Mar. 24, 2017

I'm a Lesbian

I frequently marched to the beat of my own drummer, as they say, and still do. While living in a children's home, I would occasionally take a weekend and run off, always returning on Sunday evenings. Since it was only 10 cents to ride the city bus, 15 if you needed a transfer, I kept a dime and a nickel on me. The afternoon I left, I took the bus to my brother's house. It wouldn’t have been difficult to find me but lucky for me, truant officers were so stretched that by the time they got around to looking for me, I was usually already back at the children’s home.

Upon my return to the orphanage, I was bombarded by the other girls. We were not allowed to be in each other’s rooms without the houseparent’s permission (as if any of us actually followed that rule) so I was surprised to see some of the girls slipping into another’s dorm room. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say the atmosphere was electrifying with all of the girl’s buzzing about.

Dawn, one of my dorm room neighbors came rushing up to me and started pulling me toward the TV room at the end of the long hallway. There were 18 rooms on either side of the hall that held two sets of bunk beds for abandoned children and delinquents. Since I had just returned from my “illegal outing,” I would be assigned a new room and roommates.

Dawn and I veered off to the activity room, just left of the TV room, where several of the other girls were waiting. Our bathroom/showers were across the hall from the activity room. A couple of the girls came out and rushed into the activity room. To say it was crowded would be an understatement.

Freddie and her older sister, Willie (one of my buddies), came from the TV room. Freddie was always in the TV room sitting on the sofa rocking back and forth. It was her security. Willie, on the other hand, chose to withdraw inside herself.

“It’s about time you got back,” Willie said of my AWOL. “I didn’t know if you were coming back.”

“What’s happening?” I asked, completely and utterly bewildered. I knew this reception was not a welcome back party for me. Something had definitely happened. Remembering how we all hated one of the housemothers, Jolene, I excitedly asked, “Did Jolene get fired?”

Dawn answered while Willie snickered behind her hand, “No! Tammy is back! She came in this afternoon.”

I had been there for two months and never even heard her name mentioned much less, knew who she was. “Who is Tammy?”

“She comes and goes,” Dawn answered.

“What’s wrong with her?”

Roxanne, my old roommate (as it were when I returned) came up and whispered in my ear, “Tammy is a lesbian!”

“Okay,” I whispered back, “But, what is wrong with her?”

Exasperated, Dawn waving her hands up and down for effect, squealed, “She’s a lesbian. You know, dyke! She likes touching girls in their special places!”

Gosh, was I a dumb kid? I understood Tammy was a lesbian. I got that. What I didn’t get was what was wrong with her? I rolled my eyes, acknowledged she was a lesbian and then left to go find my new room.

Roxanne, whose mother left her on the doorsteps of one of her regular johns, came to me later in the activity room. I was sitting in there with Lisa, who, for whatever reason, never talked about why she was there. We were talking and smoking when Roxanne came and sat next to me.

“I was really scared,” my ex-roommate said to me.

“Of what?”

“They put Tammy in with us. I thought you knew. They moved her out though and put her in another room. We did some switching around while you were gone.”

That explained everyone going in and out of each other’s rooms while the housemother was present and accounted for. “Why were you scared?”

“I don’t want her to touch me,” Roxanne said defensively. “She’s a lesbian!”

Lisa spoke up, “I told Martha (the housemother) she could move Tammy in my room since I had empty beds. I really think she wanted to put her in your bed, Michelle, you know, just to piss you off for running away. But, Roxanne started crying so she okayed her moving into my room.”

Personally, I had always secretly thought Lisa was a lesbian. I never said anything and to this very day, as I’m writing this, I still think that. However, I was of the opinion, if she wanted me to know, she would have told me and so, I never bothered asking for confirmation.

A few days after my return, I was walking toward the bathroom when the door flew open and about three girl’s came running out with towels wrapped around them. Seeing I was heading in there, they stopped and warned, “Don’t go in there!”

“Why; is there a rat or something?” I asked heeding their warning.

“No, Tammy is in there!”

“So what!”

“But she’s a lesbian,” they all squealed, and priggishly so, I might add.

“You like boys; does that mean you try to kiss every boy you see? She likes girls; that does not mean she tries to kiss every girl she sees!”

I had had enough! For three days all I heard about was “Tammy this and Tammy that” until I was just sick of it. As I said, I marched to the beat of my own drummer and I marched right into that bathroom to take my shower.

We had to leave our clothes in our rooms and wear either a towel or bathrobe to and from the bathroom whenever we bathed or showered. I found Tammy sitting in a shower stall on the floor, still wrapped in a towel. The water from the shower rained down on her as she sat there crying.

I went over, turned the shower off and then sat down next to her. I wasn’t going to tell her what the girl’s had been saying, just in case she didn’t know. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings any more than they apparently already were.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Haven’t you heard,” she answered through her sobs, “I’m a lesbian. Since I’m a lesbian, everyone is afraid of me and treats me like I'm a leper.”

“Are you really a lesbian?” Tammy nodded her head in confirmation. “So what,” I declared. “Just as long as you understand, I’m not, we can be friends.”

“Really? You're not afraid? They might hate you too,” she said sobering up a bit.

I put my arm around her and gave her a big hug, “I don’t care if you’re a lesbian or not. Don’t mind those girls. They’ll come around once they see you’re not trying to kiss them.”

They did too. Tammy and I talked frequently in the activity room. She, Willie and I rode the school bus together, we did our homework together and Tammy and Lisa bonded as well (I bet). In turn, the other girls seeing how we all were, they too, came around and accepted her. Even Roxanne stopped avoiding Tammy.

Freddie, Willie’s younger sister, insisted it was an abomination unto God however; it was Tammy’s own problem come judgment day. That was pretty much the attitude I took as well. It’s not for us to judge someone because of his or her sexual orientation. It is for us to love and accept people though and leave the judgments for Christ.