I met Tania in 1973 when I was between marriages and rediscovering single life during that wild, carefree time before AIDs and at the height of the Pill’s use and popularity.
A bright, perky, redhead, Tania approached life with a zest that infected everyone around her. She loved to do off-the-wall things, had a wicked sense of humor and didn’t much give a damn what others thought.
Our affair was intense and passionate. One night, when our making out in my car in front of her house left us both breathless, I suggested we go inside and consummate things in a more comfortable setting.
“I can’t,” she said. “My roommate’s home..” Her roommate, an attractive blonde who worked at one of the local banks, was always standoffish when I was around.
“Well,” I said, “we will just go to your bedroom.”
“Can’t do that,” Tania said. “My bedroom is also her bedroom.”
That confused me at first. I had been in the house. It had more than one bedroom.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” she said.
Here it comes, I thought. Another boyfriend.
“Linda’s not just my roommate. She’s my lover.”
My head spun. I think I stammered something like “you’re a lesbian?”
“Not entirely. I’m bisexual.”
The look on my face must have been devastating. She started to cry.
“I knew when I told you I would lose you,” she sobbed. “You don’t understand.”
I tried to understand. I really did. It wasn’t easy.
“Look,” I said. “This is something new to me. I don’t believe I’ve ever dated someone who was bisexual.”
“Oh I bet you have,” she said. “You just didn’t know it.”
She got out of her car and walked inside alone. I drove off. It took three days to get up the nerve to call her again. I suggested dinner. She hesitated. The usual perkiness was gone.
“Give me a chance to deal with it,” I said. She said OK.
Dinner was awkward at first but she regained her zest and, as usual, it rubbed off. The evening ended at my place and our lovemaking was as passionate and intense as ever. Afterwards, my reporter’s curiosity took over and I wanted to know more about her bisexuality.
Tania attended an all-girls private school as a teenager and discovered her attraction to other women with her roommate. At first it was pretend stuff with one or the other playing the role of a boy. Soon, however, they discovered they preferred each other’s physical intimacy as young women.
But she also liked boys. Relationships with both genders could be satisfying, she found.
Later, when she moved to
“The intimacy is very, very different,” she said. “I can’t explain it but I also cannot limit myself to men or women.”
This, however, was the early 70s and gay couples did not live their lifestyles openly. Tania’s relationship with her female lover remained a secret. Had it come out, the area school system that employed her would have fired her immediately. The law did not protect homosexuals in those days.
“Someday,” she said, “people will learn to accept lifestyles like mine.”
We dated for over a year. When the breakup came, it did not occur because I could not accept sharing her with a woman. Our relationship was not exclusive to each other. I dated other women. She dated other men…and women. She took a job in
Eventually, she met the love of her life, a man, and she finally settled into a monogamous, married, heterosexual relationship.
“I always wondered if it would be a man or a woman,” she said when she called with the news. “It could have gone either way.”
They had two children and remained married until her death recently from cancer. She loved her husband and her children with the same zest for life that enchanted me so many years ago.
Tania taught me to love life. More importantly, she taught me that love between two people is not gender-specific nor can it be controlled by political expediency or prejudice crouched in religious bigotry and false morality.
She lived to see lifestyles like hers become more open.
But she died before people really learned to accept. She died knowing there is still a big difference between accepting something and learning to live with it.