There was no time in my life when I didn’t know two women could be together. As a child I was always squeezing in between the fence and the big pine tree to go see our lesbian neighbours. On Sundays they smoked cigars in their backyard. My mother would tell me, don’t go over there now, they want to be alone, and later the cigar butts would be in the ashtray outside, like something very intimate and private. Before I knew what sex was I was very afraid of pregnancy but I knew that to avoid becoming pregnant I could marry a girl. Barb and Big Val (so called to differentiate her from my sister, Little Val) had been married in Hawaii. You could not marry a girl everywhere, but you could go to Hawaii and be married there and then come home.
My mother calls to ask if I am happy, if I love myself. She has just seen Nanette, I have not. She says, I keep hearing all these people talking about being ashamed.
There is too much discourse! And there is so little language to talk about myself that is safe from the discourse. There is so little space where I can peacefully fit and not be wrong. I see the absence of these things like a big void filling up with feelings. Shame is old news. Shame is not in the void.
Big Val always had callouses and scabs on her hands. At school I would spend all recess on the monkey bars, swinging and swinging so that I could get callouses too. She used a special inflection to talk to animals. As a teenager I was careful never to speak to animals in this way, just in case everyone knew that only lesbians used that certain tone to talk to pets.
I love being a dyke like being held in something solid. Dyke like an exoskeleton when I’m just ??? inside it. Dyke like a big cocoon and me the disintegrated part of the caterpillar-to-butterfly cycle—opalescent goo. This happened once outside of my house. A huge caterpillar came and built a cocoon on our wall and died inside it. We waited and waited to see what would come out but nothing ever has. It’s been more than two years now.
Once after I saw Eileen Myles speak and then had my copy of Afterglow signed and stood face-to-face with Eileen Myles, I came home feeling high from the adrenaline. Between the bus stop and my house this older couple was walking their two big Samoyeds off-leash. In the dark, the dogs glowed like two round moons. They came running towards me and I held out my hands to them and we met in a moment of surreal joy.
Waiting outside the barber reading my friend’s poems a little dog, maybe part Papillon, walks past, the long fur on each haunch and fluffy tail waving like three flags.
No shame in seeing someone online say they are more afraid of lesbians than straight men. No shame in being told by someone I am dating that it is simply better to date men.
In the episode of The Nanny ‘Oy Vey, You’re Gay’, Fran mistakes a woman who is interested in her as competition for the affection of Mr Sheffield. When she discovers the woman is a lesbian she yells, You’re gay? Thank God!! and the two women embrace.
The only two genders are ‘Gimmie Love’ by Sleater-Kinney and ‘Gimme Love’ by Carly Rae Jepsen.
My preferred pronouns are take me to the emotion/I wanna go all the way/show me devotion.
For a while, I was hooking up with a supposedly straight woman. Part of me always feels that if a woman who loves men will love me, then I am being seen and also I am winning. I said it was a win/win situation—either I was androgynous enough to seduce a straight girl, or I was hot enough to bring out her latent homosexuality. In the end it was more like lose to the collective shithouse of men. Drunk-crying all the time in public. Hysterical crouching on the floor of a public bathroom waiting for a benzo to kick in, yellow light. Folded in half on a bench in the city. Women always stopping to ask if I was ok, if I needed anything. Normal women, very kind and beautiful. Never feeling safe to tell the women what was wrong. I told a therapist about the straight girl and she said, You can’t make everyone gay.
How to talk about all the ways I have been hurt without feeling like an MRA?
When I was around thirteen, I watched Mamma Mia! at a birthday party curled up in a big armchair with the conservative Christian girl I was in love with. Every day at school this girl used to put her hands around my waist, hold my hand and drag me around after her, tell me she loved me, talk to me about her endless stream of hideous and possessive Christian boyfriends. In my memory of the film, Amanda Seyfried sings ‘Lay all Your Love on Me’ alone, crawling through the sand desperately in a bikini. Don’t go wasting your devotion/lay all your love on me. Watching the clip on YouTube years later, I discover that the song is actually a duet between Amanda and her British fiancé. They sing the verses back and forth to each other, stripping the song of its desperation and turning it into a boring heterosexual display of mock-jealousy. Nothing is at stake. The British fiancé jetskis off to his bachelor party while Amanda watches from the shore, giggling.
In the music video for Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’, none of the girls kiss each other. Ain’t no big deal it’s innocent. Ten years later, in the music video for Rita Ora’s ‘Girls’, the only girl-on-girl kiss is a one-second peck between two holograms—projections of Rita Ora and Cardi B in VR.
