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Category Archives: Lesbians

Going to the Chapel…Then Home

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Goin’ to the chapel
and we’re gonna get married,Unknown-1 lesbian wedding Unknown-2
goin’ to the chapel and we’re
gonna get married!
Gee I really love you and we’re!
gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel of love!

 

I’ve been resisting writing about the gay marriage issue, but the more I read other people’s comments and opinions, the more I feel compelled to throw in my two cents.

When I got involved in the Women’s Movement in the late ‘60s, the two institutions we most despised and wished to do away with were marriage (and the nuclear family); and the military-industrial complex. So when the next big movement—LGBT rights—washed across the land with its hootin’ and hollerin’ about getting married and joining the army, it seemed like one huge irony to me. More even than ironic, it bordered on buffoonery. I thought the gay rights movement was hopelessly misguided, even right-wing. Of course I understood that nobody wants to be excluded from places and opportunities others are part of, and gradually I learned about the tangible benefits gay people were losing out on, so I kept my mouth shut. If gay people’s greatest aspirations were to mimic the straights, I just couldn’t get myself excited on behalf of Gay Pride. I was thrilled when my friend Laurie marched one Pride Day wearing a wedding gown and holding a sign saying Assimilation is Not Liberation.

It was the Women’s Movement that coined the phrase, “The Personal is Political,” which also works in reverse, i.e., The Political is Personal. These issues aren’t merely academic or theoretical—they have a big effect on real people’s everyday lives. That gay people could not, until the day before yesterday, legally marry one another in America, affected my life.

I’ve blogged about this before.  In fact, the day I posted about my friend Phyllis Christopher moving to England to be with her partner I got the greatest number of hits to my blog of all time. Though a lot has changed since then, Phyllis is still in England, so when the Supremes handed down their decision, I immediately emailed her: Get married. Pack your bags. Come home!

English: A man with a rainbow flag at the Gay ...

Gay Pride parade, New York City, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For reasons having nothing to do with the United States government, she might come home and she might not. But as she responded:

There is a lot to consider but what this means is that I will be able to make decisions without the law getting in my way.

Like I said, The Personal is Political, The Political is Personal, and all the exiled couples can come home if they want to.

Welcome to America!

For information on the end of DOMA see the Immigration Equality Blog      

Millionaire Matchmaker Does Bi Woman Wrong

Millionaire Matchmaker

Image by freeloosedirt via Flickr

Watching Millionaire Matchmaker is my most guilty pleasure. Though Patti Stanger abuses her clients and makes off-the-wall mismatches, it’s great fun, and once in awhile she does hit one out of the park. She did it last night, matching a Christian farmer millionaire from Indiana with a wholesome former 4-H girl — and in the heart of LA–who’da thunk it?! These two seem headed for the aisle. Her other project this week, though, wasn’t just a bust — it was, IMO, a crime.

An adorable millionaire named Tricia who recently left her cheating husband told Patti with conviction that she wanted to check out her “bi-curious” nature. After sending the girl to a shrink to be sure she wasn’t just temporarily angry at men (groan!), Patti actually did a fantastic job of inviting  a bunch of A-list bi and lesbian women, and a few men, to Tricia’s mixer. She ended up choosing to date Tyler, a smokin’ hot  butch who claimed she’d “flipped” many a straight girl. When Tricia didn’t feel sparks on their date, though, she and Patti both decided in a New York minute that she was unequivocally straight.

Hello? When a hetero couple doesn’t hit it off right away, Patti doesn’t send them to the nearest gay bar; she finds them more hets to choose from. Plus, the reason Tricia didn’t drool over Tyler the way I (and no doubt every femme in SF) did is because she’d unwittingly screwed up the date by taking Tyler roller-skating; Tyler could handle it, but barely. Skating was something she was obviously not very competent or confident doing. Thus, on their first date Tyler was effectively emasculated .

This butch was the type who’d show a femme a great time, but here she had to spend most of her energy keeping herself vertical without appearing spastic. Meanwhile, Tricia showed off her repertoire of roller-skating tricks. What a sad waste of butch energy! If Patti knew the least little thing about butch/femme dynamics she would have seen what the problem was and sent these two off to climb a short hill with a picnic at the peak. Tyler, unthreatened, would have easily swept Tricia off her feet, something she couldn’t do with the babe on roller skates! I can envision her assisting Tricia up the rocky terrain with a chivalrous hand, the way a super butch once helped me, then putting down a blanket in a clearing and pouring the wine.

