I started this post on Sunday night but got caught up in course work. I have no one but myself to blame. 😦
Toronto is all kinds of irresistible when the sun’s out. I went for a morning ride today and was only planning to go to the neighbourhood grocery store, but ended up biking to the end of Queen Street, past the beaches (route below).
On my ride bike through the beaches, I noticed something: gay men on the beach playing volleyball. Hordes of them.
One of my gay male friends, Ten, is part of a gay volleyball league that meets up every weekend. He’d built an entire empire of gay friends through it. Come to think of it, every gay dude I know is in a gay sports league, be it volleyball, dodgeball, or softball, and from there they become super close friends that go for gay brunch and do gay things and be gay together, gay ever after.
Excuse me, where the fuck are my lesbian sports leagues?
Tinder Girl #3 was in a queer dodgeball drop-in but it wasn’t exclusive to lesbians, probably because they wouldn’t even have enough players. There were trans folks and gay men, and probably a handful of straight (“straight”) girls too. But then again, I don’t know if I’d bother joining since I don’t think I’d date a girl who’s super into sports. Then again Tinder Girl #3 didn’t look like she was as into sports as she was – AKA she didn’t have the qualities of a butch lesbian. (They’re just not my type.)
It comes down to a much larger “problem”. It just seems so much easier for gay men to form social circles because men, regardless of sexuality, are so much more open and fearless of being social. Confidence and outgoingness are gendered – by which I mean society encourages it amongst males and discourages it amongst females. We, queer women, are already scarce enough and this just makes it so much harder to meet available queer women in social settings.
Of course, there’s also the fact that men are more likely to enjoy sports than women. But wtf do women even like? Is there a book club for gay women? I’d love to date a bookworm but I wouldn’t even be able to fake my way into a queer book club, especially if it’s a fiction-based one (it’s been years since I read a fiction book). Is there a speed-dating event that pairs queer women who play sports with queer women who are buried in books? I will throw all my moneys at a service like this. Please make it happen.
All this just goes to show hard it is for lesbians to meet. If someone knows of a monthly exodus of queer women to an area in Toronto, pls share with me all RSVP details.
p.s. I wonder what my soulmate is doing right now.
None of this was supposed to happen.
True to my selfish nature and obsession with my career, my plan was to eat, live, and breathe big data this summer. My social life (friends and relationships alike) was to be put on the back burner and I was supposed to spend every waking moment working towards the six-figure* job guaranteed at the end of this summer course.
* The Program Director anecdotally said salaries of previous graduates started at $85,000 and moved up to $115,000. I’m busting my ass for these numbers.
I wasn’t supposed to be doing stupid shit like coming out to my mother or spending an entire weekend physically, mentally, and emotionally hungover. Every day counts when it’s a fast-track intensive program that has you in class five days a week, seven hours a day.
I overthink things. I overthink everything. In particular, I overthink social events, which is exactly why I shouldn’t be doing anything social because knowing myself, it’s hard for me to get my mind off anything after getting home. I overthink what people did, what people said, how the group dynamic was (WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME), what I should’ve done, what I didn’t do well, what I could’ve done better, the list goes on (who the fuck does thisss). My mind is usually scrambled with such random, absolutely inane thoughts that bar me from doing anything mentally strenuous… like studying for midterms.
Going into the program and knowing myself, I’d half-assedly told myself to avoid social activities and being social. “How hard could it be to avoid people?“, I’d thought. Jesus fucking Christ. It’s like everyone was right and I’ve been lying all this time about being an introvert.
So because I’ve been failing to stay antisocial, I’ve had a lot on my mind recently and writing them out has been cathartic. Being around people plants seeds in my head <ramble> probably because they’re so unpredictable while if I’m left alone, I can essentially predict everything… and learn nothing </ramble> that later manifest, when I least expect, into the most complex and beautiful-but-sometimes-ugly flowers. I’ve been pressured by the urgency of new ideas popping up at the most random of times, which explains why I clearly haven’t been sticking to my one-post-per-Sunday rule.
