Content Warning: This post contains information about the experience of a queer individual, as well as some sexual content, which may be triggering to some survivors.
"What You Do," Jayanne Glynn
When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of getting married. I imagined the dress I’d wear, the bouquet I’d carry, the best friends who would be my bridesmaids. I thought of my first dance with my mother and father, what my cake would be like, and even what I’d serve for food. But I never imagined a spouse. Not until I was talking with my friends and they told me “you need a husband so he can be a daddy!”
Dating boys was what you were supposed to do, I learned. Regardless of whether boys had cooties or not, I was meant to have a boyfriend. It didn’t matter that I thought my Barbies were prettier and more fun to play with, all that mattered was that I fit in, and made the right moves. Even at a young age, I knew that standing out when you’re surrounded by closed-minded people was a bad thing.
I had my first crush on a girl when I was 12.
I didn’t figure out it was a crush until later. But she was one of the prettiest girls I knew, and I knew that she deserved to be treated like a queen. Her boyfriend was an asshole, and I constantly thought that I would be a much better boyfriend for her. We were best friends, so obviously I was the better choice. I still lost my virginity to a boy when I was 13, but that’s just because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
That same girl and I grew distant when she started dating an older girl. I was so furious, because that just meant she was selfish. In my young mind, my jealousy wasn’t registering as just that. Of course, the fact I had a boyfriend at the time didn’t matter. I’d go on with my life, as boys came and went, and I somehow became “slutty.” Yes, I had a few sexual partners in my high school days, but in all actuality, it was only people I dated, and thought I could trust. But boys will be boys, and boys love to talk. So rumors spread and I got a reputation.
I didn’t admit to myself out loud that I wanted a girlfriend until I was 16. I thought it was strange that I came to the conclusion after watching “Were The World Mine,” an indie flick about a young gay man finding out the love potion from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and turning everyone in his town gay as well. It was the first time I saw someone literally turning the tables on expected sexuality. It made me think.
I approached the idea of having a girlfriend in my senior year of high school. This was after, of course, I came out to my family, as well as my sister, and a couple of close friends. But, one thing led to another, and girls will be girls, and a rumor started that I was “a huge dyke who wanted to sleep with everyone.” This, however, paved the way for me to have a delicate first courtship, one that was truly what I would’ve wanted my first relationship to be like.
We went to prom together, and she asked me with a stuffed animal she put in my locker. When I was bringing it to my car with her, someone almost hit us with his car, shouting “DYKES” out the window. He drove away, and we just made our way to our cars, separately. We enjoyed prom night, and my final drama club performance, but our relationship ended soon after. And then…I was celibate for a year and a half. Because when you’re single, that’s just what you do.
I didn’t realize I was gay until I first had sex with another woman. It was the first time I had an orgasm with a partner, save for one guy who was really good at eating out. When I had sex with another woman after the first, I realized I was obsessed with it. I was finally figuring out how to make myself feel amazing in bed, and I was hooked. As with any obsession, my lack of experience was bolstered by my sheer excitement to learn more.
Now, at the age of 23, I have come to realize that I was a little misguided in my youth. I learned, inadvertently, that being straight was the only option. Then again, I’m not alone - a friend of mine from high school and I have a running tally of all the people we know who’ve come out of the closet after high school, ourselves included. I look back on my past and I wish that there was someone who could’ve told me that you don’t have to do something just because everyone else does. Even if that means dating who you truly like, and standing out.
Nowadays, I have a vastly different image of my wedding. The dress is less poofy, the flowers more purple than pink, and the cake may very well be a towering stack of chocolate covered strawberries. But I can put a face to the figure I walk towards, under my own free will, because it’s what I want to do. And I hope she smiles as much as I will as I walk down that aisle. I also hope she doesn’t make me ugly cry with her vows.
I have never been more proud to be myself. There were years where I spent a lot of time doubting myself, and doubting the people I loved the most would support me. My nana was one person who I worried the most about, as she was the one elder who I knew was the strongest of us all. I saw her the day before she passed, and she told me she was so proud of me, for marching to the beat of my own drum. She said the band would catch up soon enough. I finally think they’re on their way. She taught me, above all, that there is strength in being yourself, and that sometimes, your own beat is the best to follow. Because that’s just what you do.
About the art:
Jayanne is our first person to share two stories with our project! Jayanne is one of my former students at UMass Amherst, and I absolutely love this human being. Jayanne is one of the most charismatic and enthusiastic people I've ever met. So I always enjoy her stories because they are full of her personality and spunk.
And this story is no different. Jayanne is a blunt and honest person, and doesn't mince words. That's what I admire about her. So to read this story, I feel like she's legitimately baring all for this project in hopes that it inspires others to share about their coming out experiences/revelations.
Jayanne asked that Katy and I tag team this piece. Katy chose to use the chocolate covered strawberries that Jayanne references in the story, which was an awesome idea. I loved watching Katy create them. And when they were on the canvas, we weren't sure exactly how to bring it all together. So I asked Katy to add a banner to the piece, and then I painted my favorite phrase from the story, "I Have Never Been More Proud to be Myself."
And this is the first time I will announce this, we will actually be using this quote for our Queer Pride shirt this month! Stay tuned for that design!