How Angelina Jolie "Made" Me Gay

I sat in the cool, air conditioned movie theater with my boyfriend’s arm wrapped warmly around my shoulders. After plenty of begging and offering to pay for both of us to get in, I’d finally convinced Chris to go see Angelina Jolie’s newest movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith with me. As we watched the two characters navigate their double lives, I’d begun to notice an uneasy stirring in the pit of my stomach that had nothing to do with an absence of popcorn. Maybe I’m coming down with the flu, I thought, or ate a bad Hot Pocket for lunch.

The feeling continued to gnaw at me as we watched the couple bring the fight to their house, guns and fists blazing until the tension finally breaks, forcing them to lay their weapons down. The answer finally hit me as I watched Angelina and Brad go into full-on make out mode. I gasped out loud. This entire time I’d been feeling attraction…and a little bit of jealousy. Not towards the guy sitting next to me and not even towards Angelina, despite the fact that she was making out with someone most women considered to be one of the hottest men alive. No, I realized with shock — I was jealous of Bradand the fact that he got to be fake-married to Angelina.

It was Angelina who I was attracted to. Her mannerisms, her lips, and her hypnotic eyes had drawn me in from the beginning.

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To be honest, I’d had a bit of a girl crush on Angelina for as long as I could remember. Like most people my age, I’d grown up watching Tomb Raider movies and witnessing her evolution from Hollywood’s “wild child” into a classy woman and fearless humanitarian. I found her not only beautiful but also dangerous and unafraid of the person she was. Even the roles she chose to play in movies resonated with me. I felt, as many as of us do about the celebrities we admire, that she understood me, and as a result had felt a little less alone in the world.

I realized, in that moment, that somewhere I had gotten turned around and was heading in the wrong direction. I glanced over at the boy next to me, taking in his profile as he watched the movie.

During an interview for 20/20 in 2003, Angelina said, “I always saw myself, wherever I was in life, staring out the window.” It’s a sentiment I’d always felt summed up my restless creative mind. Remembering those words, I thought back to a night in the 8th grade and a conversation I’d had with my best friend.

“I can’t wait to get married and have kids someday,” she was saying, her voice filling the dark room around us. We were laying next to each other on the floor, both of us wrapped up in layers of blankets, our heads resting on pillow cases we had decorated with song lyrics the week before. “How many kids do you want?”

I hesitated, unsure if I should tell her what had been on my mind recently. “I don’t think I want any,” I said slowly.

“OK, but you want to get married, right?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted, letting out a long sigh. “I can’t imagine coming home every day to a husband and having kids. I know everyone says it, but I really don’t want to be like our parents. I don’t want a family and a desk job that I hate. The idea makes me crazy. I can’t explain it, I just feel, different. You know?”

“Sure,” she said, and I loved her for not making fun of me. “I wouldn’t want a job like my mom’s. I still want kids though and a really hot husband,” she said and we both laughed.

It had been almost four years since that conversation with my friend, and I realized, in that moment, that somewhere I had gotten turned around and was heading in the wrong direction. I glanced over at the boy next to me, taking in his profile as he watched the movie.

We’d been together for almost a year, and he was supposed to be everything a girl could ask for. A sweet and nerdy Catholic boy, he loved his mother and dreamt of a future with a loving wife and two children raised in his faith. I cared deeply about him, but even the idea of stepping into the perfect little box he wanted made it physically hard for me to breathe. I had stuck with the relationship anyway, banking on our ability to compromise and fervently hoping that the restlessness in my heart would leave me.

As crazy as it sounds, it never occurred to me that dating women was an option. At least it hadn’t until Angelina, dressed in a long white men’s shirt and rubber boots, ran out of an exploding house with Brad.

No matter how much I cared about Chris and the one or two other guys I had fooled around with prior to our relationship, I was completely unsatisfied. There always seemed to be some level of attraction and passion that just wasn’t there. I was always left feeling disappointed and hollow.

After awhile, I’d resigned myself to the belief that this was just how it was supposed to be. Maybe my hopes had been too high to begin with.

I’d be lying if I said that even before that movie, I hadn’t found women attractive and intriguing. While my best friend had her room covered in posters of Usher’s six-pack, my walls were covered in pictures of a half dressed Pink and Christina Aguilera. I’d gone through middle school listening to nothing but Janet Jackson and found that I admired strong women that embraced their sexuality and flaws with a fearless abandon.

That’s as far as it went though. Sure, I could openly admit that women were more attractive than men. I’d even gotten in mock fights with friends over whether or not Michelle Rodriguez was hotter than Leonardo Dicaprio — but that’s because I thought that was just how straight girls talked. As crazy as it sounds, it never occurred to me that dating women was an option.

At least it hadn’t until Angelina, dressed in a long white men’s shirt and rubber boots, ran out of an exploding house with Brad.

I stared up at the screen as epiphanies fired relentlessly from my synapses. I could date women, I thought. I want to, I realized. As the concept tore through my mind, memories started to stir. I flashed back to a summer spent working on a solo with my dance teacher. I was always shy around her, but then would talk to everyone else about how beautiful, eccentric, and outgoing she was. I’d had no idea that it was a crush making me so tongue-tied. It was a small realization, but I had a feeling it was only the first of many clues that hindsight would eventually reveal.

As we stepped out of the cool sanctuary of the theater and into the blistering summer heat, I pulled my hand away from Chris’s. I wrapped my arms around myself, trying desperately to keep all my new thoughts from spilling out of me before I was ready. I barely listened as he thanked me for dragging him to the movie and drove me home. I smiled, but I didn’t tell him about my revelation. I needed more time to think and let everything sink in before I completely flipped my life upside down.

A few short weeks later, I came out of the closet as a lesbian. Eventually, having relationships with women would give me a glimpse of the companionship, attraction, and passion that had been missing from my previous experiences. But without the examples of the strong women I grew up admiring, I don’t think I would have been able to accept myself as easily as I did.

So, say what you will about Angelina, but I for one will always be grateful to her. Not just for being honest, open, and daring — but also for being so incredibly hot that she managed to bring out the lesbian in me.

Images: Regency Enterprises; Nicole Leann; Giphy