This is a different type of post from what I usually do, but with Valentine’s not far off I’ve been thinking a lot about how I met Dom and how we got together. Our relationship spans the better part of ten years, which is way too much to condense into one post, so here’s the beginning.
Dom and I get asked how we met quite often, and the answer often depends on how much shame we’re willing to abandon in the moment. This is the first time I think I’ve ever told the 100% honest truth. This newfound forthrightness may be at least partially due to the influence of my evening glass of red wine, but hey,
Dom and I are both 22 and we’ve known each other since we’d just turned 13, so that means we’ve been friends just shy of ten years. We didn’t meet “IRL” until we were 18. This should help allay some of the confused looks we get when we explain to people that we met ten years ago. We are not, to my great and eternal sadness, vampires. We are only very nerdy humans who met online when we were very young, nerdy teenagers.
The whole meeting online thing isn’t particularly noteworthy in this day and age. I do think it’s somewhat remarkable that we started a friendship online and kept it alive and going strong for this long, but we’re not, by any means, the only couple to do so. What makes our story unique is that we didn’t meet on a gay site or even a dating site, we met on a forum.
An anime forum.
For Christian homeschoolers.
If that’s not a niche, I don’t know what is.
Dom and I were both members of another similar forum that she left because she had a habit of starting arguments with the moderators. Being the independent revolutionary that she was, she used one of her dad’s servers to start up her own forum and poached some of the other discontent members from the other forum to start it up. I happened to be a law-abiding forum citizen, and I steered clear of her on the other forum since she was a troublemaker, but a mutual friend told me about the new site and I went over with him.
At the time, I assumed Dom was a guy. She had a guy’s username and always had male anime characters for an avatar at a time when it was every anime fangirl’s goal to have the trashiest, girliest anime avatar she could possibly get away with. She talked like a guy, too, so I wasn’t really interested at first. She was way too intimidating.
We didn’t talk much until our mutual friend on the forum went crazy.
When I say crazy, I mean crazy as only a teenage anime fan who also happens to be a zealous, fundamentalist Christian can be. If someone would post an image of Michael Jackson, Gerard Way or some other public figure he deemed to be “dark-sided,” he’d have a meltdown. We had a couple of gay/bisexual members and he’d make homophobic comments, so Dom was always having to reign him in. We bonded over his craziness and what to do about it, since I was a mod by then.
Then, The Apostle – as I will refer to him from here on out – decided he was in love with me. Being the 14-year-old problem-solver that I was, I decided that the best way to thwart his unwanted affections was to tell him I was horribly disfigured.
He started a thread of poems that were thinly-veiled love letters to me, and he ended every private message with, “I love you.” I don’t remember all the poems, but I do remember one line: “My love for you is not diminished by the physical; I see the beauty of the Bride of Christ inside.”
I responded with, “That’s nice. I love you like a sister in Christ, too.”
Such was my social prowess at the age of 14. Keep in mind that, as a homeschooler who was too laden with social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder to even attend a youth group, this message board was pretty much the only social interaction I had outside of ordering at McDonald’s.
Meanwhile, the focus of the forum had drifted away from anime and more toward that ever-addicting time-suck: text role-playing. Dom and I started role-playing a lot together, a hobby that we still continue today, to our great shame. In fact, it’s one of our #1 couple activities. (FACT: Role playing is one of those things that is infinitely more awesome when you are an adult, because you can use “bad words” and dress up in costumes. It is literally impossible to get bored in the bedroom when you have an arsenal of awesome characters and storylines to spice things up.)
That’s where Dom and I really started hitting it off. All our characters wound up pairing off and we started sharing our own novels with each other through PM for critique. I learned that she was, in fact, a female, which took me about a year. I was still so deep in the closet that I was having adventures in Narnia, but I was developing a definite crush. I knew I was attracted to girls in the way most of my friends were to boys even then. I just found no appeal in the idea of dating another girl who was, well, as girly as me. I’d never heard of butch or femme, so aside from the occasional tomboy at school during my younger days, Dom was the first butch I’d come across. I didn’t know exactly what it was about her, but I liked it. She wasn’t a boy (to my extreme relief), but she wasn’t like me, either.
A couple of years later, the forum was almost completely deserted, but Dom and I kept talking and role-playing and sharing. We even exchanged pictures and I learned when we finally got together that she, too, was convinced I was horrendously disfigured. In fact, when I went to the airport to pick her up on our first real life visit, it took her a long time to find me because she was looking for a female version of Quasimodo.
I guess one of the benefits of having BDD is that people you meet offline are in for a nice surprise.
Anyway, she visited for a week and we hit it off. It’s a cliché but it really was like we’d known each other in person for as long as we’d known each other online. I remember bolting up in bed the night before she was about to leave and thinking, “Oh my God, I’m in love with her. I’m gay and I’m going to Hell.”
Driving her back to the airport was literally the hardest thing I’d had to do up until that point in my life, and I’d been through some shit, too. A mutual friend was with me and I had to leave for the car before she even made it to the gate, because I was about to break down sobbing. I was an incredibly socially awkward, narcissistic teenager with some serious issues and a crazy family and she was the best thing that ever happened to me. So, of course, I sabotaged the hell out of it – I kept trying to pretend like I was straight and lived in denial for another three years.
Up next: A Geeky Lesbian Love Story, Pt. 2: How we got together.