Eaton Hamilton

Has anyone considered the astonishing idea of blaming the abuse on the abuser?

Tag: lesbians

Cherish Us: black, brown, white

JEHblackpaper2 copy

sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

When I say that our community has known the sting of homophobia, I mean all our community, every single one of us who identifies somewhere in the LGBTQIQ2 label, has experienced transgressions against us dozens or hundreds or thousands of times (dependent on locale/our age/our circumstances/whether we are POC and other variables). There have been the community ones–the massacre in Orlando, arson in New Orleans in 1973, bombings at Little Sisters bookstore in Vancouver, and countless murders, lately especially of trans people. These events end up in the news, are discussed and analyzed and mourned. But there have been indivdual encounters with hates, too: street harrassment, times we have lost our housing, our jobs, our dignity, been disowned and disinherited, beaten, spit at, been followed and stalked, lost our kids, been harrassed online, had our weddings boycotted by loved ones, been scared, horrified, appalled, nervous, anxious, terrified, paid more taxes. We’ve been told we should be lowered in cages until we drown; we have been told we should all be dead; we have been told that we’re immoral, illegal, unethical, disgusting. We have been shunned. Religions and politicians have called for our deaths time and time again. Called from the fringe, calls from the zealots, sure, but the same policies and ideas exist in a watered down version in our offices, our schools, our policy makes, our homes. Being queer has cost us so much, cost our children so much: our families, so much income, our mental health, our courage, our resilience, our tears. As I write this, our lives and loves are still unbelievably illegal in 77 countries. Not counties. Countries. We have been hung, we have been decapitated, we have been stoned, we have been imprisoned, we have been thrown from cliffs, we have been flogged, we have had to hide for our lives. We have been slaughtered.

All of these things that have happened to us as queers for the years I’ve been out (since 1982), and before, all of those things are cumulative. Did you know that? Sometimes they are the microaggressions that we’ve been hearing of from the intelligent Black Lives Matter fight, and sometimes they are bigger, more florid, and tragic. But it is always death from a thousand paper cuts for the LGBT+ community. It is always a rolling, increasing snowball.

There are as many ways for queers to cope with harm as there are for straights, and we find them all. But we also learned to celebrate our survival. The blows have made us strong, very strong. Our knitted back together bodies and minds and spirits are resilient. Our spines are concrete, most of them.

These dead children were our babies. These were the babies for whose rights we fought–those of us who were activists. We fought so they could forget their world used to be dangerous. We fought because we were mothers, and we could not bear the idea that our own children, and our children’s children, would have to know even a smidgeon of the pain we had known.

You’re so upset, people say. It’s like you knew someone there.

We did know someone there, whether we had met them or not. We knew everyone. We counted the dead, the animated, dancing, celebrating dead, as family because we know so much of their experience–that experience of living in a world animate with homophobia–intimately. Yes, there is less hostility now. Yes, we won some battles. Yes, those battles made real differences in our visibility, our access to safety, our babies’ access to safety. But it is not over. It is so far from over. That the kids were slaughtered in one of our havens–one of the places we seeks out when we’re in Orlando, just as we go to similar places in Paris, in Cartagena, in San Francisco, in London, in Montreal, in Nashville–only makes us feel the agony the more acutely. We go to bars to find our people so we don’t feel so alone in the world. We go to bars to be visible. We go to bars to forget. We go to bars to dance the hate out. We go to bars to celebrate sound and life and gaiety and company.

But although we have been schooled by prior losses to be vigilant, we still didn’t expect this. I can guarantee that every one of the people mowed down this weekend had recently been thinking about America’s gun rage. Every one of them. Every one of them had recently been considering the epidemic of hate in America and its body count, because it is impossible to miss the news with a mass murder there every day of every year, with every murderer trying to up the number of slaughtered. Every one of those dancers with time to react figured out that a man with an assault rifle was targeting them.

And they knew why.

And they told their moms that they loved them. They told their moms they loved them before they were gunned down.

It gets better, we say, hoping to help suicidal teens make it to the adulthood these 100 mostly young adults were enjoying the beginnings of on Saturday night.

Over the years since Stonewall, we’ve forced heterosexual policing units to stop raiding our spaces. We’ve forced hetersexuals to change some laws in some countries around the world. We’ve forced you to leave your prejudices at the door and actually see us all fully human.

And you have, a lot of you. Thank you for every time you open your arms, every time you stand up for us. Pass it on and ask your friends to pass it along, too.

But if you still hear It’s so gay used as a slur and you don’t act to stop it, you’ll know we have a whole lot further still to go. If you hear about the death of yet another transwoman, especially of colour, you’ll know we have continents still to go. If you care who uses your bathrooms instead of that a man is pointing an assault rifle over the stall to kill our babies, you’ll know we are, still, nowhere.