Tricia deserves another shot or three at women — unless the whole point was to reassure herself she’s not bi or gay. Straight girls do that. Ask any heartbroken butch who was a straight girl’s first and was later dumped for “the real thing.”

If I were a millionaire, I’d save Tyler’s butch ego by calling Patti about a date with her. I would only do it, of course, for that reason, to save Tyler’s ego.  As everyone knows, I’m straight.

Poem For A Reader

For My Ex-Lover’s Lover

I see what she sees in you:

the curve of your cheek

is almost more than I can bear.

Sometimes when we talk

you touch my shoulder gently

and I feel it in the places

where she hungers.

I know her weaknesses

and the way she likes to hold you

how her face looks to you

from below.

I see your limbs entangled loosely

and the movements that arouse her,

feel her hot and pulsing in your hand

as if I lie between you

instead of by myself

remembering the curve

of your cheek.

Sometimes I wonder
on whose account I’m jealous.

The Kids Are All Right: Movie Review

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Kids All RightWarning: Spoilers and X-Rated Material Ahead

Of course the kids are all right. I always knew they would be. Some people were wringing their hands, fretting about how children raised by gay couples might turn out, but I never thought they’d have it any worse than kids from other family configurations – then again, I don’t worship at the altar of the nuclear family. Besides, unlike straight couples who just assume they’ll have children, those living outside the norm are forced to think long and hard before jumping into parenthood; in fact, they don’t “jump” at all – they sometimes go through hell and high water just to become parents. And once they do have kids, they tend to be fairly conscientious raising them. I’m not idealizing gay parents or saying they’re better at it; it’s just that living outside the mainstream in any way whatsoever forces people to deal with a host of issues that heterosexuals never have to think about.

 

Surprisingly, however, the film’s title is hardly the point. It turns out to be not so much about kids raised by lesbians, but rather about love and family and betrayal, and all the complexities in long-term relationships. It’s about sexuality and sexual identity and the longing for connection. That the kids are all right is almost incidental.

Eighteen-year-old Joni, named for Joni Mitchell and played by Mia Wasikowska, has the riveting looks of Claire Danes; she also happens to resemble someone I know, and I could hardly take my eyes off her. Which is quite a feat when you consider that Annette Benning and Julianne Moore, both knockouts, play the mothers. Their gorgeous looks are underplayed: if they were wearing any makeup in this movie, it was to highlight sags and wrinkles. When Moore’s character dons her gardening gear, she comes off looking like a middle-aged Annie Hall wannabe.Kids All Right

The plot is set in motion when 15-year-old Laser (Josh Hutcherson) convinces his sister to find their donor, the man whose sperm contributed to their existence, since he’s too young, by law, to get the information himself. Joni, afraid of hurting their mothers, is reluctant, but when she meets Papa Sperm (Mark Ruffalo), she just about falls in love with him. So does everyone else in the family, with the exception of Mama Benning, whose fear of rocking the boat turns out to be well-founded: Mama Moore, while creating a lush garden Papa Sperm hires her to do, jumps into bed with him. The affair almost tears the family apart. That they survive is testament to the strength of their bonds and loyalty to one another – or so I perceive director Lisa Cholodenko’s point to be.

Mark RuffaloThe sex scenes between Moore and Ruffalo are wildly, passionately, animalistic. She literally tears his pants off, and greets what’s inside them like a long lost friend: “Hel-lo!” she says, apparently awestruck. Two or three substantial scenes of their lovemaking follow, in sharp contrast to the women’s sex: there’s been just one anemic scene of them in bed. In it we see Moore moving about under the covers, and Benning’s facial expressions – which would work if she were actually being expressive, but if anything, she seems bored. From underneath the quilt comes the buzz of a vibrator. More movement. End sex scene. The lesbians sitting behind me were laughing their asses off in recognition, and I confess I too got a chuckle out of the scene. The hetero sex scenes had not yet occurred, so it’s only in retrospect that I feel the lesbian couple got the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

More important, because Moore has such a raging good time in penis-land, what comes later on, in the confrontation between her and Benning, seems off kilter.  It’s evasive, even false. A bisexual friend of mine was miffed because Benning asks, “Are you straight?” rather than “Are you bisexual?” The latter question, I think, would’ve been out of character, especially during a confrontation – but there is something missing here. Benning’s question doesn’t even seem to register with Moore, and when Benning asks if it was about sex, Moore makes a dismissive face. Finally, she claims that she slept withKids All RightPapa Sperm because she was feeling “unappreciated.”

