A Lesbian & Mother: My Story
By Guest Blogger Shannon Bass
The word lesbian has always sounded like a mean word to call someone, even if they really were attracted to the same sex. In the 80’, 90’s and even the beginning of the new millennium, calling a female a lesbian was intended to be hurtful. So in an attempt to avoid being called that name, I would try to act like the rest of the girls by dressing up and wearing gobs of make-up and acting prissy. For me, this was extremely difficult and uncomfortable. I had always been more of a tomboy, playing in the dirt, catching bugs and frogs, climbing trees, etc. I loved to ride my bike really fast and try pulling dangerous feats. There are scars all over my arms, legs and torso from doing such stunts.
The problem was that no matter what was done, there was still an attraction to other girls, especially those with round rear-ends. And of course, the problem of catching myself staring at girls’ bottoms, making me wonder if I was a boy trapped in a girl’s body. There were some boys that were still considered cute or handsome, but I didn’t want to be with them. However, to keep up appearances, I would date them anyway. My self-esteem kept sinking lower and lower until I was depressed all of the time. There were numerous times I wondered if the world would be better off without me in it. I sliced my wrists a couple of times, but never really deep, more of an attention getter than for actual harm.
At the age of 13 and 14, my mom started dating this guy that had 4 kids. His oldest was a girl my age. There was an instant attraction, on my side anyway. She made it obvious that she was not like that, mostly by flirting with every single boy she passed. So I pretended in my head that she was my girlfriend but acted like we were just good friends. She was the first girl I ever seen naked other than myself. It’s a pretty sure bet that she knew I had the hots for her and she used it to her advantage even though she was not interested in me that way. Eventually my mom and her dad split, but I never forgot the good times we had.
I had another, similar fling in high school that caused me a lot of problems. This girl acted like she was curious about what it was like to be with another girl. She pretty much led me on. All we ever did was kiss once, but that was enough to cause serious drama. She went to school the next day and started a rumor that I had made passes at her and forced her kiss me even though she told me no. Everyone that passed me in the halls started calling me names, lesbo, dyke, pervert, and other hurtful words. I was pushed around, tripped, shoved, and more. It got so bad that I left school in the middle of the day and walked the 7 miles home.
After that, I started skipping school, missing classes, and of course my grades dropped, even ended up repeating 9th grade. I started smoking cigarettes and marijuana as well as drinking. By the time my 16th birthday came around, I had already been removed from my home by social services because of my attitude and behavior and ran away from their group homes so many times that they emancipated me. Basically they were telling me that they did not care what happened, they were done. I lived on the streets for a couple of weeks and then made my way to my uncle’s house. He took me in with no problem.
I got into some trouble with the law, nothing major, but it made me realize it was time to make a change. After talking to my grandma about what to do to get my diploma, she sent me to Job Corps. There I could not only get my diploma but also learn a trade. While there, I met a girl who desperately wanted to be a guy. She walked around with a wad of socks in her pants and had shaved her chest several times in an attempt to grow hair on it. It had obviously worked as she had a small patch growing between her breasts. We became friends rather quickly. She was open and honest, having no problem with answering the millions of questions I continuously asked her. However, she refused to date me because I could not admit whether I was a lesbian or just curious.
While at Job Corps, I met a guy I liked for the most part and we dated for a little while. I was no virgin, however, I did not mean to get pregnant. Not long after being informed he was going to be a dad, his attitude towards me changed. He became demanding, acting as if he owned me and could make me do whatever he wanted. I tolerated it up to the point of him hitting me; then left. I have not seen him since, even though he paid child support for several years. My son knows about his father and what happened.
After Job Corps, I went back to my grandma’s to stay for a while and care for my newborn son. I was raised without a dad so it didn’t seem like a big deal to raise mine without one. I ended up hooking up with a guy I had known since I was 3 yrs. old. He had a 3 yr. old of his own and we raised his child and mine as if they were ours. Several times during our relationship he told me he thought I was gay, and in the closet. I aggressively denied it, swearing I would never do such a thing. During our relationship, I gave birth to another son.
Near the end of our relationship, we moved to Tennessee. After our relationship ended, I met another guy and ended up marrying him. Worse mistake of my life. He became abusive towards me and my kids. Luckily, when it was getting real bad, I met the most amazing woman. She saved me from a life of extreme misery.
