#adventuresintryingtolesbian – Why Do They Hate Us?

When I was a little girl I was surrounded by a lot of gay men. Oh man did I love my gay uncles. My grandma was a performer and her jewelry was bought in the very gay part of Oxford St in Sydney at a place called “The Drag Bag” *wonders if it and its hot pink faux fur lined shelves still exist* and all her friends seemed to be male and be gay. My mum had grown up the same way so I wonder how my dad handled it initially after his catholic upbringing…but that’s a though for another day.

So I grew up thinking men could love women or men.

note: I did not have exposure to lesbian anything beyond my dad’s porn mags that I would steal frequently. So I really did spend my earlier years thinking girls together was just a sex thing and clearly for men to look at. 

That was just the experience I had. And I am so glad I did. But it was hard when I didn’t understand why people acted like it was strange. I experienced homophobic slurs (as insults…all the words seemed familiar from drunken parties) when I was around 5 when Craig & Craig took me and my brother to Luna Park. The words were the same but they sounded so different. So full of rage and hatred and were spat out. A milkshake was thrown. My brother and I were terrified and crying. All because they were so happy for a moment their hands gravitated together, the way that hands do when you’re in love, and then an awesome fun day was my first lesson in homophobia. All they could worry about was me and my brother. Even though big Craig was shaking when he was hugging me tight. They apologised so many times. The wrong person was apologising.

In the late 80’s I started to notice that a lot of my beloved uncles were sick. A lot of them died. I wasn’t even 10 when I learnt about AIDS … the real stuff about AIDS. I would sit in their laps and hug them. I gave them kisses on the cheek. I wasn’t in any danger. I am so grateful that I got to experience it with the only fear being losing someone I loved. And I still have so much sorrow. I wasn’t allowed to attend funerals as a kid and I can kind of understand…but also not. One day these loved ones were just gone. And that was it. Not all of them let it kill them. Some killed themselves instead of living with the shame, the disgust, the terror…even from their own medical practitioners.

When I was 9 I briefly lived in rural Tasmania. After living in Sydney Suburbia all my life … of it was such an adventure as a kid. Even though we had no hot water. Or indoor plumbing. Or electricity. That was 26 years ago….35 yo me wants wifi and a hot bath at hand 24/7….as for toilets they should always be indoors. At that time homosexual acts were still illegal. I was at school talking to someone and they realised I meant I knew gay men. This time those same words were spat, with the same hatred, from a child. The teacher intervened and somehow I was in trouble. I learnt their love wasn’t even legal. Not just frowned upon. Not just made people angry. But criminal. Loving someone…criminal?

from wikipedia

“Tasmania imposed the harshest penalties in the Western world for homosexual activity until 1997, when it was the last Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise homosexuality after a United Nations Human Rights Committee ruling, the passage of federal sexual privacy legislation and a High Court challenge to the state’s anti-homosexuality laws.”

At 12 my gran took me to the theatre. Again the privileged life I had in so many ways – theatre was not only a regular thing, but the best of seats and always going backstage afterwards. Afterwards we met up with some friends of hers and went to lunch. They were the sweetest couple. Nothing like the usual crowd (I loved my uncles but they were mostly party animals when they were spoiling me and my brother with grand adventures). They were older and they were talking to my grandma about organising their commitment ceremony. They said it was time. They said they couldn’t wait any longer. Curious I asked wtf a commitment ceremony was (though probably with less swearing – though I was encouraged to use a large vocabulary as a kid, in certain company). They explained. Still so innocent I asked why they didn’t just get married. So that was how I found out that these two little old men, together decades, with one dying, were not allowed to get married. I don’t remember crying until later. I just remember being enraged. I was a child of divorce and from what I remember – a total loveless marriage. My nan escaped a horribly abusive marriage. My grandma had horrible men in her past. But they were so happy. They were so in love. Still. After all those years. Years of hearing all those things. Years of beatings and slurs. They didn’t care who was looking. they snuggled together and ate off each others plates and there was LOVE. Why?

