Why Won’t You Make Out With Me?
I saw my first vagina when I was eight. It was a dark and stormy night…
Or so it seemed — Really my bizarre introduction to the female reproductive system took place one day during third grade.
Minding my own business and not paying attention to what was going on around me (as per usual), the friend sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder and made us pretend to drop our pencils on the ground so we could look under the desk and be in straight view of the legs that belonged to the girl sitting opposite, so I did.
At this stage I still wasn’t sure what was really going on but I went with it.
With some hesitation she pulled her knickers to one side, and there it was.
It stared at me, menacingly I thought. Though it happened very quickly, almost like the sudden sight of a ghost in a horror film that catches you by surprise.
I immediately burst into an uncontrollable giggle, though I tried my hardest to contain my immaturity- and I did -but I continued giggling hysterically beneath my breath for quite some time.
Mum didn’t ask what I learnt at school that day, but as it turns out it took me a few months to become educated about the bloody things.
Later that year, I remember running around the house in a ravenous sugar-fuelled frenzy, screaming, “Bagina! Bagina!” after a boy in my class with a mild speech impediment broadened my vocabulary at school one day.
My dad shut me down very quickly, explaining that I had misheard vagina for ‘bagina’ and that I should get my pronounciation right if I want to be rude and cheeky instead of stupid and silly.
The point to all this, if there is one (or if you haven’t already figured it out), is that I’m just not cut out for females, let alone vaginas.
Sure, I didn’t know it then, but now it makes sense that I was so oblivious to the reality that is the female body.
I guess I still am oblivious, only now I don’t want that to be any different.
Growing up, my younger brother spent his childhood days playing soccer and pretending to be a WWE wrestling champion listening to Eminem.
I spent most of my childhood parading down the stairs wrapped in a bed sheet on camera for my aunty, pretending to be a model at fashion week.
I couldn’t help myself when it came to stealing the show in our collection of family home videos. As well as the infamous “Jack’s Sexy Fashion Show” recordings, there’s also a home-made music video of me mincing around the shower in my parents bedroom wearing a tinsel wig (“What You Waiting For?” G. Stefani FYI).
There’s no denying I had a flair for flamboyancy when I was younger.
But even though that made patches of my childhood difficult, I’m glad I was never kept in any kind of cage, so to speak.
Not once have my parents passed any judgement on my “irregular” mannerisms or traits. Both have always been supportive of me, but my mother in particular was good at picking up on things like that and has only ever encouraged me to explore and do things that make me happy (she’s not like a regular mum, she’s a cool mum).
For instance, although I’ve always been a strong swimmer & managed to win champion boy four consecutive years in primary school despite being a chubby little white boy, sport has never been my thing.
Much like the vagina I saw in third grade, I just didn’t ‘get’ sport and I still don’t. These days I find sport really abstract and fascinating but I won’t get into that.
Anyway, more to the point, my mum didn’t want me sitting around the house all day eating Oreo’s and pretending to be a cat.
I had to be involved with some kind of physically-focused extra-curricular activity that would give me the opportunity to broaden my social horizons, and when sport is ruled out and you happen to be a male, well, let’s just say ‘you’re fucked m8.’
My mother ended up suggesting I take up dancing.
I did and it was for a good few years that I kept at it, too.
I’m glad I decided to take up the opportunity, mainly because being the only male in a group of 50 dancers meant it was natural for me to receive praise and encouragement in great abundance. That said, my dancing was flawless.
Anyway, irrespective of my dancing abilities, what pleases me most about my dancing days was the fact that I was given and encouraged to take up that opportunity in the first place. I was too naive to understand that dancing “isn’t for boys” — I just did my thing, you know?
Then there’s my dad. I wouldn’t say my dad encouraged me as openly as my mother, but he’s always been cool with my feminine side and has always been super supportive of me and my thirsty quest for happiness.
The only comment my dad has ever made about my sexuality was when I was skipping around the house one time in a very girly manner and he told me to “stop prancing.”
But I know this wasn’t because he disapproved of me prancing, it was because he knew that beyond the confines of our household, people might not take kindly to a sissy little boy who was so openly fabulous.
He just wanted me to be safe from hatred.
I came out three times. Each was brought about by an alcohol-induced state of impulsion. Come to think of it, I’ve never tried to gain insight into these experiences before now.
They just happened and I let them happen just as I let them pass. I guess because nothing ever turned out to be a “big deal” I didn’t think any of it really matters. But it does.
The first time it happened was in the second last year of high school at my best friend’s 16th birthday party. It was the first party I went to where we were given the freedom to drink alcohol (mostly) unsupervised, so I think a lot of people- myself included -discovered and embraced the delicious, blurry novelty of alcohol that night.
