Everyone wants to be a lesbian

15 06 2011

So what’s going on with all these men pretending to be lesbians online? Like we don’t have enough trials of our own to be going on with, now we have to spend time trying to figure out if that increasingly interesting online chat is being conducted by some hairy fat man in a vest with a good line in conversation and nothing better to do with his time.

Like we’re not all paranoid and defended enough as it is. It’s enough to make one want to give up on the internet altogether, I tell you. After all, there are loads of us, who like many in the mainstream world of online chat, have much deeper and more intimate relationships with our online lovers than any we do in ‘real’ life. It’s one of the few spaces we can feel alone, intimate and unobserved, especially if you’re queer and live in this particularly bigoted region of the world.

So what the fuck? Last week we followed with increasing interest, the story of a blog that we carry on our links which seemed to reflect many of our own anxieties and fears – the story of a young, lesbian activist being threatened and finally kidnapped in Syria. The discovery that the blog was written by a ‘middle-aged, married American man’ aroused varying emotions across the homosexual world, ranging from outraged fury and paranoia, to amusement.

Later the same week, Paula Brooks, executive editor of the US-based lesbian and gay news site LezGetReal, was exposed as being a fake identity created by Bill Graber, who now says he is a 58-year-old from Dayton, Ohio.

Eek.

So who else is out there, (presumably) hiding from his wife, scratching his balls and busily typing away?

And why? What is it about our poor persecuted demographic that makes men want to BE us? We already know that most straight men’s top fantasy is to watch and/or participate in a lesbian encounter and we find that creepy and humiliating enough. And while we’re all for freedom of speech and would be the first to support great fiction writing, this weird and deliberate deceit of gullible women (never mind the general public and the damage done to the queer cause everywhere), ends up being just another sample of male arrogance and entitlement .





porn today – gone tomorrow!!

6 11 2010

The Daily Mirror reported that the Colombo Fort Magistrate has ordered police headquarters to publish in the newspaper photos of local men and women appearing in Web based porn sites. According to the Magistrate, they want to track these people and identify and punish them!

Bull shit!

What will the lives of these people be like once they are identified? The court punishment is one thing, but what about the ostracism they will receive from the wider community? Can they ever safely live in Sri Lanka again? What will their livelihoods be? How will the consequences for women be greater than those for men?

Furthermore, have they no realization that doing such a thing is not going to deter the making of porn, the demand for porn or from other people entering porn films? This is all assuming that those who are featured in the newspapers are willing participants in the movies. But we all know that there are many young people who are forced into such things, black mailed, and coerced. Some are even trafficked into the sex trade. And many are underage. Some are filmed without their knowledge. So basically what we are doing here is re-victimizing the victims. Is this the best way to address the problem? The government’s approach will only make it more difficult to help those who were coerced into the porn industry. A more productive policy would seek to reduce stigma to assure that those who are willing participants have proper access to medical care and those who were forced to participate could access resources that would help them reintegrate into their communities and rebuild their lives.

In Uganda, some 100 photos of gay men were published in a newspaper – apparently to shame them – so we are going the Uganda way or what?





And I thought only lesbians merged

29 05 2010

I come from two people you would never think of putting in one planet. No exaggeration. I promise. When they met, one was fresh out of a cloistered and stifling but comfortable home and the other was on an adventure in the backwaters of beyond trying to bring about a revolution. One has the temper of lightening and thunder, the other has the temper of rain falling ceaselessly through the day. He reads words to feed his brain, she reads stories to fill her heart. Growing up, I looked at my parents and thought I would never be with someone if I couldn’t share my laughs.

That part turned out to be true. I always laughed with my girlfriends. But the one thing you couldn’t say about me was that I loved women who were like me. They didn’t look like me, they didn’t talk like me, they enjoyed life differently and I loved them for that. No fear of merging. That thing that lesbians are so afraid of. Lesbian Merging. Imagine dressing like each other in a few weeks or months! We are worried that we will pick up our lover’s expressions. We make sure we use different endearments on each other. Or else we’ll merge and then where is that other person who so excited you when you first met?

No such worries for me. Why worry about Lesbian Merging when I go for women who are so different that it would take plate tectonics to effect Lesbian Merging? I could afford to laugh at the others. And then, a few weeks ago, I noticed that my father said some thing the same way, that my mother does. A few days later, my mother did something else the same way he did.

My father and mother were merging.

It wasn’t only lesbians who merged.

I am not sure if I should be upset about it or not.

If my parents can merge, anyone can merge.

Does that mean there is no getting away from Lesbian Merging?





Starting over

26 05 2010

It’s like starting over.

Like being born again.