Is that what she was getting, her legs high in the air while Papa Sperm pounded into her like a steamroller? Appreciation? Gimme a break! The intensity of the hetero sex scenes, and the absence of romanticism, utterly contradicts the lie.

So I have to ask: Why? Why did the director stereotype lesbian sex as warm and cuddly, while depicting straight sex as raw animal pleasure? Was it fear of letting a mainstream audience see what women really do in bed? Or was she just rewinding old tired stereotypes of female sexuality? I guess it was foolish of me to expect Hollywood to move beyond lesbian stereotypes — a good movie about lesbian mothers is enough of a leap.

But here’s the thing: my criticism isn’t coming from some pro-lesbian-passion crusade. This is not a political ax I’m grinding. What I’m talking about is honesty and believability in art. The director’s choices regarding sexual portrayal wreck the film. Oh, sure, it’s a fun movie, it’s enjoyable to watch  – but the premise of the film doesn’t work, not if the implication at the end is, as it appears to be, that the family’s bonds are far stronger than a roll in the hay, and their relationships will heal and go on. From what I saw between that man and woman in bed compared to what I saw between the women’s sheets, I don’t believe this ending one bit. I don’t believe that Mama Moore will be faithful from now on. She’s going to stray again. And again.

Cagney & the Dykes

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Cagney and LaceyI feel like the Dean of Students at freshman orientation. Every couple of years when I venture into SF Lesbian Nation, I’m older but the girls aren’t. The older ones have moved across the bridge and are busily raising babies, so I seldom run into anyone I know here. Today I did; Valerie’s a doctor now, and Kenya’s buying a house with her wife. Can the babies be far behind?

It’s the usual mob scene here at Dolores Park, and of course it had to be the hottest day of the year. I feel wildly inappropriate; after all, I might think I’m the Dean of Students, but nobody else recognizes me as such. To them I’m just another “elder,” like the three seniors next to me dressed in identical bermuda shorts and plaid cotton blouses, their backpacks hanging, all sporting the same no-nonsense haircuts in various shades of gray. The clone factor gives me the creeps.

Sharon Gless
I first started hanging out with baby dykes in my mid-40s; as editor of On Our Backs that’s who I worked with and who we catered to. I was too old even then, yet here I am 20 years later, standing among the latest crop of baby dykes, all of them enthralled to be queer and here in the heady oxygen of SF Pride. I’ll wager none of them have lived in SF more than a year or two.

I actually do have a valid excuse to be here. Sharon Gless, aka Christine Cagney of the old Cagney & Lacey cop show, will soon address the crowd. Although Gless has been married for 18 years to a man, she’s never forgotten that her character was a beloved icon of Lesbian Nation; at marches and rallies you’d see signs imploring Chris Cagney, Come Out! Cagney, like Gless, was blatantly het–but she was a tough lady whose interests ran to poker, baseball, and scotch neat. Besides, both of them were 1980s role models: Marybeth Lacey had her Utopian family life and egalitarian marriage to Harve, while Cagney had looks, brains, old money, and boyfriends–but everyone knew she wanted girlfriends. Louise Rafkin, the leading lesbian commentator of the day, religiously reported Cagney’s doings in her syndicated column.Unknown-5

With the sun beating down on me, I scramble for shade under the bathroom eaves, from where I have such a clear shot I could leap across all the half-naked bodies onto the stage and into Cagney’s arms. But I restrain myself when she shows up, wearing not a cop uni (as an investigator she never wore one on the show either), but a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Understated in style and delivery, she thanks the gals for all their support over the years, and then reveals her true agenda, introducing “my granddaughter who is gay and single. Isn’t she gorgeous?” (and no doubt mortified).

And that was that. I waited out in the street another hour or so until the march began, Sharon/Chris leading the way, chatting with one of San Francisco’s finest. Apparently you can take Cagney off the beat, but you can’t keep her away from lady cops.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a few people showed up at today’s Pride March with those old signs: Chris Cagney Come Out!

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