Real Talk: On Being a Lesbian

Features. Posted 3 years ago

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No one is actually qualified to write this article in any official capacity. As with everything in life, being a lesbian is an entirely subjective thing. Despite departing heterosexuality over a decade ago, I continually make horrible mistakes, give awful advice and generally do a dreadful impersonation of a grown-up gay. Only yesterday I drank one too many saccharine on-menu cocktails and wasted 2 – 8 hours hitting on a straight girl, repeatedly telling her she looked like Joni Mitchell and smelt like ‘fresh air’. Still, I woke up with no regrets because being gay, after years of knowing I was probably gay and not doing anything about it, is as brilliant and liberating as it was the day I came out.

The trajectory of gay, while subjective, does come with some generic stages. The first is suspicion: the dark knowledge that the very strong feelings you have for Abby from ER are impure, and the same goes for Laura Dern in Jurrasic Park, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and your hockey coach. Deep down, you’re very conscious that you’re probably exceeding the usual parameters of fan-girling, but at the time, you might not be ready to conceive that any of these feelings, however intense, are sexual. Late blooming isn’t really our fault: even now, we don’t grow up with a mainstream media or an education system that offers up gay as a possibility. While we’re repeatedly instructed about heteronormative responses to the opposite sex, feeling funny about your best gal pal is dismissed as a phase.The magazines that accompany us into adulthood still really only pave the way for a man-pleasing heterosexual lifestyle, and the same still goes for television where gay, although present, is often caricatured, however surreptitiously.

Despite a very poorly curated gay environment, for some people the sudden, sapphic lucidity can happen very early on. One of my best friends knew she was gay at age 7. She remembers begging her parents to let her call her favourite teacher at home, and the acute devastation she felt when it was her husband who picked up the phone. For most, the green light is flicked a little later on. Personally, lesbianism’s clarity came only with hindsight. A stomach-dropping realisation that happened in the epic minutes after I first put my mouth on another lady’s mouth, and realised that the way I felt about Laura Dern’s shorts as she outran those bastard velociraptors had nothing to do with fashion. That kiss was the light bulb moment: turns out I wasn’t emotionally stunted, hormonally underdeveloped or a weirdo, I was just into girls. Psychologically, it’s a rare, heady blend of utter relief and terror. It feels nice to finally put your finger on the reason behind all those strange, sensations you had growing up, but it’s also the first of what will be many panic attacks. Because, fuck, you’re probably going to have to tell people.

Cue the hardest stage. No matter what your situation, the prospect of actually saying it, actually getting the words ‘HEY SO, I’m gay’ out into your social ether is terrifying. I can tell you now that no matter how carefully you plan the big reveal, it’s usually out of your conscious control. Your deeply entrenched nervous anticipation will inevitably reach a sudden and surprising climax. As the only thing you will have thought about for days, weeks, months, even years, the right moment will find you. Regardless of how you plan it, the words will be out your mouth before a thought process has settled in, and all your best laid plans will have gone completely astray. Oh, the humanity.

Stage three often comes before stage two, but for the sake of a written chronology, it feels natural to make it a post-closet happening: Sex. Yes, some of the clichés you were fed as a teen do still apply. Pick somebody you really trust, and no, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love them. Although once you’ve done it, there’s a good chance you’ll be convinced that they’re are the ‘one’. Do try and let these feelings abate if you can. The next few years are going to be exhausting otherwise.

There are so many myths around lesbian sex your first attempt can feel truly daunting. If you’re coming out in this era of Blue is the Warmest Colour then you’ve probably assumed that ass-play will be the dominant factor, and that you’ll need to use up some annual leave to have sufficient time to get through all the manoeuvring. Don’t panic. Yes, in my experience, lesbian sex does last longer. But if anyone, and honestly it’s not once come up for me in ten long years, tried any of that funny business I’d be surprised.

The older-school legend is scissoring, the second-most used universal reaction to publically mentioning you’re a lesbian. You know the gesture. There’s a reason why every single heterosexual person will ask you to detail how this works – the hand signal is totally inaccurate, doing any sex like that would be horribly inefficient. Come on. The real version is actually called tribadism, and is far more straightforward. It’s an intuition more than a sex position. In reality, the biggest thing you’ll feel is a rush of intimacy that you probably won’t even have realised you’ve been missing. The technical stuff will cease to be important once you’ve seen your first naked lady. Trust me.

Stage four? Well. Stage four is getting out there and doing it, as best you can. Who knows, maybe we’ll find each other in a bar some day. I’ll be the one telling you that you smell like fresh air.

Liked this? Read these articles by Kat Patrick:

1) Authcore Takes Normcore to its Natural Conclusion: Dirty Trackpants

2) Unsexy Sex is Sexy, and That’s a Good Thing

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