Mourn, we are. We are heaving and weeping and screaming and holding candles aloft and considering action plans to increased safety.

Let me ask you–will you stand up for us?

Let me ask again–will you stand up for us?

When you hear a joke, a comment, a slur against us, will you act to stop it? A slur against brown or black people? Will you act to stop it?

Will you help us, please, feel safe? Will you nurture us, hug us, feed us, give us back rubs? Will you help us change unprogessive laws? Will you fight for our community’s right to immigrate from unsafe countries to yours?

Is it any wonder that we leave your community and make our own? We’ve had to count on each other because you weren’t there for us.

Remember that what happens to one of us happens to us all, and until we are all safe, none of us is safe.

We haven’t heard about ourselves from birth, or kindergarten, the way you have. So talk about our wonderful lives–single and married and parents and children–to every youngster. Find an age-appropriate queer book and read it to your kids. Tell them, “There are many kinds of families. They are all great. Some of your friends at school will turn out to be gay and they need to feel just as welcome as you do.” Say, “Gay is good. Gay is very, very good.” Ask for curriculum changes to include us. Ask for anti-homophobia training for teachers, for textbooks, for kids. Make sure you don’t have a hierarchy of gays–good queers and bad queers. Make sure you include us all. Make sure you tell your kids about the massacre and our mourning in the same light you would talk to them about other massacres. Make sure you talk to their teachers so they know it’s important to you that an assembly is held, that the classrooms do projects. Make sure you make a point of saying how critical it is that bathrooms are inclusive (the heartbreaking stories of little kids forced to pee themselves at school after being kicked out of both genders of washrooms are dunning).

There are pragmatic ways you can help. Volunteer for us on crisis lines. Join PFLAG. Dismantle systems of oppression wherever you discover them. Fundraise for our causes.

We have hated ourselves and hurt ourselves because we grew up bathed in your aversion. We have swallowed homophobia until our guts were swollen with it. We have shit it. We have burped it. We have vomited it. We have bled it. We have fucked it and fucked it and fucked it out of us. We have turned a million incidents into literature, into art, into film, into theatre, into the frocks you wear, into science, into medicine, into law, into jokes and a million other wonderful, generative, productive things that straight people consume, count on and cherish.

So cherish us, too, will you?

 

Rebecca Brown meets Alice B Toklas at the Sorrento in Seattle

GertrudeSteinquicksketchJEH15

Jane Eaton Hamilton quick sketch 2015

Rebecca Brown, the skilled Seattle author of “Gifts of the Body” among other titles (with whom I’ve dined and read), has written about Alice B Toklas’s stint in Seattle as a teenager at the current site of the Sorrento Hotel, where Alice may or may not be resident as a ghost. I’ve always been a bit of a groupie to Alice and Gertrude, and it’s Brown’s tender grappling with the after-effects of her mother’s death that shines particular light here.

When I visited 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris, I wanted so badly to lie down on the sidewalk with my eyes closed for an intrepid thinking session, imagining Alice or Gertrude fastening the big front door, or Natalie Barney, or Picasso, coming or going, their fingers itching with paint. Or Hemingway or the others, fingers itching with ink. I went to Père Lachaise cemetery and near Oscar Wilde’s then unprotected, red-kissed tomb found Gertrude’s big slab and the skinny afterthought that was Alice.

I wrote a poem about an affair I think Gertrude had with Etta Cone that Alice, I think, broke up. Learning and viewing the Cone sisters’ Baltimore art collection gave me a new inroad to see Gertrude and Alice. As does this fond article by Brown.

Alice B Toklas Lived in Seattle Before She Met Gertrude Stein

 

Here are some paintings for your frame, Santa baby.

Send an email to janeeatonhamilton at shaw dot ca to inquire about pricing.  All works: acrylic on paper, various sizes.

JEHpainting1

JEHblackdress1  JEHnude1JEHnude2 JEHwhitepaper1

Going Santa Fe

This is a repeat post because many people have been looking up the original:

In the 90s, I wrote a long poem called Going Santa Fe.  This was a term referring to a straight woman who had become lesbian.  I entered it into a contest; it won first prize at the League of Canadian Poets Chapbook Contest judged by bill bissett (now my gay son) and was published by them as a chapbook, cover artwork by Claire Kujundzic.

Although Canada won our battle for same-sex marriage rights over ten years ago (I was a litigant in our case and we won June 2003), the US is still mired in discussions about what is still in your country, unbelievably, a contentious topic.  So I thought reprinting the poem here might be of assistance to people grappling with how to understand it:

Going Santa Fe

“The Lesbian is one of the least known members of our culture.  Less is known about her–and less accurately–than about the Newfoundland dog.”

-Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love, Sappho Was a Right-on Woman, 1972

“During the 1920s and 1930s…a woman who had switched her sexual preference was said to have ‘gone Santa Fe.’”

-Jeffrey Hogrefe, O’Keeffe, 1992

1)

When I started loving women

I thought I was falling through a roof

a tumble through shingle and beam and plaster

back into innocence

The truth is, I was nine.  The first

girl I fell for wore a yellow dress

simple as sunshine–

I didn’t need innocence at all

I never, ever had a crush

on one of my gym teachers

You want to know

my history with men?

The first boy was called Teddy

I liked him because my

best chum told me to

I took my cues where I found them

I mimicked my friends

Do:  hair, nails.  Feel: giggly

 

For me, dating men was

a lot like bowling

a pleasant diversion

I felt nothing in particular

I was blank as a bowling ball

racketing the gutter

The truth is

I was raised by heterosexual parents

a man, a woman

The truth is I

didn’t have a rocky

childhood

The truth is, heterosexuals

are some of my

best friends

2)

“Cancer

When the moon, Uranus, and Pluto

do their planetary thing

you want girls who come

like frothy milkshakes

Gay Pride weekend you will be

showing cleavage in a black jumpsuit

and tossing girls in the air

like pancakes.”

–Girlfriends magazine May/June ‘95

3)

Generally, I say, the sex is better

It’s the sex straight women

are always quoted as

saying they want

4)

“It’s just like heterosexual sex, only we don’t have to fake the orgasm.”

-Suzanne Westenhoefer, Girls Next Door, Into the Heart of Lesbian America, Lindsey van Gelder and Pamela Robin Brandt, Simon and Schuster, 1996, page 102

5)

lez be friends

6)

I was sometimes the crowbar

married women used to extricate themselves

from their husbands

For instance

there was a business meeting

at a university in the east

I took a married woman back to my room

where she drank sherry from my belly button

In the morning she thought she was leaving me

but the door she opened was into the closet

7)

Do you realize

lesbians in the closet

are hiding from

you?

8)

Heterosexual Questionnaire

What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

Most child molesters are heterosexuals.  Do you consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexuals?  To heterosexual teachers, in particular?

Is it possible that your heterosexuality steams from a neurotic fear of people of the same sex?  Perhaps you just need a positive gay experience.

-Family Values, Two Moms and Their Sons, by Phyllis Burke, Random House, 1993, page 83 (Queer Nation)

9)

Every straight friend my lover and I

confided in found it necessary

to tell at least three trusted friends

who found it news enough that they

told at least two trusted friends

who vowed to keep it

absolutely private

10)

One of my married lovers said

But couldn’t you

teach a man to touch you

the way a woman does?

Pretend that I could.

Then what?

11)

No one asks my friend Grace

when she sleeps with men

whether she hates women

12)

When I left my first lover

I was as bruised

as if I was straight–

that heartbroken

13)

“…lesbians have not, as a rule, turned to women because of a terrible experience with a man.  ‘If that’s all it took,’ goes one of stand-up comic Suzanne Westenhoefer’s classic lines, ‘there wouldn’t be any straight women left in America.’”

–Girls Next Door, page 90

14)

My wife’s in Toronto with her Lesbian Lover,

he said.

Not immune to the power

of the phrase Lesbian Lover

I could feel myself

beginning to swell, to grow

to one hundred feet, a giantess

able to squash happy family heterosexuals

with a single footstep

15)

When I first touched

my lover

I believed I was giving

birth to myself

that sweet occasion

that celebration

Soon, I called her beloved

honey, angel, sweetheart

She was a woman

her back arching

just so

She walked Spanish banks

a serene silhouette

Our past her, the ocean

tossed and heaved her flanks

16)

I love her I love her

17)

“At one point we were facing each other.  Nic suddenly leaned over and started kissing me.  My first reaction?  It was Nicole, but it felt strange.  I thought, I don’t feel disgusted or upset, but can I really let myself enjoy this?  Am I going to be uptight?  Am I going to break away now?  And then I thought, No, I’m not going to do that.  I’m going to let my feelings lead me…see how it goes…

Nicole pulled back and looked into my eyes.  I said. “I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how…”

I was in a state of shock.  But the shock wasn’t strong enough to make me stop…”

-Faye D. Resnick. Nicole Brown Simpson:  The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, 1994

18)

“The pressure to test out heterosexuality is intense, [but] ‘how will you know until you’ve tried both?’ is advice that’s rarely given to straight kids.”

