Growing up, I feel like I didn’t have many crushes. Mainly I think it’s because I didn’t know what a ‘crush’ felt like. I saw girls crush after their favorite pop star or actor, and I would play along without my heart racing or a feeling in my stomach. I thought that having a crush meant that thinking was someone was objectively attractive. I missed the part where you were actually attracted to the person, physically and/or emotionally.
In fact, that’s kind of how I felt about boys in general. I thought I would magically reach a point where I would be physically/sexually/emotionally attracted to men. Spoiler alert: it never happened. When I finally came out to myself, I realized that I had plenty of crushes on fictional characters. And they were all ladies.
I didn’t have the vocabulary to express my attraction to girls. I just knew that I thought that they were pretty. But in the days before the internet, I really didn’t have access to queer people or culture. The first gay person I knew was when I was 12 and my best friend’s older brother came out.
I didn’t understand why other girls were so interested in the Baywatch guys versus Pamela Anderson, or the other women on the show. Girls were so much nicer to look at.
As a kid, I loved watching anything science fiction related. Especially if it was Star Trek. When Voyager premiered, my seven year-old self couldn’t have been more excited. I loved Captain Janeway and how she commanded the ship. I especially enjoyed her interactions with B’Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine. I hated when she started fawning over Chakotay or her husband on Earth came up in an episode. I loved the way she wore her hair and how she was able to command her ship. That (spoilers!) she was able to bring her crew back home after a tumultuous seven year journey. No one ever questioned her authority as a Captain of a Federation ship.
Over a decade later, I realized that I’m a lesbian, and that my love of Star Trek: Voyager was emboldened by my latent crush on Captain Kathryn Janeway.
Like many queer individuals, I didn’t have the words to express my feelings toward Janeway. But looking back, those feelings were most certainly real. Because I didn’t realize my queerness until later, most of my fictional crushes were ‘hindsight crushes’. Looking back at my childhood, I could tell that my fascination with Janeway or any of my other female friends was definitely because of my queer identity.
At the same time, however, I start to overthink queering my childhood narrative. Am I only seeing my Janeway crush as a crush because I identify as queer now? Was I really just a nerdy child who loved having a female captain to look up to on television? Is this childhood crush merely a way to explain my queerness throughout my life so far?
In one respect, yes. I am placing a crush on a character when it wasn’t entirely there. As a kid, I definitely couldn’t differentiate between wanting to be someone, or wanting to be with someone. Since that line was so blurred for me and I didn’t have the words to express myself, sometimes I feel that I missed out on that part of getting older. Looking back and placing the puzzle pieces together has helped weave together a queer narrative and biography that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
On another level, I really just enjoyed watching a science fiction show with my dad.
I didn’t have words as a kid, so it would make sense that describing it through a queer adult lens wouldn’t fit exactly. As an 8 year-old, I wouldn’t have thought of any character in a sexual manner. So why should I discredit my warm and fuzzy feelings towards her? What can I say? Little Amanda found authority figures and uniforms attractive just like almost 30 year-old Amanda does. Younger Amanda wanted to sit and talk about the Delta quadrant and drink coffee with Kathryn Janeway. It was the first time I felt like I wanted to be and be with a character. Why wring my hands over the validity of a crush when I know my heterosexual counterparts never placed that much thought into whether their crushes were ‘real’ or not?
My name is Amanda, and my first fictional crush (whether I knew it then or not) was Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager. Even as an 8 year-old, I enjoyed watching ladies take command and get shit done.
Who was your first fictional crush? Do you want to write about them for Rogues Portal? Email pitches to Samantha! (Submissions are unpaid at this time.)