Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pitter patter time. Or not.

I was quite surprised recently by the reaction of a group of friends, to the statement by myself that I might be keen to have a baby in the next few years.

What came as a surprise, was the very vocal disapproving response from most of the group. "Are you serious? - Do you know that it's for life?" were some of the questions posed. I engaged because I was interested in the debate and hadn't expected to encounter resistance from a group of lesbians.

I'd thought they would cheer me on and offer to babysit. It's a big decision after all and I was a solo participant-to-be.

So, why the resistance? I'd thought that most women had the innate urge to have a child. I'd supposed that if you hadn't been a mother, there would be - at some level, even if it was a very deep one - a sense of loss. I know this is what it would surely feel to me if I never had a child.

Interesting new perspectives were raised. They genuinely didn't regret not having a baby, in fact most of the women in the group were actively grateful at how their lives had turned out. They didn't display any hidden signs of being in denial or having pushed down the maternal instinct at all.

Hell no, they said, we're grateful not to have been tied down. It was, after all, a different era as well when they had been my age (most of the group was over 50).

Anyway, what I learnt is that there is no single answer. There are only answers for each individual. We are all so different and therefore we will all make different decisions in our lives. It only makes them different; not right or wrong.

I am not sure what will happen in the next few years. I would love a child of my own, but as a single lesbian, it would be very difficult for me to make it happen. Not from a biological perspective - that's the easy part. I'm talking about the things beyond that: being on my own and raising a child; being a gay woman and raising a child.

Who knows what will happen tomorrow. Whatever it is, I am sure of one thing: I don't want any regrets, either way!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

SA needs to wake up and smell the 'pink' rand

Marketing and tourism people talk about the 'pink rand'. Basically, gay money. Disposable income that can be used on lifestyle consumer items: travel; home decor; appliances etc. It's supposed to pack a powerful pink punch. So, why aren't more SA companies wooing the gay market?
I can't think of a single, mainstream advert in the national press or on any medium which is designed to get me to take note and encourage me to spend my money there. All I can think of by way of explanation is the no-one is brave enough to target the gay rand openly, because we still have a bigoted society that advocates for an openly homophobic man, Jacob Zuma, to become our next president.
Ok, so that's very sad. Look how Cape Town has benefitted from pink money? They've been clever about their strategy and it has paid off. We've obviously got a long, long walk to freedom.
So, even if there aren't big adverts appealing to the market, the one sector that should be very sussed and seductive towards gays and lesbians is the tourism sector. Right?
Not so. Maybe in the Mother City they are, but in KwaZulu-Natal, I constantly hear of cases where gay couples book for a weekend away somewhere and the place assumes that if there are two, they must be a straight couple. One friend who was trying to book a romantic birthday weekend away at a spa was asked "and would your wife like any treatments?" Er, no! But my boyfriend certainly would! He actually had to tell her that his partner was another man. "Oh," she said in reply.
How outdated that we need to out ourselves - much to the surprise of the venue hosts. They should be trained to assume nothing. If I book a double bed, don't rush around when I arrive with my girlfriend and give me a room with twin beds. Please, I know what I want.
What I am trying to say is that the tourism sector, from the smallest B&B to the biggest hotel, needs to wake up and smell the pink rand. It's a wonderful, lucrative market. Just show us some real hospitality!

How the tourist accommodation sector can become more gay-friendly. Some practical tips:

1. When someone books - it doesn't matter who - don't assume it's Mr and Mrs. Use gender neutral language.
2. If you ask for names and figure out that the two who are sharing a room are of the same sex, don't assume they're friends. They may be partners and they will want a double bed.
3. Keep your personal feelings out of it. Don't give us 'oh!.." or attitude.
4. Realise that we will talk about our experience and spread the word that yours is gay friendly / non gay friendly venue.

Which L-Word?

I am a 30-something year-old woman. I pay my taxes; I tend to my roses; I am loyal, I am successful, I love to make people laugh; I’m a snob when it comes to loo paper (double ply, please!); I am old enough to remember the collapse of the Berlin Wall but young enough to know what the Rainbow Nation is. I see the glass as half-full; I own my own home; I can never remember the punch line; I am a coffee drinker and I am a lesbian. Actually, make that ‘a gay woman’. Not because I’m part of some tambourine-jangling fraternity but because – when coming out - it’s always been far easier to utter the three-letter description over its multi-syllabled partner: ‘les-b-ian’.

I have decided to share my story because I can – and because I get tired of paging through magazines or flipping through channels trying to find my story.

The crux of the matter is that despite more constitutional freedom and protection than ever before, it’s still pretty difficult being a lesbian. Hatred and discrimination are difficult to shove back in the closet.

Clothes fill mine, by the way. Although from time to time I get waay back in there (to do a little dusting, mind you!) – but also to reflect on how far I’ve come and how far I’ve yet to go. I’ve always believed in being straight-to-the-point about my multi-syllabled sexuality - with anyone who’s anything to me. I’m delighted to say, most have been very accepting and, as the years have crept by, I’ve become more adept at spitting it out. I’ve also noticed that the thirties have produced in me a new, quiet inner confidence. I am less worried about what people think on the one hand and more resigned that, on the other, I will always care to some degree.

