My girlfriend and I recently celebrated our one-year anniversary by, well, not doing anything. We acknowledged that we’ve been together for a while, discussed our first date a bit and moved on. But just because we didn’t bust out chocolate mousse and champagne and light-scented candles doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking a lot about this past year and what I’ve learned from it. Since this is my first long-term lesbian relationship, I’ve noticed similarities and differences between gay and straight couples that people who have been dating women for a while might not realize exist. So, in honor of my one-year anniversary, I’ve decided to take a look back at the past year and share a few things I’ve learned — as well as what those bumps in the road taught me about myself, my girlfriend and lesbians in general.
- Having sex with women is complicated. For me, pleasing men was pretty easy. I’d just hop on, move a bit and, pretty soon, well, you know. But we gals have a lot of stuff going on down there. After having a girlfriend, I have a new appreciation for toys during sex, an extra set of hands (hers) and taking breaks. A bit of advice for straight women: if you get mad when your man doesn’t get you off … stop. Try to be nice and maybe help out a little because, seriously, it’s hard work.
- The best way to deal with unwanted attention is to laugh. When I first realized I was gay, I was so caught up in coming out to my family and friends that I didn’t even think about how random strangers would perceive me. But when guys in NYC see my girlfriend and I sitting close together on a park bench or holding hands, they often stare open-mouthed, make comments or whisper to their friends. I used to blush and feel incredibly awkward and angry, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they aren’t worth it. Sure, if someone says something really awful I’m going to give them a piece of my mind. But I find the best way to deal with horny boys who are excited about seeing two women together is to laugh. Sometimes, if their staring is unavoidable, I look at them and smile. In the end, taking it as a compliment makes everyone feel better.
- There is a lot of in-fighting in the “lesbian community.” Like I wrote a few weeks ago, I didn’t know it existed until I started dating women, hanging out at gay bars and writing this column. It’s sad and it sucks, but I deal with it by being upfront with others and comfortable with myself. If a woman doesn’t like me because I used to date men or thinks I’m a faker because I’m feminine, she’s not worth my time anyway.
- Just because you are gay doesn’t mean you have to swear off men. My girlfriend hated having sex with guys her whole life but is comfortable enough with her sexuality that she has no problem pointing out when dudes are hot. She even asks me to dress like a guy sometimes or, err, outfit myself with male anatomy. Both genders have great things about them—physically and mentally—and just because you decide to be with one doesn’t mean you have to completely disregard and discount the other. I think some lesbians, in an attempt to make themselves seem as gay as possible, express hatred and disgust towards men which, in the end, is to their detriment.
- There is a very strange tension between certain gay men and gay women. I used to think gay men and lesbians were just one, big happy family. I was wrong. There are certain gay bars for men in NYC that have an unofficial door policy that doesn’t allow women. On the flip side, there are many women who go berserk when they see a dude in their stomping ground. So much for the “gay community,” right?
- Some gay women don’t like to be penetrated or even touched. This phenomenon was completely foreign and new to me when I first entered the lesbian dating scene. I kicked it with a few ladies who made it very clear that they did not like penetration of any kind, even if it was just a few fingers. Another gal I hung out with for a while wouldn’t let me touch her at all but was perfectly willing to put the moves on me. I don’t get it and I know I could never date a woman who wouldn’t allow me to reciprocate, but this behavior is fairly common. Who knew?
I think it’s important to remember that—gay or straight—at the end of the day, we are all pretty similar. The other day I was walking home with my boxing trainer and we were talking about “The L Word” and “The Real L World” and he said something like, “You know, the more I watch those shows the more I realize that all relationships are pretty much the same.” I agree with him.