Am I Gay?


I met a woman last year, Cath, who had tried out three husbands and who had concluded that marriage is boring.
Her sister is a “gold star lesbian” (never even kissed a man), and still the penny didn’t drop for Cath until she herself was fifty-three, when she first fell in love with a woman.

How many women have spent their whole life not realising that they’re gay?How many women realised when they were five?How do you know?

From the age of five, in the mid 1970s, I adored my female teachers, particularly one who played the piano in school assembly. I was transfixed by the elegance and mobility of her hands.
I felt pain when that teacher left the school.

And at the age of six I tried urgently, though in vain, to summon up the courage to ask my next teacher to be my mother … as if that really could have been so.

At ten I was obsessed with Cheryl Ladd who played Chris from the 1970s TV show, Charlie’s Angels.
I hated my mother for not having called me ‘Chris’ and I pieced together my Cheryl Ladd jigsaw over and over again.

At twelve I had a monumental crush on my best friend who finally dumped me after two years for being so jealous and possessive over our friendship that I would routinely fend off others who dared to approach her.

In the first year of senior school, our Geography teacher told us that she had been with her “girlfriend” at the weekend. What could this mean?

Silence descended on the classroom, after which a note was passed round referring to our teacher as a “Les.” I had no idea what “Les” meant, yet somehow I thought it had something to do with me, and that this would not be viewed favourably, and that I should keep quiet about it. I hit the dictionary after the class. And there it was. ‘Les’ expanded into a new, scary word before my eyes: ‘Lesbian.’ Could that be me?

Was I gay?

How could I know?

A few months later I fell completely in love with our new French teacher. This was ‘Miss Williams’ of my published diary (names have been changed).

I fell in love at first sight, no less. This love lasted until the end of the sixth form and beyond. I would stare, captivated, at Smash Hits photos of Kim Wilde, Laura Branigan, Elaine Paige (which served as a source of hilarity years later).

But … was I gay?

At fourteen I met a boy called Matt at a disco between our girls’ school and the boys’ school down the road. He asked me out and I said yes.

So, we met up with a few of his friends in town the following week, after which Matt walked me to my bus stop. To my dismay, he rammed my mouth with his enormous tongue, which tasted heavily of tobacco.

That was the end of going out with boys for me.

My parents sent us on Christian holidays for teenage girls.
I fell in love there too. I was fourteen.

Sharon was a divinely mature sixteen, and physically stunning. She danced The Charleston.
We spent all our time together, talking and playing table-tennis, for hours every day for two weeks.
Every night we lay together, in our sleeping bags, underneath one of the beds in the dormitory we’d been assigned.

When the holiday was over, we wrote lengthy letters to each other by return of post for years, ending them in pages full of kisses. Sharon would write to me about the boys she’d been dating. And she would sign off her letters telling me how much she loved me.

At fifteen I swooned at Julian Clary, and Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and anyone or anything that crossed gender norms.

But … was I gay?

A year or so after we met, Sharon invited me to visit her for the weekend. We were to share her single bed for one night. She asked me whether I preferred to sleep head-to-head or head-to-toe.

I lied.

For an unknown reason I had been holding the belief that I would wake up on my sixteenth birthday with the answer to the question,

“Am I gay?”

As it turned out, on my sixteenth birthday, the answer did not reveal itself.

On my seventeenth birthday I launched an experiment which I followed faithfully for one entire year: I changed myself in ways that I decided were more ‘feminine.’
Somehow I reasoned that this might shake out the answer to that persistent question, “Am I gay?” So, I grew my hair, I wore a skirt (every day for three hundred and sixty-five days), I wrote letters on pink paper (especially to Sharon), I made my hand-writing less angular, and I stopped writing addresses in capital letters on envelopes.

All the while I was fixating on female teachers at school, female friends, female celebrities.
I had intense romantic friendships with girls. I stalked and haunted and obsessed over a considerable number of females.