But it worries me that popular culture is turning ‘being gay’ into a trend; a fashion accessory – something to try on for size. It worries me that ill-informed journalists writing one-sided accounts of attempts to legalise gay ‘marriage’ – are feeding fears that the overall plot is to take over society and impose ‘our will’. It worries me that many, many men – including some of my friends – still fantasise about two women getting it off or, better still, coming to their rescue and showing them ‘the way’. It worries me more that countless black lesbians – in townships around South Africa – are being ‘shown the way’ more forcibly; are being beaten and raped and punished for loving women.

Because, here’s the deal. It’s not about hating men. It’s about loving women more. For most of the gays and lesbians I know (I’ve polled it, honest!) – it’s not about waking up one day and deciding ‘Hey, to hell with tradition, I want to be different!’ It is an agonising, protracted process which, for many – involves much denial, a great deal of confusion and self-doubt, the overwhelming desire to conform, the rejection of oneself and many other hideous things – before there is realisation that there must either be self acceptance or self denial and lies. And try being a gay teen. Nothing could be more alienating. When I was fifteen and trying to get my tongue around those three-syllables, I honestly thought I was the only person in the world like me. So much for our supposed built-in ‘Gay-dar’. This was either malfunctioning spectacularly or mine had been substituted with a ‘shit-detector’. Because while I couldn’t tell who else was gay, I sure could smell insincerity from a hundred paces off.

I believe that every parent needs to ask themselves how they would react if their child came to them and confided that they thought they were gay. Or if their child came home and said they’d met someone at school who was gay; or had gay parents. Your reaction will have immeasurable impact. Consider it carefully please – and rather cry silently than compare being gay to shop-lifting or worse. Sometimes giving a child wings to fly is the most important thing you’ll do as a parent – even if they happen to be fairy wings.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Representation and misrepresentation

I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’ which just happens to have a lesbian character in it. She’s not a central focus of the book but just happens to be somewhere on the landscape. And that’s when I noticed it. The ‘scavenging.’ We’ve all done it at one time or another. Scavenged through some or other content to find that which we can relate to best. The athlete may search for athletic content; the new mom, anything to do with babies; and the gay person looks for ‘gayness’!

Novels are one thing. There isn’t much gay reading material out there. Try finding a gay section in your local book store for one thing. They’re not easy to find. And if there is one, they’re often embarrassingly positioned right opposite the ‘religious’ section, or next to the ‘psychology’ area. But that’s another issue.

Television on the other hand is slowly embracing gay and lesbian themes. When 'The L Word' hit our small screens a few years back, all the girls with Mnet thought we’d struck gold. ‘An exclusively lesbian series? No way?!’ Yes way! But even that was flawed. The one thing I just could not understand was why every advert bracket seemed to be filled with spots appealing to Afrikaans men. Boere-musiek CDs were advertised as were other male-oriented products. Didn’t see any lesbian-related ads there. No Indigo Girls or kd lang CDs up for grabs; no Subaru adverts trying to sell us cars. Didn’t even see any women-oriented ads, like tampon adverts or ones advertising lipstick or shampoo for goodness sake. I mean what could the brief have been for those Mnet sales execs: ‘Um, we’ve got a lesbian show so let’s go out there and try to sell some Kilpdrift and coke and Boere-musiek CDs.” Missed opportunity there. Don’t they know the power of the Pink Rand? Eish.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that there we were still grateful for the token gesture. The series was full of gorgeous women who did all sorts of amazing things. And despite the fact that I’ve yet to come across real-life-lesbians who’re like those 'L Word' divas, we loved and supported the series because they did occasionally (very occasionally) reflect our lives. Any lesbian reading this now (who has also followed the series), knows exactly what I am talking about. Alice’s legendary wall-drawings of women and their ex-partners springs to mind.

But ‘The L Word’ is the exception. Most of the time, gay people have to ‘sift’ like crazy through hours of television to find any representation of who and what they are. The recent debate in the US over the inclusion (or rather exclusion) of black actors in movies and TV programmes is a similar parallel. Token gestures abound. And sometimes they’re the worst characters on the block. When you only crack the nod in one in 100 shows and you’re depicted as an evil, psychopathic manic (as in Andrew on Desperate Housewives); or the depraved (Bad Girls); or the unfeeling bitch (ER’s Carrie Weaver) – it gets frustrating. It gets a little depressing when you’re represented as all of these things, when really you’re just the girl or boy next door, who happens to love someone of their own sex.

Stereotypes are easier to handle though I guess. The dyke-lesbian everyone can safely spot from a hundred paces away or the limp-wristed queen who’s depicted as so impotent that no one could possibly be offended, dahling. It’s a little harder to find meaningful plots with meaningful characters who just happen to be gay (as a by-the-way, as most straight characters are depicted).

And so, for the time being, we will have to be content with the tokens, and the occasionally all-out-goodies, such as 'The L Word', and just head for the kitchen when those Boere-musiek CD adverts come on.

But come on people. One in ten is a significant market. Perhaps it’s even a scavenger hunt! Speaking of which, I'd better get back to my book. I'm still hopeful that this lesbian character will develop into something more.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I finally watched the 2005 Charlies Angels parody D.E.B.S and have to admit that depite the many cheesy aspects, I loved it. Well, ok, I loved the amazingly gorgeous girls in it, mainly Jordana Brewster. Oh-my-oh-my.. she is just flawless.
I have since Googled her furiously and managed to find this video on You Tube which is pretty good (although the song is pretty crap!). Enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The new guy...

"Have you checked out that new guy? Definitely gay..."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Irritating becomes lovely...

