Secret Queer Love and Poetry; Advice Needed

Okay, this is insanely long and kinda convoluted, but please bear with me; I’d really like some advice on this.

Starting from the beginning then:

There’s this girl at my school, we’ll call her W. I’ve known her for 2 ½ years, and I’m desperately in love with her. It’s, wow, just wow; I’ll spare you all the mushy details, but I think she’s so amazing, and we have so much in common, and… and… just wow, man. She’s exactly the kind of person I always imagined falling in love with, and meeting her and coming to grips with my feelings for her really solidified for me my identifying as a lesbian.

I’m pretty sure she’s straight. I’m pretty sure she has no clue that I love her.

And, yah know, that’d be fine with me. So she’s straight; she can’t help it; that’s fine. I’d be more than happy just be friends with her, because she really is an amazing person, and I’m grateful for any relationship I can have with her. We’re both kinda shy and quiet, and before this year we haven’t had a lot of classes together, so we don’t have a really close friendship, we’re more like good acquaintances.

But this year we’ve had classes together everyday, and it’s been, oh god, it’s been beautiful. We walk to classes together, we talk, etc., and then I privately swoon over any contact I have with her. Earlier this year I tried subtly flirting with her – because at the time I didn’t know what her orientation was – but she seemed to be completely oblivious to my advances, so I dialed back the flirting (not stopping completely – I can’t help it – but she likely just thinks I’m being friendly), assuming that she was straight, and that we’d only be friends.

And, I repeat, that’s fine. But, at the same time, I’m still not entirely sure how she feels. She knows I’m queer, but she’s never mentioned either way what she is. There’ve been a host of clues that could be interpreted either way, but as it stands, I’m pretty sure she’s straight, or at least not interested in me personally on a romantic level.

(Or maybe she’s just shy or unsure or… jesus, I don’t know…)

Anyway. The past few weeks she and I have been kind of distant, and I thought, oh god, she “knows”! She finally figured out that I love her and she’s weirded out! I have no objective reason to think this, but that was the only reason I could think of that she’d be so suddenly distant. (Although it is possible that a mutual acquaintance might have mentioned something (I’ve told NO ONE in real life that I like her, but it is possible that someone might’ve noticed the way that I gaze at her when she’s not looking, and other little things like that, and come to the obvious conclusion) I’ve been (stupidly) beating myself up over this, telling myself that I should have just kept this all to myself, that I should have been more subtle, cos now she and I aren’t even friends, and I’ve ruined 2 ½ years of friendship with my stupid dyke desire, etc.,etc.

(Yeah, okay, I have some issues. Moving on…)

But then today everything’s back to normal. She’s as friendly as she’s ever been, and nothing’s weird between us. Hurrah.

So, you ask, what’s the problem? Well…

I’m working on the school’s literary magazine, Mosaic. It comes out once a year, publishes student writing and art, etc. I wanted to include some of my own stuff (I’m the only editor, so I can do what ever I want) and the one piece of writing that I want to include is a poem I wrote last summer. About W. On a purely literary level, it’s probably one of my strongest pieces of writing from the last year, and it has a nice locally / environmentally feel to it, and I think it would really fit in well with the other student writing.

The best draft of the poem includes a line that refers to an art project that W. did last year. Other people might not recognize the reference as such, but I know that W. would know what I was talking about. It also includes her first initial (which really is W., which is not entirely common. Actually, I think she might be the only person I know whose name begins with W.)

The poem isn’t incredibly, overtly romantic, as such, but it is certainly adoring and hopeful. The references in the poem are vague enough that not everyone would immediately know that it’s about W., but she herself would definitely know right away.

(I’m not comfortable posting the poem here, but I’ll e-mail a copy to anyone interested.)

Originally, for Mosaic I was going to change the line about the art project to something less obvious, but the new line is kinda clumsy. And I was going to change a line that went “the W of your name” to “the letter of your name” and I don’t like the vagueness of that at all. However, I would have made those changes just so W. wouldn’t “know” because I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable.

But then there was whatever problem there was the past few weeks, and I thought, well, if she already “knows” I may as well publish the good version of my poem.

But now everything’s back to normal again. And I don’t know if she never knew that I love her and was just having some unrelated personal problems, or if she does know and was momentarily weirded out and is now trying to move past it.

