Kings, Queens & Queers

I recently read this story about two girls in a same sex relationship who were crowned Prom King and Queen and my heart almost burst open with pride at how accepting society is becoming of the LGBT community.

But then, as always, I ruined these happy thoughts of how progressive we are by thinking. I’m now just wondering why two girls, two biologically female individuals who, as far as I am aware, both identify with the gender that has been deemed appropriate for women, have been crowned King and Queen? The term ‘King’ is the noun used to describe a man. Given that these two women are just that, women, shouldn’t they have been crowned Prom Queen and Queen?

Maybe the girls were more than happy to take on these titles because, traditionally speaking, that is the norm. Yet, that is the heterosexual norm. They are homosexuals and, I thought it was pretty obvious that neither of them is a King. If society truly is becoming more and more accepting of the LGBT community, and are more than happy to break a tradition in order to crown a lesbian couple, then they could at least do it bloody properly and allow them to rule the party under the correct nouns. We need to wake up and realise that it is called a same sex relationship because it is a relationship between two people of the same sex. I SAW NO KINGS AT THE PARTY!

I don’t want to belittle this achievement for the LGBT community as I’m still pleased that a lesbian couple won, however, it seems an awful shame that gay people are still being made to fit into tiny little heteronormative boxes when there is nothing hetero about us.

A Message To Men With Gay Ex Girlfriends

Many women in same sex relationships have been in heterosexual relationships in the past. That’s a fact.

What drives these women to suddenly decide that they want to be in relationships with other women? Did the men they’ve been with in the past treat them poorly so they decided to try their luck with a woman? Were their exes all so terrible in bed that these women were “turned” gay?

Nope.

These questions seem absolutely ridiculous to me yet they are the type of things that are thought by some men whose ex girlfriends have started seeing women since they have split up.

I don’t want to generalise and I obviously cannot speak for all men, however, an ex of mine has asked me in the past if it is his fault that I’m with a woman now. I know of other women in similar situations to me who have been asked the same kind of questions by their ex boyfriends who have got it into their heads that they’re the reason these woman are now in lesbian relationships.

If, as a heterosexual male, you broke up with a woman and she started seeing another man a few months, or even years, down the line  you wouldn’t even think twice about it. You would know that she had moved on and was seeing a person that she liked or had developed feelings for. You wouldn’t question the purpose of your entire existence.

So why does it have such an impact if said woman starts seeing another woman?

I’ll say this once. The fact that she is seeing a woman has nothing at all to do with you and absolutely everything to do with the woman she has met. You sound absurd. Do some bloody self esteem building exercises or something and stop making everything about you.

Morons in Mississippi

I have stayed uncharacteristically quiet on the recent passing of  the religious freedom bill in Mississippi which allows businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community.

This is partly because I’ve been rather busy and partly because I struggled to find words to discuss it that weren’t expletives.

By this point, I guess it is pretty old news and most people will be more or less aware of what’s going on so I won’t get wrapped up in the political aspects of it, however, I do want to take a few minutes just to think about the humanist aspects of it.

As a woman who is in a relationship with another woman, I find it so strange to think that there are people in the world who automatically hate me simply because of my sexual orientation. There are people in this world who harbour so much hatred and disgust for me, and the millions of other individuals who identify as part of the LGBT community, that they actively promote and encourage discrimination against us.

Perhaps it is because I’m not a narrow minded, idiotic bigot, but I just cannot comprehend how someone can have so many negative feelings towards a specific group of people for absolutely no reason other than who that group of people happened to develop romantic feelings for. Is being in a same sex relationship really so shocking and offensive? Why does my lifestyle cause people so much revulsion? I just cannot wrap my head around it.

People will argue that homosexuality isn’t natural yet it is found in almost 500 different species of animals across the world. People will argue that homosexuality is sinful because the Bible says so yet the Bible also talks about unicorns and states that you are not allowed to cut your hair.