A good friend of mine tells me I’m using this program as a scapegoat to escape my feelings and my sexuality. She’s not 100% right (I have my eyes on that six-figure salary), but she’s not wrong. It’s a fantastic excuse to not get into a relationship, or pursue a romantic interest. It’s a fantastic defense mechanism to not develop and explore feelings – they’ve been dormant for 24 years (minus the early straight girl crushes and other fuck-ups) – shut it down while they’re still undeveloped! Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to someone! You can’t trust them! You can’t trust anyone! They probably won’t even like you once you let them get too close! Why risk it all? Focus on your career! You’re doing amazing, anyway!
I don’t know. I’m sure I’ve made some breakthroughs with this post but overall it’s gone nowhere. 9/10 would write again. I hate everything.
I miss you.
I miss the times we spent together. I miss never running out of things to talk about with you. I miss confiding in you. I miss the shortcuts we can take with one another because we know each other so well and don’t need to tediously explain things we would with any other person. I miss that we have the same interests that overcome our greatest differences. I miss the way you could easily make me laugh like no one else and I, you. I miss knowing you so well I could tell with literally a single word that something was up and call you out on it.
You were my person.
But I’m not sorry I cut you off.
I was always there for you. But you were selective in when you would make yourself available to me. You would only come back when you didn’t have a boytoy. You knew (I told you) it was hard for me to walk away from people, and you took advantage of that. You dangled me and only came when you were bored of whoever you were toying with. But if you liked what you had in your hands, you would completely ignore me. Until you were bored. And I’d come back. Every. Fucking. Time.
Being a Newborn Gay, I had a difficult time understanding my relationship with you. I loved spending time with you and being with you and soon after I came out, I panicked as I tried to define my relationship with you. I was mortified – “did I like you? Like, like you, like you?”. Thankfully, the answer was No. A friend helped me realize that yes, I held our relationship on a pedestal and wanted this connection with someone, but I was obsessive over the connection itself, and not you, on the other side of it. I still think that the connection we had is what I’d look for in a soulmate.
Every time I want to come back – shoot you a quick text to say “hey. wyd” – I force myself to remember the most betrayed I’ve ever felt in my life. The one time I came to you when I was at my lowest, you kicked me down. I was on the verge of having an emotional breakdown at the office (which I’ve never had before, anywhere) and you had complete disregard for how I was feeling. You did the exact opposite of what I needed – you dismissed my emotions entirely, belittled her, and had not even a drop of empathy for the broken mess I was at that moment. I don’t know if you know, but, that day, you shattered me and my trust in you.
You are a toxic person. You are judgmental. You are impatient. You are not empathetic at all. You are dismissive. You are the embodiment of bad vibes. I have to remind myself over and over.
Being bad at walking away from people, I’ve had to delete you from my phone. Which was a good call because I’ve caught myself wanting to text you recently (which led to this letter). I’ve given in one too many times to stay away. But I do get scared of what I’d do if one day I get a text from you. Or if I see you on the street. I’m scared I’ll give in again. I’m scared that I’ll be doused in gasoline and you’ll be there, with a lit match.
We never had a proper goodbye that let me explain myself for cutting you off – you were never big on talking about feelings or closure. I write this as closure to myself. I need to solidify and put into words how I’ve felt and make this real. I’ve confided in other friends about this (several times, even before the final time I cut you off) and each time they’ve told me you’re no good for me – to the point when they would get bored of me venting about you. Well, I should’ve listened the first (ten) times.
I’m done. You brought such carefree happiness… but along with it, sadness and negativity that was far heavier and it’s time for me to truly move on. We had fun and I’m not supposed to have regrets. So I’ll remember you, as a lesson. This is goodbye.
Thanks for everything,
Have you ever googled “What type of lesbian am I”? If not, you should.
From the first quiz, I got “Femme Lesbian“. Here’s the description:
Grab your lipstick and your newest pearl necklace, because you’re a femme lesbian! You’re often mistaken for straight and when you tell people you’re a lesbian, oftentimes, no one actually believes you. You’re the holy grail of lesbians. Keep doin’ you, baby girl!
First off, no.