Labels are names given to certain individuals based on a similar group of characteristics they share. I have never liked having a label. Girls, women, lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, Christian, Catholic, Witch; all of these are labels. When someone asks me what religion or sexual orientation I am, I tell them that I am Shannon. That is the only label anyone should have; their name.
I got married to a man when my boys were really young, although it was not to either one’s father. It started out great, he spoiled me and the boys. We had a home, food in the cupboards, clean water, nice clothes, everything we needed and more. We got my driver’s license straightened out so I could drive my car legally. It was wonderful. About a year and a half of our relationship, he left me for another woman. I was heart-broken. After a couple of days, he came back and apologized, saying he had gotten too drunk to think and made a terrible mistake. We worked it out and got back together.
After that setback, our relationship took a turn for the worse. He started calling me fat, making me feel worthless and useless. When I was unemployed, he would gripe and complain about me sitting around and doing nothing. When I would get a job, he would complain I was never home. The house became a mess, my kids were a mess, but I did not know what to do. I stuck with it hoping it would get better. I should have known better. Abuse is abuse, whether physical or mental.
In 2008, I started working at HSN, the Home Shopping Network’s factory in Tennessee. I loved the work and the hours kept me away from home a lot. I did miss my kids and did everything I could to spend time with them. I just wanted to stay away from my husband. When I had been working there about 3 weeks, a new girl started working there. I cannot explain why, but she caught my attention and I could not stop thinking about her.
Anyone could tell that she fit the ‘butch’ stereotype; short hair, male clothes, strong. She had the persona of a female who wanted to be a male. We were finally introduced, her name was Jassy. I had never believed in love at first sight until that day. We became friends instantly and started hanging out all of the time. At first, I acted as if I was not interested in females, only guys and she acted as if she was a player. Another heart-break was the last thing I wanted so I tried keeping her at a distance emotionally.
We talked a lot. After about 2 months, I knew she liked me, but she never made a pass at me. I was really confused and finally decided I wanted to know why. So I asked her out on a date. Her face lit up. She told me then that she had been trying to get up the courage to ask me out, but that I was married and she was afraid I wasn’t interested. She knew my marriage was in shambles, unfixable, but she did not want to be a home wrecker. I told her there was nothing left of my home to wreck. We decided to move in together and rented a motel room for the time being. I brought all of my stuff that would fit in my car and my kid’s stuff and left my husband.
When my boys found out, they were both very upset. All they could think about was the fact that they were going to be picked on, tortured and teased because their mom was gay. My oldest asked me why I thought it was okay to be a faggot. That hurt. I was in so much stress, all I wanted was to finally be happy, why couldn’t they understand that? I asked them to be patient and give Jassy a chance. They might actually like her if they could get over the fact she was a she. They stayed mad for a long time, but they were also scared of all of the huge changes going on.
My husband hounded us at the motel. To say the least, he was extremely angry. He called all of our family members and told them what was going on, even Jassy’s mom, who was a hard-core bible thumper. My mom was pretty cool about it, however, Jassy’s mom was not. She showed up and started a lot of drama. It almost got us kicked out. My husband messed with my car, causing it to no longer run. We both lost our jobs shortly after that because we could not get to work. So I called my mom to come and get us.
We moved to the state we are in now, North Carolina. The first 2 years of our relationship was very rocky. It was hard to find a job where we were living, but we couldn’t move without money. It was a rut, and we were stuck in it. Luckily, I found a job and got us into a place of our own. We struggled for some time to get our feet under us. But we finally did it. We both got jobs making decent money, moved into a place that we are paying off, and we are happy.
North Carolina legalized same-sex marriage in October of 2014 and we got married in November of the same year. Our relationship is stronger than ever, and my kids finally accepted her as their stepparent. My oldest son is 19 yrs. old as of this writing and has a job of his own, his own place to live, and got his driver’s license all by himself. My 16 yr. old is in high school getting mostly A’s and B’s, and wants to be a mechanic when he gets older. My same-sex relationship did not ruin my kids, it made them better because a happy family produces happy children. No matter what the sex of the parents.
QUEER SENSE is authored by Bryce B. Summers, Ph.D. who is a psychologist and author. Please help change attitudes to acceptance whether it is domestic, or abroad, by contributing to a crowd funding campaign. Help make this book happen!
Queer Sense is a theory that fosters awareness on how culture shapes attitude development through social models, emotional connections to social models, aka attachment, and use of language with one’s models.