Not like an evangelical Christian, although I have heard that many lesbians are Christians too. Seems like a paradox to me, considering all the ways in which a lesbian just is, all the ways in which you find yourself defying, denying and redefining what it is to be a woman, most of which are surely contrary to any christian teaching? I couldn’t imagine going into church and lining up good and proper, ready to join in the singing with all the other straightfaced, straightlaced, straightpeople – husbands leading, wives following, children and pets bringing up the rear. After fucking a woman you love, can you really imagine straightening yourself like that?

I couldn’t.

All that mad lust and abandonment. And that’s besides the abandonment of practically everything we’ve been taught to honor, respect and obey; all those lessons we spend practically our entire lifetimes unlearning?

But anyway. As I was saying.

Oh yeah. The starting over thing. It’s kind of like when you realize finally, or maybe like some of us, very slowly and hesitantly over a very long period of time – that that’s what it was all about. That all those years you spent trailing around the schoolyard behind that one, to-your-dazzled-eyes abso-fucking-lutely beautiful girl – just watching, (stalking probably,) actually meant something? When you actually start thinking – I like, no maybe I love.

Her.

Agh.

Better not share this information with my mother or sister. Not when I’m twelve and all they’re hoping for is that I’ll win the English prize this year too.

I remember spending every single break at school, munching on a Chinese roll and following the adored one and her noisy gang of friends, everywhere they went. I would watch their games, trail along the edge of the wall as they galloped along, absorbed in their own pursuits and never noticing me. Which was a very good thing too. They would have crucified me if they had guessed what I was doing. But I didn’t really know what I was doing myself, so how could they?

Or maybe like some of my friends who shall remain nameless for now- maybe you had all these furtive but delicious boarding school experiences that put you on the right track since you were six…?

O lucky, lucky.

Falling in love with the little girl in the next bed. Or next desk in class. Meeting behind the rosebushes at the corner of Block C. Exchanging notes. Whispering ‘I love you!’ Holding sweaty hands and feeling terrified but not really knowing why. Kissing.

It just feels so good it has to be wrong.

But as I was saying.

Like starting over. From like, zero. You have to re-learn everything. Everything. The clothes, the shoes, the hair, (Oh the hair!), the whole look. Then there’s the stuff inside your head. All the anxiety. The guilt, the rage, the fear… and maybe hardest of all – the becoming aware. Your eyes open, your body changes, your skin feels different. And all this takes years to get used to. Years of fears. And tears.

And everyone around you behaves differently. Didn’t they?

No? Well maybe you had a smooth transition! Maybe you’re from London or San Francisco or Sydney or some other superfucking cool, self-consciously liberated city like that. Mardi gras and dykes on bikes and everyone out and proud and free. Maybe you grew up with queer parents even. Maybe it was easier to be queer than straight in your neighbourhood. Maybe it was all sharp haircuts, tattoos and piercings everywhere you looked, and lots of great footwear. And everybody fucking absolutely everybody else since they were practically twelve.

O boy.

(Or maybe you’re just too smart to let on to us brown, timid, south asian girls that your experience was pretty much and awkwardly the same. White people/brown people living in white places….must be cool above all, after all. Ha.)

But we’re no hothead paisans…not me, and not my friends. We had to claw our way into the space we have made and a small fucking space it is too. And that’s what I’m writing about, I think. Our space and how we got here. In this third world, war torn, poverty stricken, uneducated, nationalistic, moralistic, feudal, homophobic, chauvinistic, self-righteous, corrupt, militarized, paradoxical, sad and crumbling beautiful city, we huddle together, hoping that no one of us has to leave for any reason, yet unable to withhold support from any one of us who’s lucky enough to go.

This is our life. We chose it, we live it. This is our country. We complain about everything. The people, the politics, the war, the foreigners, the locals, the food, the cost of living, the war, the roads, the men, the women, the neighbours, the schools, the war the war the war. But we love it. Like our horrible Siamese twin, we are attached to it and would miss it if we lost it. You could offer us any city in the world and we might even go. Some of our merry little band now live in Australia, after all. Freezing their asses off, working like slaves and missing home – but loving the law and order, the freedom and anonymity of life in a first world city.

We, on the other hand, are the stay-at-homes who would always want to rush back.

Now we have peace. And here we all still are.

Starting over. At home.





The romance of single life

19 05 2010

When you are one half of a couple for a long time, you forget what it is like to be with yourself. Only with yourself. When you start off, you are caught up with being a couple, spending time with the new girlfriend, the romance, the passion, the dreams.

Then you settle into the groove of being one half of a couple and enjoy the routine, the stability and the togetherness. Even the arguments and making up. Even the little separations, as long as you don’t stay apart too long.

And when you break up, you miss the shared laughter and the inside jokes. You miss the other part of yourself. You miss her weight next to you in bed and your life has a gap.

It’s like silence. Everyone rushes to fill silence in, just the way we want to fill that gap, find someone to laugh and spend time with. But hold on long enough, and one day you blink and realise that being alone is not that bad.

