me feel safe when I came out. :)

  • reedlily December 23rd, 2011 6:00 PM

    i was literally raised by queers (literally). i thought this was going to be an artical about that. its cool anyway though. :)

  • Jamie December 23rd, 2011 6:50 PM

    omg i love this. write everything on the site. OR GET YOUR OWN SITE. you could call if effing dykes or something. omg love this. your writing style is like a party

  • Ayla December 23rd, 2011 7:23 PM

    As a fresh out of the oven bisexual, i find the LGBT community overwhelming, i feel like there isn’t that much acceptance for ‘my kind’ which makes me sort of sad, id love a group of queer friends to gush over girls with.

  • jadeione December 23rd, 2011 9:41 PM

    I feel the same way, Krista. Thank god for my fellow dyke friends!

  • Marg December 23rd, 2011 9:48 PM

    this. this is what i want to find when i go to college. <3 i can't wait! and i totally agree with Jamie.

  • mwong1025 December 23rd, 2011 9:50 PM

    Egh. I came out 2 years ago as a bisexual and still haven’t find any friends who’s not straight. After reading this, it kinda makes me feel better. Unicorns FTW.

  • Notgoingtotrytohard December 23rd, 2011 10:33 PM

    Minneapolis, glad to know awesome people originate from there.

  • taste test December 24th, 2011 1:18 AM

    I was friends with a group of lesbians once. They were all pretty awesome. Then we had a collective realization- they realized I’m not gay, and I realized they absorbed me into their group because they mistakenly thought I was gay. Awkward. Disheartening, too, after thinking for half a year that they just liked me. Only one stayed in touch with me after that revelation. But yes, I’m sure the gay community is amazing for people who are actually gay. I certainly had fun when I accidentally infiltrated it. I wish more people were that nice.

    Also, I agree with everyone about how cool your writing is. It is so much fun to read, and the colored text and pictures totally add to it.

  • Loco Ono December 24th, 2011 3:08 AM

    Wow! This article was really great. While I’m a straight girl, one of my best friends is in the process of coming out and is having a hard time adjusting to the gay scene in Chicago. While its known as a “hot spot” I think unless you are old enough to get into clubs, there isn’t much out there for you in terms of meeting people.
    Anyways, I think articles like these give everyone hope that you aren’t alone and sometimes friends come from the most surprising places. :)

  • Bieb December 24th, 2011 3:31 AM

    i’ve attended two different universities and at my first one almost all my friends were lesbian and i was definitely part of the scene. even though i’m straight i think i’m also queer in that i like playing with traditional feminity and such and i guess i am more asexual than anything else, and i really loved my gay friends. but then i moved and two years later it still feels really weird having only one lesbian friend.

  • Miarele December 24th, 2011 6:48 AM

    I can’t even adequately describe how much I LOVE your writing style! It’s just so… lively and bursting with energy

  • PlatformShoesBlog December 24th, 2011 9:24 AM

    Great Article :D

  • emile December 24th, 2011 12:24 PM

    this is one of the best things i’ve read on Rookie. the way you write makes me want to be RIGHT THERE experiencing all the love and grief and brilliance with you and your incredible friends in chicago. :)

  • X December 25th, 2011 8:42 AM

    AHH!!!! to good post…to good..Kristy…you will really inspire gay girls out there….no, you are inspiring them already.
    IT. IS. AWESOME.

    http://www.newtoughgirl.blogspot.com/

  • fizzingwhizbees December 25th, 2011 9:21 PM

    This article is amazing and reminded me of how much I. NEED. QUEER. FRIENDS. There are like 5 lesbians at my college. It’s horribly depressing.

  • Filia-Zissy December 26th, 2011 12:43 PM

    Great article!

  • mangachic December 26th, 2011 2:36 PM

    I love this article and Krista’s posts in general, just found out effing dykes exists and it’s amazin

  • whatsupmonkey December 28th, 2011 2:25 AM

    A great article, improved further by COLOURFUL emphasis.

  • ashleeeeeeey December 28th, 2011 9:36 PM

    I AM FROM MINNEAPOLIS. Also, great article.