Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted by Jessica Robertson
What age did you begin questioning your sexuality?
Probably 14. I just felt funny inside around girls. I had boyfriends in high school and I kissed a girl for the first time when I was 16. I was doing a summer program at Berklee College of Music and there was this girl named Janie. She was from Florida and she took me into her dorm room and sang me a Janis Joplin song with only her jeans and her bra on. I was really excited about that. She had a really good voice. I thought she was amazing. And then she goes, "You know, don't you?" And I was like, "What?" And she was like, "You know that you're queer." And I was like, "No, I have a boyfriend." I kept showing her a picture of my boyfriend. And she showed me pictures of all of her friends and they were all girls. We took a walk over to the Christian Science Center, appropriately enough, and there's this pond and we were sitting in it. I kept flicking water at her. I remembered her saying, "If you do that one more time, I'm gonna kiss you." And I was like, "OK." [laughs] What's weird about it is she kissed me right there, outside, and it felt amazing. This man and woman walked by us and saw us kissing, and immediately that wonderful feeling was taken over by shame. After that I went home and was pretty ... depressed. I dismantled my bed and put it on my floor, and locked myself in my room. I kinda freaked out a little bit.
And did you talk to your family about any of this?
I told my dad that I thought I might like girls. He asked me if I wanted to talk to somebody about it and I said yes. So, I got a therapist. My parents are really liberal so this was not an issue for me and they really encouraged me to go. I came out to my parents in therapy. I just remember my mom .... you know, I was 17 when I came out. My mom was crying -- the whole family was there, my sister came, too. My mom said, "I thought it was either you were gonna drop out of school or that you were gay." I was kinda thinking, "Which one is worse?" [laughs] My mom grew up really Catholic and religion was really important to her. But she slept on it and I remember the next day my mom told me that she prayed about it, and that the response that she got in her prayer was that God wouldn't let me fall in love with a woman if it wasn't all right with him. My dad told me he totally accepted me and that he loved me. He just was really upset that was life was gonna be more difficult because I would experience more discrimination.
Who was the hardest person to come out to?
Probably my sister. I don't know why because she was a professional ballet dancer, so she was around queer people a lot, especially men. I think that has more to do with having an older sister and always wanting to kind of please her. She's three years older than me. A lot of people that I know that have older siblings, it's kind of an intense relationship. We have a very intense relationship. So she was the hardest one to come out to but really, she was completely cool. My whole family just wants me to be happy. They don't care what gender that comes from. They're not holding onto the great straight hope or anything like that. It's pretty incredible.
Do you remember your first real relationship with a girl?
My first girlfriend was this girl named Sarah who -- I mean, I'm such a geek -- I met in the Conservatory Wind Ensemble. I was playing trumpet. I was actually crushing on this girl Justine, and she played clarinet. And then there was this other girl, Sarah, who played the oboe. We got to go on tour and we went to China of all places. This was like 1987, maybe. Justine and Sarah were roommates in the hotel, which I was really jealous of because I wanted to be [Justine's] roommate. Somehow Sarah and I figured out that we both had crushes on Justine, so we decided to confront Justine about this, who started crying hysterically and locked herself in the bathroom. Sarah and I kinda looked at each other. We started having this crazy affair on the tour in China. It was awesome. We were literally right there near the Great Wall of China on a balcony overlooking a field. We pretended we were sick, which turned out to be a really big mistake because they took us to this Chinese hospital. But we got to spend the whole day in bed together so we didn't really care. We were together for probably three years. And then I was in high school and I had a boyfriend, who was awesome ... and a girlfriend. I was playing the field there for a little while.
Did your boyfriend know about Sarah?
He knew about her. He was cool with that. I wasn't have sex with him. I was just making out with him and writing songs with him. I think that while I'm attracting to someone creatively, it gets really confusing physically because it seems to only make sense to transfer that physically. He was just one of those people that came along and I just really, really liked him. He's not in my life anymore but when I think about him, it's always good thoughts. It wasn't a very physical relationship. That was really more with Sarah, and he knew that.
Do you fall in love easily?
Immediately, yeah. There's that really old David Cassidy song that goes [sings] "I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of, a love I can't control." I don't fall in love often, but when I do it's kind of like a target. I'll see somebody and I'll just be obsessed immediately and fall madly, madly in love. I can't really think about or do anything else with anyone else until I conquer them. Then, usually, when they like me back I don't like them anymore -- something really pitiful and boring like that. I'm trying to get much better at that.
Given the recent events in California, do you think you would ever consider getting married?
No. [laughs] I don't think so.
It's not for you?
No, I don't think so. Even when I was little ... that doesn't excite me at all. It's cool that people can get married if they want to, but it doesn't seem to solidify anything. I'm really queer with that kind of stuff. I don't really like institutions and I don't like religions. I don't really like groups. I don't really like things that are in stone. I like to live against the grain. People should be able to get married if they want to. You should be able to not care, too. My aunt was married to a guy, then they divorced, and then she was with a woman. They broke up and then she was with this guy, Paul, who I guess was a bisexual. She was with him for, like, 11 years and they never got married, and she was one of the happiest people I ever met.
Do you think its easier for people to come out these days as opposed to maybe when you were discovering your own sexuality?
It's easier socially, maybe. But I don't necessarily think it's any easier emotionally for a person. Some people have a really hard time accepting that part of themselves and some don't. First, we come out to ourselves. That's the part that sets up what happens after. A lot of one's own acceptance of who they are reflects how other people react to you telling them. There are some people that can barely even come out to themselves. How many times have you been somewhere and seen someone, and been like, "Oh, my God, he's so gay"? And he has no idea. That's probably the most painful thing to see; someone not letting themselves be who they are. Or confused, if that's what it is.
Celebrities coming out of the closet, and having TV shows and being on the big screen and making music -- the more people that come out that are engaged with themselves and with their bodies and souls, I think that helps everybody -- not just gay people. But I don't think it makes it innately easier as a regular human being to say those words. Some people have a really hard time telling the truth.
When you wake up today, how do you feel in your own skin?
I feel good. I'm in a place right now ... I'm single for the first time, really, since I was 20. I've kinda been that serial relationship woman. Right now, I'm totally realizing what kind of furniture I like and what kind of art I like, and where I put the plates away -- simple, simple things like that. I've spent some time on my own, went out and looked at girls, and didn't immediately get a girlfriend. Those types of things are really big successes for me -- to kind of stand on my own, have fun and try to not take everything so seriously. That's really a long time coming. I don't know what's next for me but I'm really enjoying living on my own and dating more than one person. It's kinda awesome. I don't want to have to end it anytime soon.