If I publish the good version of my poem she’ll definitely know. No doubt.

Mosaic comes out in mid-to-late May. I’m graduating this year (W. is a junior) and it’s entirely possible that after I graduated W. and I will never see each other again. So if I do publish the good version, that’d only be one or two weeks of awkwardness between us. (But then that would also taint the 2 ½ years prior, and I’d be back at the stupid-dyke-I-ruin-everything place I was last week.)

I really don’t want to make things weird between us. If she’s not interested (which she’s clearly not) I’d rather that she never know that I love her. No good can come of her knowing.

But then there’s the possibility that she already knows, and she’s okay with it, but not interested. And then it wouldn’t matter what version of the poem I put in Mosaic. It is kind of a sweet poem.

But then I think, what if somebody I’m not interested in romantically wrote a poem like this about me and published it. I would be horribly embarrassed, and I would avoid the person who wrote it like the plague. I don’t want that to happen to W. and I, even if only for a week or two.

On the other hand, whatever I put in this year’s Mosaic will be the last thing I publish at my school, and I’d rather it not be a half-assed version of an otherwise good poem.

But THEN, maybe this whole thing could be a lesson in queer pride. I don’t want to feel ashamed like I do, and I don’t want to feel like I have to hide how I feel. This is a something I need to deal with, but I don’t want it to be at W.’s expense. I don’t want to make her uncomfortable and ruin our friendship just because I have issues.

Oh, jebus… Somebody tell me what to do.

[sub][sorry this is so hideously long)[/sub]

At first glance, I notice that about 90% of this situation is internal and about 10% is external. Meaning that an awful heck of a lot of what you think was/is going on between you is only what you think is going on between you. I do this kind of thing a lot, so I’m pretty good at recognizing it.

What this means is that you don’t have any idea how she feels about you, other than friendship. You don’t really know that what happened a few weeks ago was about you or whether she was having a bad time at home. You don’t really know how she feels or how she’d react if you were to tell her how you feel.

As far as the relationship, you’ve known her for 2 1/2 years. So you should know her fairly well. Do you think she’d get creeped out if you told her the truth? If so, don’t. If not, go ahead.

If you don’t tell her, change the poem before you publish it. Maybe work on the art project line more until you get a fit you like, and change the name line to another letter instead of making it vague (preferably a letter that doesn’t occur in the names of your female student body, or a letter that occurs so often that it’s meaningless). Telling her, on the other hand, means you can show her the poem and ask her permission to publish it as is, since it refers to her.

Either way, good luck!


Well I’ll be the first to jump in and say that I’d like to see this poem.

What about publishing it elsewhere? I’m one of the editors of Teemings, a bimonthly literary e-zine showcasing the talents of the creative people registered here at the SDMB. If it’s good poetry, chances are we’ll publish it. And no one could say you got in because you’re sleeping with the editor. grin

Now then, when you say this:

… you’re leaving something out. What if someone you’re not romantically interested in, but who is a dear friend that you nonetheless love platonically, did such a thing? I’m sure you would work through any embarrassment and get to the point of being flattered, even if you didn’t return the feeling.

You say no good could come of her knowing. I can think of a couple of possible good things that could happen:
[ul][li]She could secretly harbor feelings for you too, but be too shy to articulate them without proof that you feel the same way.[/li][li]She might not return your feelings but nevertheless be flattered and appreciative. In which case you will ultimately tell yourself, “well, at least I told her how I felt. And it may not have worked out the way I hoped, but it wasn’t so bad either.” This will make it easier for you to tell other, future, people how you feel about them.[/li][li]Hi Opal.[/ul][/li]
I agree with JayJay (and hellOOO there you handsome fuzzy-headed hunk of man! smoochy smoochy) that you are basing your dilemma entirely too much on stuff that probably exists only inside your own head. And he KNOWS whereof he speaks, too… I don’t have the right to mention details, but JayJay has spent entirely too much of his life convincing himself of things that aren’t necessarily true.

One thing I DON’T think you should do is spring a published poem on her without showing it to her first. I know it’s going to take a LOT of courage on your part, but I really think you should give her an advance look and say, “I wanted to make sure it’s okay with you if I run this in Mosaic.” After all, you may think no one will recognize her in it… but you don’t KNOW that no one will, and it’s better to make sure she doesn’t object.