-Girls Next Door, page 84

19)

When you meet gay and lesbian people:  Hints for the Heterosexual

do not run screaming from the room

if you must back away, do so slowly

do not assume they are attracted to you

do not assume they are not attracted to you

do not expect them to be as excited about meeting

a heterosexual as you may be about meeting a gay person

do not immediately start talking about your partner

to make it clear you are straight

-postcard, Dan Kaufman graphics

20)

Q:  What do lesbians do on the second date?

A:  Rent a U-Haul

-common lesbian joke

21)

Well, as long as you’re discreet

 

            What you do in the

            privacy of your bedroom

            is none of my business

            (I guess)

 

but isn’t it

I don’t know

sort of

boring?  sort of…

gross?

 

            Really, I’d be a lesbian too

            if it weren’t for Bob

 

Did you read the lesbian poem cycle

in my book?

I mean, Susie and I didn’t do anything

but I was in love with her

 

            What do you mean

            you’re not attracted to me?

22)

“Not even a good ironing can make me straight.”

-from an Elizabeth Gorelik photograph

23)

Tell us something about lesbians

We have short fingernails

24)

Why do heterosexuals

have a life

while homosexuals

only get a

lifestyle?

25)

I am a woman

I dream of tenderness in a cool morning bed

26)

Listen

Can I ask you something?

Will you open the book again

re-write the song?  Or travel

down the road you live on

slowly, inviting us along?

27)

“Hate is not a family value.”

-message on a bumper sticker

28)

make lists:

Lesbians Who Anthropomorphize Their Pets

Lesbian Coiffures

Lesbians I Love

Famous Lesbians

29)

Chastity Bono

Melissa Etheridge

Candace Gingrich

Janis Ian

kd lang

Ellen DeGeneres

Elspeth Cameron?

30)

Books by the side of a lesbian bed:

Shelter, by Jayne Anne Phillips

She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

Anna Kerenina, by Leo Tolstoy

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

i live in music, by ntozake shange

Stones by the River, by Ursula Hegi

31)

But what do lesbians do?

32)

In a Toronto bookstore, my friend Janis and I

thumbed through the Rubyfruit catalogue of sex toys

and she said, They’re what?  I thought

they were candles.

33)

The truth is the sex involves

the usual suspects

34)

But which one of you is the man?

The truth is that is lesbian couples

both partners are women

That’s why they call us lesbians

35)

With this ring, I thee wed

(Finally)

36)

I can’t even think straight

–message on a tee shirt

37)

Is that a lesbian

or a garment bag?

38)

“Aries

Aries lesbians whoopee

at night with such force that

car alarms go off

Summer solstice brings

a girl habit you might

not be able to kick.”

-Girlfriends magazine, May/June 1995

39)

What if I fell in love with a

woman from Nashville

and Immigration wouldn’t

allow me into the US?

40)

Gayby Boom

41)

Auntie Joy’s adopting Sarah and Meghann, I said.

They’re going to be your real cousins.

What were they before? asked our niece.

Fakes?

 

42)

“My mother came out of the closet and all I got was this crummy tee shirt.”

43)

At the IVF clinic

in Vancouver, lesbians

wanting insemination

were turned away

This was called

nondiscriminatory

44)

Our favorite coffee shop

refuses to carry the local

gay newspaper because

it’s a family place

45)

“Last year we reported that Sharon Bottoms had finally gained legal custody of her young son, Tyler.  But sadly, Bottoms’ fight wasn’t over.  On April 21 a divided Virginia Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 in favor of awarding custody to Bottoms’ mother, Kay.  The majority opinion argued that Tyler could be condemned by society if raised by lesbian mothers.”

-Curve magazine, August 1995

46)

“I couldn’t help but think that she’s fifty-four years old and had been dating that woman for twelve years–isn’t that sick?” a man who killed an Oregon lesbian couple in 1995 indignantly explained to the San Francisco Examiner.  “That’s someone’s grandma, for God’s sake…Lesbo grandmas, what a thing, huh?”

-Girls Next Door, page, 14

47)

Once someone called me up

anonymously

and in the harsh voice

of an obscene caller said

Do you know you’re living

with a lesbian?

48)

Imagine love being shameful

Can you?

Imagine loving your boyfriend

and hiding it, so that you

can’t wear your wedding ring out

of the house, so that you can’t

tell the other teachers

at work, so that you have to deflect

questions about why you

aren’t married

Say

I haven’t met the right guy

Say, Yet

 

Spurn your boyfriend out loud

a few times each week:

Chris?  Oh, we’re just friends

When he goes to kiss you

on the corner, pull away

glance around furtively

deny him

for instance to your mother and father

so that, at Christmas, you go home

alone

Peel potatoes and stare

at the turkey baster, say

I’m dating someone, but he’s…

think fast, say

...already married

If somebody finds out imagine how

you could lose

your job

your housing

your life

49)

When it came time to

rent a house

my first girlfriend dressed

in sensible shoes

and a heavy iron cross

We told the landlord

she was a man

The truth is she and I

never held hands

in the town in which

we lived for five years

because what if someone

took offense and we

were two women

in a house

in the country

at night

50)

Pretend your husband

is a woman

Does anything change for you

now that you’re lesbian?