Here's a completely new sound to Rihanna's irritating Top 20 song, Umbrella, as sung by Mandy Moore. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer this version!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Do you remember...?

A gay girl's first kiss is a memorable thing. It's especially memorable because it tends to happen when we're older than our straight counterparts. Some of us just take longer to figure out we actually want to kiss a girl more than we want to kiss a boy; others know early on but don't have the means to 'get connected' until later in life.
For me - as far as kissing was concerned - I had a little of both: boys and girls. Well, one girl to be precise.

She was my best friend. A cute little blonde with blue eyes. We were at senior primary together and we had a rather passionate love affair (for 11 or 12 year olds) back in the early 80s. Looking back, she was my first 'love' but in a very innocent way. We explored our sexuality together and kissed and had regular sleepovers. It was a wonderful friendship and lasted until she was wrenched away from me when her dad was transferred out of our home town.
I was distraught.

She is now married with kids. I am not. I often wonder if she remembers our 'love' and more importantly, how she remembers it.

After that, it seemed that the boy route was a logical one. After all, my one true love had left. For me, the boy-girl kissing was fairly easy. I remember stealing kisses with various boy classmates from about 12 years on. Std 5 (about 12 years going on 13) was when I had my first French kiss with a boy though. Prior to that evening, I remember a couple of us practising on our hands. Hmm, knowing me, I probably wanted to practise on my girl friends!
Anyway, that kiss was fairly average. A bit gross actually if you must know, as it was quite hard to coordinate the breathing and the kissing and the eyes closed all at the same time. Fortunately, this improves with practise!
My point is that in my day (and I say that because maybe things are different now) you were very unlikely to meet a girl and start dating. So, you went with the flow and met a boy.
As the teenage years wore on though, my yearning and need to be with a girl grew. It became no longer possible to go with the flow.
What angst and turmoil there was during those years. I remember feeling so alone and so misunderstood.
So, by the time I had my first real kiss - as an adult woman - with another woman, I was 18. She wasn't someone I knew very well. She was older than me and we never kept in contact after that night, but it was wonderful and special and felt so right nonetheless.
I finally felt as if I'd come home. Actually, we ended up doing a lot more than kissing, but that's another story entirely!

*** Why don't you share your first kiss story with me? Email me or post your comment here. ***

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Alanis does My Humps!

I stumbled upon this YouTube of my all-time favourite artist, Alanis Morissette, having some fun with my all-time worst, Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas. Here she is, adding some class to what I otherwise think is a crap song...My Humps done the Alanis way:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fascinating objects of desire?

Lesbians remain a source of fascination for many men. We're viewed with amusement by some; while others are in awe of us - hoping to catch a bit of the action if they play their cards right.
Ironic really. The last thing most women loving women want to do is play in the male fantasy arena. We are who we are simply because that is the way things are. Nothing more and nothing less. So, in short, we are not likely to play in the male arena. Ever. Most of us anyway. Those that do require another label, perhaps? Straight. Insecure. Bi?
You choose.
Isn't it interesting that most women don't sit and fantasize about getting in between two gay men - in bed. I've never once heard a female friend say something like 'Jeez, Tom and Dick are such a hot couple, I'd like to get in the middle of those two!'
Nope, it doesn't happen. We would rather be heard saying: 'Tom and Dick have such a gorgeous home. I do hope they can help me with my lounge curtains, like they've offered. It would be such a help.'
Think of the average conversation between two male buddies about Delia and Jackie, the couple from down the hall. Ja right, I rest my case!
Pity more straight men out there aren't thinking like women (or like gay men!). We'd have more respect in our world, more communication and better looking lounge curtains!

Monday, August 6, 2007


Most of my lesbian friends are women loving women. They don't hate men, they just love women more. They're attracted to women. It's women who get the old heart rate going and make the knees weak. Very few are bisexual. Often you find it's the straight girls who're trying being gay on for size who use that word. "I don't choose a man or a person. I can't control who I fall in love with and sometimes it's a man and sometimes it's a woman."
Ja, right. In lesbian speak that means: "Well, if I admit it deep down I'm probably lesbian but I'm not sure how well that would go down so I'll straddle the fence," orrr it means: "Well, being gay is so in fashion right now I'll try anything but really, when it comes down to it, I prefer men."
Hmmph. Either way, many of us are sceptical of bisexuals. My recent experimentation with a lesbian dating site is a good example. I clearly stated in my little anonymous profile that I was a woman seeking a lesbian woman. Yet, every single email I've received inviting me to write back has been from a frigging 'bisexual' woman seeking a woman to join her and her man; to be part of her threesome - her boyfriend's wet dream of woman on woman come alive, no bloody doubt.
Double hmmph.
No thanks. Hit delete. Where are the real lesbians? Maybe I need to go to a straight site, fill in a profile for a woman seeking sensitive man and I could maybe just meet a lesbian. It's all very confusing and very tiring.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Heavenly delights, indeed

I recently saw Nina's Heavenly Delights at the Durban Film Festival. It was a surprise gem and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nice seeing a movie set in Scotland with thick Scottish accents! And both lasses are lovely indeed!!
Enjoy this montage off YouTube:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dress sense

Why is that most lesbians - apart from the silicone creatures on The L Word - dress rather conservatively? Even we are guilty of sussing out a stranger by her dress sense (or lack of it). If she's in pantihose, high heels, a sexy little skirt and bearing a healthy cleavage, we're unlikely to say 'dyke', under our breaths, as we tend to do when in packs. We see a sensibly dressed woman on the other hand; one who is wearing a practical pair of pants and a well worn pair of shoes (flat, of course) and we smile at one another and silently mouth the word 'family!'

