The Laziest Coming Out Story You’ve Ever Heard


  • A new friend in my life told me that her number on the Kinsey scale went up this year after reading my book Women, about a lesbian love affair, and after watching the actress Allison Williams play Peter Pan in Peter Pan Live.
  • Another friend emailed me: Ryan had heard I’m now open to dating women and he was like, “So what does that mean, what are you doing to meet women and date?”, and I was like, “Oh literally nothing, I’m just like, inwardly identifying as queer now and am now open to being seduced by anyone male or female.” “That is the laziest coming out story I’ve ever heard,” he said.
  • I told the above friend that I would be using that anecdote in an essay. I asked her if she wanted me to use her name, or call her “a friend.” She replied, “A friend. I’m not out yet.”
  • Everyone’s bisexual!” This was me and a best friend’s party trick in middle school through high school. It riled people and we knew it. And by ‘people,’ I mean males. They laughed in our faces, thinking it a ridiculous claim.
  • After my first relationship with a woman, I talk to that best friend on the phone. “Everyone’s bisexual, remember?” she said.
  • The writer Ashley Ford interviewed me over the phone for Buzzfeed LGBT. To have the word LGBT even associated with my name, is odd to me. I never came out as bisexual. I just wrote a book with a confused narrator around her sexuality. I asked Ashley why it was important to her to have “B for Bisexual” in her Twitter bio. She explained that because even though she’s in a relationship with a man, it’s still part of her. I asked her about her coming out. “I never came out, I just started writing about it.” “Me too,” I told her.
  • Which begs the question: is that a cop out? Someone told me it was brave. I disagree. I told her it felt passive aggressive. “I guess we’re thinking about it in different ways,” she said.
  • The end of the Buzzfeed article quotes me saying, “I’m okay with the label bisexual, I guess.” It makes me cringe. I have issues with labels, yet don’t know what to do without them. Once I was dating a guy, and over his shoulder saw an email he’d written. “My girlfriend’s here for the weekend,” it said. I was immediately uncomfortable. He knew I saw it, and later asked me, “Is it okay if I call you my girlfriend?” I told him I was weird about that word but that we could try to use it. We broke up a month later.
  • I know I know. If it were the “right person” the label wouldn’t bother me.
  • I understand that it is 2015 now. I understand it was 100% more difficult to be queer in all of the previous years. I understand I am lucky. I understand that because of Ellen and Ellen Page and The L Word and Leslie Feinberg, things are different. I also understand that distress and confusion are the same regardless of what year it is.
  • One of the best things about the show Broad City is the nonchalant way Ilana likes both men and women without it being a thing. I’ve never seen that done so well.
  • I am not a political person. I never have been. A female author — I cannot remember who — once wrote something like, “I’m not political in my writing, why should I be? If you look at my life, I’m political in the way I live.” It comforted me to no end. I do not watch the news. I read a small amount. I’m partly too sensitive for it, and too dumb. But when I read that, I thought, yeah! I don’t talk about women writers needing to be read, but I wrote a book that didn’t have any men in it without even noticing. Not tooting my own horn here, expressing my naiveté.
  • While I was in a relationship with a woman, I went to a Fourth of July party. At the end of the night, I was walking to my car with some people I didn’t know, including a gay man. He’d been trying to meet men that night and was frustrated on his luck. “No one’s gay,” he griped. “Everyone’s gay!” I said, excited about my newfound sexuality. “That’s easy for a straight white woman to say,” he said.
  • In my memory here, I try to tell myself I stayed quiet now. I feel shame about speaking up, for some reason or another. I feel bad for making him feel bad, how very female. I smiled, I was shocked, because I was so changed on the inside but not on the outside. I was wearing a dress and had long hair. “You think I’m straight,” I said. He was embarrassed. He started apologizing.
  • I’ve always been interested in how we can look one way, and be something else entirely. Now, I was getting tired of it.
  • My “out” friend wore shirts that read Legalize Gay. Maybe I should do that, I’d always think to myself when I saw her in it.
  • How many times have I done the same thing? Assume a woman straight, only to be so thrown when they mention having dated a woman.
  • And the opposite. In a video when Lena Dunham interviews Miranda July, July tells Dunham about being at Vipassana (a ten day silent meditation retreat) and becoming besotted with a woman there. At the retreat, they were not allowed to speak or make eye contact or even facial expressions. They all wore the same thing, black pants and shirts. July was positive this was a “powerful butch woman.” “I wanted her fingers inside me,” she said. On the last day of Vipassana, they changed out of their black sweats. July was excited to talk to this woman and see if their connection was in fact, real. The woman came out of her cabin wearing mom jeans, a pink shirt with an Appliqué symbol, white tennis sneakers, and hopped into her minivan with her husband. July joked that she was devastated. The morale of the story is, “If you wanted it badly enough, you could completely misread someone as a lesbian,” July said. “So it’s like, if you want it badly enough, you could mistake anyone for someone you could love,” Dunham says. “Right,” July said. “A lesbian,” Dunham says. They laugh. “It was a confusing time for me,” July said.