Pretend

just for the moment

that someone figures it out

say for argument’s sake

your baker, your dentist, your mother

your massage therapist

Would anything happen?

Choose just one person

say What is the worst thing I could

tell you about myself?

 

You have cancer.

Worse.

You killed someone.

Worse.

51)

Excuse me, sir, were you aware

this is the woman’s washroom?

 

Anne?  That’s a funny name

for a man

When my gal and I signed up

for dance classes, the clerk said,

Your partner’s name?

and I said, Joy

and she said, Joey?

and I said, Joy

and she said, Joe?

and I said, Joy

and she said, John?

and I said, Joy

and she frowned and wrote Jeff down

shaking her head

At class several women

refused to dance with us
52)

Imagine love being dangerous

Outside the community centre

near my home

some teenage

boys

pelted a woman

with snowballs and stones

She looked the type

Dyke, they hissed

At a Bread Garden on Denman Street

Joy and I stared at each other

stupid with love

until a man growled, Goddamned lezzies

Which one’s on top?

The truth is that we scuttled away

when he wasn’t looking

trying to fade into the storefronts

across the street

Watching our backs

yearning for the soft

insides of closets

53)

In Iran, a group of lesbians and gay men

who admitted they loved

people of their same gender

were given a choice:

stoning, or a plunge from a cliff

All ten chose to die

in flight

54)

abomination

a sin against God

sodomite

pervert

invert

 

woman with immature sexuality

(all she needs is one good…)

55)

“We don’t want [the Lesbian Camp Sisterspirit] here for the simple reason of…  It’s a known fact that all your violent crime comes from homosexuals.”

-Jones County deputy sheriff Myron Holified, Mobile Register, Mississippi, Feb. 27/94

The women

found a dead puppy

dressed in menstrual pads

spilled over their mailbox

56)

In Oregon, they narrowly averted

a plebiscite against us.  In Colorado, they

passed a law against us.  In Ontario, they voted

against our equality

57)

“In its 1989 ‘Gay in America’ report, the San Francisco Examiner calculated the cost to a hypothetical employee of its own who was in a legally unrecognized gay relationship, and compared the costs facing a legally married straight employee.  Both staffers were fifty years old, and both earned $40,000 a year.  In total, the report found that partners of gay Examiner employees who had worked for ten years would receive $55, 890 less in benefits than straight employees’ legally married spouses, and, if they outlived their gay partners by ten years, would lose $8000 in pension payments.”

-Girls Next Door

58)

Sometimes I long to

feel exotic and

dangerous, but

what always strikes me

is that I am as

ordinary as pie

that bland

As a lesbian

I brush my teeth

twice a day

As a lesbian

I clean my kitchen floor

once a week

As a lesbian

I pay my VISA bill

once a month

boring as soap

59)

My mother made me a lesbian

If I give her the wool

will she make me one too?

60)

Differences between you and me:

You are five foot six

I am five foot three

You have green eyes

I have blue eyes

You are thirty-four

I am forty-one

You live on Gladstone

I live on Arbutus

I don’t get a kinked neck

kissing my partner

61)

You committed a homosexual act.

 

I did not.

Elton John is a homosexual act.

62)

 

Tell me something about lesbians

We are famous for potlucks

Tell me something real

I am trying to tell you

she and I are the same thing

I am trying

to tell you I am a woman

she is a woman

the same thing

as you, just

two people uniting

netting love from the

marine heavens

We comfort each other

when the sky churns like a cauldron

grey foam

Wouldn’t you wish this pleasure

on anyone?

63)

The truth is I grew the

tub of nodding sunflowers

And the bowl of chicken

on the harvest table?  I cooked

it.  And the quilt you lie on?  I sewed it

And the book in your hands?  I wrote it

And the baby’s cheek?  I kissed it

Going Santa Fe

In the 90s, I wrote a long poem called Going Santa Fe.  This was a term referring to a straight woman who had become lesbian.  I entered it into a contest; it won first prize at the League of Canadian Poets Chapbook Contest judged by bill bissett (who later became my “gay son”) and was published by them as a chapbook, cover artwork by Claire Kujundzic.