Hmm, so why is that exactly? Why are we stereotying ourselves into these sensible dresscodes? Is it a way of identifying one another? An extension of the gaydar system? "Ah, denin jacket and boots, must be a dyke!" or is it just that we prefer to dress for comfort and not for eye candy? Or could it be that we've subconsciously dressed that way to send signals to men that we're not on the market for them?

Maybe it's a little of each of these things. I also think it's because we are freer. We don't have to fall for the hererosexual trappings of make up or Wonder bras or stuffing our feet into teeny little heels to impress a man and make him feel strong and macho in our femininity and gentleness. We don't have to impress the male of the species and so we just are. Too simplistic? Too goody-two-shoes? Quite a few of my straight female friends who embrace all three things will disagree that it's about impressing a man. They will argue they do it to feel good. And I am sure there are many who do.

So why don't we then? Ok, some of us do, but the vast majority don't. We can look nice, of course, even pretty, but in a next-door-gal kinda way and not a who's-your-mamma-lookee-here way.

So, should we start? I think it's time we stopped living to stereotypes. If you want to do it, do it. If you don't, that's cool too. But when a sister walks in the gay bar in her sexy little black number let's welcome her instead of asking is she's lost!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Joined at the hip

Lesbians are often guilty of the siamese twin syndrome. Being joined at the hip - and not just when in the sack! Many of us tend to take the 'best friends' thing to the extreme, blocking out any other friendships that may interfere. It's a pity.

Yes, how utterly wonderful to be with a woman who is your equal, your twin and who understands how you feel when you get your period. But how suffocating too. We need to learn to give one another space. To have outside interests and hobbies and friends. That's one area we can learn something from the straight folk. They don't merge and blend from sunrise to sunset. They separate and explore on their own and then reunite later on. We need to do more of this.

I don't speak from a know-it-all position. I speak from a place of having been too linked to my partners; to have put all of my eggs in that one basket all of the time. It felt heart wrenching to tear myself away from my significant other, but now I know that in order to thrive and to keep the relationship hot and alive, we need our space. We need to have some mystery; some sacred place we can escape to. It does not drive us further apart; it brings us closer together.

Durban - get with it!

I've just had a wonderful dinner out with close friends at Cafe 1999 in Silverton Road - Durban. Great restaurant (albeit a bit expensive). We had a really fun evening (as we always do) and could easily have gone on to another venue for a nightcap, except that in Durban there is nowhere really to go. Nowhere gay that it.

Imagine that. A whole bunch of gays and lesbians looking for a place to have a coffee and a perv and there's nowhere suitable or dedicated to gay people. Not that I'm suggesting we need to be quarantined, but come on, why isn't the Pink Rand commanding some respect?

Beanbag Bohemia is gay friendly, supposedly, but it's not gay. We need a more upmarket version of the old Garth's coffee bar in Avonmore Centre. Come on Durbanites, there's got to be someone with the dosh and the vision to get this going. Where do mature (and by that I mean over 30) people meet one another if not in this kind of setting?

God help us all

A few days ago two women were attacked in Umlazi, near the Durban airport, for wearing trousers. A mob of men took offence and caught them and stripped them naked. The terrified women tried to get away and fled in the direction of their home. They were chased and beaten all the way. The group forced the women's families to flee for their lives and they then set their home on fire. They cannot return to Umlazi now.

What the hell is happening in our society? That a group of men can take offence to women wearing trousers (instead of a dress or skirt) and do this is totally outrageous. As far as I know, no arrests have been made so this gang is still roaming wild.

The media here has treated the story in an almost humourous light. Of course the gender groups have expressed outrage but the cops haven't made any noise about the crime. They haven't issued the usual "we will leave no stone unturned" quote.

And let's face it, that's where they wil have to look for this lot. Under rocks and boulders. Not a proud moment for us and let's hope they are caught before they do any more damage.

What's in a title?

A friend of mine recently lent me a book called "I Love You But I'm Not In Love With You" by Andrew Marshall. I nearly didn't borrow it because of the title. I mean who wants to lie in bed with a partner with a book called "I Love You But I'm Not In Love With You"? Potentially very limiting move for the person reading the book! And by association, very limiting move by the author.

But, oddly enough, I read it and could not put it down. It was really good. He has some great ideas and some excellent explanations and even couples who are happily involved should read it. You'll just have to get over the title!

I also liked it because the author makes mention of gay couples and does not just write about straight relationships. We exist too! Refreshing, and if you can get over the title, it could even enhance your relationship!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A classic song!

