I’m at an awkward age for a lesbian

…too old to wear a fauxhawk and start becoming a man; too young to have made spin art out of my menstrual blood at the Moonwomon Collective. I did hand-mirror my cervix at MichFest a few years ago, but it felt self-consciously retro, like watching Reefer Madness or making a meatloaf from scratch.

I enjoy the company of vintage lesbians online and at 70th-birthday potlucks. These dykes* can eat and talk and eat and talk for HOURS. That’s hard for me because sitting down too long aggravates my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.** The only time I ever stayed seated voluntarily from 6-10 p.m was election night 2004, and I was higher than shit for the duration.

This seasoned company means great presents. One couple, L. and A., who’ve been together as long as I’ve been alive, gave me a box of books left over from the women’s bookstore they owned together in New York. The back jacket blurbs are full of coy ellipses and weird butchy nicknames. Most fit neatly into the following subcategories:

1. 1980’s lesbian detective mysteries: “Jazz Gordon, cynical socialist lesbian feminist journalist, begins a relentless pursuit of a killer at a a down-and-out English girls school, and discovers that lovers and friends all have something to hide…”)

2. Bar dyke romances set in Greenwich Village: “Chris cannot satisfy the alluring, capricious Dizz, and now Dizz has become interested in George. But Dizz knows very well her power over Chris…”

3. Science-fiction novels set in a future where all males die: “America is under forcible quarantine by a world desperate to protect itself from a virus aptly named the Red Death. But one enclaves, a mysterious, uninfected women’s community known as the Gaians offers sanctuary…if they can be found.”

4. Earnest books about sexuality, such as Pat(rick, now) Califia’s “Sapphistry”: “When some lesbians have sex, they may see patterns or colors or hear snatches*** of music.”) There seems to have been political controversy re: dildos and leather. One copy of “The Joy of Lesbian Sex” has a long, carefully-written note on the flyleaf, but I can only discern a word or two (“Kat” and “forever”) because SOMEONE GOT ANGRY AND SCRATCHED OUT EACH LINE WITH GREAT FORCE. So, you know — not always dolphins and flowers back in the day.

5. Out-of-print poetry collections that make me weep: “I’m not a girl/I’m a hatchet/I’m not a hole/I’m a whole mountain/I’m not a fool/I’m a survivor/I’m not a pearl/I’m the Atlantic Ocean/I’m not a good lay/I’m a straight razor/look at me as if you had never seen a woman before/I have red, red hands and much bitterness” (Judy Grahn).

Knowing older lesbians is a better gift than any book. They whacked their way through homosocial territory before there were maps. No Internet, no Curve magazine, no Daughters of Bilitis, even — just themselves; their friends; their hopes and fears. Because of them, I’ll never have to watch my butch lover be humiliated on the sidewalk outside a dyke bar — “How many items of women’s clothing are you wearing?” Hideous as that story was, the whole room laughed hysterically when L. and A. told it — because how very, very long ago! How very, very far away! A cartoonish anecdote to tell from the head of a beautiful table; as made-up-sounding as the Red Death Gaian quarantine.

Their partnerships comfort me, too — someday, I can celebrate a long life with a lover in a home of our own.

I don’t want to “stand on the shoulders of giants” when it comes to my older friends and mentors — I want to stand WITH them. They can’t be replaced, and they should never take a backseat to anyone.


*Sometimes they don’t like that word, because it was hurled at them so many times before we sort-of reclaimed it. They prefer “Lesbian” — pronounce it with a capital L, like you’re reading the back flap of an Ann Bannon paperback — and “woman-loving-woman.” Yeah, it’s a lot of syllables, but it’s the least you can do.

**Like, I’ll start counting the number of words in people’s sentences, and then the number of sentences per person divided by the number of people at the table.

*** Hee hee omg lol snatches

6 thoughts on “I’m at an awkward age for a lesbian

  1. You a very lucky to have older lesbians IRL to be with and to share with. Likewise, they are lucky to have you!

    When I was growing up, I was surrounded by lesbians (my mom considers herself *bi* because I think she’s afraid to just claim *lesbian* – she‘ll be 76 in a couple of months) because all of my parent’s friends were lesbians. In fact they were a basketball team for a few years!

    And before I just take off reminiscing about the old days on your blog (when I have a perfectly good one of my own) I wanted to say:

    What’s so damn retro about making a meatloaf from scratch?! I didn’t know there was any other way to do it! 😉

  2. It’s funny…women in their 70’s and 20’s seem to have the “bi” thing in common, eh? Each not quite ready to claim “lesbian.” Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with bi.

    Meatloaf is best when made from scratch, but Trader Joe’s has thought of everything! Their frozen edition is surprisingly credible. 🙂

    And thanks so much for reading here…I’m very new, so your encouragement is like a big lovely bouquet of Gerber daisies.

  3. [W]omen in their 70’s and 20’s seem to have the “bi” thing in common, eh? Each not quite ready to claim “lesbian.”

    Oh, I was ready to claim the L-word! I was out as one in late high school and early college … then I found I could also be attracted to, and even fall in love with, men. So I felt like I had to use “bi” for accuracy’s sake.

  4. What a refreshing change to even read the term older lesbian! Not sure what to make of your comment re being ‘at an awkward age to be a lesbian’ though … I’m 51 and have still to find the perfect age! XX

Comments are closed.