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.

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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 .





Since when did the lesbians colonise merging?

10 02 2011

I am constantly struck by how self-obsessed we are as a community, we lesbians. This time the moment came on when I was surfing online and saw the words LESBIAN MERGING.

‘We are lesbians. We have to beware of merging. You don’t want to wake up walking, sounding, dressing like your girlfriend. It is like a sickness, this dreaded merging that happens. It kills your romance and turns you into two old aunties.’ Since when did the lesbians colonise merging?

People merge all the time. Some groups of people – children, women wearing chador, people in uniform – are forced to merge. Some aspire to it – when you are a teenager you want to look just like your two best friends, same hairstyle, same skirt length, same brand of jeans. Have you seen those generic young men walking around Colombo wearing their hair like they were electrocuted?

Then you become a lesbian and discover lesbian merging. You want to get your navel pierced while you are staring at it?





Having lesbian babies: or looking at the sky through the eye of the needle

17 06 2010

There’s a lot of baby talk going around these days. I thought it was only us here, but there was our sister from lesbian neurotica commenting on the article in Time as well. I like babies in the abstract. Like, I want people to have them only if they want children. Like, it irritates me when people smoke with kids around. Like, it pisses me off when the state messes with the education system. There is all of that. But when the baby is in the room I can only admire from two feet away.

When I was straight, my mouth would set in a mutinous line when the boyfriend talked of children. But as a lesbian I felt I should support my partner if she wanted a baby. If she loved babies at least as much as I loved dogs, it was sad not to be able to have a kid. NOT a comparison. NOT. But. I can’t think of not having dogs in my life. So imagine seeing kids all around you and not being able to have one for yourself because of stupid reasons.

Like having to pretend you are married when you go to a hospital to get information on fertility. Can’t they just imagine you are a loose woman and still give you the correct info??

Like trying to find a gay-friendly gynaecologist who won’t have a fit when a woman walks in and says ‘me want baby without man around’. Needle in haystack, what!

Like not being able to adopt because you are not married to a man. And look at all those idiot families neglecting kids and those other kids who are in orphanages.

Like not being able to be artificially inseminated if you are not married and the husband hasn’t consented. What the fuck? Maybe the hospitals can start off a side business in marriage brokering.

I can’t even begin to say what a froth all this gets me into. But hey, we have our means.

wink





Pass me your panties!

31 05 2010

Do you sometimes wear your partner’s clothes?

My partner and I are kind of the same size and there have been times when I have stolen a shirt or kurta of hers to wear to work. However as I don’t fit into her pants or jeans we don’t wear each others pants. Her feet too, are bigger than mine so we can’t share shoes. (Even if we could, I am not sure I like her taste in footwear!) She owns just three pairs of shoes while I have – maybe fifteen!

What is it about some couples, that they kind of merge into one? I know one other couple who shared clothes, including underwear. Is this common? I would get mad if my girlfriend wore my underwear. There are just some things I don’t like sharing. There are also some places I like to keep personal, like the toilet for example. I don’t want her walking in on me when I am doing my business. I think it’s good to keep some things personal. My aunt never looked into her husband’s wallet for example, even though they had been married for 30 years.

Some couples answer each other’s mobiles regularly, some won’t go places (especially to parties) without the other. I am not sure how healthy this is. Sometimes space can be a good thing, and sometimes hanging on to your individuality is the wisest thing to do when all else breaks down!





Priceless responses by open-minded, liberal-thinking women

26 02 2010
  1. “Leave her for a few days at a time.” On breaking up with pull-all-stops partner.
  2. “Meet and talk to her.” Aka – Don’t worry about your feelings, just think of her demands.
  3. “It’s easy for her because she was the one who left.”  Walking out of home and living out of a suitcase is good training for nirvana.
  4. “You told too many people.” On confiding in mutual friends after partner told all and sundry.
  5. “You must also take responsibility.” For a violent end to a long-term relationship.
  6. “No proper handing over of duties.” On stopping volunteer work under no-way-can-you-go-there circumstances.
  7. “You chose to leave, so it’s not your house anymore.” On leaving home after a violent incident with no option of going back.
  8. “She can’t advise you because she is straight”. So she doesn’t know what happens when people are in relationships?
  9. “People will talk if you’re seen around with X.” Two months after the end of the relationship.

And of course, the best:

10. “Prove you’re not committing adultery”. To  reassure suspicious partner who sneak-peeks into text and mail.





It’s alright if she doesn’t go to the same coffee shop!

6 02 2010

I shocked my mother when I was 17 years old when I said I saw nothing wrong in ‘living together’ as opposed to marriage. My mother was appalled. The first remedy was to tell me that it was a bad thing that would never be tolerated by her or my family. It didn’t stop there. How could a daughter who couldn’t see anything wrong with a man and a woman living together be trusted with finding a suitable man for marriage? Thereafter, no opportunity was lost in narrating tales of cousins getting married to ‘nice boys’ and the problems faced by friends’ daughters who got married to boys who were not from the same ‘family background’. Imagine her delight when she found out that I was going out with a nice boy (‘at least no need to worry about family background’) and her despair when she found out several years later that the nice boy had been ditched because he was not suitable (‘all men are possessive and want their wife to look after them’)!

While I was going out with the unsuitable nice boy I was asked a question by my guru. How is it that you fall in love only with a man from the same ethnic group, religion, and social class as you? Many times in my life I have thought of that question. All these categories are hard to cross: sex, ethnicity, religion, social class. Friends and relatives have crossed the lines of religion and ethnicity. It was not that difficult, it seemed to me, but maybe that was because I don’t care much about either. Falling in love with a woman didn’t bring me the trauma everyone expected. But maybe that was because I already had the politics for it. It seemed to me that of all things, social class was the most taboo. Invisible walls stop you from partnering with someone from a different social class. Nobody tells you you mustn’t, but it is understood that you shouldn’t.

But what the fuck? Why should love be bound by those walls? Who cares if your family becomes standoffish with the other family? They can stay away from your place. Who cares if you don’t have memories of the same hangout places? Just go hangout somewhere else! Who cares if friends can’t find common people to gossip about? If they don’t like it they can stop coming over! Who cares if you don’t sing the same songs and have the same group of friends? You can learn each other’s songs and hang out with everyone. Who cares if you don’t think in the same language? You can tell each other your dreams, you can still hold hands, and you can still make love.