Gay Today Gone Tomorrow
Originally published 8-31-08
If clothes make the man, what makes the lesbian? If a lesbian falls in the forest, is she still wearing Birkenstocks? Most importantly of all, how does one know if she is a lesbian?
Last year I had a baby, and now I never go out. I live with my partner, and we make home with our son, and raise him with his father, a gay man. Ours seems like a very gay existence, but I don’t feel very gay. I haven’t been out to a lesbian bar in at least a year, and to nary a lesbian party. I haven’t been hanging with my former bevies of lezzies, seeing lesbo movies or stepping out for the dyke march. Anyone can watch L Word, so that doesn’t count. So am I still a lesbian?
To the world it seems gay sex makes a person gay. So when my OB ordered no sex for six weeks after I gave birth, was I straight for those six weeks? Then, even after the prescribed period of abstinence, my sex drive was still on maternity leave. With the hormonal influx from nursing and all-night feedings, I wanted sleep more than sex. So did not caring about having sex mean I wasn’t gay?
There are always those professed exceptions, like straight men who have sex with men yet say they are not gay, such as Ennis insisting “I ain’t no queer” after pitching a tent on Brokeback Mountain with Jack. But if gay sex doesn’t make you gay, what does?
Some say it’s our lifestyle that makes us gay. But these days I pass out just after dinner and before Ugly Betty, snuggled with baby Stephen between me and my girlfriend, visions of pureed plums dancing in our heads. No circuit partying, no flash and flair, no discos baby. My lifestyle resembles that of my parents. So does that mean I am not gay; or could it mean that my parents are gay?
Is it thoughts and words that make one gay? My thoughts lately are about buying a house with a big yard for a growing boy, getting him into the right pre-school and saving enough to pay for his college. My thoughts are of Family First, or a Focus on the Family. If gayness can be measured in gay thoughts, then I’m sure Fred Phelps, Ralph Reed, James Dobson and their ilk are very gay, because certainly they devote far more time and energy thinking and talking about homosexuality than I do. I always suspected it.
Same with the ex-gays, poor souls. A well-intended Born-Again friend once sent me to an Exodus meeting. It was like Alcoholics Anonymous, but breaking sobriety was doing anything gay. One man confessed told how he had watched male porno and thumbed through a stash of man mags. Another admitted the ultimate sin, a “sexual fall,” with an old flame. With each overshare the group collectively got more excited. It was a verbal orgy. If anyone is gay, it’s ex-gays.
It used to be that our marital status could define us as gay. If we had a partner, we didn’t know if we should check off “Single” or “Married” on those nosey forms we have to fill out for everything from insurance to a toaster warranty. But now that gays can marry (in California), we as couples are legally indistinguishable from straight folk; so much so that now we are subject to the same uncomfortable family probing, “So, when are you two going to tie the knot?”
Many times in my life I have felt relieved that I could pass. People would be shocked when I told them I was a lesbian. Once a co-worker literally fell out of her chair when I came out to her. But now, I feel slighted when I walk into the Fed Ex office, tyke on my hip, and the dyke behind the counter doesn’t recognize me as a member of the secret society. I get no familiar second glance or secret handshake. Not even a blip on her gaydar. It’s like I’ve lost it. It’s like walking past the construction site and none of the guys whistle.
My friends Richard and Tucker — lovers for 60 years before they passed away recently — used to call heterosexual people “non-gay.” It was a subtle way to insinuate that those who weren’t gay were “less than.” What would they think of me now? Ironically, I spent many years in my twenties not wanting to be gay, and now I’m anxious because I fear my gayness is slipping away. But what can I do?
I could pierce my eyebrow, don some baggy cargo pants and add a streak of magenta to my hair. But who am I kidding? I cannot live a lie. I go to Gymboree, not the gym. The last O I had was in a cereal bowl. Pride is how I feel when the kitchen is clean and the laundry is folded.
There, I’ve said it. I am different. I have an alternative lifestyle. What is abhorrent to some makes me feel happy. I do not expect that everyone will understand. It was hard to admit to myself that I am this way. I can only hope that others will be open minded and not judge me. I just ask for a little acceptance. I am still the same inside.