"The world and words fuck each other."-Kathy Acker
I am trying to find the place where my tongue can say "lesbian" instead of hiding behind a computer. I suppose this is rich with sophomoric newly out lesbian ridiculous anxiety, but there it is. I have a very hard time saying I am a lesbian. I usually quell this thirst to admit my trueness in words like "I've come out," [that's very diva-like, anyway, which is my style]. My 1950s and 40s aesthetic is pretty girly. I have to come *OUT* about twice a day, but I had that practice when I had a gastric bypass.
I came out by having gastric bypass surgery in a very big way. With a youtube channel, emails and sharing and lots of pictures of my progress. I have come out similarly, as a lesbian. But both provide me with dread and slight shame whenever I say "I had weight loss surgery" or "I am now a lesbian, and yes, I was married, have a daughter and was engaged not once, not twice, but three times to men. [none of which provided actual marriages]" I am not ashamed of either, but I know what the thoughts are because I had them.
Weight loss surgery is the easy way out.
You will probably gain that weight back.
Why didn't you buy something useful with that money?
You've set a horrible example for women.
What does your body look like naked, with loose skin?
The answers I give if asked usually result in my feeling awkward and paranoid that some stranger is going to go home and Google my weight loss project and find out I was a horrible mess when I had that surgery. They might watch only partial bits and leave out the recovery, the coming to Jesus, as we say in the South, of what that surgery did for me and my whole outlook on life. So while I am not, personally, ashamed, I feel bad for not having the desire in me any more to educate the ignorance. Just judge me, fuck it, right? I cannot possibly make all these opinions go away.
Then I came out. I came out publicly, with love and passion, as a feminist, as a Femme, as a butch dyke loving girly girl who isn't afraid. But really? I am so very afraid. That's what I don't talk about in the narrative of Facebook or daily Instagram photos, or even with Twitter or Youtube. I am out as a LESBIAN and perfectly delighted, but incredibly terrified of the label. What does a 38 year old lesbian even know about this new tribe she has been magically embraced by? I thought I'd instinctually get it. That I'd feel brave and not at all vulnerable, now, that I was just being my correct Femme gay self.
The questions come, much like the weight loss surgery questions.
How long have you been gay?
Why do you like girls who look & act like 'dudes?'
Are you going to cut your hair?
My darling father even told me he didn't care about my gender... as if that was suddenly changing, too?
Well-meaning as the comments and questions are, some I just have no answers for and am not prepared. I have been gay since I had sex with a girl which was in junior high. I was crushed when she left me and dated my ex boyfriend. She had the most beautiful lithe body in her pink swimsuit and I recall her standing on my family's pool diving board in 7th grade, dripping wet, the suit pale pink, and her dark nipples were visible. I was kinda DONE with boys then.
But I was like every other girl in the world: I wanted to belong. I hid from first kisses [sorry Jason] and I lied about sexual promiscuity with a sarcastic slutty authority of someone deeply afraid of being gay. I was hyper sexual for years before I came to another, fully grown woman, married, only to find out she wanted something more and I couldn't do it. Maybe it goes back to the Golden Girls and Bea Arthur? Or maybe it goes back to "Just One of The Guys" when the girl dresses as a dude to go to a school undercover, and in the end reveals her breasts under a tuxedo jacket. I am not sure.
But I can say that my most fond memory of a full blown, hardcore honest to goodness BUTCH woman, was in Wyoming. I was in Girl Scouts and she was a guide. I saw her chain wallet. Her hips, that swagger. No, woman's hips ever did that. None I had seen. EVER. She was pure mythical, magical warrior, full of something not girl, not guy-but butch. That term, I have fallen in love with. I used to shy away thinking it was bad. But believe me, a butch knows what a femme knows; our labels are symbiotic in many ways if we connect. Pure fire.
so Wyoming Butch would walk, talk, laugh, hug, act really immature for her age, and i had never seen anything so fine. i was developing my feminine wiles with boys from emulating other girls my age, and i had really big fancy boobs, so you know, that didn't hurt. but the good hearted, funny butch lady was where i was at, mentally and sexually. i wanted to pull her aside, say "hey, can we talk about what's happening here?" but Wyoming Butch would hardly look at me. I was kinda girly. even though I was funny, too, I didn't want to use a pocket knife on anything or break limbs and make fires. I wanted to watch her do it, sure... but that's it. She ignored me the entire time she was with us. Except once.
I asked to take her picture at the breakfast table and she stuck out her tongue and had oatmeal on it.
