I haven’t been out that long. And I haven’t been with, or even dated, that many women. These are facts I’m not ashamed to admit, and I don’t think they diminish the intensity of experiences and relationships I have had with women. Sure, it would be hard for me to do a long treatise on my struggles with being gay or write a handbook on dating and sleeping with women. I recognize the limitations of my lesbianism and I’m not trying to overstep or ignore them. But that hasn’t stopped the haters.
I frequently get angry mail from lesbians who see me as an outsider, an intruder and someone who should get the heck out of their exclusive club and never look back. Because that’s what it is to them—an exclusive club. The women who have never fantasized about or had sex with a man in their entire lives are in the VIP section. They look down on all of us while drinking champagne out of rainbow flutes and laughing about how being gay is a “trend these days.” Then there’s people like me who identify as gay, but didn’t always. Sometimes we’re accepted. Sometimes, not so much. Questions about our past sexcapades tend to make us squirm because we know, more often than not, judgment is coming. On the lowest rung — the ones who frequently get bounced from the club—are bisexual women.
I think it’s sad but also ironic the way marginalized communities do the same crap to each other that the world at large does to them. When very butch-looking lesbians or “obviously gay” chicks get called manly or are picked on or attacked, it’s terribly homophobic. They are outraged and so am I. But many of the same women who suffer through this stuff, who have never been with a man and call themselves “gold star” lesbians, will turn around and dismiss those of us who don’t “look gay,” haven’t been out for our entire lives or (gasp!) can’t decide if we like men or women or both. How is judging someone who is obviously gay any worse than judging someone who isn’t?
In my opinion, it isn’t people like myself or bisexuals who are ruining and corrupting the so-called gay community, as many of my hate-mailers claim. It’s those who are unwelcoming and mean-spirited. It’s the ones who look down their noses at younger, more girly lesbians or bisexual gals. It’s the ones who refuse to date those of us who have been, horror of horrors, sullied by a man.
Many act like I should be cast out because I don’t scream at the mention of a penis, I don’t have short hair and I don’t wear baggy clothes. The fact that I’m newly out and feminine makes me suspect, as if I’m going to go back to dudes at any second. But what does it mean to look and act gay? The things we associate with gay are often stereotypes made up by homophobes to degrade us. Yet, within the lesbian community, some people use them to judge others. It’s stupid and it’s wrong. Because how I look and when I came out doesn’t matter. It’s that I did come out and am comfortable and happy with who I am that’s important.
Look, I know everyone is entitled to have preferences, and if a woman doesn’t want to date chicks who have been with men or who also like men, that’s fine. But the ones who are so angered by our presence are no different, in my eyes, than jerks who make disparaging comments or want to ban gay marriage for all eternity.
In truth, I am often jealous of those “gold stars” who knew from the time they learned to ride a bike that they were into women. I wish it had been that simple for me. But more than that, I wish I wasn’t judged for it.