I think since adolescence, I’ve wondered if I’m definitely just straight, or whether I fancy women a bit too. I definitely do fancy men, and all my relationships have been with men, but I do think the average woman is more attractive than the average man.
I think, in a lot of ways, women are actually sexier than men, with lovely curves and pretty faces.
There are certain characteristics that society values in women, such as caring, gentleness and being maternal, and certain characteristics it values in men, such as strength, powerfulness and sometimes aggression. How helpful or destructive this is, and how connected or unrelated this is to biology, is definitely debatable, as everybody can be all of those things. But I’ve always found the female ones are much more up my street than the masculine ones – I fancy men most when they’re being gentle and caring.
I’ve never been sure if I’m just a run of the mill heterosexual with an appreciation of attractive women, or whether I’m actually bisexual but I’ve been ignoring the same-sex bit. I guess the same-sex bit can’t be too strong for me, if I’ve been able to ignore it so well for so long.
I think how much I loved Whigfield, when I was 10, was bordering on a crush. I tried to convince myself it was just her musical talent that I liked, but if you’ve ever heard any of her songs, you’ll know that can’t possibly be true.
I think I had a bit of a crush on a girl in the year below me at school, because she was so achingly cool and sexy. She took drugs and had dyed hair and got into trouble a lot, but she was really good at art and music and things, and I got to know her a little bit when we were in a school play together. She was definitely straight and nothing ever happened.
I’ve also had slight crushes on female managers I’ve had at work, and the odd sexy famous woman, like Sali Hughes, the Guardian columnist. But is it a crush, or do I just admire them and recognise they’re attractive?
I don’t think I’d miss penises that much, if I was gay, although they’re kind of fascinating. I often find the penetrative bit of sex a bit like an after-dinner mint after a massive meal – on paper it’s definitely the kind of thing I’m into, but in reality, when I have it, I often realise I’m already satisfied from the other courses, and I’m kind of ready for it to be over quite quickly.
Last time I was single, a few years ago, I tried to explore the same-sex thing, and tried to go to a gay club, but they wouldn’t let me in. I went with my friend, who really is straight, and when we got to the front of the queue, they said it was ‘members only’. We went round the corner and phoned the club and asked if it was members only, and they said ‘no, there’s no such thing’. We thought it because we didn’t seem gay. I think it’s a bit discriminatory, but I also think if you’re from the majority, you can’t really complain about being discriminated against. I also can understand that at a gay night, you probably don’t want lots of straight sight-seers. But still, I could’ve gone in and met the woman of my dreams, and become a ‘paid-up member’.
Now that I’m single again, and dating apps are bigger, I have an alternative way of exploring this, which only relies on me convincing one person that I can fancy women, rather than the staff of a whole club.
I think I’d better say at this stage, that I’m very conscious how annoying this sort of dicking about must be, if you’re actually properly gay and have faced real struggles with homophobia and sexual identity. I feel like I’m doing the equivalent of cultural appropriation. But I can’t find a way around this.
So, I was flitting between Happn and Plenty of Fish at the time. It seemed like on PoF, you couldn’t select that you were interested in both men and women, which doesn’t seem very cool. However, on Happn you can, so I did.
The first time I liked a woman on there and she liked me back, I thought ‘oh my god, this is massive’. I plucked up the courage to compose a message to her. On Happn it says what your first name is. Her name was spelt an unusual way with an extra vowel (it wasn’t this, but say it was ‘Lisa’, it was spelt ‘Liisa’). My name is spelt a slightly unusual way too, so my message said ‘well I guess one thing we have in common is people spelling our names wrong?’.
As my finger hovered ‘send’ I thought:
Oh my god, if I press send, I’ll be well on my way to becoming a Full Lesbian.
How will I tell my mum and dad?
They’ll probably be cool about it. They do read the Independent.
They do want grandchildren though too.
What if I do want children? I don’t know if I do or not, but maybe I do?
IVF with a sperm donor I guess. If she wants to.
She never replied, so we never had IVF babies.