When I was in my mid teens I used to love it when my gran would take me to her big lunches at “no names” (not sure if that’s what it was actually called). This was when I would actually see her female friends. Always a crazy booze up (and yes I was always given a drink…my family was pretty fucked up in lots of ways) in the booth covered in pictures of her and all her famous friends. This one time there wer just two women there. This was the first lesbian couple I met. This is when I finally realised I could be more than just someone who has sex with women. I could have all that fluff that others got. She was a very famous Australian sportswoman. They were not openly affectionate. in fact I was sat between them. “just in case”. By then I had learnt to hold my tongue a little. And I was still reeling from the realisation that I was definitely gay and women could be in love. In the car I asked “why?” my Gran, who normally loved throwing names around, told me this was one I had to keep secret. I could tell people I met her, but I could never talk about anything else. I felt it sink in at the same time as the realisation of my own sexuality. I had asked why so many times. But for the first time I realised it was me too. “Why do they hate us?”

It took me another 15 or so years to come out. I was 32. I sent my best friend a text saying “I think I’m gay” and as soon as it was written I knew I couldn’t, WOULDN’T take it back. I told some close friends. It went ok. I told my beautiful children and they were so accepting and loving and extremely bored with a conversation that changed nothing in their life. Then my eldest daughter told us she was Bi. It was perfect. It was time to share it with the rest of the world. It was time to be completely out. A long time internet friend told me I was a pervert and demanded I stop commenting on her sons baby photos. The shit hit the fan with my ex husbands religious family. Eventually I told my catholic nana. We have since had two fights about it. The women who never raises her voice yelled and demanded to know why “the gays” wanted “their word” … she didn’t believe “the gays” should get to use marriage as a word. As I sobbed and tried to explain that I couldn’t speak for “all the gays” but I wanted to get married. I tried to tell her the reasons. The bible didn’t come out…but the dictionary sure did.

I swore I would never put myself through another hurtful conversation with her. I believe you can CHOOSE your family. And I was done. But a big family thing came up an award for her first husband who died. Famous motorcyclist in the late 50s/early 60s. A man I had been fascinated with since I searched the school library catalog for my last name and found a book with the face of a man that looked just like my father. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. So I went. It was actually really depressing. Awards for a bunch of people who died in horrific crashes. And all my family at the one table. At some point I got shuffled around and ended up next to my dad who I had only seen at a funeral a few years earlier after 14 years since he disowned me (before he even had a chance to know how gay I was). I was polite. My family has gotten used to me talking about gay stuff and I realised my dad might not know what was happening. So I just told him I was gay and went back to eating my steak. He seemed to think I was seeking his approval. To which I very bluntly responded that wasn’t why I told him. Then he said something about his neck and literally swiveled himself away from me. You have to know my dark sense of humor and that I grieved for a father lost long ago to understand how amusing I still find this…so uncomfortable to be next to his own daughter…in black tie (it was a black tie event and my super butch tux vibe on top – with a huge fluffy tulle skirt and a fabulous hat – was my visible protest to a family who may not hate me…but are so uncomfortable with that part of me.

As the night dragged on amusement was all gone. It was exhausting and sad and I looked around at everyone who seemed miserable and felt just as miserable. Shuffling had happened again and I was next to my nan. We hadn’t talked since she hung up the phone on me. Still something I can’t believe happened….the never swearing, always calm, went my whole life without yelling at me, teeny tiny, preschool teacher nana yelled abuse at me and hung up. She was making an effort. She asked when I knew I was gay. When I said I knew I liked girls since I was about 4 she was shocked. It seemed like her world was imploding on that tiny factoid. “Why didn’t you tell us?”

I looked at her with what must have looked like a mixture of confusion and grief and frustration and pain and she changed the topic.

People have told me things have changed so much. That I should be grateful. That I shouldn’t have feared coming out. (I knew my parents wouldn’t kick me out for being gay…but dad kicked me out at 14 and mum at 15. They didn’t need a reason other than me just being me). That things are still changing and fast. But I look around and I see the same things. Same sex couples still can’t marry in my country. One of my own friends thought I was a pervert. Others thought any hugs were me coming onto them. My own never-yelled-at-anyone-in-her-life nana demanded to know why I wanted the right to marry someone I loved. Countries that made progress are going backwards. So many human rights are being taken away.

