Illustration by Leah Rubin-Cadrain (@leahaviva)
My best friend/illustrator/editor Leah grew up down the block from my moms and me. Recently Leah came out. I wanted to share that process on my blog, so we had a Gchat conversation:
Me: how do you currently define your sexuality?
Leah: omg this is a real interview
i don't know how i define it.
i am not straight.
i might be bisexual. i might be gay but i've been in love with men?
i am somewhere in between!
just where no one likes to be
what is queer exactly?
cuz i just wanna roll my eyes when i hear it and i know that is the wrong answer.
but with your story, queer starts to make more sense
cuz it's more encompassing
Leah: i know, "queer" sounds so THEATER KID
Me: oh i just think it is VERY liberal arts
Leah: well i forgot to take gender theory... but i imagine "queer" as "not straight," but with a fringey flair
i probably identify as queer, so maybe my cringe reaction is somehow (secretly) a self-loathing thing
(usually self-loathing is a good guess for what is secretly happening to yourself, right?)
words will always fall short in some way or other
so growing up you knew my moms... but would your process be different if there'd been as many gay families in town as there were... Jews? so like 50%
Leah: i might have dated girls sooner had it been that way
as it was i just went with the flow
maybe the flow would have involved female partners if that were more normative
Me: yeah i was thinking of periods
Me: was there one bullet moment you realized you liked girls, or was it more like... shrapnel moments?
Leah: well i was 25, turning 26. i was already a whole human... totally imperfect, but with a fully baked sense of self. i wasn't looking for a new identity or a new community. i wasn't reinventing myself in opposition to anything or anyone. i just fell in love with a girl.
Me: interesting, so you associate coming out with a less formed person?
Leah: i think i resented that coming out would have to overhaul the person i'd already spent 25 years becoming.
of course, now as i unpack it, i think my sexuality does have more to do with my essential personality than i gave it credit for
so... i guess it's all just still unfolding right now.
Me: i think many ppl feel the same as u tho
Leah: i also got to be public and transparent about dating a woman, without ever having to officially come out... which is a privilege, and a function of where i live and who my ppl are
Me: so as progressive as you are, you've talked about some fear around a gay future
what is your fear?
i think it's fear of disappointing men
Me: wha really? men or your ex-boyfriend?
Leah: ha well him figuratively, but i mean men who approve of me through thinking of me as a potential partner.
Me: but wouldn't you disappoint women too if you end up with a man?
theoretically i could "disappoint" gay women... but the male gaze is the world's gaze
Leah: another thing is fear of doing something unexpected. the child-perfectionist in me still wants to please the most people in the most classically "successful" ways
Me: that really resonates with me... but don't you also wanna be a hip bohemian individual?
that's the good news : )
Me: i feel like pleasing men just means showing up.
pleasing women means being brilliant
i think I'm more likely to project an image of myself with men, and tuck away my messy layers
Me: but that happens when you date the wrong person, of either gender
...but we are all acting a little to be loved.
i do my least acting with you. of all people in the world. but the love of a romantic partner is not unconditional.
you have to keep your sh*t together a little to maintain the seesaw
Leah: i love that, em. you make me very myself too. it's my gold standard.
right. well, maybe after years of marriage that changes. i mean, you simply can't never fart during sex forever.
Me: you can avoid farting during sex if you just fart all the other times.
Leah: right, i know that's your policy.
Me: so do you ultimately see yourself with a man or a woman and how does family play in?
Leah: i don't know. i can't picture a relationship with a woman that is like my parents' marriage... which is my yardstick, inevitably.
the sense of home, the feeling of security that i want to recreate - growing up i experienced that as a male presence.
when i like a man, my animal brain thinks: we could make breakfast and read the paper together!
with a woman my instincts are more physical, charged
and it's scarier
for my heart
but i hope that will evolve toward feeling safer
Me: for me home was a female presence but i still seek it in men.
regardless of your home life, you still absorb the outside message that men are for marrying and caretaking
Leah: HUH true
ok it's late! how to conclude?
you hate conclusions.
Me: i would end with something about how ur sitting in the muck of it all now...
but i know you hate endings that are not crisp and decisive!
Leah: well, it doesn't feel too mucky. i am happy and loved and lucky.
Me: nice, good ending.
i'm happy you're happy!!!
thanks for being open to this!
Leah: ok you're welcome!
assuming i don't chicken out
Me: well you can edit it
but do take risks. you will find a balance. i have!
Me: ok byeeee!!
Read more about growing up and being a grownup with two moms at two-and-a-half-women.tumblr.com.
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