  • We all want to judge, but don’t want to be judged.
  • My therapist once had me practice saying, “I could be with a woman,” and “I could be with a man,” out loud. “Well when I say it that way, it’s not a big deal,” I said.
  • “Your twenties are for figuring out if you’re a lesbian or not,” Cheryl Strayed once said to me. I tweeted this a few days later. “I’d like to make an amendment,” Cheryl said, “I’d drank a bottle of wine before I said that.”
  • Last summer, my mother and I were cleaning out my apartment on the same day as the Pride parade. We took a break and walked to the parade. My dad was there too. The three of us stood in silence. It meant something to me, since I was inwardly identifying as queer now. “Maybe they know,” I thought.
  • Once a girl friend who I’d been intimate with said, while laying in bed, “Oh Chloe. You’re an alien.” As much as this scared me, some part of me took it as a compliment. But mostly it did scare me. I’m an alien. I will never have a sexual identity. I will never have a normal life. I should have asked her what she meant.
  • Day-drinking rosè with a friend, she pulled her phone out, showed it to me. On the screen is a photo of Jason Schwartzman. “This is who you should date,” she said. We laughed. “I used to date fun, outgoing guys like that,” I said. “That’s who I see you with. Not women.”
  • In her book, My Life as a Dyke, Erika Kleinman dated a woman who liked to say, “I don’t date fucking bisexuals, because they don’t fucking exist.”
  • Erika has told me, “I’m married to a man, but I could have easily married a woman since I’m completely bisexual. I am a Kinsey 3! Seriously, if someone asks me about my sexual orientation, I’m like, ‘Depends. Who’s asking?’ Oh look, there’s a lesbian couple over there. Or maybe they’re sisters. Whatever, the one with the white streak in her hair and the Escher tat is fucking hot.”
  • Part of me is like, it’s 2015, why are we still talking about this? The other part of me is like, we need to talk more about this! I could talk about this forever!
  • The Bechdel Test is outdated. When I hear people say things passed the Bechdel Test, I’m like, duh? I know when it came out it was radical, but come on. I want to make a new test: Two females have to talk to each other about female films, authors, and acne. That’s what I want to see in my books and movies.
  • Or even better, two females, gay or non, have to talk about anything but their love lives.
  • In the movie Appropriate Behavior, writer and actress Desiree Akhavan tells her brother she’s dating a woman. “So you’re gay now?” “Well I like dating men too, so I guess I’m bisexual,” she responds. “That’s a thing?” he asks. “I’m afraid so,” she says.
  • At a bar one night I sat on the patio with a friend from high school. “You’re not bisexual,” he said, “You’re just trying to be cool.”
  • In some cases, girls can be worse to each other about bisexuality than guys. In a live version of her song “Drive,” Melissa Ferrick says, “If your girlfriend owns more than one towel she’s probably straight.”
  • When I was online dating and nervous about attending a dance party, a gay girl said to me, “Just wear a dress and be your girly self and you’ll be dancing with a woman in no time.” I was stunned. I’d been planning on wearing jeans. I didn’t think of myself as “girly.” I was vulgar. I bit my nails to the quick.
  • This same girl, once dropped me off at my apartment, asked me if I liked hiking. “I love hiking,” I said. She made a big show of acting shocked. It was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen. It obviously had everything to do with her and nothing to do with me.
  • The first person I heard say, “I’m not gay or straight. I’m attracted to people,” was a girl named Tiger, at a new age camp I worked at.
  • The morning after sex with a woman, I got my hair cut. “Sooooooo, do you have a boyfriend?” my hairdresser asked me. “No,” I said. “Isn’t it so hard to meet men?” he said.
  • At a writing retreat in California, I drank countless glasses of wine, putting myself in a vulnerable and dark state of mind. I was sitting around the fire with some writers. We were talking about sexuality. “At the end of the day, you know,” one woman said. I burst into tears. In front of everyone. Partly drunk, partly still devastated from my last relationship, partly because I’d just finished a book (unpublished at that point) about a not knowing narrator. I myself did not know. At the end of the day I did not know. And it was causing me strife, grief, extreme distress. I used to know myself so well. Maybe some day I would, again, but on this night around the fire in California, I did not.

Chloe Caldwell’s novella, Women, is out now from Short Flight/Long Drive books and is this month’s Emily Book. Her book of personal essays, Legs Get Led Astray was released in 2012 by Future Tense Books. Her essays have been published in Salon, The Rumpus, Thought Catalog, and various anthologies. She lives in upstate New York.


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