Looking back, I realised that I must have had an inkling. In my early years of high school back in KL, I had to always force myself to develop crushes on guys. It was somewhat unnatural for me. My girl friends would giggle and blush with excitement over the guys in our school. I felt a little left out. When asked, I had to pick good looking popular guys so as to not arouse suspicion of my fraudulent confessions. Surely if it is obvious to the naked eye, one wouldn’t probe in the name of lust. Even though I had a boyfriend for a while, he never made me cry. I didn’t get jealous if he flirted with other girls or told me of his past ‘exploits’. I knew it had to be a little suss that guys could never hurt me emotionally, sans dad. That is how I have learned how to measure love. Use a calibrated system of pain.
As far as I can remember, it all started in play school. We had a concert to put on and we had to be paired up accordingly. I remember not wanting to be paired up with a fellow classmate. He didn’t take it very well and went running to our teacher to tell on me. Unknown to me then, her simple explanation became the social logic and construct for years to come.
Teach: What’s going on?
Me: Why do I have to be paired up with him? I want to be with her.
(Points at girl with pony tail)
Teach: *laughs with a sigh* Girls have to be with boys. Girls can’t be with girls. Okay? That’s how it is.
Me: Oh. Okay.
Yes I was easily persuaded but I didn’t know better. Of course, as a child I did not want to dance with the girl because I was attracted to her. Mostly cos the kid I was paired with smelt funny and had sweaty palms. Plus who was I to challenge her wisdom? Like any 6 year old, the windmills of my mind went as far as Smurf on TV3 at 4:30pm. At that age, authoritarian figures weren’t to be messed with unless you really could go without candy and television for a day. As the years passed, I didn’t give it much thought. I had posters of guys from centre folds of Teen magazines like any other girl. Had my room decorated with Boyzone, NKOTB, that kid off Home Improvement and so on. I had my first kiss with a boy from Outward Bound Camp at the tender age of 11 and a senior freckled face boyfriend from Queensland at the age of 14. I never flirted with the idea of another girl. It never crossed my mind even for a second. The echo of my teacher’s voice would ground me for the better half of my naive years.
So, how did I know? I could take you on a journey with me through my high school years in an exclusive private all-girls school. Oh I left out ‘religious’. Extremely religious all-girls boarding school. Religious like we sing hymns every morning, say grace every night before meals and attend compulsory church sessions every Sunday. Religion made it taboo. Boredom and restlessness provoked experimentation. Or was it the lack of male counterparts? Who knows. I could tell you how girls sneak into each other’s rooms or how the passing of gum is carried out between ‘friends’. But I won’t. Cos you see, it’s not that simple. Its not that B-grade porn you found under your brother’s bed.
I could sprinkle fairy dust and entertain my male interrogators with saucy details and let them file away a mental image for later. But that’s not how it was like for me. I didn’t know when I shared my first kiss with a girl. It’s not all about the physical activity. I knew when I first felt a crack in my heart. I knew when I didn’t know how to handle my emotions. I knew when she made me feel more in one moment than I ever felt in all my life. I knew when I felt pain I never knew existed. I knew when I was prepared to undergo a lifetime of judgment, disapproval and religious preaching. I just knew.
I can’t put a time stamp on it but knowing my sexuality is simply knowing myself through love. I wrote love letters. I burnt love letters. I drunk dialed. You name it. I’ve done it. I violated every single rule in the heartbreak book and not because its stemmed from the tendency of batting for the same team. Irregardless of sexuality. It’s not even a factor in love. I love like everyone else. All my experiences – with both genders – have led me to who I am today. It wasn’t one particular incident so I can’t accurately answer the question of how or when.
I might not have known back then but I know now and that is all that matters.