Name: Jessica Kyle Link
Gay since: 1990
Key moments of suspicion: crushing on my elementary English teacher Karen Jones
Out since: Thanksgiving 2009
Intent and/or purpose: To chronicle tragically hilarious moments of my life to elicit laughter, understanding, and ultimately peace in our LGBTQAA+ world.
The year is 1999. Think: secretly loving Rocket Power, hating Accelerated Reader, sneaking two Entenmann’s doughnuts every morning for breakfast, and making silly family voicemails. This was 4th grade me. While all the other nine-year-old girls were worried about who started their period first or securing a new “boyfriend” for the week, I was confidently parading around with my best friend Emma Brown memorizing scenes from Clueless (obviously I was Dionne) and planning our next all night movie marathon. My tenth year on this Earth is still my favorite. I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Well, accept maybe dodging the occasional “chubby” remark, or the fact that I was trying to pray-the gay-away, everything was great. Me n Emma, terrorizing it all, BF4E, The Backstreet Cats …
One sunny afternoon in my cloud painted room on Brantner Lane, Emma and I were playing, for lack of a better word, Barbies. The dude Barbie would take Barbie Barbie on a date and at the end we would have them ferociously make out. It was hilarious. A plastic boob grab there, dude Barbie’s head in Lady Barbie’s lap, the sexual gambit. It felt a little wrong which only upped the anty, and made it all the more fun to try “dirtier” doll acts. Cue Jess grabbing Theresa (or as I would like to call her ethnically-ambiguous-”other”-Barbie). Emma consented and we took the girls on a lady-date.
“Oh, Theresa, our girl time chatting over slushies at Sonic Drive-In was so romantic, I just–”“Barbie, I know, I can’t help but want to–”“Want to what, Theresa?”“Kiss–”
My darkest hopes were coming to fruition in front of my fourth grade face. I felt strangely ignited when we played with just girl dolls. A feeling that never occurred when we played with boy dolls and girl dolls … or just boy dolls … or dog dolls. … Girls.
I wasn’t gay for Emma. (Hate to break it to ya, Em.) No, no, no, the love she and I still share today is quite the platonic one. Emma and I talk occasionally over Facebook and try to get together once a year for food and a movie in order to relive our gl– my glory days. Emma did, however, allow me the safe space to exercise the fantasies that played out in my head. Naturally. And not because gaydom was being superimposed on me, Right-Wing-Radical-Hate-Monger.
I can only imagine what kind of damaging gay mental repression may have occurred if I were never granted a friend like Emma Brown. Even though I had her as an outlet I was still closeted through middle school, high school, and into college despite the fact that I had many an opportunity to come out. Better late than never for happiness, right?
By: Jessica Link
“The Homo-Social Experience” is a new series from Jessica Link, the clever chronicles of a young woman discovering the challenging and provocative aspects of identity and gender. Link’s humor and grace approaches such politics in a relatable, entertaining way. Because who hasn’t made their barbies kiss.
Next week on The Homo-Social Experience: Another Time I Thought Someone Was Gay For Me.