I try to live my life according to the credo “You’re always sorrier in life for the things you don’t do than you are for the things you do.” It’s been working out for me pretty well so far.

Good luck, hon. E-mail me if you want (at least to show me the poem).

Oh, and whatever you decide to do, please fill us in on what happens… we meddlers like to know the outcome so we can adjust the next meddlification opportunity.


:o (that is the lamest embarrassed smiley every…)

Thank you, Cheffie! Lunatic13, believe me when I tell you you’re probably your own worst enemy. It took me a while to figure that out for me, too. Sometimes dry old sayings hold truth. “Don’t borrow trouble” is one of the more apt ones.

If you really want to see someone figure out just how much of their worldview was being produced by their own brain, read my livejournal from about June 1, 2001 onward. That’s pretty much when it started, but you might want to go back to the previous weekend to get a little bit of background on what triggered the whole thing.

Or you could find it completely boring. Your call. :slight_smile:


These two paragraphs jumped out at me. I’m not sure you can rely on what you said in the second one, especially if the tone of the poem is as you describe it in the first.

I do agree that receiving an ode from someone with a different sexual orientation would tend to evoke both feelings of flattery and “creep factor” (sorry, best term I could think of) in most people.* But it’s the relative mix of those factors that we disagree on. You suggest your friend would be so overwhelmed by the “creep” that it’d destroy the friendship. I’d contend that’s not likely, given your description. Your friend does not appear to have any known violent fear of homosexual advances. However, you and she do have an established friendship based on some mutual respect. Seems to me that, given that it would not be a public declaration of your feellings (in the sense that her identity isn’t disclosed), any embarrassment she might feel would be outweighed by the very real fact of your sincere admiration for her.

To put it another way, I’m a card-carrying straight guy. There are several male posters on SDMB whom I have grown to respect a great deal, and even a few I’ve met in person. Some of them have made clear that their orientation isn’t the same as mine. If ever one of them were to write a poem/send me an email/strike up a conversation in which they indicated a romantic interest in me, I would indeed experience both the flattery and the “creep factor.” But unless I’m seriously deluding myself about something which has never happened, the flattery would definitely and promptly win out, while the creep would quickly fade. I would, however, proceed directly to the candid conversation where I clearly communicate that it’s the friendship I reciprocate, and not the romance. Then we’d get back to the business of being buds. But remember that this scenario assumes the pre-existing respect and familiarity. If someone of any orientation were to spring such a thing on me, or if my opinion of them was already particularly low, my reaction would be very different.

Oh, and of course there’s always the possibility that there would be no creep factor, because your friend a) is straight but just not at all bothered by expressions of a same-sex romantic interest, or b) isn’t straight and just hasn’t gotten around to discussing it with you for reasons of her own.

Bottom line: there’s only one way you’re ever gonna know. My meddlification (that is such a cool word, Chef Troy!) vote would be to jump right to the candid conversation. They’re rarely as scary or bad as we imagine them.

*I base that sweeping generalization on both personal observation and the majority tone of SDMB threads such as How do you feel about homosexuality? and Is it OK to be homophobic?, to name two recent ones. I also realize Dopers may not constitute a representative sample of popular opinion on the subject.

I remember being in the same sort of place when I was in high school, Lunatic. A friend of mine, beautiful in so many ways, neither of us sure of anything, except I was sure I loved him. We stayed friends, I never mentioned how I felt, even though I did come out to him. And I always wondered.

Years later, I found out that he’d always wondered too. And with the weight of all those years on us, it didn’t work out. Maybe if we’d had the courage to be honest with each other way back in school, it might have been something wonderful. Or maybe not. Either way, I know now that we would have remained friends, no matter how I felt about him or what he knew.

Be honest with the people you love.

I’m going to disagree with the people who say that you should tell her. Well, maybe not disagree with you telling her, but disagree with one of their reasons.

I can only speak from my perspective, but I am a shy girl without too much romantic experience, and I think I can relate. I’m very cool with homosexuality and bisexuality, it’s no big deal to me. If a girl who I was friends with, but not interested in, told me she had a crush on me, I’d react in the exact same way I would if a guy in the same position did: I’d feel very uncomfortable. It’s totally not an issue of orientation, I just feel very nervous and I feel a sense of bizarre obligation and sorry that I can’t fulfill it when I know someone likes me. Would she feel the same way?

