Monday, August 14, 2006

How I Met Mr. Lesbian

It was a wild and stormy night.


It was a warm and breezy weekday afternoon in late fall.

Yes. That's more like it.

I had just been promoted to agency director of the faith-based social services agency where I worked. They head-hunted me for the position despite knowing that I was both an atheist and a lesbian which, given that this organization is operated by the Catholic Archdiocese, was no mean feat. My boss was a former nun, who had married a former priest, who had married, divorced and then married my boss. Complicated enough for you? Still, I digress.

Back to my story.

I was visiting a friend, who had gone to work at a childcare center just a few miles from my agency. I spent many years working with children and families, and was well known in the early childhood community at that time. Put a baby or small child in my field of vision and I'm a goner and don't notice adults. I am great with kids and I love playing. With no fears about making a complete fool of myself, I can make messes with food, contort my face into strange shapes at the drop of a hat, roll around on the floor with no fear of dirt, cat hair or baby goop, and I'm no stranger to smelly, poopy nappies, a.k.a. diapers. Parents were coming and going, and I took no notice, other than a cursory hello.

Two days later my friend from the childcare center turned up at my house with an envelope. She said that one of the parents, " a lesbian mom", had given her the envelope and asked her to pass it on to me. Inside the envelope? The anonymous mom's business card, and a request for a networking meeting - she had given up her directorial job at a prestigious hospital and was looking for another position. Would I be willing to meet with her? I was baffled. Her focus was health care. Mine mental health and families. I didn't think I would be much help, plus I had started my own job as a director and was swamped. I put off returning the call for a couple of weeks, and finally guilt got the better of me.

On the phone was a woman with a delightful voice (I'm a sucker for American accents, particularly if the women are soft spoken), we arranged to have a quick business lunch together. S/he showed up at my agency at the appointed time. Here are some relevant points of information (and some red flags - you figure out which):

* Yes, s/he was cute, and dressed in a business suit.
* S/he referred to hirself as "gay" and only used the word "lesbian" on one occasion, and it was not in reference to hirself.
* I asked for hir resume. S/he didn't have one with hir. I suggested that s/he send me one. S/he never did/
* That was the ONLY conversation we had that lunchtime about hir job search.

We had a 45 minute lunch, and on the way back to my office s/he mentioned that there was a big lesbian party happening that weekend. S/he described it as a "who's who of lesbians on the East Coast." And yes, oh shit, I took the bait. My eyebrows must have gone up. S/he knew I was hooked. Casually, s/he said, "I was thinking of going, but ...I'm not sure. Hey...would you be interested?" "Is the pope a guy in a dress?" I thought to myself.

"I'm not sure," I responded. "I'm pretty busy at the moment."

"You don't have to stay long," s/he replied. "I'll pick you up and drop you back home after an hour or so."

I capitulated.

Folks, the lesbians were all Republicans. The kind who are fully paid up members and get embossed invitations to inaugurations. There wasn't a single car in the driveway worth under $30 grand. There was even a vintage Rolls Royce. One of the women came on a brand new Harley. The party was catered (I kid you not) and there was an entire roast lamb laid out, with all the fixings. The next table was all desserts. There was enough alcohol to completely sink the entire membership of AA, and I would hazard a guess that most of the women considered themselves "gay" and not "lesbians."

But, did I run?


Did I want to?

No. I enjoyed being a cat among the pigeons. I talked loudly about class politics, poverty and socialism. I think my presence went over like a fart in church.

Not realizing that the Future Mr Lesbian had a crush on me, I busily tried fixing hir up with somebody at the party. S/he told me to stop - s/he wasn't interested in being fixed up with anybody and, by the way, what kind of women was I attracted to? "Butch ones," I responded haughtily. "I can wire and plumb houses," s/he responded sheepishly. I may have snorted. S/he looked like a straight girl and didn't have an ounce of butch in hir. SO not my type!

Not only was s/he a Republican, s/he actually worked to elect Republican politicians. How can you be gay or lesbian and be a Republican? It just didn't make any sense. S/he told me a story about attending political events in her town, and how s/he would always invite a guy s/he knew for "cover." I was aghast. "Why don't you just come out?" I asked. "I can work better under cover to change things from the inside," s/he replied.

I believe I snorted again, only this time louder.

"Last time I was at an event, the same guy who usually accompanies me said loudly, 'So, I hear you're gay. What gives?' and I didn't know what to say, so I just denied it," s/he said. The look of horror on my face stopped hir in hir tracks. "Does he have the hots for you?" I asked. "Yes, I think so," s/he replied shamefacedly. "Well, what else could I have done?"

I grinned and said, "Well, I would have said...if you're asking if I'll fuck you the answer's no...and put it back on him," I replied. "It makes him defend his manhood in front of his buddies. He just got turned down flat and you come out smelling like roses," I grinned.

The music came on, so we started to dance, but then within two tracks the speakers blew out. I'd had enough republicanism, fatty meat and bullshit to last me quite a while, so I asked if we could leave.

We stopped at a deli for coffee and sat opposite each other grinning like fools. When we arrived back at my house, I was practically jumping out of the car before it came to a halt. S/he was so NOT my type.

The following weeks s/he pursued me like a sonovabitch. Flowers arrived at my office. Soon after that, my favorite roses would be sitting on my doorstep in the evening when I arrived home. S/he sent me cards and turned up to drive me to school. Finally I gave in and met hir for coffee. And then I met hir again, and again, and again. Before I knew it, I had fallen for hir.

Please bear in mind that I didn't know that Mr Lesbian was trans. In point of fact, neither did s/he. S/he didn't have the language yet to describe how s/he had felt all her life. I'm femme. But not THAT femme. I can't wear skirts, because I get "femme poisoning" after an hour of my legs showing. In retrospect if I had realized that Mr Lesbian was actually transgendered and not a dyke, I don't think I would have continued. Yes, I can hear you booing. Let me just say that I have no political or personal prejudices against trans folks. I just prefer to be in relationships with women who like their breasts and aren't spending all their time pretending they don't have them.

So, here we are. It's 8 years later and we're still together. S/he has a language to talk about being trans, but hir republicanism silences hir. S/he is more "out" than s/he used to be, but let's people assume that s/he's a lesbian and doesn't talk about being trans. People, trust me. It's damn hard to be a sex therapist from inside a sexual relationship, particularly with somebody who doesn't want to talk about their sexuality.


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