My First Girlfriend
I'd always liked boys. At 21, I realized that I liked girls, too.
By Rebecca Walker
Photo Credit: Patricia Curi/Corbis
GROWING UP, my sexuality, like for many, was shaped by the culture I lived and breathed, and heterosexuality was pretty much the only meal served at the Table of Sexual Orientation. Ken and Barbie did not have lovers of the same sex. Denise did not fret to Daddy Huxtable about her girl crush. From the moment I grew breasts, people asked whether I wanted to be a lawyer or an astronaut when I grew up, and if I had a boyfriend. No one, not ever, not once, asked if I had a girlfriend. If they had, I might have considered the possibility. But they didn't, so I didn't, either. The thought never crossed my mind. Which might explain why, the first time I fell in love with a woman, I was completely thrown.
I was 21 years old, four months out of college, three months out of a relationship with a boy I thought I was going to marry, and employed at a nonprofit. One evening, I was working a fundraiser at an awards ceremony for women in the film industry. A possible suitor, male or female, was as far from my mind as the salt lakes in the Himalayas. And yet, as I strode across the exquisitely appointed room toward yet another philanthropist, I bumped into a very beautiful woman.
She was a celebrity who shall go forever unnamed, but I will say that she was statuesque and confident, and her skin glowed with health, wealth, and carefully applied bronzer. I sputtered and apologized for almost knocking her down. She smiled and touched my arm, but I was mortified and dashed into the women's room. I had never felt attracted to a woman before. It was as if my whole view of what was sexy, sensual, and possible had just turned on its axis.