Actually, what a relief it is to be able to suddenly meet a friend and decide to spend the whole day with her. No rushing back home because you think tenderly of your girlfriend waiting for you. No phone calls to reassure her that you haven’t disappeared or had an accident, you just thought you would watch a film with your cousins. And how nice to not have to get out of bed, read as much as you want and not feel selfish about spending your time with yourself. How nice.

It’s not sour grapes. It’s just that I had forgotten how much I love spending time with myself as much as I love being with a woman I love.





Are you a good liar?

20 03 2010

Write to us!





Guilt by association

10 03 2010

Recently I met a young woman who was questioning her sexuality. (Read: ‘extremely closeted’). We met through a mutual friend who felt it would be good if the three of us got together so her friend could talk to another queer person in friendly company. I suggested meeting in a cafe in Colombo but was told it was too public. So then I suggested a more obscure, quieter place that I knew would be deserted on a Saturday afternoon. And so we met and chatted and actually had a lovely time. I was really pleased to have met her. She reminded me of myself in some ways.. a younger me. I tried to reach out to her and reassure her that it was perfectly normal to be going through the feelings and experiences she was but I am not sure I made any sense at all.

Later, I wondered – why was she so afraid to be seen with me in public? What was it? What if people saw us together? Would they wonder how we knew each other? Would they think – how come we were friends? Or was she afraid that people would see her with me – someone who is very publicly out as a lesbian, and start thinking – Oh, so maybe she’s a lesbian too?

Was this feeling of ‘guilt by association’ so strong that she had to hide? Should I feel offended that she was ashamed or guilty to be seen with me in public? Do I look that dykey? (No, I was not wearing my “I love my girlfriend” t-shirt) or should I just try to be understanding and remember how it was for me all those years ago, when I was coming out?





I need you

28 02 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxq-wCf5G8o

Anyone who’s ever been in love would have used the words ‘I love you’ at some point of their campaign of persuasion. And most people over the age of four would have heard and understood the phrase at some point of their lives.  ‘I love you’ is possibly the most emotionally moving, courageous and meaningful thing anyone can say to another person and it takes precedence over any other claim that a lover especially, might make. ‘I love you’ has the power to remove all doubt, reaffirm one’s faith and even perhaps re-create feelings which might be fading away. ‘I love you’ is magical.

The words ‘I need you’ though, are not half as exciting and are not advertised half as often as ‘I love you’ in popular music and culture – implying as they do a more selfish wanting which is not necessarily a compliment. Unless of course you are of a masochistic turn of mind. And that’s the thing.

People leave relationships for all kinds of reasons. Discoveries of sexual incompatibility, differing life-agendas, infidelity and boredom are some of the common reasons one hears. (There are lots more of course, such as violence, mental trauma and other psychological issues which are more complex). Excessive neediness by one person however, is not really seen as a valid reason for the other to leave a relationship, possibly because it is not often very obvious and can take years to manifest itself to its true maximum potential of horror. Indeed, a person ditching someone for reasons of simple boredom might be astonished by the levels of uncontrolled insecure behaviour they could be forced to witness from a previously calm and stable individual. But how could we not know this about them? Is it an entirely new development in their character? Can we simply blame them and quietly sneak off or do we too have a responsibility for their condition? Why have we spent so many years with someone whose black hole of neediness is now driving us away? Can we honestly claim that we were not attracted to and turned on by this very need? Didn’t it appear to be sweetly vulnerable and didn’t it arouse all our most protective instincts – back then? Before it turned into this monster? Neediness could be the reason so many of us are in co-dependent relationships, that weirdly work if both parties are on the same page but not if one person decides to grow or change.

We all have needs, and these are mostly made manifest in our love relationships. And while we know that the failings of our childhood relationships with our parents almost always drive the flaws within the relationships we have as adults, it is interesting to observe how neediness works across all ages to different degrees. Since many of us have huge insecurities about ourselves, we seek to find the perfect partner. That is, one who will validate our lives, boost our egos and give us unconditional love. This is not easy. Some people spend their entire lives seeking their Soul Mate and most never find them. Most other people, gay or straight, settle for the closest thing and if this means compromising on attributes such as strength of character, will-power or critical analysis skills, then we are usually willing to do it. And some of us find our partner’s failings and flaws very attractive. Their fears, phobias and little white lies might be enchanting at first. In time however, the cost may be high and distressful.

In Sri Lanka as elsewhere, many straight relationships and marriages are founded on common interests, mutual benefit, social acceptance and family values. Gay relationships are not always so clearly defined and certainly do not have the public and private support systems that straight people can access. Sexual attraction is often a primary driving force and other factors may not be considered so important when falling in love, especially in a small queer community such as ours where choices are limited anyway. And neediness manifested appropriately can be the best means by which to attract lovers, especially in lesbian relationships. Many ‘fragile’ femme women’s maternal instincts are aroused by their ‘strong’ butch women’s need for mothering (which can lead to lasting relationships). However it could be that in crisis, the butch identified woman might completely lose the plot while the fragile femme might reveal herself to be the real Schwarzenegger of the two.