I called myself a Christian and I tried to believe as I’d had the fear of God pumped into me.
Being gay was wrong, they said. There it was, in the Bible.

In my late teens Channel 4 started broadcasting gay films every Friday night—lesbian one Friday, gay men the next. This was revolutionary. And it continued for all too brief a period until Section 28 was passed in 1988, which ‘prohibited the promotion of homosexuality.’ The films were obscure, old, foreign. And bad things happened to the homosexual characters. I took on the belief that if I touched another woman, I would be ruining her life.

I wanted to be gay because it felt special. To be straight felt ordinary.

But it wasn’t easy to be gay in the 1980s. When I told my best friend about the feelings I was having she screwed up her face at the thought of what I was doing (I really wasn’t) and she stopped hanging out with me. Fellow students at university told others to keep away from me because of my obsessions with other women.

I tried attending the Lesbian and Gay Society, but all the women there were shaven-headed and butch. They didn’t look like Cheryl Ladd or Sharon.

So, I would go to parties, get drunk, hit on men to kiss.

I had pictures of women kissing on my bedroom walls. I would pretend to people that I fancied men, yet flash the tattoo I had on my wrist proclaiming my love for Miss Williams. And I would buy The Gay Times in secret. I was a mess of contradictions for some time.

I was in my mid twenties when I first kissed a woman. Somehow, eventually, some sense must have stirred within me. I kissed another woman. And I’d had no idea before this event that kissing can turn you on.

So, how did you know you were gay?When did the penny drop?

Natasha Holme is author of Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia: A Diary on How I Acquired my Eating Disorder.



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  1. Mira

    Good story Natasha I wasted years not acting on my feelings for women…

  2. michele

    could have been my story, thanks for sharing!!

  3. clare richards

    My life has been so boring until I met the girl of my dreams!!!! Yes she is overweight but I do love that from her!

  4. Lina

    I STILL don’t know if I’m gay. I’m 37. I first kissed a woman when I was 25. I’ve never had the opportunity to go any further. I am obsessed with lesbians. Play ‘spot the lesbian’ on the streets. I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’ve slept with LOTS of men but never had a relationship. But sometimes I worry that I think I might be gay just to explain why I’ve never had a relationship with a man. What am I????? I have no idea!!


    I feel the same and my story is similar. I’ve been married two times but always felt like something was missing. I got into a relationship with a woman and finally I felt free and satisfied but I have kids and my family threatened to take my kids away so I got into a relationship with a man. I’m miserable and all I think about is her

  6. Sadie

    I was 26 when I realised I was attracted to women, 27 when I realised I am, for sure, a lesbian. That was four years ago and I’ve never looked back.

    I always had loads of gay friends, spent more time in gay clubs than I did straight but had no inkling. I had boyfriends, one night stands with men and at 22 I got engaged to one. We were together six and a half years, still together when I had my first, extremely powerful attraction to a woman. I assumed I was bi, we talked and agreed that I would experiment. The first time I slept with a woman, I knew it. I’m gay. Fully gay. Everything clicked into place. I left that man five days later. My life is amazing. I’m a totally different person and I love being me. I’d never had that before.

  7. kerry

    Well I am 26, kissed a lot of girls, met a girl I liked but I still try to hide it, I went out of my way to meet a girl on a forum and travelled from MK to Brighton and am going back, I love being in gay bars and love pride! all my main friends are straight and use the term ‘I am just experimenting I want to be with a guy?! I get upset with my self telling my self its a lie, had relationships with guys ‘falling in love’ secretly miserable mainly and now need to make friends so I joined this site and blog… lets see how I get on!

  8. Suzie

    Interesting article. I question if some people do not realize they are gay because of how they were raised. When someone hears over and over “gay is bad” it makes them think there is something wrong with how they feel and try to deny that feeling. I personally am not gay but I support any who feel they are. Everyone deserves a chance at happiness.

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