I spent the summer of 1990 with my mother at her home in Climax Springs, Missouri (and yes, that really was the name of the town). I arrived with my cut-off shorts, my rugby t-shirts, my guitar, a stack of stationary and my girlfriend’s address. There weren’t any other people my age down there let alone any out queer folk. I had a job as a stocker at a grocery store in a nearby town but had nothing in common with my gun totin’, pick-up drivin’ co-workers. My mother and step-father were all that I had and neither of them knew that I was a lesbian. I planned to tell my mother at the end of the summer, right before I went back to school, in case things went badly. Well, I hadn’t been there but a few days when she asked me and I told her the truth. Things went very badly indeed. She told me that we would endure the summer together and then, when I returned to school, she would never speak to me again. Now, I was queer not crazy – that scenario did not scream Summer Fun! I begged her to let me go back to Kansas City to stay with my sister but she held firm. Suffering was to be our lot. So, I was stuck in a conservative town, my girlfriend was at Russian camp in Vermont, my co-workers thought I was a weirdo and my mother and step-father weren’t speaking to me. Rather bleak, huh? I was so lonely.
One day, I was working at the store when in walked two, super cute women in their 20’s. My gaydar started going off immediately but I figured it was just wishful thinking on my part. Still, I watched them as they made their way through the store. At one point, I was inside the dairy cooler stocking the milk and watching them through the glass doors as they shopped for produce. They both glanced around and then – they started making out, right there in front God and everyone! Okay, God wasn’t there and they were alone but I was watching and so was the broccoli. I was so stunned that I dropped a gallon of milk on the floor. When they stopped kissing, they laughed and held hands as they continued shopping. I made sure I was front and center when it came time to bag their groceries and I walked them out to their Jeep (for the love of lesbian stereotypes, they had a Jeep!) and watched as their car became a speck in the distance. I can close my eyes and remember that day clearly because for that one hour of that one day in that horribly long summer – I could see part of myself reflected in someone else and I felt less alone. Their kiss reminded me that my circumstances were temporary and that I would be going back to school, back to my girlfriend and back to my community. They reminded me that my life was bigger than the Greenview Thriftway.
Visibility is powerful and I blog to claim that power. I have no way of knowing what, if any, impact my words have on those who stumble across my little patch of the virtual world. Maybe people read something here and see themselves in the story, see the ways in which we are similar rather than the differences that keep us apart. Maybe people come here simply because they’ve never known a gay person before and are curious. Maybe people don’t even notice the lesbian thing and read because it makes them feel better about their parenting (which, by the way, is why I watch Super Nanny). And maybe, just maybe, Luisa and I are a couple of lesbians, kids in tow, kissing in the produce aisle and, if someone is watching, I hope that we make them feel just the tiniest bit less alone.