Anyway, the birthday girl decided to make a move on me that night. It began when I was approached by two of my girl friends.
They told me the birthday girl wanted a kiss from me.
You’d think I would have been flattered, and I mean, yeah, it was sweet, but all I could think at the time was “fuck.”
Why couldn’t she just want me to emerge from her birthday cake naked singing “Happy Birthday Mr. Smithers” instead of making me face a moral dilemma that I wasn’t prepared to tackle? Why me? I didn’t understand.
Maybe she suddenly decided that she could no longer resist the temptation of my entrancing hyper-masculine aura, but she probably just didn’t get the hint when I told her how much I loved Gwen Stefani.
I had no idea what to say or do. They told me a kiss is just a bit of fun, that it doesn’t have to mean anything. But there was more to it than just a kiss.
If it were someone I didn’t know very well, I would’ve said “fuck it” instead of “fuck” and just went with it without care.
But I couldn’t do that to someone I was so close with, not under a guilty disguise. So I told the girls that I just wanted to be friends with her.
A few moments later I wandered outside, thinking it had all blown over.
Standing in the middle of the dance floor, it only took a glance of her eyes to realise the birthday girl who wanted to lock lips with me was upset.
She cut straight to the chase and asked me with slurred pronunciation: “Why won’t you make out with me?”
I told her that she was one of my best friends and that it was a bad idea to jeopardise that, which was true. But she put up a fight and wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I agreed to go on a date with her.
I felt guilty for the excuse I had given — Why didn’t I just tell her the truth?
I mean, it was best that we just stayed friends, but I wasn’t being entirely honest, and if there was anyone I could trust, it was her, so I figured I should open up about it.
The next day I told her the real reason I didn’t want to make out with her.
As much as I didn’t at the time, I’m glad she wanted to make out with me.
She made me face my sexuality for the first time.
I could still be in the closet if it wasn’t for her.
The second time was a few months later at another friend’s party, but there’s not much to say about what happened.
I was chatting to a few people and one of the guys from school asked,
“Jack, are you gay?,” and I said, “Yeah.”
I would like to say that his enquiry came from nowhere with little substantiation, but I was wearing a red g-string over the top of blue leggings with an atrocious amount of gel in my hair dressed pathetically as Superman, drinking the colourful, sugary alcoholic drinks more commonly seen being held by women.
So yeah, I guess I can’t really blame him.
It was at this point I realised I have no reason to hide. In fact, no one had ever asked me before and it’s always awkward and tricky trying to bring up things like that in conversation, especially when it scares the shit out of you.
Anyway, he was honest enough to ask and I felt it was only fair I answered him with the same courage.
This was probably the most frightening and anxiety-stricken account of opening up about myself.
The day after the party was the start of school holidays and I was flying to Thailand with my family, so I didn’t see anyone from school until the first day back and I knew that word would spread quickly — it always does.
What made the first day back at school worse was that our year went straight on a week-long survival camp a couple of hours out of town.
Obviously boys couldn’t share tents with girls and obviously none of the boys wanted to share a tent with me. The guy I was supposed to share with ended up cancelling that decision — but I don’t blame him.
I would have done the same thing.
The third and final time I said the magic words wasn’t at a party but on the way home from one in the car with my Mum and younger brother who very kindly picked me up.
I was 18 at the time, the peak of my hedonism. I was talking little sense to my mother and when we drove down the freeway I wound down the window and screamed like your typical drunk white girl would do.
Randomly the idea popped into my head to tell my mother and again it was like, “What’s practical? What’s logical? What the hell! Who cares?”
So I just ran with it:
“Mum, I have something to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“You have to guess.”
“Oh, I have no idea. What is it?”
“No, you have to guess.”
Then I told her.
She was fine with it and said my dad would also be fine with it and that she would tell him if I wanted her too. She told me how much she loves me and how she just wants me to be happy. My youngest brother was in the car at the time, too, and I asked him if he was okay with it and he smiled and told me he was.
My dad came and spoke to me about it the next day because he wanted me to know how proud of me he is. After that my cat meowed at me and even though I don’t speak her language I’m pretty sure she was telling me the same thing.
I was lucky with how it panned out. Not everyone is, so I’m grateful.
It took me a while to realise it though.
I guess you could say it’s a bit like when you’re walking down the street and you pass a policeman and you feel like you’ve done something wrong and have something to hide even though you know perfectly well that you haven’t and you don’t.
Being a homo can bring with it this intrinsic apocalyptic dread that simmers and lives inside of you, but gradually you come to realise your sexual identity is not malignant, but benign.
The process through self-acceptance is like the violent sting of a jellyfish intensified by the splash of vinegar over open flesh — The onset of pain is sharp and crippling, but necessary for the wound to heal.