Every so often, a tweet or meme will go around asking people to respond with all the screamingly queer things they did before they knew they were queer — stuff like being obsessed with the Indigo Girls, writing gay fanfiction, or volunteering with queer kids for ten years. Or how about this one: writing a book about a closeted gay kid in Georgia who doesn’t want to come out because he doesn’t want people to make his sexuality a big deal, and then (right after the release of the film adaptation) publishing a number one New York Times bestselling sequel about, what else: a closeted bisexual girl.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind to 2015.
My debut YA book, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, came out that April, and I knew nothing about book promotion. But I figured out one thing pretty quickly: when you’re a brand-new author, the first thing interviewers want to know about is your inspiration.
I hated that question.
Mostly because I never had a good answer when it came to Simon. I’d talk about how the book was based on my high school. Or how I reread all my teen journals before I wrote the first draft. Or I’d list all the ways Simon and I are alike. But there was always one particular follow-up question I dreaded: why is Simon gay? Why did you, a cishet woman, write a book about a gay teen boy? So I’d talk about my psychology background and all those years working with queer kids, ignoring the real neon sign of a question: Why’d you work for ten freaking years with queer kids, Becky?
Y’all, I didn’t know. I legitimately didn’t realize.
I’m thirty-seven years old. I’ve been happily married to a guy for almost ten years. I have two kids and a cat. I’ve never kissed a girl. I never even realized I wanted to.
But if I rewind further, I’m pretty sure I’ve had crushes on boys and girls for most of my life. I just didn’t realize the girl crushes were crushes. Every so often, I’d feel this sort of pull toward some girl I vaguely knew from school or camp or after-school dance class. I’d be a little preoccupied for a few weeks with how cool or cute or interesting she was, and how much I wanted to be her friend. It just never occurred to me that these feelings were attraction.