Archive for July, 2007

Are you a real lesbian?

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

When I first asked myself this question, I was 29 years old. I had not had the luxury of growing up with the personal knowledge that I was “different,” or lesbian, or anything other than a normal suburban misfit. Hindsight, of course, is the greatest illustrator. Looking back on my life as I remember it, I see all sorts of instances that pointed toward the homo end of the normal scale. At the time, however, I had no clue…no idea at all, that I was anything other than a “normal” hetero chick.

I was not in denial for 29 years. At the oh-so-mature age of twenty, I thought I was in love. I had been dating this guy for about two and a half years and we lived in apartments in adjacent buildings on the main street of a quaint little worldly village. My roommate at the time was my still best friend and omigod…she was a lesbian. It is not like being from a small town left me with no known lesbian role models.

During this time, one of my jobs was as a supermarket cashier. My roommate worked there and she helped me get hired on. The Bookkeeper was another good friend of hers, and over time, we fell in together much like the three musketeers. Eventually, I realized I had fallen in love with this woman. I never considered that this might mean I was a lesbian, and though I believe she loved me too, our relationship was never real. We often went on group dates, my roommate, her girlfriend, The Bookkeeper, and me, but The Bookkeeper was such a good Catholic girl. (Sigh…)

Our unofficial dating and non-lesbianness was not a whim or a fling. This went on over a period of three to four years. Did I forget to mention that The Bookkeeper was engaged? She was. For part of this time, I was still with that guy I thought I loved so much. That dalliance produced my first child. Once I smelled the roses about my relationship with him, I left him, and still had no thought that I might be attracted to women. I was attracted to one
woman…there was just something about “her.” After leaving him, I dated guys and carried on as heterosexual, something I never even questioned I was or wasn’t, and still continued also dating The Bookkeeper.

Of course, over time, the non-consumation of my desires for The Bookkeeper led me to a state of discontent. Please remember, too, that at no time when all this was actually happening was I so fully aware of all the things that contributed to life actually happening as it did as I am now so many years removed from it. When I was 22.5, I had the opportunity to move away from it all because a friend of mine extended me an invitation to stay with her until I could get settled on my own. Thank the Goddess she had the insight to realize I needed a fresh start to get mylife turned around and headed in a more productive direction.

I often wonder why I did not take that opportunity to reevaluate exactly what it was I wanted from life. I suppose the simple truth of the matter is that I was just not mature enough to sit down and be still with my authentic self. At 38, this is something I am just now coming into. I did, however, take the time to acknowledge to myself that I was worth more than a casual relationship. A week after moving, I got a job in a busy hair salon, which is what I actually went to school for a few years before, and I concentrated my efforts toward making a successful career transition and found a career I could be passionate about.

Coincidentally, I also took on a second job as a cocktail waitress and subsequently met the second major love of my life (the first being The Bookkeeper), my exhusband. He and I were together happily seven years before I had my grand awakening. For a while, I had even convinced myself that we could stay happily married, *and* I could be/become a real lesbian. A lot of drama later, I realized that life like that could only happen for me if all the people involved were on the same page, and certainly my ex was not on that page, and likely not even in the same book.

At a point when I still carried a small semblance of hope that my marriage might survive, I found an email list called MarBLes. It was for women who were MARried But LESbian. I could not believe that I was not the only one, and quite frankly, the idea that this might be an entire segment of the lesbian community had never entered my mind. I was still trying to rationalize the fact that I was not really a “babydyke” (at 29) even though in so many ways I felt that I was, I was discovering that I was a MarBLes dyke, and I was liking it. It made a lot of sense to me at first and at the base of it all it just felt good to feel validated for a while.

I soon found that within that small faction of the lesbian community, there were yet more differences dividing us. There were women who had crossed over and left their marriages to live a lesbian life, women who knew they could never compromise their hetero family, women who had successfully brought a girlfriend into their marriage, and many other variations on the theme. I even met a woman I considered myself to be dating online. That in itself was a bizarre concept to me, but it taught me that there was indeed something missing in my life, and that once again, I had to acknowledge to myself that I was worth more.

After the first MarBLes relationship disintegrated, I met my current partner. All I can really say about it without spinning off in a totally different direction is the old cliche, “Third time’s a Charm.” She is the other half that totally completes me. Though I do not consider living and sharing my life with her, and loving her completely to be the defining aspect of me being a real lesbian, it is deeply ingrained into my soul as an integral part of the whole picture.

As I ask myself this question today, am I a real lesbian, in answer I can only quote Melissa Etheridge and say “Yes, I am.”