Although Canada won our battle for same-sex marriage rights over ten years ago (I was a litigant in our case and we won June 2003), the US is still mired in discussions about what is still in your country, unbelievably, a contentious topic.  So I thought reprinting the poem here might be of assistance to people grappling with how to understand it:

Going Santa Fe

“The Lesbian is one of the least known members of our culture.  Less is known about her–and less accurately–than about the Newfoundland dog.”

-Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love, Sappho Was a Right-on Woman, 1972

“During the 1920s and 1930s…a woman who had switched her sexual preference was said to have ‘gone Santa Fe.’”

-Jeffrey Hogrefe, O’Keeffe, 1992

1)

When I started loving women

I thought I was falling through a roof

a tumble through shingle and beam and plaster

back into innocence

The truth is, I was nine.  The first

girl I fell for wore a yellow dress

simple as sunshine–

I didn’t need innocence at all

I never, ever had a crush

on one of my gym teachers

You want to know

my history with men?

The first boy was called Teddy

I liked him because my

best chum told me to

I took my cues where I found them

I mimicked my friends

Do:  hair, nails.  Feel: giggly

 

For me, dating men was

a lot like bowling

a pleasant diversion

I felt nothing in particular

I was blank as a bowling ball

racketing the gutter

The truth is

I was raised by heterosexual parents

a man, a woman

The truth is I

didn’t have a rocky

childhood

The truth is, heterosexuals

are some of my

best friends

2)

Cancer

When the moon, Uranus, and Pluto

do their planetary thing

you want girls who come

like frothy milkshakes

Gay Pride weekend you will be

showing cleavage in a black jumpsuit

and tossing girls in the air

like pancakes.”

Girlfriends magazine May/June ‘95

3)

Generally, I say, the sex is better

It’s the sex straight women

are always quoted as

saying they want

4)

“It’s just like heterosexual sex, only we don’t have to fake the orgasm.”

-Suzanne Westenhoefer, Girls Next Door, Into the Heart of Lesbian America, Lindsey van Gelder and Pamela Robin Brandt, Simon and Schuster, 1996, page 102

5)

lez be friends

6)

I was sometimes the crowbar

married women used to extricate themselves

from their husbands

For instance

there was a business meeting

at a university in the east

I took a married woman back to my room

where she drank sherry from my belly button

In the morning she thought she was leaving me

but the door she opened was into the closet

7)

Do you realize

lesbians in the closet

are hiding from

you?

8)

 

Heterosexual Questionnaire

What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

Most child molesters are heterosexuals.  Do you consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexuals?  To heterosexual teachers, in particular?

Is it possible that your heterosexuality steams from a neurotic fear of people of the same sex?  Perhaps you just need a positive gay experience.

Family Values, Two Moms and Their Sons, by Phyllis Burke, Random House, 1993, page 83 (Queer Nation)

9)

Every straight friend my lover and I

confided in found it necessary

to tell at least three trusted friends

who found it news enough that they

told at least two trusted friends

who vowed to keep it

absolutely private

10)

One of my married lovers said

But couldn’t you

teach a man to touch you

the way a woman does?

Pretend that I could.

Then what?

11)

No one asks my friend Grace

when she sleeps with men

whether she hates women

12)

When I left my first lover

I was as bruised

as if I was straight–

that heartbroken

13)

“…lesbians have not, as a rule, turned to women because of a terrible experience with a man.  ‘If that’s all it took,’ goes one of stand-up comic Suzanne Westenhoefer’s classic lines, ‘there wouldn’t be any straight women left in America.’”

Girls Next Door, page 90

14)

My wife’s in Toronto with her Lesbian Lover,

he said.

Not immune to the power

of the phrase Lesbian Lover

I could feel myself

beginning to swell, to grow

to one hundred feet, a giantess

able to squash happy family heterosexuals

with a single footstep

15)

When I first touched

my lover

I believed I was giving

birth to myself

that sweet occasion

that celebration

Soon, I called her beloved

honey, angel, sweetheart

She was a woman

her back arching

just so

She walked Spanish banks

a serene silhouette

Our past her, the ocean

tossed and heaved her flanks

16)

I love her I love her

17)

“At one point we were facing each other.  Nic suddenly leaned over and started kissing me.  My first reaction?  It was Nicole, but it felt strange.  I thought, I don’t feel disgusted or upset, but can I really let myself enjoy this?  Am I going to be uptight?  Am I going to break away now?  And then I thought, No, I’m not going to do that.  I’m going to let my feelings lead me…see how it goes…

Nicole pulled back and looked into my eyes.  I said. “I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how…”

I was in a state of shock.  But the shock wasn’t strong enough to make me stop…”

-Faye D. Resnick. Nicole Brown Simpson:  The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, 1994

18)

“The pressure to test out heterosexuality is intense, [but] ‘how will you know until you’ve tried both?’ is advice that’s rarely given to straight kids.”