Where has the year gone? I've been very slack on this blog and am cheating now with a YouTube clip of Jill Sobule's classic, I Kissed a Girl. If you've never heard it, you need to change that asap! Enjoy.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Micro socialising sometimes equals macro problems

I was having lunch with a straight friend of mine today and was updating her on my life and social circle. I told a story about the ex of mine who goes on holiday with her ex and whose ex is now dating an ex friend of theirs (when they were a couple). "Ho boy!' was the reply. This is an old dialogue between us. My friend seems to think that lesbians cannot let go of their old flames. She feels we move from friend to partner to ex and then back to socialising together. She told me many years ago that once straights break up they quit seeing one another, period. Well, unless they happen to bump into one another in the Woolies aisle or at the Home Affairs offices. She has a point.
Several lesbians I know have, at one point, continued to live with their exes (even the ones who had cheated on them). They become roomies. Now I can understand the financial imperatives behind that but come on... roomies? Rather run into the middle of a dual-carriageway and throw yourself in front of a Putco bus. At least the agony will be over soon enough.
Other friends socialise in groups with numerous exes. Take another gay friend. Her partner used to date my ex. She used to date someone who is an ex of my ex. SA is small, we all know that, and so it's often impossible to avoid bumping into an ex socially, but many do it because they want to. What's that about?
Look, there are advantages. You don’t have to repeat stories, for example. Everyone knows them. They’ve either heard first hand from you, or second hand from one of your exes, or an exes ex. It’s all very straight forward, if you’re gay.
So, what’s your take on this? Madness disguised as normality? Necessity in these times when the pool is a-shrinking? Or just wonderfully illustrative of how loving and forgiving women are?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shhhh…. Tell everyone!

Over the last month or so I’ve been introduced to an amazing concept, re-packed expertly in a 90 minute DVD. It’s called The Secret and if you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s all about the Law of Attraction. In a nutshell, for those with short concentration spans, it’s the ‘half full glass’ theory meets Mind Power meets ‘what you sow you reap’. It’s about how what we focus our energy and attention and thoughts on, is what we attract. So, if all we can think about is being in debt – that is what we will attract: more debt etc. It’s a must-see – anything less makes a very powerful message seem airy fairy and cheesy. So, how does it relate to being gay? Well, there’s a very good example in the movie, which is an illustration of how we often talk ourselves down in life. The story is about a gay man who was doing an online course with one of the teachers interviewed on the film. The teacher, Bill Harris, relates how this man complained about being the constant target of homophobic people and gay bashers. He would be accosted and beaten up on his way home; he would be laughed at and mocked by colleagues at work. He wanted to be a stand-up comedian but when he went on stage, everyone started to heckle him for being gay. Basically, his whole life was the focus of misery and unhappiness and it all centred around him being gay. Harris – through email correspondences – began to teach this man how he was focsuing all of his attention on what he didn’t want instead of what he did want. He was almost expecting those around him to treat him badly because he was gay – and he was rarely disappointed; they treated him like dirt. Over time, he began to see what he was doing and Harris guided him so that he turned his attention and focus to things that he did want. And so began the transformation: his colleagues who’d been mean started leaving him alone or left the company or were transferred. He started loving hIs job! The thugs in the streets just weren’t there. When he did comic acts, he received standing ovations. Harris relates how all of this happened once he changed from focussing on what he didn’t want to what he did want. He changed the way he thought and those around him tuned into his new frequency!

While this is a very simplistic take on the book, the example is a good one for many gay people because many of us need to also change our own frequencies. It makes sense that if we expect to be targetted, we will be targetted. If we think we are going to be whispered about in the corridors, we probably will be. If you can relate to this way of thinking, think about someone you know who is overtly gay and who is loved by everyone around him / her. The confident guy who pulls off being camp or the woman who charms everyone she meets: men and women – gay or straight. You may’ve thought: “I could never get away with what they do.” The difference could be that they instinctively know the Secret. They believe and focus on the good and so this is what they get back. Hey expect people to be okay with them and so send out that frequency. And, people are good to them.

I remember, years back, thinking about a couple I knew who used to walk arm in arm (or holding hands) in public. I used to actively worry about their safety. I fretted: ‘How could they do this? Don’t they know they could get beaten up or attacked, just because they’re flaunting being lesbian?’ I remember, once, summoning up the courage to ask them about this and whether they ever worried about this too? And you know what? They never gave it a thought. They just expected that everyone would cope and be ok and they had never had any negative experience to disprove this. Me, on the other hand, I expected that bad things may happen if I started flaunting my sexuality in public with my girlfriend at the time. And with that vibe and core belief, I probably would’ve attracted some negative attention in one form or the other, if I had been brave enough to walk hand in hand with my partner in public.

Only now have I been able to see and understand what was going on. How the only difference between us was how we saw ourselves and how we expected others to treat us. The cynics will say that this implies all of those who’ve been attacked etc asked for it in some way. That’s when I pass the buck and say ‘watch the movie’. Any other reply will seem far too simplistic. If you don’t watch the film, then try to watch what you tell yourself. Try to focus on what you want. Not what you don’t want. If you’re about to come out to someone, picture (vividly) in your head, them being totally okay with the announcement. Flesh it out. Make it positive and affirming. Expect it. Don’t let the fear creep in or that will become your focus. I would have loved to know about the law of attraction when I was coming out!!

I’d love your feedback and comments on this. Please have your say in the comments section or email me!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Being sentimental....

South Africa is a beautiful country. It really is. Every so often, I sit somewhere and people-watch – and think how lucky I am to be living in this place. Yes, there is much we need to change: the crime situation for one. But there is also much to be grateful for. There is a passion in our people that is hard to beat. A vibrancy. We sweep our streets with palm leaves because they work better than brooms. We sell single pieces of fruit on street corners because people want to eat what nature has made. We sell totally out-of-place items at intersections (or robots, as we call them) such as coat hangers or kites. We sing and dance in public – if the rhythm is right and if the beat catches our fancy. We say hello to one another, even when we do not know one another. We smile, because we know we live in a country with limitless potential. Let’s be grateful.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Where, oh where?