It is an interesting paradox. The very characteristics that many of us claim to aspire to and celebrate – independence, strength and unwillingness towards emotional manipulation, are not our most common experiences on the route to finding companionship and love. The refusal to use the weapon of need is rare. In reality the woman whose inner strength is too apparent could be so intimidating that few women and fewer men, would dare approach.

Where lies the difference between one person’s desire for honest intimacy and the other’s desire simply to possess?





Coming out

23 02 2010

1.

I don’t have a coming out fetish – I know some people do. They have to come out to everyone. For me it’s not like that. I think it’s important to think about how my coming out affects the other person while I am thinking of the relief (along with the more painful consequences) it may give. Neither can I think of coming out as one side of a binary: out vs not out. Is anyone really completely out or completely closeted? I don’t think so. I think most of us go through life being out to different people and to different degrees. I am out to friends at work, I am out to some cousins and not others, one person in my family is oblivious to my love for women and with another I have a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy!

The first people I came out to were my group of immediate friends. I didn’t have to tell them anything. When I first fell in love with a woman in my late twenties, it was right in front of them. And they surrounded me with a safety net, without being told anything. What would our lives be without our friends! I had such good luck coming out to friends that I thought all my friends would be accepting. I was right. The people who were important to me were accepting. What I didn’t see was that people who were important to the people who were important to me, would find it difficult to deal with. So when my best friend started avoiding me, it was a shock. Obviously, she would put her relationship before her friendship with me, but how could such a wonderful, sensitive, open-minded person be with a conservative prick who thought being friends with a lesbian was bad??

There is nothing I would change about coming out to the people that I have come out to. But that doesn’t mean I have to follow that up with coming out to everyone in my life. You choose who you come out to (when you can choose). You try to think if this person is important to you, if it is important for this person to know this part of your life, how much good or damage it will do to your relationship with this person, and so on and so on. You have much to lose by coming out in our kind of conservative society with taboos against same-sex love, but there is also much to gain. You are yourself! No more pretending that the person you love is a man, no more pretending that you find the penis desirable and best of all, no excuses needed for crying when your ‘friend’ suddenly leaves!

2.

I came out at 13. But not to myself…I just came out to the older girl I was in love with at that age – she was 15. I told her I wanted to be with her forever. I meant it wholeheartedly. Later in life, I married (a man). My childhood sweetheart told me I was making a mistake. The only person who had the balls to tell me that home truth! In my heart I knew she was right, but I never had the courage to act on that knowledge.

I came out again when I was 26. This time to myself and to the girl I was in love with at that time. My mother said “I should have known.” and “Why did I let you marry a man!” There was much drama. Then we broke up and she married – a man!

I was very sad and confused and lonely in those days – I think it lasted at least a year. Nothing could lift me out or up. It was one of the hardest times in my life. Until I finally met a few women like me… dykes! Hallelujah! What bliss… mad, confused, wonderful, strong women – the bravest women in the world. Finding this community was the best thing about coming out.

Since then there has been no turning back.

Of course this is the abridged version. If I were to tell it all like it really was, I could fill a book. But in the end I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Now I can truly say “Been there, done that and now I know what I really want. So there!”

PS: A cardinal rule in life: Be true to yourself first.

3.

I came out very late in life – I must have been around 30 at least and it was sort of involuntary but also very definite. I was married at the time and hadn’t really thought about being a lesbian (I had trouble with the word, even) and certainly was not identifying as such. But nevertheless I ended up having one of the most spectacular coming out stories of all…involving falling in love with my best friend (at the time), while many other people – friends and family – contributed to much general drama and gossip that went on for months, ending in a divorce.

Looking back, the best thing about it was the fact that I was finally forced to deal with the elephant under my bed – the fact that I was a dyke and had plenty of evidence for this from childhood but never really took it on board for all the usual reasons – religious upbringing, family background, social condemnation, guilt, fear and all the rest of it.

The worst thing about it was that I hurt someone I cared about, who had never been anything but good to me, which I regret to this day, although I know I have been forgiven.

What I would have changed: I wish I had had the courage to know myself and come out when I was a teenager, which would have been a much more appropriate time and would probably have caused far less trouble all round. Today I am out to my family and I would be out to my parents if they were around. I am not overtly out at work but neither do I trouble to change anything about myself in order to inhabit that environment.

I have changed so much since then I think I am an entirely different person today. I have this idea that coming out marks the end of one life and the beginning of another. I am proud I took this road and though it has often been painful it has also been the source of the most joy. It is certainly the most real thing in my life. I have never regretted it.