I got involved with Listening 2 Lesbians back in October 2015, a couple of weeks after falling madly in love with a woman I met online in a Facebook group for lesbians. Technically, I had barely even met her. She would comment on other women’s posts and I would find myself enthralled with everything she said. She started commenting on my posts and my stomach did all those painful, but lovely, flip-flops and cartwheels. She was so smart. And funny and witty and political and…did she just flirt with me?! Yeah, it was like that.
Neither of us was looking, but that didn’t matter. To me, she was like a political/social machine, a force unto herself, that I both admired and adored. And she was super busy. All the time. So busy she really didn’t have much time to hang out and flirt with me. So, when I found out about her blog, Listening 2 Lesbians, and how badly she felt for letting it go recently, I stepped in and offered my services. One way or another, I was going to have an excuse to keep being near her, even if I would need to work really, really hard on a blog that wasn’t mine. I was up for this challenge.
Turns out she was having all the same feelsies for me, so I really I didn’t need to work on the blog at all. I know, this all sounds awful. I thought I could win her heart by working on something she cared deeply about and once we were totally and happily in love, we just kind of stopped the blog again. And she felt bad again. And I felt bad again. So, here we are April 2017 and Listening 2 Lesbians has been reborn…again. I started the news feature back up in a less time-sucking manner and Liz and I have been dusting L2L off and planning new content. I’m so happy to be working with her again.
I’m guessing some of you are wondering if I’m committed to this venture this time. Sure, true love is great and all, but what about the lesbian community? Am I a stayer? Am I a doer? Or, am I just going to blog ‘em and leave ‘em?
I began reading Dispatches from Lesbian America today and right on page 16 Pippa Fleming and Giovanna Capone asked me, “What are you willing to do today, to help re-create a visible, viable lesbian community and culture that is a place of honor for ourselves and each other?”
Well, I’m doing news on Listening 2 Lesbians today, Pippa and Giovanna! Isn’t that enough?
Is that enough, Lisa?
I took a bath. Don’t ask me why, I just felt the need to sit in water and think. I thought about being a lesbian. I thought about coming out in college. A women’s college. In the 90’s and in the middle of it all. I thought about all of the strong, smart, amazing young lesbians that helped this baby dyke through her first year. A year that included getting disowned, losing my family, and being forced to leave school because I couldn’t get financial aid on my own. A year that included seeing Ani Difranco at Smith College and Indigo Girls at Amherst College, working parking at the Northampton Lesbian Festival and greeting Tribe 8 as they rode up to the gate. Seeing Go Fish in an actual theater! Mind. Blown. Going to my first ever Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Once I knew I was a lesbian, there was no turning back. I had community and I knew how to use it. I was home.
Flash forward 22 years. All of us change a lot in 20 years. Hopefully, we’ve grown wiser. Kinder? Sometimes. Me? Well, I grew fearful. Fearful? Really? Well, yes. Our community has changed so much in the last two decades. I see fragmentation. I see disillusionment and anger. I see women afraid to say the word “lesbian” and a generation of young lesbians rejecting their biological realities. I also see so much love and desire to “do the right thing,” while simultaneously ripping apart the very fabric of what it means to be a lesbian. Sitting in the bathtub, I realized that I was, indeed, afraid. How can I help the lesbian community become more visible, when I have become terrified of speaking my own truth? My own lesbian truth? Sticking to the news was safe, right? These are other people’s stories after all. These lesbians, for bad or good, are now Out There. I don’t want to be Out There. I’ve seen how lesbian truths like mine are treated Out There and it’s pretty terrifying. I’m scared of being hurt. I want to be safe. Sound familiar to anyone?
“So, Lisa,” you are probably thinking, “what are you so afraid of?”
Here is where I begin fighting the fear.
I’m afraid of saying the “wrong thing” to the lesbian community or about the lesbian community. I’m afraid of posting a bad article and people getting mad at me. I’m afraid of talking about my coming out story, which is awful and wonderful, and getting shit from any family that might stumble upon this. I’m afraid that if I talk about my 20’s, which could also be titled, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” someone from my past will see it and have some choice words for me. I’m afraid that if I talk about the pain of becoming a transwidow, that my ex and her friends, or the entire transactivist community, will attack me for it. I’ve seen it happen. I’m afraid that I will be so exposed that all of the skeletons in my closet will just pop out and start dancing and I’ll soon find myself on the edge of a personal disaster for all to see.
But, then what? What happens if I keep letting this fear control what I say and do? What happens if I don’t share my experiences? What happens if I just shut up and play it cool, posting my relatively safe news articles about other lesbians in other places, with other lives? Okay, probably not much will happen for those of you reading this right now, but I have a strong suspicion that I’m going to feel like complete shit. For someone who used to be so brave, it’ll probably feel like I’ve given up and given in. I don’t want to feel that way. I don’t want to be afraid.
So, now I ask myself, “Am I visible and viable as a lesbian voice? Do I feel honor? Do I want to be a part of re-creating this lesbian community and culture?”
My answer is…YES.
Thank you for sharing. Was that your transwidow story in Dispatches From Lesbian America?
Mine is the opening poem looking for Butch Sisters in hostile red state territory.
There are so many transwidows these days, Lesbians who must decide whether to stay or go if their partner decides to transition and the bit by bit changes in their bodies and minds to something nearly unrecognizable.
I found that an extremely potent story I.just read this morning. My commitment is to keep supporting Lesbian Sisters, Sister Butches especially, to stay PROUD to be Female AND Lesbian. And to do what I can to create rituals groups and events by abd for Lesbians and womyn.who support US!
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It was not my story, but I am hoping that more of us will tell our stories, as it is one of the most difficult things for any lesbian to experience. I’m so pleased that you have commented, as your poem really resonated with me. It very much spoke to my experiences living in rural America and that feeling of mistaking “country women” for our Sisters. Always looking for ourselves around every corner and that lonely, isolated feeling of being just 2…or 1.
Thank you so much for all that you have done and continue to do for the lesbian community, and our Butch sisters especially. I look forward to supporting our community together.
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Thank you for choosing to be a lesbian in public. You are not mistaken about the risks of this. I’ve felt fear myself. Still, I am one fortunate dyke. I have community who affirm and celebrate women loving women. I found us through the written word. I wish you joy and all good things to outweigh any attacks that come your way.
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Thank you for your support. I think it’s really important for other lesbians to hear that we can speak out and still be supported in our community. You certainly give us a great example of that possibility. I have amazing support from family and friends, but yes, it’s still a great leap of faith, isn’t it?