Lesbians are complicated. Rather, my relationship with lesbians is complicated. My relationship to lesbianism is complicated. People in AA occasionally say, “it’s Alcohol-ISM, not Alcohol-WASM,” after which I always mutter “it’s Lesbian-ISM, not Lesbian-WASM!”
Is it Lesbian ISM or WASM for me? My friend (and favorite painter) Ed Larson ran into me and my new paramour on the durty streets of downtown
I don’t know that my friend identifies as “lesbian.” This is more of a Queer dimension we inhabit. But for sure, the uninformed and unimaginative will certainly read us as two dykes. And Ed was only partly kidding – the bafflement exists. For many of us, Queer an’all, who is with whom can be perplexing. Just ask my friend S, whose daughter is now her son, who now identifies as “heterosexual.” S can’t wrap her brain around her son’s sexual declaim, largely I think because she knows what’s in her “son’s” pants. It simply doesn’t make commonsense to her.
I was raised by perverts, once I left home. In PervLand everything exists simultaneously. You’re a puppy, perhaps, maybe even neutered. By day you’re a banker, but you keep your bowl in your bottom drawer, your secret “real” life anchoring you to emotional security like Linus’ blanket. For some, trans is a paraphilia. What do I have in common with the guy who wears a skirt, has boobs, but still identifies as a guy and for whom these are sexual talisman, turn-ons? His perv trip is way out loud. Transitioning has its psychosexual elements; to find one’s way home can contain the fiercest surge, the sweetest charge. I learned to be comfortable, or at least amused, with sex and gender nuance, is what I’m saying to you.
Lesbian was always rather more challenging for me. I was uncomfortable around the lesbians from the git. My homophobia seized on the Mary McCarthy “The Group” paradigm of lesbianism, which was that it was inbred, incestuous, riddled with unappealing drama, rife with poor boundaries and busy-body-ness, obsessive, unattractive. The first lesbians I knew were these two characters from High School. They were absolutely insane. One of them, a hide-tough, prematurely leathered blonde wanted to borrow a syringe we kept in my house for my brother’s allergy medicine, because she wanted to try shooting cocaine; the other, a less hardened, cheerleader blonde had literally fucked the entire football team. They terrified me.
They were lesbianism pathologized. I was 15 and out by then myself, at least to my friends, and drinking beer at their party. The blond, coke-shooting scary one passed me a nearly depleted bottle of tequila, and in what appeared to my ingenuous ears as a gesture of lesbian bonhomie, said “Here, drink up, Sam! Go’head, finish this shit!”
From across the room, as time inverted, I saw the buxom blonde’s head snap. Immediately she appeared between us, and wrapped her hand around the bottle. “Isn’t that the tequila that made us really, really sick?” she asked her generous partner. “Oh right” smirked Leathern, who turned her gaze full on me, with a face full of glory and hate.
In general, women terrified me. This persisted until my forties I’d say, when I finally sank into the warm, inviting waters of me and my own sexual power without needing another’s validation or invitation. It is no coincidence that at this time I discovered my need to explore my nascent masculinity. Or whatever you want to call it.
Can I ever fully relinquish my Lesbo card? Is it ISM? I have always felt like a fraud around lesbians, but is that simply a metastasized outcropping of my alcoholism, which is always finding ways to isolate me, keep me from connecting? Or am I a fraud because I’m actually NOT A LESBIAN?
Feeling fraudulent would explain my discomfort, my homophobia, my occasional nausea. It feels like a club I never fully fit in, yet another social sphere that seems to have implicit rules, behaviors, dress-codes and handshakes, possibly its own language, and I will never, ever be given that manual, led by the Lesbian Illuminati to the inner-sanctum, a labial labyrinth where women actually do run the planet, like the Jews control the media.
For now, I’m a straight dude and a dyke, who is neither terribly straight, nor totally dude, nor really a dyke. I guess I’ll float around Queerville for a while; these are my people, the outliers, the fetishists, the sublimely ridiculous, the ones who own costumes because they sometimes just feel like being an old lady from Weehawken, whose politics are interstitial and connective, who are the literal fluid between social cells, and who fear unlovability even in the face of astounding love and compassion.
Queers and octopuses. Did I mention the octopuses? At the end of the day, we’re all the freaking same, even with eight legs and a huge head. It’s human ISM, not human WASM.