To be beautiful and womanly and kiss other women with ease while drunk at parties. Red wine I just wanna kiss girls girls girls.
If I fell and cut my knee as a child, I would flaunt the wound the next time I saw Big Val, waiting for her to notice how tough I was.
I hate men so much that it seems tragic to want to look more like one.
There are men I know who have behaved terribly towards women, but I don’t feel justified in telling other people what I have heard about these men. Like by being a lesbian I have removed myself from encountering this specific type of cruelty first-hand and therefore have no right to spread rumours about it. I sit by and watch people make excuses for these men.
Once at a gay bar, a straight man cornered me between the wall and a vending machine, had his arm propped against the machine so I couldn’t move past him. Kept insisting when everyone told him this was a gay bar, It’s ok, we’re just talking I’m open-minded, aren’t you? When I finally got away from him I left the bar crying. But that isn’t so bad.
A queer boy dances with me at a party. The way he treats me vs. the way the women we know treat him vs. the way the women we know treat me. At a different party I tell him I am sad that the girl I like left without kissing me. He texts me from his taxi home to tell me I am beautiful.
The woman Fran Fine has mistaken for a heterosexual has at the same time mistaken Fran for a lesbian. The woman points out that Fran is over thirty and still unmarried. Fran says, Honey, I’m not gay! I’m just pathetic!
I think of the void filling up with all these things like a cauldron of toxic soup. Or like a cave where I might go and be safe for a while.
I’ve been thinking a lot about frogs lately so I imagine there are some frogs in the void too, hanging out. Once I had an anxiety attack late at night and no one was awake so I called Lifeline and they put me on hold. My friend came online while I was waiting and tried to distract me by asking me to tell a story. All I could think about were tadpoles, hands going into water with tadpoles swimming around. The guy who finally answered the phone said it is normal to be afraid of death, and if I was finding violent TV shows so disturbing maybe I should stop watching so much Killing Eve, but I had to find out if the two women fucked in the end. They did not.
I keep going out with people who tell me how all their siblings are gay and they are their parents’ last hope for a normal child, for grandchildren.
The Christian girl I loved in high school went through friends very quickly but she told me everyone was replaceable, even me. Once on a school trip I sat in the parking lot with her while she sulked and everyone else ate dinner. I remember I only went inside to use the bathroom and they were playing the video for Paramore’s ‘crushcrushcrush’ on the TV. After I stopped talking to her a boy who would become my only boyfriend told me that in English class she had titled her essay about Eli Wiesel’s Night, ‘Quit Your Whining’.
On my birthday a friend tells me about the time her entire uterine lining fell out all at once in the shower, a huge horrible glob. I wish this would happen to me. Remember this time my then-partner was at my house and her ex-lover-turned-friend was texting her videos of worms in their labia, the result of some messy ass-eating. When the horror of the body was still fun and the complexities of queer community were still novel.
I see a screenshot from some white supremacist ebook on Twitter talking about how Jews corrupt pure gentile women by spreading our snake energy to them during sex. Quote tweet it, sorry to all the good goyishe girls i’ve corrupted with my snake energy (snake emoji), delete that, quote tweet it, ;), delete that too. I know being gay and being butch doesn’t make me a predator, but I also know a lot of people believe it does.
My sexuality is when Mitski sings would you tell me if you want me?/cause I can’t move until you show me.
When I am not dating anyone, sex goes into the void. I try not to think about the people I have touched being touched by other people. After every break-up I have to wait several months until I have a dream that a girl likes me, and then I know I’m ready to have a crush again.
In The Nanny, ‘Ship of Fran’s’, Fran says, We’re desert people! We don’t like to get wet!
Over coffee with a friend we talk about Anne Carson and her concept of leaving space inside things for the Divine to rush in. When G-d created the universe, G-d had to first pull back a part of infinity to make a space for creation to flow into. G-d a vessel and the universe a vessel and the body a vessel. When I am detached from my body I am detached from G-d.
My sister goes to the Dyke March in New York. She posts a photo on Instagram of a cardboard sign that says G-d is a Lesbian She is a Lesbian G-d is a Dyke.
I asked G-d to please send me a sign, and then I had a very unsubtle dream that a woman was hanging from the ceiling of a huge domed sandstone building and patiently explaining to me the use of every tool in her belt.
The first time I met my friend’s partner who is a theologian, we were going down into the subway. My friend’s partner was there waiting for us, and when we walked towards them there was this shock. Everyone saw suddenly that the two of us were the same. We were placed side by side and photographed. Look, they look exactly alike! We don’t really look alike, we both just had jean jackets and the same kind of aura. Orange light in the subway. Everyone could see who we were.