Sex + Love

Literally the Best Thing Ever: Aerosmith’s “Crazy” Video

It turned my world upside down.

They use their prize money from the strip club to rent a motel room, and we see them jumping on the bed together, then the video cuts to the next morning, as they sleepily emerge from their room, blinking in the sunlight. What exactly happened between the romp on the bed and the morning after is anyone’s guess, and at 13 I didn’t think about or even observe the sequence of events. What I noticed was the way Tyler and Silverstone looked at each other. It was the way Shia and I looked at each other—the same loving glances, the same smiles.

The video’s last scene restores heteronormative safety to the proceedings in the form of a ripped, shirtless dude on a tractor, but after a quick skinny-dip the girls ditch him and drive off on their own. We don’t know where they’re going, but we can only guess that there are more adventures to come.

“Crazy” represented all of the freedoms I desperately craved at 13: physical freedom, freedom for my emerging sexuality, and the freedom to be with the person I loved and to receive all of her love, all the time, to the exclusion of everyone else, especially the boys she dated. That video flipped a switch in my brain. I had a new thought: Girls could like girls the way girls liked boys. This realization turned my entire universe upside down. I’m a lesbian, I told myself. I like girls. I have no idea how I knew that word, or how I was even aware of the concept of homosexuality. No one in my community or in Indian media talked explicitly about queerness at the time, and this was especially true of my family. My mother wouldn’t tolerate any reference to my developing sexuality—any sign that I had reached puberty would drive her into a rage. When I got my period, she said, “Never tell anyone else about this, or I will make you regret it.” But I guess that kind of repression teaches you to keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open, because I got the idea from someone or something that girls could like girls.

I wasn’t totally comfortable with this realization. Normal girls liked boys, so why did I like girls? The obvious answer was that I wasn’t normal. I tried to rationalize my unwelcome desires, writing in my journal, “Some girls are born lesbian, they are naturally lesbian. Other girls are forced to turn to lesbianism because they are ignored by boys.” I fell in the latter category, I told myself. If only a guy would pay attention to me, I wouldn’t go for girls. I had been so socially conditioned to be straight that this was the only way I could understand what was going on. I often told Shia that I wished she was a boy, and she would respond that she wished I was a boy instead.

My first proper kiss was with her, about a month later. It was the last day of school before Durga Puja vacation in October, and we were saying goodbye. We were hugging, and suddenly I turned my face toward hers and kissed her. There was no tongue because neither of us knew how to kiss with tongue, but she responded. She kissed me back, and there we stood, in front of a classroom full of people, kissing each other like we never wanted to stop. It couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds, but it felt like hours. When we broke off, she smiled at me, and we became the talk of the entire school. I kissed her a few more times that year, but it never felt as special as the first time.

That January, my mother found the letters Shia and I had written to each other. Each one spanned several pages and included the pet names we called each other. We shared our innermost thoughts, wishes, and desires on those pages, and we talked about completely trivial things. That bundle of letters, wrapped in a plastic bag, was one of the most precious things I had ever owned, and I kept it hidden, lest my mother find it. But find it she did, and she read every single one of the letters as I watched. She declared them “lesbian filth” and made me tear them to pieces with my own hands. “She is my friend, just my friend,” I sobbed, even as I ripped the frail blue paper in two with trembling hands. I was forced to cut off contact with Shia after that. My mother informed the school about my “deviant” tendencies to make sure I wouldn’t try to talk to her there. Thankfully, the school year ended in June and the long summer vacation arrived. When we went back, Shia and I were in different classes and hardly talked to each other. A few months later I had my first real crush on a boy, and I all but forgot about my year of “aberrant” love.

Since Shia, I have had intense friendships with many female “best friends” that have easily been as romantic as any of my heterosexual relationships. I’ve slept with three of my “best friends”—one of my them even became my girlfriend for a while. She remains the only person (besides myself) that I’ve ever had an orgasm with. But for some reason I can’t bring myself to define these relationships with women the same way I define those with men. Somewhere in my head I still hear myself saying that the only reason I look at girls is that I’m too fat and ugly to get a guy. Objectively I know this isn’t true, but that’s how I act—I don’t get together with girls if there’s a guy around.

I stopped sleeping with women in 2010, the year I got my first boyfriend. There is one thing I got from him that I never got from girls: the comfort of knowing that I fit in, that I’m “normal” and not “too fat to get a guy.” Every single day of the three years we dated, I told my girlfriend how much I wanted to be with a boy. It broke her. I loved her and yet I broke her. When I met the guy who became my boyfriend, I made a decision: Since I obviously couldn’t treat a woman with the love and respect she deserved, I would never be with another one again.

Right now I deal with my attraction to women by ignoring it. I avoid girls altogether, except for very clearly stated platonic connections. My sexuality remains as confusing to me as ever, and thinking about it only makes it worse, so I don’t. These days I focus my attentions on guys, because I know I won’t treat them as badly as I treated the only woman I’ve ever been in a relationship with. In a way, I am no different now than I was at 13, trying to manage desires I didn’t understand but which seemed dangerous somehow.

