I was just writing a comment to Marl about her "7 Things" post, and I realized I actually want to write a whole post about it.
I'm very gay. It's one of the most very basic descriptors I use about myself. I'm 44, I'm gay, I have blue eyes, etc. But I didn't understand the fact of my gayness until I was 30 years old. Not that it didn't exist, but I couldn't recognize it for what it was. So I never really fell in love with men. There were a few that I loved, and I married a great guy, thankfully, who helped me produce these wonderful kids and then didn't hate me later...but I never fell into love with in that devastatingly swoony way where you can't breathe and can't think and can't really do much of anything except be in love. The kind of love in which love is an activity, instead of just a feeling.
So when I was young I just assumed I was emotionally defective from my weird childhood, and that that sort of passionate love was beyond me. I never considered that I might be intimate with the wrong kinds of people, just that that lackluster intimacy was all I was capable of.
When I was finally able to tell myself the truth about my gayness and began meeting women, I found:
A)...There were a lot of them to meet. Once you start looking for dykes, you realize you can't hardly swing a dead cat without hitting one.
B) That's why my skin never fit quite right. And here, finally, I found that kind of ohmygod love that I never thought I was capable of.
Okay...that's the back story. Fast forward to now. I work with a nice young dyke who sometimes says to me, "Why do all you older lesbians all have kids? Didn't you know you were gay??"
And when I cast my mind back, I don't think I didn't know I was gay as much as I didn't know the concept of gayness was an option for me. And looking back...I'm not sure why. I certainly knew lesbians. I remember being fascinated by them. But I don't ever remember thinking, "Oh! That's where I ought to be!" I didn't struggle to keep my gayness under control. My gayness was so completely under control that I never even knew it was there. It's like keeping your appendix under control. It's not a struggle...you never are even aware it's lurking there. Until the day it makes it's presence known to you so strongly that you don't have an option about whether on not to acknowledge it.
So I try to imagine sometimes how much differently life would have been if I'd come out in high school. Although I might have experienced Great Love sooner, it probably would have been that same angst-filled love that young people have that makes them jaded about love when they're older.
And I never would have had kids, because I never saw myself as a person who would like having kids. And THAT would have been such a tragic loss to my life that thinking about it is like touching a hot stove...I don't want to go there.
So, while it's true that us "older lesbians" often tended to get married and reproduce for a few years before getting down to the business of being true to ourselves, I think most of us would say we're better for having the experience. I envy people with early self-awareness, but I don't regret the circuitous path it took to get to who I really am. I just hope I have enough years left to feel like I got my money's worth out of my tardy self-awareness..