Rather than spreading hatred we should be spreading love and acceptance. It is 2016 for fuck’s sake, let’s get a grip.

Image via Instagram.

‘Have You Always Known?’

I’ve been thinking a little more about my last post and how people react when they find out that I have a girlfriend. The more I think about it, the more I realise that even some of the people who appear to take this little snippet of information in their stride still have a lot of questions once it comes up in conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, questions can be good. Questions show curiosity and can demonstrate an open mind and willingness to learn about things that you don’t quite understand. However, it is the same questions that keep getting asked over and over again, therefore you can understand why I’m beginning to find them a little bit tedious.

When someone wants to ask me about my sexual orientation I can guarantee that they will start by asking:

“Have you always known?”

I tell them that no, I haven’t always known. At this point they look at me searchingly before proceeding to ask me a question which, essentially, requires a brief rundown of my past sexual relationships:

“Have you ever been with men?”

When I say that yes actually I have been with men, a look of understanding will fill their face and the little light bulb above their head turns on as they exclaim:

“Oh, so you’re bi?”

This is where I tend to upset people because I really prefer not to label myself as anything. I extinguish the light bulb that was shining so brightly by responding with “I’m just me,” when people demand to know exactly “what” I am.

I think there must be some kind of lesbian chart that has been kept a secret from me and people are trying to work out whereabouts I stand on it. Am I just a little bit of a lesbian, more confused than gay, or am I a full blown lezza completely past saving?

We seem to have this incessant need to know all about a person’s sexual identity so that we can label them accordingly and slot them neatly into boxes.

What I truly want to know is this; why does it even matter? How does hearing about a boyfriend I had six years ago effect someone’s understanding of the person that I am today? Let’s face it, it doesn’t. These questions are completely irrelevant yet, for some reason, people keep asking them.

Image via Instagram.

What You Don’t Realise About ‘Coming Out’

When we talk about the way that gay people “come out” it almost seems as though each individual will gather all their friends and family together in a room, make the announcement that they are sexually attracted to people of the same sex and be done with it. There, they have “come out” as gay to everyone that they know. Job done.

Except, it really isn’t that simple at all.

Not only do you have to first “come out” to yourself, (something that I really struggled with), but then you have to find a way to casually drop it into conversation with close friends and family. After that, if you feel comfortable doing so, you then have the exact same conversation with the other people in your life, such as those friends you aren’t particularly close to and your colleagues, etc.

Guess what? At this point, you still aren’t done “coming out.” Pretty much every time you meet a new person you have to go through the process all over again. That’s right, another chance to be rejected by or receive a disgusted response from each new person that you will ever meet in your entire life. Yay.

I rarely bring up my sexual orientation when I first meet new people, not because I’m ashamed of being a lesbian but simply because I don’t really think it matters. However, even though I don’t introduce myself with, “Hi, I’m Natasha and I’m a raging lesbian,” I often find that the fact I’m in a relationship with a woman does crop up in conversation.

Every time I’m participating in small talk with a new person and they ask about my life there is a chance that the word “girlfriend” will leave my mouth. If they ask what I did at the weekend, the chances are that I went on some kind of date with my girlfriend. If they ask what I’m doing that evening, there is a chance that I’ll be seeing my girlfriend. If they ask about any upcoming holidays I have booked, the chances are that I’ll be going with my girlfriend. The list goes on.

I’m pleased to say that the majority of people I meet take this little snippet of information in their stride and don’t react. Others are taken aback by the news and clearly haven’t met enough gay people to realise that we look the same as everyone else. They will usually stare at me with an open mouth for a few seconds or laugh awkwardly once they discover that I’m in a relationship with a woman. This doesn’t bother me too much as I understand that some people do still have a stereotypical image of a lesbian in their head and I just don’t fit it.

What does bother me, however, are those few people who just can’t actually grasp the concept of me being with another woman. Occasionally there will be one person who is so fucking shocked by this fact that it is all they talk about for the next ten minutes.