I don’t know what to call this tangled web that is my sexuality, but I know what it looks like. It looks like two girls running away together, rejecting society, rejecting even boys, and choosing each other for now and forever. I dream those dreams still: road trips and campfires and secret romps in shady motel rooms. In my head I am still back in 1999, heading off on adventures with my best friend, arm in arm, my head tucked into the crook of her neck, with nothing between us and the vast unknown except for our love. ♦

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21 Comments

  • rottedteeth August 20th, 2013 11:48 PM

    Aw this actually made me kinda sad. I hope you can figure all this out.

    http://empassant.blogspot.com/

  • meganthehuman August 20th, 2013 11:52 PM

    Love it love it love it! The whole “switch” idea where you suddenly realize that it’s possible to like girls is exactly what happened to me. Last year, I realized that I missed my old friend a lot more than I had missed my other friends… And I still have no idea where I am with my sexuality. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! <3

  • onehandclaps August 21st, 2013 12:01 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is quite a relief to hear about someone’s similar experiences – someone who also floats in the cloudy and mercurial waters of sexuality!

    I also have trouble dealing with physical attraction and emotional connections with females, and close friends. I too think that sometimes I shouldn’t even bother, because I’m afraid my confusion will end up hurting the other person. Its weird, I can be incredibly close with same sex friends, and care for them very deeply (on the same borderline that you have talked about) but when I think about having that same emotional connection with someone I am physically intimate with- it just doesn’t compute with my brain! (I believe social conditioning allows emotional and physical intimacy to be easier to imagine with guys, but how do we know?)

    ANYWAY again, thank you thank you for writing on this subject. It really makes me relieved to know that someone else who can’t seem to find a category or label that fits all-all at the same time and circumstance!

  • Laurets August 21st, 2013 12:13 AM

    You’ve exposed yourself so much here and it’s all absolutely lovely. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this… only if I’d read this when I was 12 I wouldn’t have though I was a total freak who should stay away from society.
    Though I’m not so passionate towards the “Crazy” video — I don’t think the girls have thaaat much chemistry –, I see your point and I can totally relate to fantasizing stuff with friends.

    Thank you thank you thank you! :***

  • decemberflower August 21st, 2013 12:24 AM

    I LOVE THIS SO MUCH

  • sungiant August 21st, 2013 12:33 AM

    i love the video and song and i really love the story- it brings a tear to my eye <3

  • Ladymia69 August 21st, 2013 1:16 AM

    It is really great, BTW, to hear from someone who does not have their sexuality “all figured out,” like so many seem to. We all have to realize that our sexuality falls on a spectrum, rather than a black-and-white scale. And we can’t always figure out exactly what we want.

  • artobsessed August 21st, 2013 2:14 AM

    perfect!

  • aditiii August 21st, 2013 6:09 AM

    This made me cry, it hits so close to home.

  • trassel August 21st, 2013 7:57 AM

    This was not what I expected it to be, but it was an amazing text nontheless.

  • Regina August 21st, 2013 11:34 AM

    Please don’t take this as a bubble buster move but that screencap of Alicia Silverstone is actually from Aerosmith’s Amazing video clip, not Crazy. Minor details aside, A+++ article <3333

  • KatGirl August 21st, 2013 12:41 PM

    Rookie is a MIND READER
    http://www.kawaiiunicornsandsparkleponies.wordpress.com

  • Glenny August 21st, 2013 12:50 PM

    Beautiful.

  • care-n August 21st, 2013 1:28 PM

    omgoshhh

    I really can find all my obsessions here!

  • Lex August 21st, 2013 2:27 PM

    I love this article sooo much! I also love that song sooo much! AND I LOVE AEROSMITH SOOO MUCH! Thanks you for this beautiful piece! Makes me feel like my own confusion is a lot more “normal” than my own fear that it isn’t.

  • theweirdworder August 21st, 2013 2:31 PM

    It really breaks my heart how poorly so many parents treat their children. It sounds like a lot of these feelings stem from how your parents treated you :(

    This was an amazing and honest piece of writing and it sounds like something that will help a lot of people. Hats off to you!

  • Majel August 21st, 2013 3:56 PM

    My mother was a teacher, and she told me she learned at college that a lot of girls have a “lesbian phase” at around 13-15, that is, they discover their sexuality and direct it at their best female friends, because those are often the most intense relationships for them at that time. Something like that. There are several theories. Anyway, I made that experience at that age and saw it in other girls that age, too.

  • Lorf96 August 21st, 2013 7:26 PM

    This really resonated with me, I had the same realisation and sort of experience with my old best friend, I have a boyfriend now and always knew I was attracted to guys but that kind of relationship with her confirmed my suspicions that I like girls too. And it is scary when you first realise but it was reading articles like this on rookie that really helped me, this is beautifulXxx

  • Lemons August 25th, 2013 6:51 AM

    This is a really beautifully honest piece. I’m so glad you took the time to articulate your feelings. Everything is a journey, yours isn’t finished yet. In time I hope you find the way to being truly comfortable with your desire, be it for women or men. Never let anybody tell you that being a lesbian is wrong or not normal, it’s simply just another way of expressing love. Your mother is just scared, and she’s acting out of love herself…she truly believes she’s doing the best she can for you. In reality, the best thing for you to do is realize your fantasy and find someone you can go all ‘crazy’ with like its 1999! Life is short, (sometimes strikingly so) and we have to live it as freely as possible. Go with your heart, you won’t regret it.
    xx

    http://visualcoffee.blogspot.com

  • intergalactic fork August 26th, 2013 5:18 PM

    holy crap i am just stunned!
    i cant believe an indian human being is talking about this type of subject matter, its like unprecedented. im indian and ragini is right, the whole community is insanely conservative, its like sex doesnt even exist. to read an article written by an indian woman talking about these things is amazing and just wow!