(What? Me? Get all emotional and overreact? No, I’d never do something like that… Sigh. I’m well aware that things in real life are rarely as complex as they are in my head.)

Thanks to everyone for your help. Of course you’re right, I can’t put this in Mosaic; I can’t just spring this on her.

But… but… I can’t actually tell her I like her. I can’t. I just can’t. LaurAnge totally hit it on the nose. Knowing both W’s and my personality, telling her – when I’m moderatly sure that she wouldn’t be receptive – would just make things really awkward and uncomfortable between us. Because she overanalyzes things as much as I do, and she’d probably think that this whole time we were friends I was just trying to get in her pants. Which is not true. I love her as a friend. I would like to love her as more, but I’m fine with friend. And the deeper that she and I have gone into “friendship”, the less appropiate it would be to verge into “romance.”

In real life I am enormously shy, and I know that I have to work past that, but just not with W. It’s like I love her to the point that she’s an idealized goddess, and I don’t want to taint our realtionship with base human desires. If she and I are destined to only be friends, I’d rather that the memory of that friendship remain pure.

(But then I think, well, what if she feels the exact same way? What if sometime last year she resigned herself to the fact that she and I are only going to be friends, so then this year when I tried to start flirting she didn’t notice, because she thought that we were just friends?

But then, I think that I’ve given her ample opportunity to respond in kind if she really does have feelings for me.

But then, maybe I’m just being too subtle, and she’s not picking up on it.

But then, maybe she’s being the same kind of subtle, and I’m not picking up on that.

But then…

But then…

But then…

(etc. etc., etc. Welcome to my head.))

Chef Troy: I shall be e-mailing you the poem momentarily.

Oh, and if y’all really wanted updates, that would require daily posts along the lines of “W. smiled at me!!!” or “W. wore sandals today. I always wear sandals. I think this means something.” Etc. But if anything significant actually happens, I shall keep you posted.

You know, I was in a vaguely similiar situation. I liked this guy a whole lot. I knew he would never go for me (and I was totally right.) But I also knew that mooning over him was bad for me, and that I needed to move on with my life. I needed to know for sure (cause no matter how many times I told myself he wasn’t for me, I never really believed it).

Of course I couldn’t tell him, I was way too shy. But I broke down one night and wrote him a long email explaining how I didn’t want it to ruin our friendship (we were very close friends).

The difference is that he isn’t the shy type to be uncomfortable with it. But he did make it clear there was no interest, and I was able to move on with my life (thank G-d!).

E-mail me anytime you feel like it, Lunatic. :slight_smile:

My dear, dear Lunatic. I know you must be spending every waking moment with butterflies in your stomach. Eat some ice cream to shut them up. Now then.

The only advice I can give is that I’ve never regretted things I did nearly as much as I regretted the things I was afraid to do. It may not work out with her, but years later you’ll know that you tried, and that you didn’t let your fears stop you from a chance at love.

I’m not saying it won’t hurt; it may, and you have to be prepared for that. But in my life, at least, the pain of “what might have been” has been just as bad, and has certainly lasted longer. Talk to her.

I do want to make one more point here, and then I’ll let it go.

I’m bisexual, and came out to my wife only after we’d known each other for 20 years and been married for 10. (We met when I was 12 and she was 13.)

I won’t go over the details of why I didn’t tell her for so long and then finally did - you can search in Great Debates for a thread called “Ask the closeted bisexual guy!” for seven pages of exhaustive detail if you’re interested. (sorry I can’t post a link but the search function is being a bitch right now.)

Here’s the relevant part. When I started the above thread, I was telling people, “I can’t tell her NOW, after all this TIME. No good could come of it, and I’m sure she would totally freak and might even leave me, and a good relationship will be tainted and maybe destroyed.”

(does this sound familiar?)

Then someone said something to me that hauled me up short and made me re-examine my decision to stay closeted to her. They said, “You are denying her the opportunity to make a choice that should be hers to make — and by keeping essential information hidden from her, you are already tainting the relationship because it’s not grounded in honesty.”

I finally swallowed my fear and told her. As I’m sure you can guess, all the horrible things I’d imagined completely failed to come to pass. Yes, she was mildly freaked out - and who could blame her? It must have been like discovering that after knowing me for 20 years, she suddenly discovered that I had wings. However, she did NOT leave me, and the relationship was NOT destroyed - in fact, a little over a year later, it’s stronger than ever. The only thing she was UPSET about was that I didn’t tell her sooner.

