Some people still believe that being gay is a choice. That young men and women can choose to be heterosexual; the way God meant them to be. When prom time rolls around, I remember all the choices I had when I was young.
When Ed Grant asked me to our prom, I had a choice. I could go with him to the dance, or sit home alone, while my friends went out on the most magical night of their lives. It never occurred to me there might be a different choice.
Lynne and I fell in love a year before Ed asked me to the prom. Totally, passionately, intoxicatingly in love. We were inseparable, best friends who couldn’t keep our eyes off each other in school, and couldn’t keep our hands off each other when we were alone. We had no labels for our love. We never described ourselves as gay, though we were often very happy. But we knew our love was wrong. So we chose to hide it from our friends, our parents, and from the nuns who taught us about heaven and hell.
When it came time for dating, we did what was expected of us. We dated boys. Pimply boys with new scratchy beards who came to our houses, met our parents, and got us home before eleven. We kissed boys, but boys never made us tingle the way we did with each other. And though some of them were very nice, we never wanted boys. Lynne and I double dated. As she sat in the front seat next to her boyfriend, I sat in the back with mine. We were on a mission to find boys we’d marry, and then move into adjoining apartments in the same house. Who the boys were didn’t really matter. We would be like the sisters we never had, living in one house with our husbands and children, like my mother and Aunt Millie when they first got married.
Boys flocked to Lynne. Her mother had Southern roots and taught her how to flatter the opposite sex and feign interest. Lynne had a Northern kind of Southern charm, and I followed her lead. We went to four proms, which must be a record for two Lesbians. I got to choose four long and lacey gowns, each more uncomfortable than the last, and made four trips to the hairdresser to have my straight hair transformed into piles of curls on top of my head. I wore four wrist corsages of tea roses and baby’s breath and posed for four pictures standing in front of my mother’s buffet, smiling as if this were the most special night of my life. I spent four enchanted evenings dancing with boys who stepped on my toes as I watched Lynne in the arms of her boyfriend. I laughed at boys’ jokes, held their sweaty hands, and thanked them for a wonderful evening. The day after each prom, Lynne and I were together again, in love.
Over and over, we tried to make the right choices. We tried to choose what our friends chose, what our parents and families wanted us to choose, and what the Church chose for us. But in the end, we chose the outfield instead of cheerleading, Provincetown instead of the mall, Angelina instead of Brad. Because as it turns out, that’s the way God made us.