Where, oh where was the Internet when I was in my late teens and trying to find out who I was? All this information at the click of a mouse. If typewriters were still in vogue when you were coming out, just imagine how different the experience could have been with the World Wide Web? *Sigh* Certainly none of those ‘am-I-the-only-bloody-lesbian-in-the-entire-world’ feelings! So, here I am in my mid-thirties, discovering the joys of the Internet… and the endless possibilities. And YouTube.com is a new discovery. And, it’s brilliant! All my favourite movies.. just there. Here’s a little something from the gallery….

Friday, February 16, 2007

On coming out, unintentionally...

A submission from Artemis (A South African now living in Canada):

I am a thirty-something lesbian, and have been with my partner for 10 years! (Didn't ever believe that I was the great commitment type, but clearly I have found someone who makes me a better person, simply by being in my life!)

The road to this point (in respect of acknowledging my sexual orientation) has been an off-road motorcycle enduro, complete with rivers to cross, cliffs to jump off, and a few hard falls.

However, no story begins at exactly the beginning, so I am going to start my tale at around the age of 15 or 16. For years, I had found myself besotted with female teachers, paralysed in the presence of female beauty, and unsure as to what the fuss was all about as I tried to comply with the boy-crazy fixations of my friends....until I met her.... We were in different classes, in the same year at high school. She was independent, wicked sense of humour, and fearless in respect of challenging teachers and older students....and she could sing! Wow, this was the foundation for a friendship that I knew would be deep...

We became extraordinarily close (in retrospect all I can think of is that we started dating, but couldn't put that language to it) Then the kissing started...the world exploded in the mystery of private fireworks displays, as the kisses got deeper and deeper, and the hands started exploring with greater fervour. Well, our rationalisation was that this was natural exploration...only we weren't such eager explorers that we were seeking the unexplored territory of the opposite sex, not even vaguely!

The "friendship" was progressing along quite nicely. We had many "pyjama parties", indulged in elicit kisses in the library at school, or in the girls change-rooms, when no-one was around. Those elicit moments were filled with adventure, and danger...leaning against the door so that no-one could walk in on us...holding hands under a blanket in the presence of others, and exchanging notes with coded language. The passion was deep, and the touches, glances, and kisses were extraordinarily meaningful.

Would we have progressed, had sex, and acknowledged that we were a couple? I will never know...as this story had a pre-emptive strike against us that was destined to force her into the land of religious fundamentalism, and me into a closet from which I only emerged at the age of 19!

So, this is what happened, that caused such a cataclysmic regression in all that was normal to us:
I was at her house, and of course in her bedroom, where I had spent the night (allegedly on a separate bed) with the door closed. It was early in the morning, and her parents were supposedly still asleep. As usual, I had crawled into bed with her, and we were somewhat entwined physically, while deeply engaged in some serious tongue action, when the door burst open to reveal her mother! With dignity, we separated, and the one great act of compassion was that her mom exited and quietly closed the door. The blood rush was unbelievable, as was the fear, and the beating of our hearts. Nothing was said. Nothing....! I left, and still nothing....

The following week, our worlds were spent in a dungeon of unmitigated and unspecified terror, based on repercussions that were only as large as our own self-loathing. Internalised homophobia is often the worst punishment that we can administer to ourselves, as we anticipate what the social repercussions will be.

The repercussion was sad - I, to this day, do not know if my parents were told. I assume that they were, as we were watched like hawks, and kept apart for several months. My mother's fixation on femininity, and marriage, and all things male increased, in our conversations together. I administered my own punishment, beating myself up for having been caught (note, not for what we had been doing!)

To my "friend" the psychologist was the route selected. Apparently he seemed very nice. Agreed with her denial that she was not a lesbian (because she hadn't had sex with a woman, I guess??!!) He did say that if she were a lesbian that he would help her (we never worked out whether that was to assist her not to be, or to assist her along the path towards full lesbian admission- toaster oven and all. Although frankly, I am unsure as to how he may have "helped" her to work this out)

So the barriers went up, and while we still kissed and made out sometimes on rare occasions, the passion was dissipated. Our young lives went into a defensive mode, and we existed to try and conform. This only lasted about 3 years for me, before I fell head over heels in love with a woman, and embraced the reality...I am proud of who I am. My sexual orientation may be only be one part of who I am, but I am proud to be called lesbian, and to stand with dignity within society. But, it is hard when the coming out process is stunted by what we learn, and people's reactions. I know that we stand in great company with one another, and this solidarity is very special.

(Have your own story to share? E-mail herstory@eastcoast.co.za and I'll happily publish it.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Featured video...

My 'Ellen' coming out clip was removed from YouTube for some reason, so I've had to try to find another to replace it. This is a great music video showing scenes from a Star Trek movie, of all things. It's from Deep Space Nine and the episode is called 'Rejoined'. I think I could be a Trekkie after all! Enjoy....

(Hint: To watch the clip in full, hit pause until it downloads fully. You'll see the red bar fill up as it downloads. Hit play once it's downloaded.)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Reality check

After watching a great lesbian-themed movie, I was inspired to go online and see if I could buy some more similar DVDs. The U.S website http://www.wolfevideo.com/ has a wonderful selection, but being in South Africa, I’d rather buy locally. It just feels safer to do so, from a recourse point of view. It's also possibly cheaper.

