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I take a deep breath in, and I can feel the sweet smoke go to the back of my throat. I hold on to it like I'm in a desert, and it's quenching my thirst. I exhale. I can breathe, my eyes feel heavy, and suddenly everything melts around me. I can hear background noise like the teacher in Charlie Brown….Womp womp womp womp. I head to my stereo, and give myself permission to turn on King Princess. I listen with a keen ear. I hear her words as they pierce my soul, “I hate it when dudes try to chase me, but I love it when you try to save me, cause I’m just a lady... I’m just a lady.” It repeats to the pulse of my heart beat. I can feel the base pounding from my feet, and suddenly my body starts to move, and I’m dancing like i'm at Woodstock in 1965. I don't know who I am exactly, but in this moment alone, I feel my queerness erupt in me in a way that can only be described as self expression and love. When I close my eyes, I see myself giving myself a hug. As I give this hug to this version of myself, I am a cactus. Like I’m trying to embrace myself in a way that really can't be embraced.
I found out that I was gay this year... well not totally gay, bisexual, and not really just this year, but throughout my whole life. Let's rewind, and start from the beginning. The first sign that I remember liking girls, or having some kind of attraction was when I was in middle school. My family took a trip to visit our extended family in Chicago, and this random movie Taxi was playing in the background. It's about a cop, played by Jimmy Fallon, who’s down on his luck and happens by chance to hop into a taxi turned transformer, operated by Queen Latifah. It's your classic comedian turned cop Rom-Com. To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention until the end where Jennifer Esposito's character had to pat down Gisele Bündchen, as she’s getting arrested for robbery. I remember perking up and following Epositos hands, as they caress Gisele's slender body, slowly, sensually. In my childlike mind, I really didn't understand what was happening. I was just encapsulated by the scene, which let's be honest was made by bunch of horny white dudes in a writer's room, jerking off to two hot girls touching each other. But I couldn't get it out of my head, in short, I was turned on, and I had no clue what to do. I ran out of the living room and rushed to the bathroom, as my face felt like it was on fire. For some reason I felt like I needed to pee, but when I tried to go to the bathroom nothing came out. I was very confused in my aunt's bathroom that fall morning.
A huge part of me was ashamed, and I felt like my family could somehow transfer into my brain, and see what I was feeling. I was petrified. I had never seen women like that before. I’d always thought women were attractive, but never in that way that was so physically tangible. Fast forward to being fifteen, and there was this girl at church. Well, actually, I had a huge crush on her brother. Let me explain; my family would go to this bible study on Tuesdays where I would see Scott Borne. The most handsome guy I ever laid eyes on. He had these piercing blue eyes, and was thicc like a football player. I couldn't wait until Tuesdays, cause those were the days where I got to see Scott, obviously I changed his name, because I’m not a monster. Anyways, Tuesdays were my days to see Scott, almost slipped up there, and called him his real name. Back to the bacon, I was in love with Scott, totally infatuated by him, all the way up until high school. So I thought “what better way to get close to him than by hanging out with his sister, that makes sense right?! So me and his sister, Sarah, started hanging out, and we’d have talks about these abstinence books church would give to us, and we'd have our own bible study. At the start of every summer my town has a carnival and it's in the parking lot of this grocery store, which is so dang ratchet, but that's a story for another day. So I ask her if she wants to go. This seems so innocent at the time, but like we went on a date bro! Like, I kinda got game. ** Brushes shoulders in hindsight**
We have so much fun at this carnival, we eat all the food, and get on all the rides, and laugh, and just have an incredible time together. A couple weeks later, we’re both at this barbecue at a church friend's house, and I’m eating very bland potato salad, and “BAM!” out of what feels like nowhere, I get a combination of unexplainable arousal, and the realization that I have feelings for her, and I freak. I have a full on panic attack. It gets to be so bad that I run home! Picture a baby gay running away from her queerness in Pennsylvania terrain.
I remember going to my backyard, breathing heavy, a combination of the queer running, and the panic that I felt as I realize this inescapable truth. So I do what any christian girl would do, and I pray the gay away. I pray that God heals me, and takes the demonic spirit out of me. I cry and I’m shaking with clenched hands. The only thing that soothes me is that I just know that God will take this sinful thought away from me. “Please God take this spirit away from me, I don't want to be gay.”
Fast forward to this year where I go through a break up with a guy that wasn't really all that tough. I’ve only ever been in relationships with guys, which made me further distance myself from my queer identity. When I would break up with one guy, and monkey bar to another, I didn't really take time to reflect on that pain, I just rushed into a relationship right after. See the thing is that, I’ve been in a relationship with someone for the past six years almost as proof to myself that I can, in fact, make it work. These hetero relationships were not only safe zone’s, but also a way to protect myself from the inescapable truth that I always knew existed. For the first time in years, I’m single in a big city.
With this time to process, I never wanted to see myself, so I’d hop in bed with the next victim of my cover up, and I didn't have to face the truth.
This year, in reflection of what all of this means, I also started smoking weed. This is in no way a substitute for therapy, which I’m a huge advocate for, and which has helped me to process a lot of this—weed is just another positive tool in moderation. I have an anxiety disorder and depression, so I only do it in small quantities, and not often, but I’d do this thing called “Gay Night.” I know this sounds cheesy, don't @ me. But I’d take a puff, have a playlist ready, consisting of King Princess and Kehlani, go on Tumblr, and find queer content and totally immerse myself in the very thing that had me so scared so many years ago. The cannabis, in many ways would let my guards down, and keep the judgmental part of my brain from having a say in the matter. I just existed for that moment, and that was enough.
Weed helped to to calm that conservative christian girl who still needed a hug that day, and projects her pain on herself. It keeps me still, without judgement on my journey. I haven't come to full terms with myself. I hope one day I can say that I have. I’m not even out to most of the people that I know, specifically the important family and friends. A lot of coming out stories consist of people who are over the rainbow so to speak, looking back on what was. It's very real, and still very scary, and a part of it is that I’m not comfortable embracing who I am yet. I will be, but I’m just not there yet, and that is OK, and maybe a couple hits of the green ganja can get me there in the process.