I’m Alex and I’m from Dubuque, Iowa.
It was the summer after I had just graduated college with a degree in voice performance. I was living at home and studying with my old voice teacher, who was trying to fix all of the nonsense that had happened with my voice when I was in college. And there was this other girl who was also studying with the same voice teacher and she was going into college as a voice performance major.
We were really kind of the only two who were really serious in the studio. So we started hanging out together and talking about music… and then we started hanging out a lot and not just talking about music. And then we started making out and not talking about music. And I had sort of known who she was before I came back from college, because when she was in high school, she had kind of dated my younger brother… for like a year. And I guess it had been very serious. I didn’t really know that at the time.
So we dated – which is probably the best word for what we were doing because there was no label or vocabulary involved – through the summer. And she started school nearby. So I would go and visit her… a lot. It was all very surprising. It had somehow never occurred to me ever that I might be into girls. And I was living with my very religiously conservative parents and it was not really a good time for me to have this particular revelation. And it was beautiful and complicated and all of the things that really falling in love the first time is, but for a lot of reasons it didn’t last very long.
Then I moved and decided that this relationship hadn’t worked, so that meant that I wasn’t gay after all. Good to now. Figured that out. Except that after I moved, I very quickly realized that yes, no, actually… actually, yes, very, very gay. And it was another year or so before I came out to anyone in my family.
But my brother was the first person in my family that I told. So we went out for coffee and I said, “I’m a lesbian.” And his immediate response was to jump up and give me a hug and tell me, “I love you. I support you. I’m so proud of you. Does this mean we can check out girls together?? Because that’s awesome!”
I was like, “Yes. Yes, we can.” And he was a real ally for me in my family. And we did a lot of checking out girls together.
You know, it seems like this would be the prime opportunity to also tell him about this girl we had both dated, but I had just come out to him and it went really well and I was still a little worried about that conversation.
So several years went by and we were on the phone one night getting totally drunk on the phone for whatever reason. I decided that this was the moment. This was the moment I was going to tell him about this girl.
So I was like, “I just – I just have to tell you this and you’re probably gonna be mad at me and you deserve to be mad at me and it’s okay if you hate me forever. But I just – I just have this thing that I really need to tell you and it’s really important.”
And he’s like, “Okay… whatever.”
“Okay. So do you remember that summer that me and your ex-girlfriend were, like, really good friends?” My brother is a straight dude so he did not connect any dots.
And he’s just like, “Yeah. So?”
Like, “Well, we might have been more than really good friends.” And there’s this silence. And I, you know, I do the like, “Hello… are you there?” And there’s nothing. And then I started to hear this gasping sound because he was laughing so hard that he could not make sound even happen for, like, two full minutes.
When he finally was able to, like, gasp for breath and laughed and we laughed together and he was like, “So let me get this straight, so like… I lost my virginity to this girl. Did you know that?”
I was like, “I mean, she told me that, like, when we were together.”
And he’s like, “Okay and you lost your girl-ginity to this girl. We both lost our girl-ginity to the same girl.”
I’m like, “Yeah, that’s – yep, that’s an accurate description of what happened.”
And he’s like, “I’m going to tell this story to everyone I have ever known in my entire life. This is the funniest thing that has ever happened.” And he does. We’ve had mutual friends who’re like, Hey, I heard that you dated… and I was like, “You really did tell, like, everybody – everybody – the story.”
And I’m really lucky to have a brother that found it as hilarious as as I did and who has been unfailingly supportive and loving through all of this craziness.
I have a lot of trouble with the narrative that, like, you should just wait and eventually your family will come around because sometimes they don’t. And not everyone in my family has or is ever going to. But I think it’s important in the midst of the things that are hard, to hold on to the things that are funny and that are full of love and hope. I think no matter how much all of the other stuff sucks, there will be moments that are funny. And holding on to that can be a lifeline.