So, I went to a few well known SA retail sites and was dismayed by what I found. In short, very little. None of the main SA sites even had a 'gay and lesbian' category, let alone stocked some of the most popular movies. Come on! Haven’t they heard about the Pink Rand?

So, anyway, here are the results of my snap survey of a few SA sites. Please let me know if I've missed any out. If you have any Pink Rands at your disposal, you may want to spend them at the more pro-gay shops.

In order to compare apples with apples, I searched for various items on each site. I’ve included a few of the more popular books too.

1. Fingersmith (both the book, and the DVD)
2. Tipping the Velvet (both the book, and the DVD)
3. Imagine Me & You (DVD – was recently on mainstream circuits in SA)
4. The L Word (any season, from 1 -3)
5. Claire of the Moon (DVD – a classic)
6. Kissing Jessica Stein (DVD – so mainstream!)

According to http://www.southafrica.info/, there are a few website contenders for books or DVDs if you’re in SA. I tried all five options they listed.

Kalahari.net (http://www.kalahari.net/)

This was my first choice because it markets itself as the biggest and best in SA, and a site that delivers your order in less than 48 hours.

1. Fingersmith (both the book, and the DVD) They’ve got the book, and it sells at around R145. No DVD.
2. Tipping the Velvet (both the book, and the DVD) They’ve got the book, and it sells at around R145. No DVD.
3. Imagine Me & You (DVD – was recently on mainstream movie circuits in SA)
4. The L Word (any season, from 1 -3. This has been shown on TV here)
Nope. But their rather pathetic internal search engine coughed up a list of ‘possibles’ for this one, including ‘Die Lief en Leed van Anastasia’ and ‘Breastfeeding without Tears’.
5. Claire of the Moon (DVD) – No
6. Kissing Jessica Stein (DVD – so mainstream!) It’s there – for R94.95

Their search engine is pretty weak. Under DVDs, I searched for ‘lesbian’ under ‘keyword’ and random movies popped up including ‘Friends – Season 1’.

Score: (out of 10 – each number representing a product) 3

Exclusive Books (www.exclusivebooks.com)

Billed as ‘the online shop of one of South Africa's biggest bookselling chains’.

In order to compare apples with apples, I searched for various items on each site.
1. Fingersmith (both the book, and the DVD)
They’ve got the book, priced at between R250 and R158. No DVD.
2. Tipping the Velvet (both the book, and the DVD)
They’ve got the book, priced at R378 for the hardback to R118 for the soft cover. No DVD.
3. Imagine Me & You (DVD – was recently on mainstream movie circuits in SA) - No
4. The L Word (any season, from 1 -3) - Nope
5. Claire of the Moon (DVD) – No
6. Kissing Jessica Stein (DVD – so mainstream!) Nope

Notably absent from the category list for books is a distinct category for ‘gay and lesbian’. Considering they stock both of the books I searched for, it may make sense to add the category so we can skip straight to it, so to speak.

Score: (out of 10 – each number representing a product) 2

Loot (http://www.loot.co.za/)

This site was news to me so I wasn’t expecting much. It proved to be the best of the lot. The search engine allowed you to look for a title across categories. For example, Fingersmith produced the book and DVD results all in one go. Nice.

1. Fingersmith (both the book, and the DVD)
Loot had both. The book went for between R254 (hardcover) and R122 (paperback). The DVD was R275.
2. Tipping the Velvet (both the book, and the DVD)
Once again, it’s got the book and the DVD. Book retails for between R136 and R125. DVD priced at R92. Wow, that’s cheap.
3. Imagine Me & You (DVD – was recently on mainstream movie circuits in SA)
Got it – for R246.
4. The L Word (any season, from 1 -3)
They’ve got the DVD of Season 1 (R605) and Season 2 (R604) and the soundtrack CD of season’s 2 and 3.
5. Claire of the Moon (DVD)
Not there. Ahh!
6. Kissing Jessica Stein (DVD – so mainstream!)
Yes, it’s there – for R117 and R91

Incidentally, I searched for ‘lesbian’ under Books and a host of titles came up. Impressive. Did the same under DVDs and only ‘Tipping the Velvet’ came up.

Score: (out of 10 – each number representing a product) 8

Look & Listen (www.lookandlisten.co.za)

Didn’t really expect to find any of the DVDs listed and was surprised to find that they had Kissing Jessica Stein (R99.99) and Tipping the Velvet – the DVD – for R299.

The site is not user-friendly to search for movie titles.

Score: (out of 8 – as they don’t do books) 2

Musica (http://www.musica.co.za/)

This site had all three box sets of L Word – for just under R600 a piece. Also had ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ for R99.95
The site’s search function is not very user-friendly. When looking for a DVD, it frequently pulls up everything, music CDs included.

Score: (out of 8 – as they don’t do books) 4

Overall: Okay, so you may think that I’ve defeated my own argument that you can’t find lesbian movies and books in SA, online, but remember, I generally searched for the popular, mainstream titles. The one non-mainstream DVD I searched for, Claire of the Moon (which is all over Amazon) was nowhere to be seen. In other words, while the mainstream titles may be available (as a token), there isn’t much investment in this genre. For that, I need to shop abroad. Hmm. Pink Rand indeed. For now, my money is on Loot.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Come out, come out – wherever you are…

Every gay person has to face the task of ‘coming out’. For most, it’s not an easy thing to do. After all, depending on where you live, the repercussions can be pretty bleak. Most of us fear rejection. It is always a relief when this does not happen!

