Emily was a sexual being from birth; Susannah was a sporty, semi-closeted lesbian. When they took their friendship to a new level, things got awkward. This is their story.
SUSANNAH: I was always athletic, and a lot of my female role models were athletes. My high-school soccer and lacrosse coaches were both lesbians but I didn’t really notice at the time. Growing up, I wasn’t boy-crazy like everyone else. I wasn’t girl-crazy, either. I was just happy going to practice, seeing friends, and being me.
EMILY: I was pretty slutty growing up! Totally promiscuous. Boys, girls, whatever. I’ve always been very sexual. I think it’s because I’m from Florida.
SUSANNAH: Emily and I became close friends in college, but it was nothing romantic. She just cracked me up. My sexuality was ambiguous to everyone including myself. I just didn’t care about that stuff.
EMILY: Susannah was very obviously a dyke who hadn’t come to terms with it yet. I adored her for her humor and pure heart. There was nothing romantic there. Meanwhile, I was still acting like a whore … but a little less so because I started a pre-med program, which consumed most of my time.
SUSANNAH: We had a joint 23rd-birthday party. Emily was newly single and I was still a virgin. I had just started experimenting with women by flirting on AOL chat rooms. I went to a few gay bars alone to see how it felt. I made out with one or two girls. It was nice.
EMILY: I was over guys and determined to help Susannah come out of her shell a bit. My plan was to get us wasted at our birthday party and then fool around. And that’s exactly what happened. We had a sloppy, awesome, beautiful make-out … right in front of all our friends.
SUSANNAH: I will never forget that night. I totally lost control. I was embarrassed the next day and really nervous about what it meant for me and Em as friends.
EMILY: I realized I was in love with her that night … but before I could do anything about that, I had to normalize the situation for her sake. I knew she was freaking out. We spent a ton of time together talking about what it all meant. It was a very heavy moment for her, whereas for me, it was like, Oooh, we’re going to start hooking up and I kind of love this woman … this is awesome times a million.
SUSANNAH: It all hit me hard. I was gay. I was going to have a “girlfriend.” I know it sounds crazy, but I had blocked all these kinds of conversations from happening inside my head my entire life. Emily was pretty aggressive about everything. And she was so sexually open. She taught me literally everything. I was so shy. I’m still shy!
EMILY: We started dating. It was great but also weird. Sometimes it felt like the most natural thing on earth and sometimes it just felt forced. Also, our sex life was not what you’d imagine. It was very … high school.
SUSANNAH: I felt very alone dating Emily. She moved fast and had no hang-ups about anything! I basically came out with a gun to my head (held by her). She wasn’t very sympathetic to how hard that was … or maybe she was, but she wanted to set an example of what it meant to be strong and empowered. The friendship that had blossomed all those years just felt changed. I was nervous, anxious, and coming to terms with so many things at once! Also, I felt like Emily saw me as a project. She meant well, but I felt a little bit like I existed in one of her medical-school labs on human sexuality.
EMILY: Ultimately, our gorgeous friendship translated into a very bland relationship. She was always so “tentative” — about coming out, fooling around, going on romantic vacations. We never eased into a comfort zone. I wanted to send Susannah into the world to live her life out loud, get some experience, make some mistakes, fuck some women, and then … maybe … come back to me. So I ended it.
SUSANNAH: Emily dumped me just before our birthday, one year after that first make-out. She played the “I’m doing this because I love you” card. I felt like I didn’t know how to be an openly gay woman without her by my side. I had a lot of fear. In hindsight, she was totally right. It was the push I needed.
EMILY: I ended up marrying a guy I graduated medical school with, and Susannah is coaching sports and I think dating someone seriously. We never recovered from our weird relationship. We really drifted.
SUSANNAH: I met someone online about a year ago. We live together and are really happy. She reminds me of Emily. She’s totally fearless … and really, really cool.