So you’re a lesbian? Yes. Are you really? Yes. Are you joking? No. So, you’re like actually with a woman? Yes. Wow, I wouldn’t have thought that.

Seriously, why is it so difficult to understand? Although over the last few years society’s acceptance of the LGBT community has widened enormously, the reactions of some people when they find out that I’m gay demonstrate that certain stereotypes remain and that we still have some work to do.

I can’t wait for the day that I can drop the words “with my girlfriend” into a conversation with a new person and don’t feel the need to watch them to see if they flinch. I can’t wait until the need to “come out” no longer exists.

Image via Instagram.

Rubyfruit Jungle – A Review

Rita Mae Brown’s bestselling novel Rubyfruit Jungle was published in 1973 and is still as relevant today as it was then. The novel tells the story of Molly, a young girl growing up poor in 1970’s America, and documents the trials and tribulations that she faces as a gay woman during a time when it was deemed unacceptable to be homosexual.

An autobiographical novel, Rubyfruit Jungle is often considered to be the coming of age novel for lesbians as it explores the complex issues surrounding coming out as gay and experimenting with your sexual orientation.

Rubyfruit Jungle features interesting characters with lifelike characteristics rather than idealised traits. The protagonist Molly is particularly likable and her determination and will to succeed result in the reader becoming emotionally invested in her character. It is extraordinarily easily to relate to Molly not only as a lesbian, but as a woman who is constantly told she cannot do something because of her gender.

Rubyfruit Jungle has shown itself to be a very strong feminist novel with the theme of sexual equality present throughout the duration. Molly is constantly told she should not and cannot do certain things because she is female, however, with the unwavering support of her father Carl and her drive to succeed Molly does not let the gender roles or stereotypes of the 1970’s determine her life in any way.

The strong female protagonist featured in the novel results in a very powerful and moving tale of a woman who, despite all the odds being against her, is not afraid or ashamed to be different.

The novel explores and exposes problems surrounding race, class, gender and sexual orientation and has paved for the way for many other novels to do the same. It is intelligently written and, despite the inclusion of complex themes, Brown will have you laughing throughout at Molly’s outrageous yet hilarious exploits.

Brown has created a novel that will make you laugh and cry whilst simultaneously challenging you to think more deeply about society’s treatment of marginalised groups.

An enlightening, empowering and gripping novel, it is easy to see why Rubyfruit Jungle was a bestseller when it was originally published.

Published at The Coffee House.

Sorry, I Have a Girlfriend…

Like many women, I sometimes lie when approached by men who are interested in me.

I often tell them about an imaginary boyfriend of mine in order to soften the blow of rejection. That’s not unusual, right? Every single unattached woman that I know has done it at one point or another.

Except I’m not unattached. I invent a fictional male love interest in my life so that I do not have to explain to these men that I have a girlfriend.

You may be wondering why I do this. You may assume that I dislike “outing” myself to strangers or even that I’m ashamed of being gay but neither are true. Let me explain.

Over the years the whole “I’m a lesbian” response has gained quite a lot of popularity with women who are attempting to turn men down. Men have started to wise up to this little lie and now will rarely believe it when women tell them that they’re not interested because they’re gay.

Unfortunately, that means that unless you fit the lesbian stereotype this pestering will continue and you will generally end up having to show pictures of your other half and answer obscure questions about her in order to prove that she exists.

So after half an hour or so of describing your girlfriend’s favourite colour, you have managed to just about convince the guy that she is real.

Great news, right? You can now be left in peace and continue with what you were doing. Wrong.

The tiny little cogs begin turning in their brain. Suddenly, “lesbian” simply becomes code for “fair game” and they begin imagining all kinds of possibilities for threesomes.

A lesbian, in their eyes, is this hot hypersexual porn star willing to have sex with everybody and not simply a woman who is attracted to and falls in love with other women.

