When everyone knows you’re gay but you

Despite of what most people think, it is possible to be in the closet for years without realizing that you’re gay. I know this because I was in it for twenty-five years without any suspicion whatsoever. I’ve never been in denial about my sexuality. I had absolutely no reason to. My upbringing was very liberal and me being gay could never have been worse than my father’s countless affairs and all the children that came along with them.

He would have been a hypocrite for criticizing me. My mother is a very sweet, understanding lady and has never even told me off as far as I can remember. She used to tell me I could be anyone I wanted to be and that as long as I was happy and healthy and good to others, she would support me. I’ve always worked in fashion, an industry where straight people are often in minority and where there’s no judgment towards how people look or what they’re up to in their spare time. It just honestly never occurred to me that I might be gay.

When I was seventeen, I did my internship at a London based fashion brand. I had fantasies about the PR lady and I spent most of my time staring at her legs and admiring her outfits. She spoke in an Eastern European accent and I remember finding it incredibly sexy and elegant. I would run into the bathroom and check my hair and make up each time I had a meeting with her and blatantly agreed with everything she said, no matter how ridiculous her thought process was sometimes. I was in a long-term relationship with my first boyfriend at the time and it never crossed my mind that I might have had a crush on her, not even when she had me running around like an idiot doing chores for her twelve hours a day.

Looking back, everyone around me seemed to have a faint idea, apart from myself. In my early twenties, I was obsessed with the L-word and with Shane in particular. I bought the box sets and waited eagerly each year for the next season to come out, to huge amusement of my colleagues. I was working as a sportswear designer within a wonderful team and I must have talked about her quite a lot. On one of our business trips to L.A., I even insisted on going to a bar in West Hollywood because I’d read it was her favourite hang out. When I left the company, they threw me an amazing goodbye party. They had made wrapping paper with pictures of Shane in repeat. The larger than life card also had a picture of Shane on it, surrounded by love hearts. I just laughed, thought it was hilarious. It still didn’t click though.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I’d been serial dating men for about ten years. Most of them were lovely individuals and quite good looking too. Although I never felt the ‘spark’ my friends kept talking about, I was happy and was of the opinion that love and lust were overrated. We had fun and they were happy to watch the L-word with me. Some of them even loved it. They never questioned me. Or maybe they were scared to make me question myself. I guess it’s true what they say; you can’t miss what you’ve never had. So I didn’t miss passion, I didn’t miss great sex and I didn’t miss being madly in love. Considering how intuitive I am in my job and with other people, I guess I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to my own situation.

It wasn’t until I took a year out from work to waitress in a cabaret restaurant in the Amsterdam red light district, that the light bulb moment came. I was practically engaged to my fourth boyfriend at the time, who was grumpy I had to work on Valentines night. We always drank at work, sometimes a little bit too much. That night, we decided to have our own Valentines party with the staff after all guests had left. We played cheesy love songs and serenaded each other on stage, fighting over the microphone until the police knocked on the door to quiet us down. The chef gave me some Absinthe and after that, it’s all a bit of a blur.

The next morning, I woke up on top of another waitress I worked with. We were in my apartment and I still had the bottom half of my clothes on. I never noticed her before, at least not in that kind of way but that morning, I loved everything about her. She was naked and beautiful, fast asleep with one arm wrapped around my waist. I was like ‘wow, this is amazing!’ She was so soft and curvy and I lay there for hours, pretending to sleep, perving on her until she finally woke up. And when she did, I was madly in love.

It didn’t feel awkward and I had no problem telling people. There was no inner struggle, no doubts either although that was hard for her to believe at first. From that moment on, it was what it was and I was ecstatic. She moved in two months later and is now my wife. She’s not an exception I made from dating men. She’s the real deal.

Now, six years later I’ll be publishing my first lesbian novel. If someone had told me that years ago, I would have laughed in their face. It’s fascinating how moments can change a lifetime and how things can happen when you least expect it. I’m incredibly nervous right now because it’s so personal for me to blend parts of myself into the characters but it’s what I want to write about, need to write about and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

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