I remember distinctly when I chose to be straight. It was springtime. The sun was shining, birds were singing, dogs were barking. I was out in the yard playing with my friends, while my brother was in his room, door locked, playing with his little friend. In the kitchen where she belonged, my mother happily slaved over a hot stove like the good little woman she was, and my sweater-clad father sat in his La-Z-Boy, puffing on a pipe and pontificating on the day’s news. It was quite a wholesome time.
I had recently become aware that my body had begun the ‘change.’ Not the depressing change that transforms a female into an infertile sack of moods and lumpy flesh, but rather transforms her into a fertile one. I was becoming curvier in places, hairier in others, and I started to feel a deep-rooted, dare I say, natural desire to draw up a spreadsheet detailing the pros and cons of homosexuality versus heterosexuality. Did I want to like boys, or did I want to like girls? Or did I want to splash around in both puddles? I knew it was time I made up my mind.
Well, like all normal tweens, I figured the best thing to do in this situation was to go to my local library and do a little research. I soon discovered that this wouldn’t be an easy choice to make. Both lifestyles had something to recommend them to a maturing young girl. On the straight side there was high heels, short skirts, and access to the almighty penis. On the lesbian side, however, there was camaraderie, sensible shoes, and toilet seats always left in the proper position. How was a girl to choose?
I spent that night poring over my spreadsheet, mulling over advantages and disadvantages, imagining myself with a multitude of different men and women. Whose hand did I want to hold? Whose lips did I want to kiss? Whom would I entrust with my dreams? Whom did I want to build a home with? Certainly there was a rational formula to find the answers. I ran the numbers, and yes, in fact, there was.
I decided I liked boys. A lot.
The next morning I bounded down the stairs to tell my mother my decision. “Mommy!” I said, beaming like the sun. “I’ve decided what my sexuality is.”
“Good, sweetheart,” she responded. “And what have you decided?”
“I like boys!”
Her hand came swiftly and landed hard upon my cheek. The blow nearly knocked me to the floor. The sting of it burned through my entire being.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“You’re a boy, you stupid child! You can’t like boys!”
“No, no! I’m girl! And I like boys!”
She dragged me to the bathroom and shoved my face toward the mirror. “You’re a boy, Ricky! A boy! You have to like girls!”
I began to tremble, a flood of tears drenching my cheeks. I stared at the reflection in the mirror. I finally saw the ugliness she saw, not the truth I felt within.
“But inside I feel…but I know I like…” I muttered, utterly dazed.
“But you’re not. And you can’t.” Her word was final.
I stared at that repulsive face in the mirror, the one I knew I had to wear. In that moment decided to wear. “I’m…I’m…”
“A boy,” said Rick Santorum to his reflection in the mirror. Sullenly, he pulled his sweater vest over his head, combed his hair, and went out into the world, determined to set it straight.