Two worlds, three women

25 06 2011

1.
When I was younger I was married for around six or seven years. I remember this as being one of the happiest times of my life, for three reasons. One was because the man concerned was an unusual one -talented, confident and quite comfortable with himself -a rare characteristic as far as Sri Lankan men go. The second thing was that for the first time in my life upto then, I was comfortable with myself. And finally the fact that for the first time in my life upto then, other people were comfortable with me.
Life as a queer woman in Sri Lanka, I find is a completely different experience. I am very used to feeling like the weird person in the room since childhood, since that is how I have always been. But being queer in Sri Lanka is a whole different level of weird. So many doors are closed to you, so many things you don’t say to so many people, (often the ones you’re closest to), and so many, many, many things you just don’t DO.
There are places one avoids, conversations one edits, dreams that one abandons, all because you know that for so many people, knowing exactly what and who you are would be just too much to handle. These are the two worlds that many of us inhabit – straight and queer. And still for its difficulties and trials, I know where I belong.

2.
I had girl friends before and after I had boyfriends. Boy friends were uncomplicated. So uncomplicated that I managed two at a time. I was doubly spoilt, taken out to nice restaurants, shown off and generally proudly paraded to friends and family.
With girl friends it’s always been hidden. Never met the parents, never taken home, never invited to dinner with family and rarely taken out.
Yet if you ask me now why I choose secrecy over acceptance I would say “to be myself”. With women I am me, not pretending to be someone I am not, just to please him or his family or just to save face. With women I can be that dark and dirty secret that lives in a closet – but that closet is my own and dark and dirty can be exciting!

3.
In school, for a long time, I was one of a handful of girls in the class who didn’t have a boyfriend. I would either be surrounded by discussions of how some adolescent male looked, touched, gave letters or arranged a secret meeting on the way to tuition classes with my classmates. Or I would have to listen to prim and snooty comments of ‘we’ were much better than ‘those girls’ who had boyfriends. I didn’t want to be in either group. Then in my early twenties, I had an intensely boring and terribly depressing relationship with a man for too long.
Life was much easier, though. It didn’t even occur to me that there would be a time when I would look wide-eyed at how joyfully people around me would greet news of upcoming weddings. Or that I wouldn’t be able to hold hands in a restaurant with the person I love. Or edit certain parts of my life when talking about myself. Or that half the family – the half that had tedious marriages and lackluster lifestyles – would be talking about me in horrified tones. When you are straight, you take these things for granted. I only had one complaint.
Men just didn’t work for me. Nothing to do with lesbian tendencies in denial. The men I was with blamed it on a home with ‘too much’ independence and an education that was ‘too feminist’. With women, my world fits together nicely.





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 .





Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man

13 06 2011

Tom MacMaster’s wife has confirmed in an email to the Guardian that he is the real identity behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog

 

Also see his interview with the New York Times here





Becoming normal

12 06 2011

A friend living in a Scandinavian country recently told me of his difficulties in locating and meeting other gay people to hang out with. It is so normal to be gay in that country, he said, that they are difficult to find.

I found this highly amusing. What would happen, I wondered, if we actually became so normalized that we would disappear into the woodwork? Would we feel less special?

Lost in a crowd

I imagined life where you just walk into a pub with friends, queer or straight or whatever, and just have a ‘normal’ time with no complaints about people staring. Your commitment ceremony or marriage evokes the same tediousness as does your straight friends getting married now. Your queer friends have babies and you forget to visit them till the baby’s first birthday. You hold hands in public with your girlfriend and no one gives a fuck! There are few gay bars and not many gay parties (not secret anymore either), there is no need! Finding out if film stars are gay never occurs to you and coming out is a quaint thing that previous generations used to do.

Somehow, I can’t imagine my community of gay men and women enjoying that much normalization.





What you fear you will become…

28 11 2010

“…our patriarchy is so elegantly engineered that women themselves voluntarily do much of the dirty work of oppression, so greatly do they enjoy and freely choose dudecentricity as the logical conclusion of their natural-born femininity. Many Western women hardly need more than the occasional implied threat to keep them on their little painted toes…”

Patriarchy on autopilot

I think the above refers to straight Western women and how they sometimes ‘choose’ oppression, hardly even realising it. But I wonder if there’s more to it  than that…

Why is it that butch dykes often cultivate the walk, the talk and the style of men? And why does male fashion so often dictate butch fashion as well? That is, pants, long sleeved shirts, boots…

If we reject the male and the masculine in all its forms, (do we?) why do we still slavishly acquire all the trappings and accessories of outward masculine appearance?

