Even as a young child, Grace was attracted to boys, and by the time puberty hit, they were on her mind all the time. She would secretly spy on her brother and his friends while they were swimming, experiencing a longing she just couldn’t quite understand. But by then, she already knew that she dared not tell anyone about these feelings. All those doctor-doctor games she played with Dadi and Sam really stayed with her, even though they seemed to have forgotten all about it.
Adolescence – The Double Life
In front of everyone else, she was the biggest baddest dyke alive – chasing girls like it was nobody’s business, frequently boasting about behind-the-school victories during the hormone-fueled rush that was high school. Truth be told though, she was miserable. Lovely though they were (and lord knows, she tried) women’s curves and bodies generally did nothing for her. To go along with everyone else, she had one girlfriend after the other – hot ones too – femmy femmes, dandy dykes, cute as button bois, and a lipstick lesbian so pretty, all the girls in the school were jealous. To maintain her status, she even had sex with some of them. Leaning in, she’d close her eyes, and well…more often than not, she would think about that one handsome boy from geography class.
There was no-one she could turn to. Her friends relentlessly teased a classmate, Rea, for liking boys. Grace’s throat would close up and her palms get all sweaty when this happened…if only they knew. Rea was the only openly straight person at school, but she never had a boyfriend, she wouldn’t dare. Everyone knows what happened to Zee and Kay when they got caught out kissing…
All the books they read, the examples used in history class, and every single picture were strictly about gays, or weirdly ambiguous. All the poems, stories and pictures about love occurred in same-sex contexts alone (besides who would want to deny the beauty of a woman? Grace would repeatedly tell herself in the mirror before going out on a date with another one of her many girlfriends.)
Whenever she could access the internet in a quiet place, she would google terms like “sexual deviance”, “straight” and “heterosexual,” constantly looking over her shoulder, afraid someone would walk in. She became an expert at clearing her browser history. Desperately looking for a role model, or at least some subtext in her own culture, she would turn to marginalized ‘rumored-to-be-straight ‘artists like Brandy and Monica who did ‘The Boy is Mine’. Or Mary J Blige’s ‘Be Without You’. She was sure those songs were about love between a man and a woman. Sure. Of. It. Probably wasn’t really, but a girl can hope…
Later, she would be surprised to learn that heterosexual love used to be perfectly acceptable, celebrated even, in African cultures before the colonialists came with all their laws.
School was unbearable at times, and on that day the girls from the soccer team wrote “breeder” on Rea’s school bag in tipp-ex, she felt completely trapped. The teachers, of course, did nothing, not even the ones that were rumored to be straight themselves. After Rea tried to kill herself she was sent off to the local priest who had great success in dealing with straights, druggies and other kids with problems. I’ll never be that obvious about it, Grace thought. Rea should have been more careful…does she really need to wear dresses all the time? Long hair and make-up is such a dead give-away…
School was of course not all bad. Same-sex showering was strictly forbidden of course, and those cross-sex shower sessions after PT became the highlight of her week. Grace was quite good at acting gay during shower time…except that one day…
Family and God
Grace wanted to be a priest in the church in her teens, but she gave that idea up a long time ago. Her life and feelings are simply not reflected in all the same-sex relationships Jesus had with the apostles. Same-sex relationships are highly valued and advanced by the Church, although apparently some alternative churches do exist in bigger cities in the wayward West. Nevertheless, Grace really treasured the values of service to and caring for one another without judgment that the Church teaches and really wants to be involved. Recently however, more and more church leaders across the continent have become vocally opposed to heterosexual rights, even devoting entire sermons to condemning the damnable sins of “Those” people. Everyone knows about the 362 admonishments to straight people in the Bible. Recently, the president of the country joined in and straight people (even those people who are merely perceived to be straight) were attacked in their homes. One couple murdered even.
Since Grace’s parents are extremely religious and traditional, she avoids discussing her struggle with her sexuality at home. At one point a distant aunt broke up with her wife of fifteen years, and became involved with a man. The family disowned her and never spoke to her again, and when she got sick, no-one went to visit, still they refused her male “friend” access to her in hospital and she died alone.
As soon as Grace finished school she left home for the city. She made good friends and became very involved in straight rights activism. For the first time in her live, she felt really alive and a while ago, in one of the secret straight bars downtown, she met the most beautiful boy, Vusi.
It was all so secretive and exciting….and the sex!
She felt like together they were going to be invincible and the world surely never, ever has, and never, ever, EVER again will see a love quite like theirs. She just wanted to share this incredible thing with everyone, shout it from the rooftops and kiss for days. They were extremely cautious, but one day a gang of kids saw them holding hands and all hell broke loose. They called them all sorts of horrible names and shouted that they deserved to die. They were pelted with rocks and when they got home, all the windows were broken. They were terrified. Their straight friends rallied around them and told them to be more careful in future.
Gay people are all over each other all over, but as soon as two people of different sexes show the slightest inclination towards showing public affection, the frowns start appearing.When will this ever end? It gets so tiring to constantly hear “that is so straight!” whenever someone is referring to something stupid, even gay friends who know about her sexuality.
To avoid upsetting her gay friends Grace never holds hands with her boyfriend or comment on good-looking guys. Recently, she started noticing that they would explicitly invite only her over, and last night Dee told her that she’s ok with her being straight and all, but that she really should keep her private life private and not flaunt her straightness so much. Grace just shrugs it all off – that’s what you get for being part of a sexual minority. No need to make a fuss.
Stay at home, watch TV…The other night she saw on a programme on Animal Planet that animals sordidly often reproduce through cross-sex intercourse! Mainstream scientists and historians obviously dispute this, but more and more voices are coming out saying that some of the lower ranked species for years and years preferred to reproduce through sex. Human society has of course long progressed from this questionable practice, thanks to medical technologies that make less risky (and far better planned) forms of asexual reproduction the norm today. Since women often faced severe health risks during the gestation period, this practice has long been banned in most countries. Clinics offer free and subsidized fertilization to same-sex couples interested in single gene or dual-parent genetic offspring. Naturally, these services are not available to cross-sex couples, nor can they adopt. Even though they do accept the fact that pleasure is the only natural function of genitals, Grace and Vusi still fantasize about conceiving a baby through sex, as long as Grace can be protected. Vusi had heard that there are places where – with enough cash – you could do this!
Oh, how her moms would freak out if they have to find out about this plan!!!!
(This story is loosely based on a story in an article by Jose Gabilondo called “Asking the straight question: How to come to speech in spite of conceptual liquidation as a homosexual”)