“I think my audience could tell that I wasn't sharing my life with them for a while, which is what I'm supposed to do, and they were definitely salty over that,” Strecker tells WomensHealthMag.com. “But I have always identified as straight, my whole life. I've never been attracted to girls, period. End of story.”
Except it’s just the beginning of the story—one that made Strecker question everything she thought she knew about herself, and eventually led her to very publicly come out about her new relationship on the air in what she says was “the absolute scariest moment” of her life.
It Wasn't Love at First Sight
The two women first met two years ago when Taylor Donohue was working as a videographer for a mutual friend. “I remember thinking, ‘Ugh, she's six feet tall and blond and beautiful, so clearly thinks she’s hot shit and all the guys here are going to kiss her ass all day.’" says Stecker. "So I was super annoyed, which is ridiculous and embarrassing, but it's the truth. And then when I found out her name is also Taylor, I felt even more annoyed.”
But, Strecker says, she was also looking for a new videographer to help out with her blog. “As I was watching her shoot, I was like, ‘Shit, she’s actually really good,’” she says, laughing. “Once we started working together, we actually clicked right away as friends, and started spending a lot of time together.”
"When I found out her name is also Taylor, I felt even more annoyed."
Strecker was still married to her ex-husband at that time, and she says that for a while she had no idea that Donohue was a lesbian—until she tried to set her up with a man and things got a little awkward. “I felt like an asshole.” Strecker says.
“I remember telling her it's so crazy that we live in a culture where I can meet all the new friends I want and never have to identify my sexuality, but you have to have that conversation with literally every new person who enters your life if you don’t want them to make the wrong assumptions,” Strecker says. “What a responsibility that is.”
Becoming More Than Friends
At that time, Strecker says her marriage was “a year into being completely crumbling.” They'd tried couples therapy, and were good at putting on a happy front when they were with other people, but were “hanging on by a thread.” By February, the pair had separated and begun divorce proceedings. Strecker started staying with Donohue and her sister, crashing on their couch regularly.
“They were really like my family throughout the divorce,” she says. “They became the people I spent the most time with. They kept me sane. They helped me find my new apartment and fill out all the paperwork. We really became best friends.”
The two women started hitting the town together; Strecker flirted with men while Donohue focused on women. “But then one night that spring, while we were out at a bar we always went to, this girl came over and kissed her while I was sitting right next to her, and I felt insanely jealous," says Strecker. "I’d seen her kiss other girls before, so I was like, ‘What is going on? Why am I jealous? I just like her as a friend, so what's my problem?’”
"This girl came over and kissed her while I was sitting right next to her, and I felt insanely jealous."
“I didn't say anything to anyone about it for a while because I was really freaked out by it,” Strecker says. “I thought maybe I was just confused from the divorce, or maybe I was just lonely. But I also felt like maybe I just wanted to experiment and be free, and I realized I did actually kind of want to kiss her. Just to see what that would feel like. So I finally worked up the courage to say something to her.”
Strecker confessed to Donohue that she might be developing a crush on her. But Donohue wasn’t having it.
“She said, ‘OK, hold up, you’re straight, you were married to a man, you're still in the middle of a divorce, and I think you're really confused right now,’” Strecker says. Donohue also told her that although she’d always thought she was cute and that she was “obsessed with her” as a friend, she thought the two of them dating would be very, very bad idea. Historically, she always lost interest in the women she dated quickly, and she feared that pursuing anything romantic would ruin their friendship.
“She basically told me to put the kibosh on my feelings for her,” Strecker says. “I felt rejected, but I was like, ‘She's probably right. This is probably a terrible idea. Maybe I'm just crazy right now.’" But after that conversation, things started to change. "We’d be friends during the day, but when we went out at night, we’d be super flirty with each other, and then the next day we’d just pretend it never happened and act like just-best-friends again. It was towing the line for sure.”
Then, during a trip to Miami, everything changed. “We were just like, ‘f*ck it,’ and we kissed,” Strecker says. “There’s a joke that lesbians bring a U-haul to the second date. It was kind of like that for us. Once we’d kissed, we both knew it meant that we were going to do this—we were going to try to have a real relationship.”
Though the pair moved “very slowly” and kept things a secret at the beginning, Strecker says she was very excited about the whole thing "It’s kind of crazy that I spent 32 years thinking sex was terrible,” she says. “When I finally had sex with Taylor it was like, 'Oh, this is what everyone’s talking about!'” But Strecker says she also felt “really freaked out” by what this meant for her identity.
Plus, she wasn’t even allowed to publicly discuss her divorce until all the paperwork had been signed by judge, so the prospect of people finding out that she was in a new relationship—with another woman, no less—before she’d even revealed that she was single, was terrifying.
Once the divorce was finalized, Strecker says things became much more comfortable. They started telling friends about the relationship and didn’t feel like they had to hide. A year later, once Strecker felt she knew things were “really real” between her and Donohue, she finally told her audience the truth—though she still prefers not to use labels for her sexuality.
“It took me a while, and it was definitely the scariest moment of my life, hands down” she says, “but when I finally did it, it was such an incredible relief to finally say it.”
For the most part, Strcker says she's experienced a tremendous outpouring of love. “With all of the states passing anti-gay laws right now and the Orlando shooting, it feels like there's this growing culture of hatred and non-acceptance toward LGBT people in this country, which has been so upsetting to see after we passed this huge civil rights landmark by finally allowing gay marriage,” she says. “So to have so many people respond positively to my story, even on such a small scale, has really helped restore my faith in humans, and helped me believe that lots of people actually are good and don't judge, and really do believe that love is love.”