By Lorie Hoag
“Holy crap! I’m gay?” were the words that resonated in my head 3 years ago. I was 40 years old. How the hell did I not know that I was gay? I kept thinking back to my 20s when I was a free spirit and had my “experimental stage.” Sure, I kissed a couple of girls and did a little heavy petting with one of them. Didn’t every “open-minded” college student do that? Apparently not, was the consensus I finally reached.
After MUCH self-introspection I realized that perhaps deep down I had known, but I was afraid. I was afraid of being gay. I went to visit my baby niece at my brother’s house one day and took my “friend” with me. While we were there, she and I happened to be standing very close to one another and one of our legs had crossed over the other’s. I’m pretty sure I crossed my leg over hers. My brother happened to catch that gesture and called me out on it. I don’t recall how the discussion went exactly, but his words still ring loud and clear in my head: I know, you’re gay.” My brother’s innocent proclamation that I was gay scared the hell out of me. What was he talking about? I wasn’t gay, I had a boyfriend. I was just “open-minded” with what’s-her-face. I immediately ended whatever “open-minded” friendship I had with that girl and took a much need five-and-a-half-week vacation in England.
Fast forward to 2003. I had been working in a big box home improvement store and had worked with one of our new Assistant Store Managers for about a year. She was great! I hadn’t known any other senior manager to jump on a fork lift and work out in the hot sun all day long. I only wished I worked in the outside garden so I could get to know her better by working alongside her. Alas, I worked in the inside garden department and had to wait for my season to hit before I really got to work with her.
I didn’t know what it was about her, but she sure had a beautiful smile. As the season progressed, I did get to work with her and learned quite a bit about how to run every aspect of my department. With her encouragement, I applied for a management position and got it. She suggested we go out for a drink to celebrate. I was thrilled at the idea. We went out with a mutual friend and had a drink and appetizers after work one day. I didn’t really talk much but listened intently to the conversation. I tried to keep my cool and not let her know that I was staring at her so she wouldn’t think I was a creep.
By this point, I had become obsessed about learning who she was as a person. I found myself wondering what she would have been like as a kid growing up in California. What music did she listen to? What was her favorite color? (My goodness, her eyes were stunning when she wore a blue sweater.) Did she like pizza? The fact that I simply could not get enough of her was the understatement of the year. I made sure I got to talk to her everyday and at every opportunity I had. If I needed help with something, she was the one I called. I was obsessed.
Then one day, it hit me. I was hammering down a paint can lid when she walked around the corner and flashed that gorgeous smile at someone as she walked by. Holy crap! I had a crush on Candy! How the hell could I have a crush on Candy? The realization felt like a huge blow to my gut. I kind of giggled to myself at the same time, but how the hell could I have a crush on Candy? I was married to a man and had a daughter. I was married to a man! How could I have a crush on another woman that was married to a man and had two kids?
I did everything right, just like my grandfather expected. I got married, bought a house and had a baby after I was married. How the hell could I become so obsessed with a married heterosexual woman? My head was reeling. I didn’t understand and needed the world to stop so I could figure it out. Shit! I thought I already had this crap figured out.
I found myself entering into a bit of depression and began to withdraw from my marriage. Don’t get me wrong, my marriage had been failing for the past 2 years. My sudden epiphany had nothing to do with the inevitable end of my marriage. As time went on, I got to know Candy very well and found that she really wasn’t a heterosexual woman and was in a similar marital situation as myself. Candy and I both grew up in a time where being gay wasn’t okay. We both made the best of life, married men, and had children.
Candy always knew she would one day meet the woman of her dreams and fall madly in love. I, on the other hand, believed that I was broken and incapable of having that “once in a lifetime love.” As it turns out, I’m not broken at all. It just took the right woman to make me realize that it’s okay to be me. I am a lesbian that was blessed by the gods and married the woman I was destined to be with.
Candy and I were married in Kauai, HI, on September 12, 2015. I now have 3 wonderful but bratty kids. I say bratty because they all drive me freaking nuts at times. You can’t see it, but I have a huge smile on my face as I’m writing this. I never expected this colorful new adventure in my life and certainly never expected to have more than one kid. My life is hectic and chaotic and I never seem to get enough sleep, but that’s okay.
It’s ok because I have a beautiful wife to share the rest of my life with. She has blessed my daughter with a brother and sister. Most importantly, Candy has blessed me with the gift of learning to be at peace with who I am. I am a lesbian. Those four words were almost impossible for me to utter 3 years ago. Today, those words are simply a part of who I am. I have found myself and where I belong. I belong with her.