Literally how did I not know? Underworld came out in 2003, but I distinctly remember watching it for the first time in my living room because–are you ready for this–my dad made me stand out in the kitchen during the sex scenes, so I had to be in middle school, which was probably around three years after it premiered? That makes sense, which also means I should have damn realized because a) I was starting to date, and b) I’d just discovered slash.
holy shit did I just date myself???
Hi, we called sex lemons, queer fanfiction was slash, and we didn’t talk about it, which means I’ve still got a mild wince whenever someone does in public because what are you doinggggggg! It was hilarious and also awful, and I’m so glad we’re past that. Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH. My journey with slash was very odd because, back then, around the mid-2000s, being gay was still very much not an acceptable thing, never mind the cool way to be like it is now, so it was all very hush hush, no one talked about writing slash, and I’ll never forget the first time my current best friend and I did the side-eyed do you write fanfiction–ABOUT BOYS?! whispers, wow. What a journey us queers have been on.
Anyway, so. Looking back, I can see that I loved Underworld only in part because of the vampires. I mean, Kate Beckinsale is still, to this day, one of my biggest crushes. She’s beautiful, and she’s really freaking weird, and I definitely get caught in a loop watching her Instagram videos. She’s probably in my top five woman celebrity crushes? Not even fibbing a little, I always fall to pieces every time I see her, and I did it back then, too, so I should have known, damn it! I didn’t, though, so that leaves me wondering what my first ah ha! moment was.
I’m gonna be honest, I don’t think I had a single ah ha! moment, but a collection of them, though three definitely stand out to me. In high school, my then best friend had been acting weird for a while, and when I finally sighed, all teenager put-upon, and asked him what was wrong, he dragged me outside into the little courtyard just next to the band room and told me that he thought he was bi. On the outside, I gave him a shrug, said I didn’t really care who he liked, and gave him one of those you’re rad punches on the arm. Wow, how gay, Mary. On the inside, however, I was having a real wait a minute moments, like I hadn’t yet pieced together the thing we’re all taught.
Like, for real, this story means more to me than I’ll ever be able to describe, but I know you all know, so we’ll just leave it at that and carry on because if I start talking about Love, Simon, I am going to dissolve into a puddle of mush.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had anxiety for literal decades, and I’ve always been at odds with my physical body, but the person inside? Yeah, I’ve known her for a long time, and I’ve never shied away from letting her live out loud. I am a very quiet person, and I’m not great at meeting new people, but once you know me, all bets are off. I’m an Aries to my core–loud, furious, and passionate. I will, at any given time, no matter the current climate, get on a soapbox about human rights or preach to you about why Samwise Gamgee is the best character ever or, hell, just wax poetic about tea for twenty straight minutes. And I’ve always been like this. When everything else is up in the air, I’ve always known, more than anything, exactly who I am.
I think that’s why, then, I’ve never had a grand ah ha! moment. I’ve never wondered too hard about whether I’m straight or not. (Definitely not.) I’ve never experienced any crisis of identity. One day, I was straight, and then, over the course of several months, I was not. And that was just it. But I didn’t fall into a hole of despair and wonder if something was wrong with me–not that there is anything, whatsoever, wrong with this experience, it just wasn’t mine–instead, I just knew.
That conversation with my friend was definitely the start of the slow knowing, though, and he was definitely responsible for the continuation of it. I’ll never forget how he told me that he was trans. We were sitting outside of the Palladium in Worcester, waiting for a concert. I can’t remember at all what band was playing, just that I was my usual excitable, chaotic self, and he’d been quiet and twitchy for the entire afternoon. I was about to do another put-upon sigh when he said, all in a rush, “I have to tell you something, and you can’t leave because you’re my ride home, but I’m trans. I’m a guy.” At home, he later told me, he’d packed his bags just in case his parents wouldn’t allow him to stay, and now, he admitted, he’d told me while we were waiting outside so I would feel bad if I tried to leave him there. I couldn’t believe that he’d ever think I would do something so callous, but that wasn’t what the conversation was about, so I asked him how he was doing, and that might have been the end of it if some asshole hadn’t come over a while later, tried to hit on me, and was put off when my friend looped an arm around my shoulders and said, “Sorry, she’s taken.”
I waited to be shocked. Instead, I flashed the asshole a smile, and that was that. This was probably the only time I had one of those heart-stopping moments of uhhhhhhhh wait as it occurred to me that I didn’t mind his arm around my shoulders. I didn’t mind the implication that we were a couple. I didn’t mind the possibility. Though I didn’t have any romantic feelings for him in the slightest, it made me start to wonder if I would, at some point, have feelings for someone else in the queer community.
And then, as always seems to happen, college struck. Isn’t that always the way? I mean, there’s a whole “gonna be gay when I get to college” montage during Love, Simon that’s hella cringey, but also amazing and beautifully hopeful. My school, too, was definitely about as progressive as it got in 2010. I’ll never forget my dad staring, horrified, as a student walked by with rainbow knee socks and thinking that was insane. Oh, dad. How little you actually know.
And well, it goes like this:
Girl meets girl. Girls become friends. Girl finds out girl has a fiancé. Girl furiously writes a self-insert Supernatural fanfiction to get over her crush. Girl realizes she likes writing about girls. Girl goes ah ha!
Alright, fine, I guess there is an ah ha! moment.
It was never quite a singular moment, though. At some point in our now-dead friendship, my old friend and I were talking about being future queer writers that took over the publishing world, and he did an about face to clarify, “You’ll be with me, too, right?” You’re queer, too, right? I heard the question beneath. “Yeah, of course,” I said, and it came out as blasé as I felt. I don’t know when, exactly, I knew that I was queer, just that I did. Yeah, I’ll be a queer writer with you because yeah, I’m also a queer writer.
Sometimes, I still have moments where I’m like HONEY
I mean, seriously. Charlize Theron exists, and any of us are straight? Honey. Don’t even start with me.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve either said this or am going to say this one million times this month, but hi! I’m bi! It’s a lot of fun! I love the label queer, I’ve definitely been leaning more toward women in the last couple of years, but I’ll still go all in for a sad boy, much to my own detriment, and I promise you I’m definitely bi and not a lesbian because Chris Evans also exists, and it’s just rude. I like all people, and it’s a damn good time.