But I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. There are butch lesbians, lipstick lesbians, tomboys, etc. but I just don’t feel like I fall into any of those labels. Obviously, we are not confined to labels and it’s unfair to box yourself in to such crudely-carved archetypes, but what came out of curiosity and good fun eventually became my Lesbian Identity Crisis. I became obsessed with knowing what kind of lesbian I was (or the closest thing to it).
Here are some key considerations pertinent to my lesbianism (what a niche string of words):
- I’m kickass at sports (softball, ultimate frisbee, badminton, for starters) and play with the boys. But I’m not a butch jock.
- I’m very technical – I love tinkering and taking things apart to see how they work. I’ve changed parts on my bike before with a monkey wrench and miscellaneous tools. But I’m not a butch mechanic.
- I don’t wear dresses on the reg, but I do wear them for special and networking events. I’ve worn casual summer skirts which pushes me towards passing as straight. But I’m not a lipstick femme.
- I work out and have pretty broad shoulders, so I don’t feel drape-y Urban Outfitters-esque spring catalogue clothes complement my body (or my personality, for that matter). But I don’t dress in baggy jeans, collared shirts, or own any flannel (I KNOW, DON’T TELL ELLEN).
- I’m very career-oriented. I’ve never met another lesbian as completely fixated on her career in the same way as I am. (That may be a lie. Seven has a solid career at Apple and is always keen on improving herself professionally and personally. Shout out to my Professional Lesbians).
But I’m not a stereotypical Lesbian Lawyer. Wait is that a stereotype or a character from The L Word?
- I love “introverted activities” like going to art galleries, curling up with a book, finding and losing myself in quality music (Nine Inch Nails [3 links!], Gallant, Starflyer 59). But I’m not a bookworm with a Tumblr girlfriend.
- I’m a huge Twitter nerd addicted to news about Toronto, the LGBT movement, municipal politics, the economy, tech news, and innovations. But I’m not a total techie or Gaymer.
Well, this has quickly become a personal profile… but that’s because that’s really what it is. I just don’t fit into a single category. My interests are all over the damn place.
“My sexuality is not the most interesting thing about me” – probably Cosima, on Orphan Black.
My sexuality is a part of who I am, yes, and I quickly bond with people over discourse over anything outside of the heterosexual range. Because that’s what I’m interested in – tell me your coming out story, tell me how gay you are, tell me how it’s been since you came out. But I also have other interests. I can just as easily bond with an LGBT person as I can a Toronto urbanist.
It’s easy to classify butch lesbians (see Lea DeLaria, Brittani Nichols) because the word immediately paints a picture in your head and helps you visualize them when being told a story about them. They are more than butch lesbians – DeLaria is an accomplished actress, comedienne, and jazz musician. Nichols is a much younger web content contributor, actress, and director of small indie film(s). They are much more than their label, “butch”.
So it’s frustrating that I still have this deep-seeded need to classify myself. I feel like I understand that it shouldn’t exist and that in itself should rid me of this urge. But I’m still frustrated that there are no labels for me… But I don’t need labels… But I want to be easily able to introduce myself in the community… But I don’t want to omit important details about me by way of stereotypes… But I-
Side note: I don’t think a meme has resonated with me so deeply as this one. I am completely serious and saddened by this realization.
I was messaging with a friend who’s backpacking through southeast Asia about this (link to original intro here, but in summary: we quickly became confidantes after I came out to her the second time we met (I was closeted the first time) when she brought up her own queer identity.
And also we almost made out but I ended up running away to puke and she ended up taking me back to her place to take care of me as I puked oh my god why do you keep puking in front of cute girls get your shit together why are you like thi–). Although I’ve only seen her less than three times in person, she’s been a solid confidante and we’ve had beautiful conversations about people, life, queerness, and politics. She barely hesitated:
I have nothing against butch lesbians… but I didn’t think that I was seen that closely as one. Out of the two, I feel closer to being a “hard femme” (although the label itself sounds like it’s an exaggerated femme lesbian) and I just don’t identify with the word “butch” at all. Then again, we have only seen each other a handful of times, with the first time being me in baggy clothes, almost makeup-less, at a three-day music festival. And I keep bringing up that I play softball, initially as an inside joke. I suspect that because we don’t see each other often, we have a much more vague and idealized image of each other, and the association with softball/athleticism draws an artificially more “butch” memory of me.