I see politicians debating our humanity in parliment using the same hateful words spat out in the same hateful way. I think of my 3 queer babies. Listening to their rights being debated like they aren’t rights.

And I think “nothing has changed” and I think “Why do they hate us?”

Cate

#adventuresintryingtolesbian – Almost Out

When I was growing up I was thinking I was gay. Then I met Ryan and I became extremely confused. I figured I must be bi…but it never felt right saying it.

A decade ago Ryan and I were separated (happened quite a bit over 15 years until we finally called it quits for good). After awhile I decided to try dating. I put up a profile and, even though it made me feel queasy, I clicked “Bisexual”.

I had been struggling. I used to cry when I was alone because I couldn’t bring myself to say what I really felt. I was worried about the effect it would have on my kids. The younger three were going to have a hard enough time at school being on the autism spectrum and being beautifully eccentric…I couldn’t add *this*.

I mostly got messages from people who wanted threesomes. Once upon a time I would have been all over that. But I was older and just wanted someone to hold my hand and love me.

That’s all I have ever wanted – someone to love me. I sure as hell don’t make it easy.

The message from her surprised me. She was smart and funny and geeky and gorgeous. We chatted back and forth for a week or so before she asked me out. I said yes and went about trying to find a day and time when Ryan could be with the kids (he was working and for the first and only time he wasn’t living with us). Eventually I found a date that worked for everyone involved – 2 weeks away. It felt like a lifetime away when all I wanted to do was see her.

We talked constantly. I found myself falling harder and harder. She told me about the date she had planned. So romantic. It seemed unreal. I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t bi. I wanted to say “I am so gay and I can’t wait to make out with you at sunset on the roller coaster at Luna Park overlooking the water”. I had even told a friend I thought I might be gay. I couldn’t stop smiling, but the closer our date got the harder things got. I felt like I was tearing myself in two. How could I be the person I wanted to be: Openly Gay AND the person I was playing: Straight-ish and almost traditional woman (wife, mother, canteen duty, school runs)? There was no way I could see the two versions of me ever co-existing.

I longed for every message but I was starting to realise I would never be able to date her openly. I couldn’t be the gay mum.

I WOULDN’T be the gay mum.

The day of the date came and went. I did the cowardly thing. The horrible thing. I blocked her on everything and didn’t even tell her I couldn’t go.

I changed my profile to straight. Went on a few dates with men before eventually giving up and asking Ryan to move back in. I as working and it was easier to juggle all our commitments from the one house. Eventually were back together, though I don’t remember anything being made official. It just morphed back into what it had always been.

I cried myself to sleep for a long time.

Eventually I shoved it back down enough that I pretty much forgot about and much like my relationship just merged back into what it was, I guess I merged back into what I thought I had to be for my children, for an easier life for us all.

I came so close to almost being out. It would take almost a decade before I would be brave enough to actually do it.

Cate

#adventuresintryingtolesbian – Her vs. Grindr

I am 35 and not only am I single, but I have never had a girlfriend. Ok…I have only been out just over 2 years…but I have only been on dates with 4 women. I was also married for a long time to someone who never wanted me. Petty sure cobwebs are starting to grow up my vaj. After a few years of separation prior to my coming out it was time to get my online dating on.

After getting frustrated with nothing but straight men contacting me on okcupid (regardless of the fact I was set to not be seen by them) wanting to fuck me straight I decided to try the HER app. I was curious about tinder but as I refuse to use facebook I couldn’t get a tinder account.

Around the same time my ex decided to get a grindr account (yup turns out we were both queer). This proved an interesting experiment at seeing the difference between the two sites…after all they seemed to serve a similar purpose. And by interesting experiment I mean frustrating me to the point of yelling at poor Ryan about it all.

