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Alicia Garbutt ’25

Collage of lovers with butterfly in front.

How I Found Out

“Game is 16, check up.” Mark said as he bounced the ball to me “By 1’s and 2’s or 2’s and 3’s?” I asked.

“1’s and 2’s,” Mark responded.


This was a normal day in after school for Mark and I. A friendly game of basketball with more than friendly stakes.

“So, what do I get if I win?” Mark asked. “Depends, what do you want?”

“If I win, I get a kiss.”

“And what if I win?” I challenged.

“You also get a kiss. Win-win right?”

I shook my head in disbelief. Mark was acting as if he couldn’t just kiss me any other time of the day–we were dating after all–there was no need to play a whole game of basketball for a kiss. But such were the ways of middle school relationships in 2016. And just like most middle school relationships, Mark and I didn’t last long. We had fun playing basketball together, but relationship wise I was bored. There was no spark with Mark.

Later in spring–a couple months after Mark and I broke up–the sun was shining, the flowers were blooming, and we just had a half day. My friends and I were in front of our school building, enjoying the weather, and talking amongst each other. I must have zoned out for a couple of minutes. But when I came to, I saw Savannah going around in a circle pretending to kiss all my friends, causing them to flinch. I watched her do this three times before realizing she was literally going to do this to everyone, including me. I thought to myself, Everyone is flinching, she’s obviously not gonna kiss anyone. She’s coming closer to me. I ain’t no bitch, I’m not gonna flinch. And with that Savannah gets to me and I look her dead in her eyes, smirk on my face, challenging her, waiting for her to make her move. And when she does, it seems like she was expecting me to move because at that moment, our lips connected and I could feel everything so clearly. I could feel how soft her lips were, I tasted her cherry flavored chapstick. I didn’t notice how cool the breeze felt that day until it whispered in my ear. The scent of freshly bloomed flowers flooded my noise. When her lips began to depart mine I could no longer hear the wind, just cars zooming by. I could no longer smell the flowers, just the lingering scent of a nearby bacon, egg and cheese being opened. I could no longer taste cherries, just my own original flavored chapstick; and I could no longer feel the softness of her lips, just the emptiness they left behind. I was so entranced by the feeling that I didn’t know what to do, what to say; I was completely frozen in place, like a deer in headlights.

“Oh my god, Alicia!” Savannah shouted as I continued to stand completely dumbfounded. We were soon surrounded by our friends frantically asking what happened and what’s wrong.

“She kissed me,” I squeaked.

“What? Like on the lips?” My friend, Ambar, asked. I nodded in response. “Ohhhhh, you got your first kiss! What was it like? Did you like it?” My other friend, Vinahya began to bombard me with questions.

“That wasn’t my first kiss,” I retaliated.

“Your first kiss with a girl. So, did you like it? Did you like it?” Ambar continued to press

I covered my face with my hands in embarrassment before nodding slowly. I didn’t realize it at the moment but that was the first time I thought about a kiss and explicitly liked it. With Mark there was no like or dislike, it just was. But with Savannah there was a jolt that made my heart race. I didn’t have feelings for Savannah though; she was cute, but I was never particularly attracted to her. I liked Mark (or so I thought) but I didn’t really like kissing him. I didn’t like Savannah, but I liked kissing her. I thought I was confident about who I was but it was becoming clear that maybe it wasn’t right. It just wasn’t making sense.

“So what does this mean for you? Like, what are you now?” Vinahya asked. I was suddenly met with the eyes of everyone surrounding me, waiting for an answer; one that I couldn’t quite give, at least not definitively.

“I don’t know what I am. But what I do know is that I am definitely not straight.”

My friends began to laugh at my blunt statement. I started laughing with them making light of the moment. I wasn’t completely sure of who I was yet, but it felt good to have one piece of the puzzle solved.

After my short connection with Savannah, I soon began to develop a crush on one of my female friends, Najah. I then began to identify as bisexual; and it was fine, I was ok with that. But there was still some part of me that wasn’t entirely convinced. I still thought that maybe it wasn’t a serious crush, that I was just confusing friend-love for relationship-love. So I brought my concerns to my friends.

“Think about it like this. Who’s kiss was better? Savannah or Mark?” Vinahya asked.

“…Savannah,” I responded after some thought “Why?”

“I don’t know. It just was.”

“Can you elaborate?” Vinahya began to pry.

“I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just a feeling, “Like butterflies in your stomach?” Vinahya said nonchalantly. “..Yeah.”

“Now what do you feel when you think about Najah?” “Butterflies too.”

“And when you think or thought about Mark?” “Nothing,” I replied.

“I’m pretty sure you’re gay bro.”

All I could think about at that moment was Mark. I couldn’t be gay. I dated a guy, I kissed him, multiple times.

“But I dated a guy and kissed him and all that.”

“Yes, but you basically just said that you didn’t like it, you didn’t like him. You don’t have to start wearing a bunch of rainbows now, but maybe try out the label and see how you feel,” Vinahya told me.

Vinayha was right. I didn’t know she was right at the moment, but eventually I became comfortable and confident with who I was; and now that I’m in college I feel the most confident. I’m surrounded by other people like me, people who are proud and sure of themselves. I pass my old middle school often. I look through the fence at the yard where I walked around the track and had my talk with Vinahya. I see the benc h where I kissed Mark and felt nothing. If I pass by during the springtime I smell the same fresh scent of blooming flowers. And sometimes when I have time,I stop and stand in the same spot that I was 5 years ago when I had my “first kiss.” Looking back to that moment, I laugh. It’s a pretty funny story to think about. But it’s also funny that I didn’t know who I was, because the signs were so obvious. I’m even a little embarrassed that I actually had a boyfriend. But that’s life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.


Alicia Garbutt