She is right though – it’s unfair pressure to put on “my sled”.
At one point, I brought up that my favourite character/crush on The L Word was Jenny Schecter – it was purely superficial and I’m pretty sure I skipped the parts where she was a bitch (which was most of the series, apparently). She FLIPPED. She was rushing to get on a bus in Malaysia, but she made damn sure that I knew when she was back, we’d marathon The L Word together so she could set me straight.
Well,… Ah, you can find the joke in there yourself.
I came out to my mother last night.
Her and my brother came downtown for my birthday dinner and we went to an adorable restaurant that featured hearing-impaired staff and menus that showed how to order food in sign language.
I’d texted my brother earlier that day, telling him I was thinking of coming out to mom tonight. He offered his two cents – that it will catch her off guard as it did him, but that in the end he appreciated being closer to me.
As we sat at the table and she regaled me with random stories about Hong Kong, her friends, and cooking class, my stomach sank further and further as I tried not to drown in the anxiety of having to come out. I had no appetite the entire meal.
Before the bill was paid, I went to the washroom and caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror. I was pale as fuck. As I sat back down at the table, the bill had already been taken care of by the bro. We sat with my brother talking gibberish as I mentally and emotionally prepared. I gave him a kick under the table for him to stop and let me speak.
Before I could, my mom decided to go to the washroom – my brother gave me a quick pep talk (and in hindsight, it really helped. He’s a clever 18-year old). As she sat down and started to ramble, I blurted out “I can’t believe I’m already 24”.
She nodded… but rambled on, “I can’t believe I’m 55. Time flies!”
I let out an exasperated sigh, ominous of something important. She looked at me.
We sat and I squirmed for what seemed like forever. They waited patiently. I couldn’t look her in the eye.
I leaned over the table looking right… turning left. Looked at the table. Tried to make eye contact- couldn’t. My heart raced. My stomach tightened. My elbows felt weak. I didn’t know where to begin.
“I know you guys-…” my voice cracked. I cleared my throat. “you guys never ask me about my relationships. About who I’m dating….” I had no idea what I was saying, or how I planned to go from there, but I knew I had to get the momentum going. Just talk.
I froze as tears finally toppled onto my cheeks. “I just-… If I want to be happy… I just know that… I don’t think I’ll be marrying a man.” All hell broke loose on my face and my senses shut off.
My mom just stared and let out a “Oooh” in a “oh it’s just that?” kinda way. She scrambled for tissue.
As I sobbed my way into the napkins, she said “It really doesn’t matter to me who you marry, as long as they love you an make you a better person. And they’re not trying to trick you.” It helped but it also didn’t, because it made me bawl my eyes out ever harder.
I told her that a part of me thought she knew because while my friends came back from working in other cities to families that would pester them about who they were dating / if they were dating anyone, mine never once asked me. So I suspected that perhaps she was scared of the answer.
Turns out she just didn’t want to pressure me into settling, because she knew I had high standards. She told me how intelligent and mature I was for someone my age, and that she knew I would never settle for an idiot. It would have to be someone better than me. And it would be hard. All the fucking tears.
A bit of disappointment came when after much of the commotion, she gently added, “but you never know… maybe you just haven’t met the right man.”
It wasn’t as sharp as a knife twisting in my stomach, but… I had to shut it down. She could not hang on to any hope at all that I was bisexual (even if I was – I haven’t figured it out). There could be no hope on the table right now, or it will never die. I had to shut it the fuck down.
“No, mom.” I said, sternly. “I’ve had 24 years to figure it out. I’ve thought about it for 24 years.”
She didn’t say anything.
We had a long family talk, reflecting on everything. Her primary concern was me being safe, and that I had to be careful who I come out to, because she didn’t want me being harmed explicitly or implicitly. It felt surreal. It felt… It didn’t feel as “finished” as I’d thought it would. She’s really the last person I need to come out to. My dad is another story. I thought I’d be completely free and the proverbial closet would’ve been smashed and burned to the ground. I still don’t feel completely liberated, but it feels like…
It feels like I’d finally managed to set up my campsite in the wild. Like the hardest, most exhausting part of setting up the tent et al. was over, but now I have the long-run – the actual surviving in the woods – part to deal with.