And I am SO much happier to be rid of that secret. (Don’t get me wrong - I’m not ever going to tell my mother! grin) I can’t help but think that you would be relieved too, if you told W. how you feel. Even if it didn’t work out, I’ll bet the friendship would survive. As for your worry that she’ll think you were only interested hanging out with her because you were attracted to her… just tell her what you told us.

It’s better to know than to wonder, Lunatic. I can tell you that from personal experience. You say you don’t want to taint your relationship with W. But if you don’t ever say anything, chances are it will be poisoned anyway by the increasingly gangrenous secret you have festering inside you.

I’m not going to keep beating you over the head about it, though. I hope it works out okay for you, hon.

Lunatic sent me her poem.

And all this grizzled, jaded editor can say is WOW.

You folks would be amazed at the depth of feeling in this piece.

I’m leaning on her hard to let me publish it in <i>Teemings</i> - hopefully she’ll succumb to my wiles and agree, because this poem deserves an audience.

Lunatic13, if it makes you feel any better I have been in a similar situation myself. I used to have a BIG CRUSH on a classmate*, and a short story I wrote for my English class this year featured a character partially based on her. The story was well received by my class, so I decided to submit it to the school literary magazine. It was accepted. Uh oh.

What if she realized the character was based on her? This would be particularly bad as the character does not come off looking very good (I said I used to have a crush on her). So even if the whole former crush thing didn’t bother her, she might get mad anyway.

I had the chance to revise my story for the magazine, but eventually decided not to. I figured that the “give-away details” of my story were probably significant only to me, and there were enough differences between the character and the real person to prevent even a very suspicious person from becoming convinced that the character was based on her. The magazine hasn’t been published yet, but I’m pretty sure that events will prove that I had nothing to worry about. And if not, well, the differences between fiction and real life are enough that I could make a plausible denial.

So my first advice to you would be to go ahead and publish the poem as is. If you think that would be too stressful to you then go ahead and change it, but you may be happier if you change rather than omit identifying details. For instance, instead of changing “The W of your name” to the vague “The letter of your name”, why not make it “The M of your name”? There are enough “M” names out there that this won’t seem suspicious, and in your heart of hearts you will know than an “M” is just an upside-down “W”. You can probably think of something similar for the art project. The key is to change any real details that you’re uncomfortable revealing while still preserving the original feel of the lines.
*Oddly, I seem to remember you posting about your crush on W before, and it reminding me of my crush…I may have even written a reply to that effect.

No word from her. Guess my wiles are Wile E. Coyote wiles.

Maybe. Or maybe she’s just overwhelmed. I’ve never been in her shoes, but it sounds like this is taking a lot out of her. Poor kid. Sounds like she has a lot on the ball, too. :frowning:

I just re-read my last post, and I really feel like a yutz. The tone makes it sound like I’m in a room with Lunatic (which I basically am) and am talking about her as if she weren’t there. I apologize for that, but I meant every word I said. You seem pretty cool, and I’m sorry this thing is eating at you.

Well, that and I’ve been busy brooding and processing.

Troy, yer makin’ me blush. :wink: Since you’re so keen on the poem, then I officially submit it to Teemings.

Lamia: Would you beleive that her last name begins with M.? I swear to god.

Ach, but I’ve turned the poem over to Teemings, “W” and all.

But now you’ve got me thinking. This could be a sort of writery challange for me, to write something about W., but not really about W., so that I can say that I’ve kinda made an effort at telling her. That kind of vague obviousness would actually compliment the kind of relationship that W. and I have now. Hrm…

(And soon, maybe, I’m going to try to talk to her about Things. Not about the Big Thing, but about Little Things that could maybe, eventually, lead up to the Big Thing. We’ll see how that goes, if I have the courage to do even that.)

(seeing Wisest Novel’s post on preview: S’okay. And, yes, the whole situation with W. is a huge, enormous deal for me. Ah, well, gives me something to obsess over…)

Okay, Lunatic, I’ve passed “Northwoods Girl” on to my editor-in-chief. He’s the only one at “Teemings” who can say no to me - not that he will.