I would go on the HER app and like a bunch of girls that seemed like we might have something in common based on photos. They would like me back. I would then start a conversation with “Hi. How are you” or they would say the same thing. But probably only 1 in 10 would move onto an actual message. Days after having the HER app and not having any luck in even talking to women Ryan opens grindr. He has a terrible photo (and won’t let me take a nice one) and profile (IMO) and once he is set up he shuts it. I swear all day I heard his phone go off. He would run in to give me a blow by blow of all the men that were talking to him, sending him photos and asking him out.

As time went on this is how it went for me. I would say hi and ask how they were. They would do the same. Rinse and repeat until a few days later when I would stop hearing from them and start all over again with the looking, liking and trying to start a conversation. Only a handful of times has it led to a discussion,  a few less to talks of meeting and just 2 dates.

Before the end of the first week Ryan seemed to be talking to at least a dozen people. A good portion just wanted sex, but some were really interested in him and he had great conversations and offers of dates and meet ups…except it became way too overwhelming for him and I haven’t heard anything about it since last year.

So if you’re wondering what it is like living with my ex as we both try and date…it’s hard. But not in the way most people imagine. The jealousy lay with his ease in finding people who wanted to date him, not in his actual dating. Yes we are weird. We share pretty much everything. I have lived with him for more than half my life. I love him so much and I am so relieved that the end of our marriage didn’t mean the end of us. I like being his friend and listening to his grindr stories….just not when I am feeling like there isn’t a single girl in the world for me.

Cate xoxo

I also want to stress that this is my HER vs. Grindr experience. Not queer women vs. queer men in dating.

#adventuresintryintolesbian : First Love

“You loved her” he taunted jokingly…I looked at him and burst into tears. For years I had been saying she was more obsession that anything. He always taunted me when she came up joking about how much I was in love with her. It was in that moment I finally realised, he was right.

It has been at least a decade since I had even seen her in passing. Finally out. Finally getting used to saying “I’m a Lesbian”. But years of ignoring it. 15 years of marriage. 17 years with a man. 32 years of pushing it all down. And there on my bedroom floor at 2am I was crying about the first woman I loved and had only just now realised it.

I thought I was gay before I met Ryan. Then I met him and fell in love. It was a very confusing time. He was the first person I ever came out to. Except I came out as bi…because obviously I was now with a man, but attracted to women, I must be bi….right? The word never sat well with me. In later years I would joke about being the lesbian in love with a man…who’s laughing now? My one caveat in our relationship (which is ridiculous I probably had a billion rules) was that it was open and I be allowed to sleep with other women. After all I was just 17, “lost my virginity” (a social construct I no longer believe in), was pregnant and planning on spending my life with him. If not now, when?

She lived next door. Since she had moved in I had taken to sitting at the window watching her come and go. There was just something about her. She wasn’t traditionally “beautiful” or “sexy”…but oh boy…to me she was. I still have her laugh drilled into my brain. It still makes my heart melt. When we realised her boyfriend was Ryan’s old school friend we became friends. I wanted her around all the time. I was totally addicted to her. One night we got a babysitter and went out to a club and did what young people do – get drunk, sexy dance on each other and go home and have a foursome.

I am sitting here feeling all kinds of things as I remember how soft her lips were and how soft everything was and how beautiful she was and how amazing she sounded when she came.

They still spent a lot of time with us but it looked like nothing was going to happen again. But then we were both pregnant….and horny. We would slip off whenever we could. But toward the end of the pregnancy they moved into their own place and we seemed to have drifted apart. At this point I am still convinced it was just addiction. I thought it was over and moved on. I had a wedding to plan and two babies to look after and life was busy.

Not long after we were married we ran into them and we decided a catch up was necessary. We had a BBQ and some drinks and the kids played. She stated flirting with me. At first I wasn’t sure that’s what it was…but then she sat on my lap. And brushed my hair back gently. And whispered in my ear “I’ve missed you”.

I had to take a break here and have a bit of a cry. Now that the memories have come back with the feelings I actually had at the time it can be pretty intense. I really thought the hardest part was going to be coming out…but it’s not. 