And it isn’t always just the outward that we acquire. Butch women often manifest many of the controlling behaviours, sexist attitudes and perceptions that men hold towards women in general. Exactly which man becomes a role model is often unclear, or why, but that the model is masculine is beyond doubt.

So why do so many lesbians occupying different positions on the scale of butchness so often feel the need to mimic male behaviours, while frequently claiming to reject the entire male species at many levels? Is this about comfort? Convenience? Or the seizing of a model that is obviously freer, more liberated and comfortable with itself than the one we are born into? Are we simply trying to trade places?

If we as lesbians reject so many male values and behaviours – an entire system of patriarchal oppression in fact – (one which is more apparent and obvious in our region than most), why then are we driven to ape that which we reject?

Do we even see what we are doing and how we buy into the masculine role model all the time?

Oppression elegantly engineered, indeed…





Love the sinner hate the sin

24 11 2010

Every God fearing Christian has surely heard these words.

I don’t think there is anything that irritates me more than this line, especially when used on gay people. It’s like saying “we don’t hate you we just hate the act.” Like being gay is only about sex. (But I knew I was gay even before I ever had sex with a woman!)

Every other aspect of the relationship – the love, the sharing, the emotions

and the caring are all discounted. To me it’s like saying its ok to be Sri Lankan but don’t behave like one! So don’t eat with your fingers, and don’t drink tea with three spoons of sugar in it. It’s not a separate thing: to be and behave. How can it be? It’s just the patronizing attitude of people who haven’t experienced certain situations or emotions in their lives.

I just read the story of an Irish Catholic priest who was has been banned by the Vatican from publishing any more of his writings after he suggested that homosexuality was “simply a facet of the human condition”, and that same-sex attraction and acts have been a consistent feature of human life. The Church says it’s “not wrong to be gay but it is wrong to act gay”.

Can someone please tell me how the fuck I can separate the two?





A bi-vangelical moment

24 08 2010

GUEST WRITER – the Fencesitter

I’m fed up now. Everyone is talking the queer talk, but when the chips are down our lesbian sisters are just not walking the walk and keeping it cool with their bi-sisters . I want to be down with my dyke lovers, partners, sisters and friends,  and be part of their cuddly queer family. I am, after all, the very essence of queer. I love both women and men – sometimes at the same time, sometimes one at a time. I blur the boundaries of gay/straight and confuse my partners, lovers, friends, parents and child.

I’m not one thing or another. I’m bisexual.

I have tried being straight and being a dyke. It would be cleaner and easier for people to digest. But it’s not me. And anyhow I thought that’s what we were all meant to do? Rise up, love ourselves for who we are and stand proud?

So why do we bisexual women throw such a spanner in the works of the queer community, especially for dykes? Why do they get so furious with us? Why is it hard to just let us be? We do really, really love you (you do know that, don’t you?).  It’s just that we can love and have sex with men also.

It’s like, just when you think you have found some friends, they bloody attack you on the basis that you are NOT enough like them. I’ve actually been refused entry to queer clubs because scary butch bouncers asked me if I was a dyke and I told the truth. Where’s the community in that?

I mean, I get all the stuff about protecting lesbian space and identity. I understand. It’s an identity that needs as much support as it can get. But is blocking out the ‘fencesitters’ the way to go? (And I know we are not meant to mention it, but I know quite a few of my dyke sisters who like a bit of ‘male on them’ action now and then…)

So here in my bi-sermon is a non-exhaustive list of all the comments on my sexuality I have received – and my translation of those comments back into how they might sound delivered to a lesbian sister. Fellow bi-women, please print these off and laminate them for use in the war at the frontier of control on our sexuality – as the spit begins to fly off the moral high ground you can just keep wiping it away and read back these answers to the shit we have to deal with. It will save energy and head space that can be used for more interesting topics.

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

It’s just a phase – you’ll grow up to be a lesbian

Response:

It’s just a phase, you’ll grow up to be straight or if you are really lucky, bi

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You are confused

Response:

You are confused

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You have not met the right woman yet

Response:

You need some real cock to sort you out

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You don’t know what you want

Response:

Ditto

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You are not really bisexual – you are so good in bed and really turn me on

Response:

(Blush and small giggle – we’ll let that one go)

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You’ll leave me for a man

Response:

You’ll leave me for a woman

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

How do you know what to do in bed?

Response:

Whatever

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You are a fence-sitter

Response:

I’ve got a good view from up here

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You want to have your cake and eat it

Response:

Why not?

I hope these handy frequently uttered insults and handy responses prove useful. After all, when people tell me that being bi means never being short of a date, I just smile. Because I know that being bi means my quality standards can be so much higher than either straight or gay can manage – because I’ve got so much more choice. Come on over to our side. The sun is out and we don’t care who you sleep with.