However, several weeks later, I was sitting watching TV with my ex-boyfriend, when I got a message from a woman on Happn. I remembered liking her profile ages ago. She was pretty and small, and she had a job doing something impressive in a hospital.
I remember trying to seem nonchalant, both to her in my messages, and to my ex-boyfriend, who I was sitting with, while Major Lifestyle Changes were occurring, right there on the sofa.
After a few days exchanging messages, we arranged to meet for a drink.
I texted my friend, who is gay, to ask his advice about telling her I’m not properly gay yet. I didn’t want her to find out too late and feel like she’s an experiment or I’m a time-waster, but I didn’t want to make a drama out of it too early and put her off.
He said “I’d say you’re questioning but not a time-waster, so she knows you’re new to fanny but not just having a mess around”. He also thought lesbians tend to be pretty good with this kind of thing. He suggested saying it before the date, so she knows, and if she’s not cool about it, she’s probably not the right person to do this with anyway.
So I texted her saying “just in the interests of full disclosure, it would be my first sort of drink with a woman? I don’t feel like I’d be a time-waster but I completely understand if you can’t be arsed all that!”
She replied saying “first sort of drink… I like that description. Let’s do a drink and go from there! X”.
The day of the drink, it was really hard to be normal at work, knowing something massive was happening that evening. I have a pocket of work colleagues I talk to about my dates, but this felt too big (“hey, I might be kind of gay actually so exploring that tonight – oh have you finished with the photocopier?”) so I kept it to myself, and just texted a couple of friends about it.
A patient cancelled, so I surreptitiously googled some advice for first same-sex dates. The best thing I read said not to keep going ‘it’s so cool you’re a woman!’, but to focus on being excited about the person’s actual personality and characteristics rather than just their gender. There was also a lot of advice about how to split the bill if you’re both the same gender.
When I got in my car to drive home from work, I felt like I had a bit of a funny tummy, which I often get when I’m stressed. I put the radio on and there was a lady talking about fake tan, and although I’ve completely embraced my paleness and never bothered with it, the lady on the radio seemed cool and I liked the way she talked about it.
At the end, Simon Mayo said ‘and that was Sali Hughes, the Guardian beauty columnist…’.
“Oh my god!” I said out loud. I didn’t recognise her voice, but I read Sali Hughes’ column religiously, and she is one of the women I have the biggest girl-crush on. It felt like a sign.
Normally when I’ve got ready for dates, I’ve thankfully had the flat to myself as my ex-boyfriend works in central London, and I tend already to be out by the time he gets home from work.
However, this time, when I turned the key in the lock of our front door, it was already open.
Suddenly I remembered he was working from home. So I said I was going out for dinner with the gay friend I had texted for advice, as he was the first person that popped into my head. I hate lying.
I went up to the bedroom.
What do I wear? Do I wear something different as she’s a woman?
My style is pretty girly – I wear skirts and dresses much more often than I wear trousers or jeans. I’ve been told this could be why the gay club door staff didn’t believe I was gay. I considered wearing jeans, but then decided I’d feel more comfortable if I just wore the kind of thing I’d normally wear on a date. I put on a denim skirt, with a top I have that’s kind of casual but also makes my breasts look a bit better than they are.
My thought process was even more confused by her texting to say she had had to stay late after her early shift, and hadn’t had time to go home and get changed, so she was dressed more casually than she’d planned, and I felt even more overdressed. Also, while all of this went on, my ex-boyfriend came up and was also getting changed in the bedroom, as he was about to go running. I started a conversation about doing stretches after running, because I thought that’s the sort of thing someone would say if they weren’t getting ready for their first ever gay date, and I was trying to seem normal. However, I regretted it as the conversation went on longer than I expected and I didn’t have enough spare attention to talk properly.
Eventually, I successfully got dressed. My mum phoned me when I was walking to the tube, but I said I couldn’t talk as I was in a rush. I have a really good relationship with my mum and tell her a lot about my love life, but this didn’t seem like the right time.
As my train got into the station where we were meeting, I felt more nervous than usual.