Before I knew it we were back to hanging out all the time. She flirted and was constantly touching my hand or brushing my hair away and generally driving me crazy. She always left me wanting more. By now I started to have thoughts. These are the ones I pushed down. I didn’t just want her in my bed, I wanted her in every way. If she had asked me I would have ran away with her. I had fallen head over heels in love with her. I thought about her every second of the day. I fell asleep at night thinking about her. All I wanted to do was hold her hand and tell her I loved her.

 

One night we went out clubbing while Ryan was working and my wee ones were at my mums and her boyfriend was at home with their son. I have photos from earlier in the evening when she came to my place for a few drinks first. I don’t even need to go find to box of actual photos taken on film with a real camera to see the picture clearly. She is leaning in close to me with a huge flirty smile. She oozed sexuality and made you feel like you were the only one in the room.

I don’t remember exactly what happened as I was extremely drunk…but I was on the verge of telling her I loved her. Then we got into a fight. I left and went home. Crying the whole way. Not long after I got home a taxi pulled up and she got out. before she was even in the door she was kissing me. Stumbling over toys in the hall way we made it to my bed. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.She was finally all mine…then she asked me to call Ryan and get him to join us. I did. He did. They did. Eventually I left the room. When I have told the story before I say I got bored and made a sandwich. Really, my heart was breaking because I knew she would never want it to be just me and her. That there would be no hand holding or waking up in the morning together. She wasn’t going to run away with me. Love was not on her mind. I went to the kitchen and cried quietly until it sounded like they were finally done. She came and kissed me goodbye, tasting of him, and left.

I never really heard from her again. They left town and then so did we. A few years later I ran into her when I was back in town visiting my mum. Of course I would have recognised her anywhere. I heard her laugh and my head whipped around. She was surround by a small army of little ones. We made some small talk and she showed off a huge rock of a ring her new husband had given her. She didn’t flirt with me. She barely smiled. It felt like she was looking straight through me. Thankfully we had to run for a bus with our small army of children. I was distracted enough to not have to feel.

As we settled the kids into the long bus trip he looked at me and grinned, taunting me again “you still totally love her”…

Cate

#adventuresintryingtolesbian : Coming Out

I decided to start to document some of my adventures in tying to lesbian (and my epic fails) with a few tweets with the hashtag #adventuresintryingtolesbian a year or so ago which started when I tried to flirt, for the first time since coming out, with the gorgeous kebab shop lady…which failed epically. But that’s not where my story begins.

Just before my 33rd birthday I sent my BFF a text “I think I’m gay” quickly followed by one saying “Now I have said it out loud…I am gay”. I lived with my husband. We had split years ago but lived together as neither of us could bare the thought of living without our 4 daughters who are now all teenagers (and one no longer a daughter). Despite everything, we were family and that was never going to change.

There I was, after 32+ years of being scared to say it, telling my ex “I’m a lesbian”.He wasn’t surprised. In fact no one was. Not even my 85yo catholic nana her response was “It’s not that surprising”. If everyone else know…why did no one tell me?

I told a few friends. Then slowly other people. It was when I decided I was ready to date that it was time to tell the kids before they saw it on social media somewhere. They gave zero fucks and the younger three were keen to get back to their video games, but my eldest, finding and opening in a difficult conversation, announced she was bi. I cried and hugged her and suggested we throw a huge rainbow coming out party…which she declined while backing away slowly.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses and pride flags and glitter. I did have one “friend” who called me a pervert and asked me to stop commenting on her sons baby photos. And a few became awkward with me hugging them which made me sad. Things with my nana went south after I thought her seemingly being ok with me being gay meant she had also changed her status on gay marriage.

So here I am, just over 2 years after I told my kids and then the world. Single. Trying to figure out online dating (because I literally have no idea how you know if someone is gay without asking). Having zero understanding of the culture. Not fitting in anywhere. Still living at home with my (still technically) husband and our babies. I don’t like cats. You would never catch me in a beanie or snap back. I don’t own a single piece of flannel (unless you count my vintage pendleton tartan wool cape…). I haven’t watched OITNB. I don’t even know who Tegan & Sarah are…i really should just google it. And the last time I played softball I ended up with a dislocated jaw.

How the hell do I figure it all out?

Cate