Girls Next Door, page 84

19)

When you meet gay and lesbian people:  Hints for the Heterosexual

 

do not run screaming from the room

if you must back away, do so slowly

do not assume they are attracted to you

do not assume they are not attracted to you

do not expect them to be as excited about meeting

a heterosexual as you may be about meeting a gay person

do not immediately start talking about your partner

to make it clear you are straight

-postcard, Dan Kaufman graphics

20)

Q:  What do lesbians do on the second date?

A:  Rent a U-Haul

-common lesbian joke

21)

Well, as long as you’re discreet

 

            What you do in the

            privacy of your bedroom

            is none of my business

            (I guess)

 

but isn’t it

I don’t know

sort of

boring?  sort of…

gross?

 

            Really, I’d be a lesbian too

            if it weren’t for Bob

 

Did you read the lesbian poem cycle

in my book?

I mean, Susie and I didn’t do anything

but I was in love with her

 

            What do you mean

            you’re not attracted to me?

22)

“Not even a good ironing can make me straight.”

-from an Elizabeth Gorelik photograph

23)

Tell us something about lesbians

We have short fingernails

24)

Why do heterosexuals

have a life

while homosexuals

only get a

lifestyle?

25)

I am a woman

I dream of tenderness in a cool morning bed

26)

Listen

Can I ask you something?

Will you open the book again

re-write the song?  Or travel

down the road you live on

slowly, inviting us along?

27)

“Hate is not a family value.”

-message on a bumper sticker

28)

make lists:

Lesbians Who Anthropomorphize Their Pets

 

Lesbian Coiffures

 

Lesbians I Love

 

Famous Lesbians

29)

Chastity Bono

Melissa Etheridge

Candace Gingrich

Janis Ian

kd lang

Ellen DeGeneres

Elspeth Cameron?

30)

Books by the side of a lesbian bed:

Shelter, by Jayne Anne Phillips

She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

Anna Kerenina, by Leo Tolstoy

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

i live in music, by ntozake shange

Stones by the River, by Ursula Hegi

31)

But what do lesbians do?

32)

In a Toronto bookstore, my friend Janis and I

thumbed through the Rubyfruit catalogue of sex toys

and she said, They’re what?  I thought

they were candles.

33)

The truth is the sex involves

the usual suspects

34)

But which one of you is the man?

The truth is that is lesbian couples

both partners are women

That’s why they call us lesbians

35)

With this ring, I thee wed

(Finally)

36)

I can’t even think straight

–message on a tee shirt

37)

Is that a lesbian

or a garment bag?

38)

Aries

Aries lesbians whoopee

at night with such force that

car alarms go off

Summer solstice brings

a girl habit you might

not be able to kick.”

Girlfriends magazine, May/June 1995

39)

What if I fell in love with a

woman from Nashville

and Immigration wouldn’t

allow me into the US?

40)

Gayby Boom

41)

Auntie Joy’s adopting Sarah and Meghann, I said.

They’re going to be your real cousins.

What were they before? asked our niece.

Fakes?

 

42)

“My mother came out of the closet and all I got was this crummy tee shirt.”

43)

At the IVF clinic

in Vancouver, lesbians

wanting insemination

were turned away

This was called

nondiscriminatory

44)

Our favorite coffee shop

refuses to carry the local

gay newspaper because

it’s a family place

45)

“Last year we reported that Sharon Bottoms had finally gained legal custody of her young son, Tyler.  But sadly, Bottoms’ fight wasn’t over.  On April 21 a divided Virginia Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 in favor of awarding custody to Bottoms’ mother, Kay.  The majority opinion argued that Tyler could be condemned by society if raised by lesbian mothers.”

Curve magazine, August 1995

46)

“I couldn’t help but think that she’s fifty-four years old and had been dating that woman for twelve years–isn’t that sick?” a man who killed an Oregon lesbian couple in 1995 indignantly explained to the San Francisco Examiner.  “That’s someone’s grandma, for God’s sake…Lesbo grandmas, what a thing, huh?”

Girls Next Door, page, 14

47)

Once someone called me up

anonymously

and in the harsh voice

of an obscene caller said

Do you know you’re living

with a lesbian?

48)

Imagine love being shameful

Can you?