Clearly, being a lesbian and all, I’m so up for a threesome. Sure, please come and join myself and my girlfriend of almost four years for some sex, why didn’t you ask sooner? All this time we’ve been hoping for a man to come and fulfil our sexual needs and validate us as women.

I highly doubt that men ask women with boyfriends for threesomes, so why women with girlfriends? I am in a long term, committed relationship and when men assume there is room for them in our bed it just shows their blatant inability to understand that two women can form a relationship that is fulfilling on all levels.

When approached by men, I will generally try to skim over details and just say “I’m in a relationship” however, when pushed, I do use the term “boyfriend.” Not because I don’t want to “out” myself but because I’m sick of having the same disturbing conversation with a stranger over and over again.

I don’t lie because I’m ashamed of being a lesbian. I lie because I like to skip straight over the seedy propositions and attempts to belittle my relationship to the part where they walk away and hit on someone else.

Image by Jonathon McPherskesen via Flickr under this Creative Commons License.

The Danish Girl

After months of waiting for its release, today I finally went to the cinema to watch The Danish Girl.

Although I was initially a little worried that the trailer gave away the plot of the entire film, I can honestly say that it didn’t and there were a couple of twists in the tale that I was not expecting.

Plot twists aside, The Danish Girl really is a beautiful film that explores gender identity in the 1920’s, a time period where the concept of being trapped in the wrong body, so to speak, was unheard of.

The Danish Girl is based on the book by David Ebershaff and tells the true story of Lili Elbe, a courageous and brave woman who pushed all known boundaries in order to externally become who she was internally. In doing so, Lili became a pioneer for the transgender community and a role model for us all when it comes to pursuing what we really want.

The film perfectly captures the confusion and distress experienced not just by transgender individuals but by those closest to them who struggle to accept these changes. For me, the most remarkable part of the film was Gerda’s unconditional love towards Lili and her heartbreaking realisation that her husband no longer existed was definitely the most touching.

This film explores LGBT issues and deals with raw emotion in such a way that we are taken on Lili’s journey alongside her and are able to become truly involved with her transition from male to female.

The confusion, heartbreak, strength and joy experienced by both Lili and Gerda at various stages result in an incredibly moving film that is sure to become iconic.

Image via The Danish Girl.

Stupid Things People Say When They Find Out I Have a Girlfriend

Here is a list of stupid things that people have actually said to me when they’ve found out that I’m in a relationship with another woman:
1) “So are you, like, a lesbian?” This is regularly asked with both confusion and suspicion on their faces. They also tend to whisper the word ‘lesbian.’

2) “Are you sure?” Yeah I’m pretty certain; it was good of you to check though.

3) “When did you decide to be gay?” Well, when I was 18 I sneezed and nobody was around to say “bless you” so the devil seized his opportunity to climb up my nose and turn me into a lesbian. That’s the main reason that people turn gay, you know. Although, if you spend too much time with a gay person as a child or have gay parents then that usually makes you grow up gay as well.

4) “…but you could have so many boyfriends.” …or girlfriends? Get off your homophobic horse.

5) “Is it a phase?” Do they normally last 5 years?

6) “How do you know if a man is good looking, you’re a lesbian!” This is the response I typically get if I agree a man is good looking. I would just like to point out that I’m gay, not blind.

7) “I couldn’t do it.” Probably means you’re heterosexual then, doesn’t it? This is usually said with a wrinkled up face that hints my ‘lifestyle’ disgusts them. Excellent.

8) “How do you have sex?” This is the question that everyone seems to wants to know and tends to be swiftly followed up with another question about scissoring. Fml.

9) “Do you fancy me?” Um, no. You’re safe.

10) “What a waste.” This is offensive as it implies I am simply here for male pleasure.

11) “But you’re pretty” This is also offensive as it implies that women only enter relationships with other women because they are unattractive and no man will have them.

12) “That’s because you haven’t been with me.” Lol okay stud I’m sure it is.

13) “I could turn you.” What, my stomach? Done.

14) “You don’t look like a lesbian.” And you don’t look like an idiot.