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")