Imagine loving your boyfriend

and hiding it, so that you

can’t wear your wedding ring out

of the house, so that you can’t

tell the other teachers

at work, so that you have to deflect

questions about why you

aren’t married

Say

I haven’t met the right guy

Say, Yet

 

Spurn your boyfriend out loud

a few times each week:

Chris?  Oh, we’re just friends

When he goes to kiss you

on the corner, pull away

glance around furtively

deny him

for instance to your mother and father

so that, at Christmas, you go home

alone

Peel potatoes and stare

at the turkey baster, say

I’m dating someone, but he’s…

think fast, say

...already married

If somebody finds out imagine how

you could lose

your job

your housing

your life

49)

When it came time to

rent a house

my first girlfriend dressed

in sensible shoes

and a heavy iron cross

We told the landlord

she was a man

The truth is she and I

never held hands

in the town in which

we lived for five years

because what if someone

took offense and we

were two women

in a house

in the country

at night

50)

Pretend your husband

is a woman

Does anything change for you

now that you’re lesbian?

Pretend

just for the moment

that someone figures it out

say for argument’s sake

your baker, your dentist, your mother

your massage therapist

Would anything happen?

Choose just one person

say What is the worst thing I could

tell you about myself?

 

You have cancer.

Worse.

You killed someone.

Worse.

51)

Excuse me, sir, were you aware

this is the woman’s washroom?

 

Anne?  That’s a funny name

for a man

When my gal and I signed up

for dance classes, the clerk said,

Your partner’s name?

and I said, Joy

and she said, Joey?

and I said, Joy

and she said, Joe?

and I said, Joy

and she said, John?

and I said, Joy

and she frowned and wrote Jeff down

shaking her head

At class several women

refused to dance with us
52)

Imagine love being dangerous

Outside the community centre

near my home

some teenage

boys

pelted a woman

with snowballs and stones

She looked the type

Dyke, they hissed

At a Bread Garden on Denman Street

Joy and I stared at each other

stupid with love

until a man growled, Goddamned lezzies

Which one’s on top?

The truth is that we scuttled away

when he wasn’t looking

trying to fade into the storefronts

across the street

Watching our backs

yearning for the soft

insides of closets

53)

In Iran, a group of lesbians and gay men

who admitted they loved

people of their same gender

were given a choice:

stoning, or a plunge from a cliff

All ten chose to die

in flight

54)

abomination

a sin against God

sodomite

pervert

invert

 

woman with immature sexuality

(all she needs is one good…)

55)

“We don’t want [the Lesbian Camp Sisterspirit] here for the simple reason of…  It’s a known fact that all your violent crime comes from homosexuals.”

-Jones County deputy sheriff Myron Holified, Mobile Register, Mississippi, Feb. 27/94

The women

found a dead puppy

dressed in menstrual pads

spilled over their mailbox

56)

In Oregon, they narrowly averted

a plebiscite against us.  In Colorado, they

passed a law against us.  In Ontario, they voted

against our equality

57)

“In its 1989 ‘Gay in America’ report, the San Francisco Examiner calculated the cost to a hypothetical employee of its own who was in a legally unrecognized gay relationship, and compared the costs facing a legally married straight employee.  Both staffers were fifty years old, and both earned $40,000 a year.  In total, the report found that partners of gay Examiner employees who had worked for ten years would receive $55, 890 less in benefits than straight employees’ legally married spouses, and, if they outlived their gay partners by ten years, would lose $8000 in pension payments.”

Girls Next Door

58)

Sometimes I long to

feel exotic and

dangerous, but

what always strikes me

is that I am as

ordinary as pie

that bland

As a lesbian

I brush my teeth

twice a day

As a lesbian

I clean my kitchen floor

once a week

As a lesbian

I pay my VISA bill

once a month

boring as soap

59)

My mother made me a lesbian

If I give her the wool

will she make me one too?

60)

Differences between you and me:

You are five foot six

I am five foot three

You have green eyes

I have blue eyes

You are thirty-four

I am forty-one

You live on Gladstone

I live on Arbutus

I don’t get a kinked neck

kissing my partner

61)

You committed a homosexual act.

 

I did not.

Elton John is a homosexual act.

62)

 

Tell me something about lesbians

We are famous for potlucks

Tell me something real

I am trying to tell you

she and I are the same thing

I am trying

to tell you I am a woman

she is a woman

the same thing

as you, just

two people uniting

netting love from the

marine heavens

We comfort each other

when the sky churns like a cauldron

grey foam

Wouldn’t you wish this pleasure

on anyone?

63)

The truth is I grew the

tub of nodding sunflowers

And the bowl of chicken

on the harvest table?  I cooked

it.  And the quilt you lie on?  I sewed it

And the book in your hands?  I wrote it

And the baby’s cheek?  I kissed it

I’m in love

It’s with Elisa Albert.  She wrote this piece for Salon:

http://www.salon.com/2012/08/01/my_girl_problems/

I have now fucking died and gone to literary heaven.  Or I am fucking Gertrude up in literary heaven, or something.  Elisa, if you’re reading this, YOU ARE GOOD.  Keep making scratches on paper.  I haven’t read anything as lively for a long time.

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