January 17, 2011

Veronica

Veronica, age 5
Chicago, Illinois (1948)


I actually remember this photo being taken across the street from the apartment building where my family lived in the East Rogers Park area of Chicago. I’m on the right with a big nervous smile because the neighbor girl, with whom I was smitten, had put her arm around me to pose for this picture.  Even at this age, I already appreciated that my feelings were not the same as those of others.

“Oh, wow, she has her arm around me!” 

Gender roles were extremely rigid during the years of my childhood. In Catholic school, I was always in trouble. The nuns persecuted me because I didn’t behave like a typical girl.

Eventually I grew to hate the nuns and would purposely pull stunts to mock them and to make the other kids laugh. I became a “discipline problem.”

The left side of my report cards was filled with A grades for the course work; but the right side of my report cards (which was for deportment) was always full of checkmarks.

Yes, I was a “tomboy,” but I also played with the girls. I just couldn’t get the other girls and the boys to play with each other.

Being different became a lifestyle for me long before I came out. Sensing that I would never marry, I focused on being smart and getting an education – knowing that if I didn’t, I would probably have a bleak life. Working my way through college at females’ wages was difficult. As a woman back then, earning a PhD in science was also a long and hard haul – but I did it!

From my earliest memories, I always felt different; and from my earliest memories, my crushes were female – but the attractions were so innocent that I didn’t come out until the age of 24. In college, I dated guys, who were very good “catches” - but I didn’t sleep with them.

My generation was the one that pioneered “The Pill” so I was able to pull the “good girl” routine to avoid intimacy. Sooner or later, my boyfriend would “get serious” and that would be the end of the relationship for me – because I just didn’t have “feelings” for him.

I didn’t understand why my girlfriends were so focused on their love lives until I fell in love with a woman who was already out to herself as a lesbian. Then, I got it!

And it didn’t take long to get political as a lesbian feminist.

Veronica's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Gail Davis ("Annie Oakley")

5 comments:

Campbell said...

Great story Veronica, and an even greater photo. I think if it was in color we could see you blush. - Hugs :) Cam

Anonymous said...

You are a pioneer and inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. Finally, someone born the same year as me. The Beatles song "A Long And Winding Road" runs thru my head as I read these stories.

Anonymous said...

"I focused on being smart and getting an education – knowing that if I didn’t, I would probably have a bleak life..."
Yeah...that's definetely what I'm going through now...I'm 20 and I feel the same way you felt...

Darci said...

An absolutely beautiful photo and story -thank you so much for sharing :)