It may be clichéd, it may be a stereotype and it might even be
expected, but I first began to accept that I was a lesbian at
school in Hampshire.
Ok, so that's not the clichéd part. But the fact that I went to
an all girls' school is. I remember an instance in Year 10 where my
entire class went on a trip to another school to learn about their
new computer technology. We were impressed and excited to gain a
glimpse into this other school, however, our reputation preceded
us. As we left the minibus and approached the playground we were
met by a tirade of comments: "Lesbians! Dykes! Look at the lesbos".
Wow, I thought, they don't even know us and they're making these
At that point I was slowly emerging from the closet so their
comments felt like a personal attack. It also gave me a slight
insight into what life might be like when I came out fully. I
didn't look upon it favourably. However, like these pupils were
assuming, I know that I didn't "turn" gay because I went to an all
girls' school - it was just an intrinsic part of me that decided to
rear its head when I was there.
So, what was it like coming out in an all girls' school?
In all honesty, it was both complex and simple at the same time.
In order to preserve what little "rep" I had, (I was being bullied
at the time anyway) I came out as bisexual as, in my opinion,
society at the time deemed this a fashionable "label" to identify
as. I had a short platonic relationship with a guy to make this
credible and tried hard to pretend that I wasn't lusting after
Michelle Ryan as Zoe in Eastenders. Needless to say, the whole
"boyfriend" thing never really panned out. Shortly after ending the
relationship with the guy, I felt like it was about time I told the
truth - for some reason I felt that I owed it to my friends. I
began coming out. Much to my dismay I lost a few friends, some
girls assumed that just because I was a lesbian I was going to
fancy all of them. They even resorted to changing in the toilets
for P.E. Don't flatter yourselves; I do have standards - thank you.
I was even told once I was pretending, as a result of my "not being
able to sustain a boy/girl relationship". Some people, including
teachers, labelled it as a "phase", or ignored it. But by far the
strangest response I received from a select few was that they began
flirting with me. They'd glance at me and then blush if I smiled
back. I mean, what?? If I'd approached them and made an advance,
they would've run a mile! (Honestly, the straight female psyche
baffles me sometimes!) On the whole, most of my friends supported
me. I was still the same Fran, the only thing I think they found
difficult was adjusting their conversations with me; they felt they
could no longer talk about "that hot guy from that band" in front
of me. The benefit of this? I no longer had to pretend to be
interested in him.
Things probably would've been different at a mixed school. The
responses I received would have been different; no better, no
worse, but I still would've been coming out the closet regardless.
I think us queers have accepted (albeit with a struggle) that we're
forever going to experience some hostility to our sexuality at some
point in our lives, but we just have to be strong. Even if that
means endlessly explaining to a straight female friend the benefits
of a sex toy over the "real thing" - she never could understand it,
try as I might.
If you'd like to read more "coming out experiences" click here
for Louise's story: Louise's