The First Time I Said I Love You To A Girl
I had loved her in some way for more than a year, almost two. She was everything to me.
We were in her bed during a sleepover, trying to exhaust all the topics before we fell asleep. She suggested that we play 20 questions. I hate the game, but it posed an opportunity I may not have gotten again, so I said yes. A few questions in, I started to chicken out, but my mama didn’t raise no chicken.
“Have you ever kissed a girl before?” At the time I had kissed a handful of girls; all before my teenage years, some during childhood games of mummy and daddy. I hoped she’d say yes. “No, I haven’t.” My next move depended on her saying yes. Nevertheless I wasn’t deterred.
“Well do you want to?” I asked, most of my confidence had chipped away. “Yes”, she answered. I was back on track. We traded a few more questions, me trying to figure out what she liked. Then I kissed her. It was the most amazing night of my life.
I knew I wanted her and she wanted me; nothing could go wrong. Well, except everything.
Christmas 2017 was the best time of my newly adult life, and the new year was shaping up to be better. I had my best friend who was now something more, and I had a lot to look forward to.
In our honeymoon phase we had failed to consider a few things: what were we? How had our sexuality changed? Were we okay with it? We both come from strong Christian backgrounds so the answer to the last question was obvious. God was against it so we had to be.
We lashed out at each other; we had led each other to sin, rather, I had led her to sin. We fought, we prayed, we tried to fix ourselves. I buried myself in work so I wouldn’t have to face it.
Our relationship had new rules. We could be friends, but at arm’s length, lest we get tempted again. I wasn’t sure how to feel.
We turned to men. If we couldn’t fix ourselves and God had forsaken us, perhaps being with the opposite sex was the answer. We achieved nothing. We knew we had to talk about it.
It was months before we accepted what we were. At the time we went with bisexual; more because it was the closest to straight than because it was the right label. She decided we needed to keep our relationship platonic, we obviously couldn’t handle the pressures of romance.
I loved her still and she loved me. I was sure of it. I just didn’t know how to get her to admit it.
It was December again, another sleepover. I was heading home the next morning. We had broken her platonic rule multiple times already and told ourselves it was just sex and nothing more.
That night it was different, that night we made love. In our post nut clarity, we talked. We knew it wasn’t just sex. I told her I loved her and I wanted her to be my girlfriend. She said yes. We would break up before the holiday ended.
We got back together when school resumed. We repeated this cycle a few more times before she finally broke it off. We weren’t working. We were still figuring out what it meant to not be straight. We had no one to talk to, no one to model our choices after. It was difficult.
Our relationship ended but we remained friends. In my mind, she will always be the one that got away.
Coming to terms with my sexuality in a country that prides itself on my erasure and criminalisation is not easy. I have had to hide who I am from the people who should matter the most to me. I have had friends sent to conversion therapy, I have seen people like me abused by law enforcement agents, people on the street, and their families.
I can only hope we achieve marriage equality soon, so I and my people can live and love openly.
This Pride Month, I’m grateful for that humid December night in 2017. I wouldn’t be here without it. It has been a rocky road from self-hate to acceptance; from the trepidation I felt when we first kissed to loudly and proudly loving women.
This Pride Month, I want to say thank you to everyone whose openness and confidence showed me that it was okay to be me. I want to say thank you to everyone who taught me to accept myself, to shake off the shame, to be free. Thank you, I love you.