Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Born a Lesbian or born-again-Lesbian?

So, do you think you were born a lesbian?
I never know the answer to this question, but I understand that it's supposed to matter - that it's some kind of proof that I'm a "real" lesbian to people who need that kind of proof. Moreover, my preference would be to swear on a stack of S.C.U.M. Manifestos that I was born this way, (and I've probably lied before now and said that I was) but honestly? I just can't give a definitive answer. The closest I can come is to say, yes, I was probably born this way. When I think back through all the intense friendships I had with girls, beginning when I was 5 years old, there has to have been something there. I'm sure there are many heterosexual women who can recount close, intense friendships with girls, but I would pine if I couldn't see my little girlfriends when i was young. The crushes I had were intense, painful and prolonged.

Did you know that you were a lesbian when you were a teenager?
Okay, girlies, I was born in the wilds of South Wales, UK, in 1953. This means that my teenage years started in 1966 at which point the word "lesbian" was not part of teenage vernacular. This was Pre-Stonewall, folks! It was still illegal in the UK and woe betide anybody who was suspected of being gay or lesbian. Even linking arms with your best friend at the all-girls school that I attended (schools went co-ed in 1972 in Britain) meant that you were hounded by other kids chanting "Lezzbe Friends!" everywhere you went.

As I believed I've written elsewhere, my father was a porno hound and so pornography fell out of every cupboard and draw in the house. By the time my teen years came, I was sick and tired of thinking about sexuality. I started having sex with boys (and then men) when I was 14 years old, and only because I didn't know I had a right not to. I got crushes on boys who looked girly, and crushes on my girlfriends who looked boyish. And now I'm attracted to butches or bois. (I am SO not up on current young dyke vernacular, so help me out folks if I make mistakes with spelling.) I find men, gay and straight, so much harder to connect with in a way that is as meaningful as my female friends and lovers. I would often date boys if they were in the same friendship circle as my best girlfriends, so that I could 'double date' and not lose time with my girls! I didn't have the word "lesbian" to apply to that preference. The only stereotype of lesbians that I had heard or seen were of manly creatures, who wore big boots and tweed skirt suits, with slicked back hair and no make-up. This was so far away from who I was or felt myself to be it didn't occur to me to identify with this steotype.

Who was the last man you slept with?
The last man I slept with was my ex-husband and it was probably in 1978. He was less than stellar in bed too. Of all the men I had sex with (over one hundred of them) I don't think a single one of them ever touched my clitoris. I truly thought there was something wrong with me sexually, until I started to read Betty Dodson's books, and discovered that I did indeed have a clitoris and I most definitely wasn't asexual.Once I had started relationships with women, there was just no comparison. Even with all the bullshit that accompanies any relationship, at least being with women lovers felt like the whole package. Plus, I have never found men's bodies particularly attractive.

Was it hard to "come out"?
The older I become the harder it is to connect with the feeling of those early days. Discovering the word "feminism" and being able to apply the theories to the way I saw the world was a mind-blowing event. While I had always known that life was unfair for girls and women, the realization that Patriarchy was an intentional and oppressive system designed to curtail the freedoms of women, changed my life forever. I am, and always have been, an insatiable reader. Reading is one of the few ways I've ever found to make sense of the world. So I went hunting for women writers who could explain patriarchy to me. Shulamith Firestone, Adrienne Rich, Simone De Beauvoir, Robin Morgan, Germaine Greer...the words of these women fired me up, gave me righteous anger and emboldened me to do everything in my power to change the way the world operated. I became involved with feminist politics and activist groups and it was at this time that the last shred of sexual connection between me and men was severed. Having a sexual relationship with a man was unthinkable after this point. In retrospect, coming out as a lesbian was like joining the dots for me. All the things that had been true about me for all these years converged in the moment when I kissed Janet on the dance floor.

Once I had taken that step, it wasn't hard at all.


Blogger Gunfighter said...

Very interesting... thank you for sharing.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Sapphique said...

Gunfighter: Thanks for visiting. Having looked at your blog, despite us having nothing in common on the surface, we actually have more in common than is first apparent! Thanks for commenting.

9:50 PM  

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