I guess the analogy isn’t that far off. But I also think now that I`m out, it’s less about actually surviving, and more about living.
It was my 24th birthday party, but they also made it a point to celebrate my first birthday as an out lesbian.
I love them so much.
It was a solid birthday. I almost hooked up with a cute girl, but (and as boring as this makes me sound) probably the top highlight of the party was when my tipsy self knocked over a glass cup and it broke, and before I could even move, ten people beelined into the kitchen, came out with paper towels, and cleaned up the mess within a minute while I stood there like an idiot. This was in my own home too. I almost cried from how impressed I was. Why is this interesting.
In addition to the regular planners, I’d also invited two (queer) girls that I’d met from an Inside Out Film Festival volunteer session on Wednesday. One of them I’d actually met on gay twitter. They were both relatively new to Toronto (one came from New Brunswick last September, and the other had just arrived from London, Ontario about two weeks ago).
We pre-drank at my place before heading to Crews and Tangos – my first time ever at a gay bar. Well, I went to Woody’s a few weeks back but they’re all queer men and men in drag -barely any lesbians.
Let me preface this by saying I was hammered as fuck. As I should be, on my birthday.
It got a little blurry after we left my place, but at one point, I ended up making out with the girl from New Brunswick and she dragged me into the bathroom. She wanted to go back to my place, but I knew I was too hammered for anything – I just didn’t know how to put it into words. Because catch-22.
Well, we did end up going home (very early, at 1am)… but my other friend also came with us because I’d promised she could crash at my place. Thank freaking god because I puked my lungs out and they took real good care of me. My friend crashed on the bed beside me while she crashed on the couch.
It’s my birthday, I’ll puke if I want to. (I didn’t want to, but it happened so I let it).
But overall, I had a fucking awesome time. A text from a friend at the party the next morning killed me:
“ONE PERSON PER STALL”.
Solid party indeed.
Just over a year ago, I was headhunted by a search agency. I met with the recruiter at her office and she left the room for me to fill out my professional profile to keep in their records.
Right after “Ethnicity”, “Sexual Orientation” came up and I froze for a long time (this was before I’d come out). My head buzzed with indecision – I was well aware large corporations tended to lean towards hiring minorities at the behest of HR prodding them with shiny Corporate Social Responsibility badges.
But I hastily checked off “straight”.
Fast-forward to tonight (and the reason for this emergency post). I was speeding through an online registration form for Out on Bay Street – basically on auto-pilot – and before it even registered in my brain:
This is a fucking milestone.
It doesn’t look like a lot, but in contrast to a year ago (and on auto-pilot, too!), this is progress. This is pride.
This blog is meant for me only, but for the sake of randoms stumbling upon my garbage site, it’s necessary to post a trigger warning: sexual assault.
A little over a week ago, a good friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook:
“Can I talk to you about something?”
A text like that is as serious as it gets. That’s when you, as a friend and human being, need to clear off whatever you had in your schedule to be there for them. It is known.
Without getting into too much detail, she had been sexually assaulted by someone she knew and once considered a friend. They were at his place. He did not have consent. She said no, twice. He insisted until she panicked and conceded.
Nobody had ever come to me about something like this before. When she came to me (which must’ve taken so much courage and self-admittance), it had been two days since the incident. I let her talk and tell me as much as she wanted, prompting her with questions. I felt I had to tread so delicately because anything could trigger… well, anything, and I didn’t even know the whole picture. It was like Minesweeper on Difficult. Except no one wins.
At one point I felt I had exhausted her with questions and it was my turn to talk. Give advice??? Was I qualified? What if I gave her the wrong advice? What if she wasn’t emotionally ready? What if this isn’t what she wants to hear right now? What does she need to hear right now?