I still have that photograph. I still look at it. It was the playful spirit that I just wanted to sidle up to and just be with, understand, grapple with, feel in the cold night. When we left, and I knew I would never see her again, I went to my sleeping space, a colorful girly sleeping bag, zipped into it, and sobbed for hours alone.
And I zipped my entire life, all my misunderstood feelings into that sleeping bag. I was "bad," I was a "pervert," I dated the most hyper-masculine black athletic or pimped out men you can imagine. I hated women. I listened to rap and to anything violent. I tried to fuck my way out of this head-body-soul disconnect, but I came back to "I am gay" and just shut down. I would have little affairs, no biggie, I told myself, because I was a powerful sex-positive feminist woman. I can have sex with whomever I so choose. Suck it. Then I had my "50 shades of Gray" experiences and more male-centered sex, where it was, or so I thought, enjoyable to be degraded and used, completely disrespected because that edge was something new. Better to go there, with a man, than have a really satisfying relationship with a, holy shit, GIRL.
I still feel guilt over things I did. Places I went, physically, to fix my head. Because tears were weak. I was a survivor. I was not weak. Not even pissing in the street, homeless, because of addiction. I was never going to be anything but GREAT in my head; normal was great. Great meant desiring men, having a family, owning a home and driving a mom car. That's the Femme issue. We are conditioned and raised not as wild free spirited "tomboys" or loners, but as pack girls. Chicks. We like beads and crafts and clothes and hair shit and makeup techniques and Pinterest. But we're gay, too, so where is that safe place with our female straight friends to say "well, I love all these ties, but I only see them on other women in my mind?" thinking about a sexy tie on a butch makes me melt completely. But for 20 years of my sexual experiences, I refused myself that image. [unless I played with it myself, boyish fashion, but it was silly. I am not turned on by myself as a dude... at all.]
Now, though? I put on my girly clothes, and all out lesbian Femme and feel so sexy, so appropriate. Not like a slut for having cleavage, but a girly girl and adored by a butch. Totally different dynamic, and that is just what it is. "DYNAMIC," constant change, a system of progress. An exchange of positive energy, new ideas. I am not just a girl, not how a boy has been allowed to see women his whole life, no. I have new lesbian and butch eyes seeing me. I also see them in ways that are new and fresh to me. The collars and sleeves, the tugging at and wearing of pants, men's underwear. Brogues. Loafers. Boots. It's a drunken feeling, much like watching Wyoming Butch back in 1989. Only now, I am not hiding. Now, at 38, I let myself enjoy the scene and my very strong reaction to it.
I have one more thing to admit before I end my thoughts on being out:
I am a Butch Virgin.
you don't need to understand that, unless you're a butch or femme and you know. "oh." she has never really even HAD that fire she speaks of, and the truth is, no, i have not. i have known it in fantasy land and dream land and imaginary play with my writing stories, but not HAD actual Butch/Femme relations and it is pretty scary. i am kind of a virgin. not in the "Well, I like a Ducati but I have yet to drive one" way-but more in a "I was born with legs and just now discovered i can walk with them, but they are too weak to move."
So I stare at butches. I flirt with butches. I try and look unsuspecting in the coffee shop when a butch holds the door. I try and not focus on my lack of sex, and more on what I know in my heart. We know. When we don't know, life is miserable. [and I was] But now I am alive and while, yes, the very object of my Femme affections is not present in my life, nor do I know what the hell i'd do with her if she were, I am okay. I am fine with all this coming out. I was born alone, I have lived alone, I am alone. But it feels, just, unsettling and hopeful. I hold on to the Femme in me, proud of my bows and curls and rhinestone pins and 1950s pencil skirts and corsets and heels and stockings and fish net. I am quite the fashionista and "femme" is my bag, baby. I have to keep it fresh, for how am I to know?
She could show up tomorrow, in her butchbest or dressed down in jeans, chain wallet and chucks. I want to be the Femme who looks at her and she knows "I am seen." And I want to feel the butch gaze and know I, too, am seen. That's all I can do at the moment. So when people ask why do I like girls who look and act like dudes, all I can say is "there are no words for it. Like there are no words for the feeling when you see a girl or guy you are completely mad about & the air chokes right in your throat and chest and your body responds with a boner or wetness..."
It just is. and I love it. It is mine and all of ours, lesbians, gays, butches, Femmes, subs, bottoms, Doms- straights Queers.
That choke in the chest when you see something you know is your place in the world...
That's got to be right. I know I am somebody because the universe doesn't make too many mistakes.