When I came out as a lesbian, my mom cited my rabid N’Sync fandom as evidence that I was obviously mistaken. She was certain that my liking a group of effeminate, nearly prepubescent boys, gyrating to songs about feelings was indicative of my heterosexuality. I’ve used that story as the punch line to my coming out for years. But just recently, I’ve found myself yet again defending my sexual preferences to my own peers in light of some my pop culture life choices, namely “Magic Mike.”
I’m going to go right out there and say it: Channing Tatum is a rhythmic god. Don’t pretend you don’t like dance movies, specifically “Step Up,” or that you haven’t spent time in front of the mirror trying to perfect your own moves after seeing him effortlessly slide across that stage and into the laps of awaiting women. And, sure, maybe my seeing a movie about male strippers multiple times seems a little suspect, seeing as the audience was predominately straight women acting as though they were at the bachelorette party of their lives. I will tell you that I found my jaw on the ground through the majority of the movie. So what?
“Magic Mike” just happened to be the best and most elaborately staged theatrical performance that I had had the pleasure to gawk open-mouthed at since my last drag show. In fact, the first feelings I had once I was able to collect myself and exit the theater were comparable to having just attended a drag show. I found it nearly impossible to get the chorus of “It’s Raining Men” out of my head for weeks. My love for “Magic Mike” was alarming even to me and required some late-night soul searching, but one thing I wasn’t questioning was my sexuality. I am very much a lesbian.
Truth is, I don’t partake in a lot of stereotypically lesbian activities. I’m a gold star in that I’ve never slept with a man and came out in my early 20s because I just didn’t know ladies were an option. It wasn’t that I was fed up with men, it wasn’t that I couldn’t get any elsewhere, and I’m not secretly waiting around for Mr. Right to sweep me off my feet. Fact is that I was raised in a very straight-enabling environment that made it hard for me to even realize I was barking up the wrong trees. I was well on my way to being a 40-year-old virgin, while hoarding my mom’s Victoria Secret catalogs and having a handful of mild crushes on girls never clued me in to my deep and unnoticed lady-loving ways.
One of the benefits of this late-ish-in-life lesbianism is that lesbian stereotypes have escaped me. The word “label” is not popular in our community, but, oddly enough, clichés have become so real that they’re now the way we define ourselves to others. Turns out I shave my legs and eat meat all while watching “The L Word” marathons. My music collection is free of Ani DiFranco, I don’t own a lick of flannel and I have yet to start collecting cats. I also love Paul Rudd and would welcome having his babies in a heartbeat because they’d be gorgeous and hilarious.
Maybe those things just prove I’m bad at being a lesbian … added to the fact that I also don’t “look” like a lesbian. I unsuccessfully dabble in makeup, own a pair of high heels and have been known to wear a dress on occasion. I’m allergic to sports and most male-identified activities; wearing menswear just make me feel like I’m going to jump out of someone’s cake. I’ve toyed around with getting a more butch-identified ‘do, but I simply can’t pull off the Miley.
All of those superficial things aside, being a lesbian boils down to the simple fact that I am sexually attracted to women. I can nerd out for days on how much I love my guy friends and how Ryan Gosling is God’s gift to cinema, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to hop into the sack with them. Unless a person is sporting my preferred characteristics, namely being of the female persuasion, then I am not interested. I wouldn’t kick Kate Winslet or Anne Hathaway out of bed and no one in their right mind should.
My Channing love is nothing more than a joke and a cultural idolization of someone who happens to be the fixture of many a straight girl’s fantasy. Just like I don’t actually think Justin Bieber is a closeted lesbian, so are my quips about Channing and our future together. Lesbianism doesn’t mean I can’t embrace a love of our male counterparts. There are so many different characteristics and lifestyle choices that make up a persons individuality and not simply the ridiculous words that come out of their mouth or the movies they choose to see. I can embrace both my femininity, being gay and my love of Channing Tatum’s fine body of work all at the same time.
And by body of work, I of course mean his movies.