A million thoughts ran through my head while my thumbs held still above my phone keyboard. I wasn’t sure what to say. I’d already told her what all victims need to be reminded of: It wasn’t your fault. I realized quickly that all my suggestions were action-oriented. “You should do this…”, “make sure you…”, “talk to…”. But given that she had a panic attack, it was unlikely that she was emotionally ready for anything.
In an uncanny coincidence, the night before, I was spiffing up my place for a pre-drink and watching Meghan Tonjes’ video, detailing an assault from a married man whom she considered her friend. And again, it was uncanny because I don’t usually watch these kinds of videos before going out… Anyway, in it, she mentioned something very crucial: Humans have a well-known fight-or-flight response to stressful situations, but it’s lesser-known that humans, especially women, also have a tend-and-befriend response. They’ll stay behind, and attempt to de-escalate a situation by trying to befriend the attacker, and by doing so, they make themselves smaller, less threatening (not only to the attacker but also to themselves). By neutralizing the situation, they’ll do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, by trying to appease the attacker and coerce him into leaving peacefully.
I had no idea how key this info would be. My friend was having doubts about not properly denying consent – it was muddled in her head, but from an outsider’s view, I could see she didn’t give enough weight to her denying consent twice. Essentially, she was feeling guilty about the lack of clarity in whether or not she gave consent and misled him. Telling her about the tend-and-befriend concept normalized what she felt and clarified that this was not entirely her decision – she was manipulated into this.
Through sporadic texts and the bouncing “…”s on Messenger, I could see it click in her head. It made me so happy that (1) she knew she could safely come to me for something like this, without me judging. (2) I was able to help her feel better. I’d never been in a position to comfort or advise in a situation like this, but I guess there was a point to watching all those YouTube videos and Tumblr articles on sexual assault.
I noticed in my original post I had completely skipped over my reaction to her telling me. But it’s not that I wasn’t impacted emotionally – I am human. And I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me when she told me. It didn’t feel real – all I remember is thinking that the quiet of my room felt false, incorrect. Like I should’ve been hearing cries admonishing his actions, so my outrage would be validated. It was confusing. I don’t know.
I used to think I was the only one who was iffy about this word. Was this some kind of a complex that lesbians have? Was it because for most of my life, it’s only ever been used in sentences drenched in condescension?
Some memories you’re unsure why you’re so easily able to recall and they linger on, ripe for picking in therapy. When I was eleven, I was at lunch with my mother, a few aunties, and their kids. For whatever outrageous reason, an auntie – a grown-ass woman – asked aloud my mother, “Is your daughter a lesbian?”
Although this was said in Chinese, “lesbian” was emphasized in English. And there was so much disgust in her voice as that noun left her mouth. I don’t even know where to begin with how many things are wrong with that scenario. Why is the sexuality of an eleven year-old important to you? Why did you feel the need to ask this in front of so many people?
But my mom responded, appalled at the idea: “Of course not!”
Because how dare you. How dare you question my daughter’s sexuality. How dare you think she is anything “less than” straight.
I remember tearing up when she asked that. I didn’t openly cry, but at eleven years old, completely oblivious to what sexuality was, to what the implications of that exchange meant, my eyes welled. I covered it up with my jaw dropping open and mimicked my mother’s shocked reaction. Across the table, one of my friends (and a daughter of one of the aunties) must’ve seen and laughed “that’s such a silly question, you’re going to make her cry!”.
At eleven, I learned (or, more accurately, deeply internalized) the outrageousness of me being a lesbian: how dare you think I’m anything less than straight.
I’m still struggling with understanding why I cringe at the word. I’ve equated my reaction to its ugly phonetics, like the word “moist”. And, compared to “gay”, it’s not convenient to say and a noun that conveys a sense of an identity that is “other”. It also sounds foreign, like an alien.
“She’s a lesbian.”
But phonetics are trivial. I refuse to use it as a scapegoat anymore.
The day that I’m able to use this word free of any emotional attachment will be so liberating. After 23-nearing-24 years of offloading baggage and any self-contempt onto this word, I have to reclaim and embrace this word. Like starting any new habit, it’ll be tough and every instance will be a conscious decision, but I owe it to myself. I am not less than straight. I am a lesbian.