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have had great responses from most of the people I’ve come out to. Although, one wonders if we selectively choose to tell those who we feel will accept out lifestyle. Whether that’s true or not, when they don’t reject you, it’s a wonderful feeling of elation and freedom. In most cases, the person I’ve confided in has said they’ve suspected as much for quite some time. To this, I’ve always responded: “But, why didn’t you say something to me then?” The stock response is that they didn’t feel it was their place to do so. They’ve said that they knew when I was ready, I would tell them and they’ve often been waiting many years for that moment.

And I guess, when you think about it, this is the order that this ‘coming out’ should follow. We need to be ready to tell people about this thing that often ends up defining us, and we need to be strong enough to endure, if the response is not all warm and fuzzy.

I’ve had a few of those too. Bloody hell, they’re not fun. For me, undoubtedly the most intensely negative reaction was from my mom. In short, she sent me to a shrink and then told me she loved the sinner, but not the sin! It wasn’t a very helpful response for a 17-year-old.

Below are a selection of a few coming out scenarios. Please add yours by way of the comments page, or by emailing them to me on herstory@eastcoast.co.za, and I will add them.

The good:

These are usually close friends. The kind of people who respond - as mentioned above – that deep down they always knew you were gay. They’re often the scariest to come out to, as their opinions mean the most. You know that if they don’t accept you, it will forever change your relationship dynamic. If they do, it will change it for the better. These are the people who love you unconditionally and who support you no matter what. They’re the kind of people we need to surround ourselves with! In most cases, I instinctively knew who fitted into this category. It was wonderful - albeit nerve-wracking - coming out to them. Finally, you were able to be yourself. The majority of people I’ve chosen to come out to have fallen into this category.

The next two categories are often where relatives fit in. You know the saying: you can choose your friends…

The bad:

They have no idea what to say to you when you tell them you’re gay. They try to make all the right noises, but their facial expressions or tone of voice betrays them. They’re battling to deal with the concept of their friend / family member being a homosexual. What will others think of them, by way of association? These are sometimes the most dangerous, as you’re never quite sure of where they stand.

The ugly:

Boy, oh boy. These are the ones that make you wish you’d never ventured out of the closet. They’re toxic. They’re judgemental. In my experience, they often come from strict religious backgrounds that govern how they view gay people, and can be utterly destructive in their efforts to get you to renounce your ways. Let’s just say the love is not unconditional. In extreme cases, their extreme aversion may be a way of hiding their own latent homosexuality. These are people to steer clear of. With them around, you generally won’t ‘feel the love’!

Depending on your personal circumstances, and the kind of people you’re surrounded with, it’s often easier to come out when you are old enough to: a) have left home; and b) support yourself. I always wished this had been the case with me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The purpose...

So, are you South African, or formerly South African, and would like to know how you can take part in this Blog? Well, have you ever read Nancy Friday's 'My Secret Garden'? If you have, you will begin to understand what I am hoping to achieve. Not a barrage of sexual fantasies.. but a heap of emails detailing your experiences on various topics.

I am hoping to collate these responses and ultimately produce a South African book about all of us. 'Us', if you are wondering, is 'gay or lesbian' and 'South African."

I am still trying to formulate the main questions for the 'book' but my goal is to produce something that depicts the history, or her-story, of SA gays and lesbians, through the years.

I would like it to be a reference point for young gays and lesbians to turn to when they feel as if they are the only one's out there who have feelings for someone of the same sex.

I would like it to be a documentary of the cities and towns in South Africa where we have lived and loved. I would like it to be a record of life as a gay or lesbian, in this complexed country, over the years (pre-democracy). If one person can feel less isolated by this project, it would have succeeded.

Please e-mail me to suggest categories and I will also put out my own suggestions in the coming weeks. The address is herstory@eastcoast.co.za.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A few signs that you might be a lesbian...

  • You develop crush after crush on various teachers throughout your school career. This can be a blessing in disguise, as it usually means you do very well in whatever subject said teacher is in charge of.

  • You’re more interested in beating the boys at tennis or cricket, than impressing them with your demure ways

  • You spend hours trying to dream up ways of getting your best girlfriend at school to show you how to kiss

  • You spend all your pocket money buying kd lang CDs or Ellen DeGeneres sitcom re-runs.

  • Your clothing taste tends to be more on the practical side

  • You consider a touch of lipstick as being fully ‘made-up’

  • You watch every episode of E.R just to catch a glimpse of the Dr Weaver story line.
  • Erm.. you just happen to have fallen in love with a woman!

(Got your own tell-tale signs to add? email me and I'll add them!)

Sunday, January 7, 2007

For the straight folks...

For the straight folks, who don't mind gays - but wish they weren't so blatant

- By Pat Parker (this is a great poem I came across in the late '80's. It's actually a spoken song, and I just loved it at the time. Still do.)

You know, some people got a lot of nerve.

Sometimes I don’t believe the things I see and hear.

Have you met the woman who’s shocked by two women kissing
and in the same breath, tells you she's pregnant?
BUT gays, shouldn’t be blatant.

Or the straight couple who sit next to you in a movie and you can’t hear the dialogue because of the sound effects.
BUT gays shouldn’t be blatant.

And the woman in your office, spends your whole lunch hour
talking about her new bikini drawers and how much her husband likes them.
BUT gays shouldn’t be blatant.

Or the “hip” chick in your class rattling a mile a minute
while you’re trying to get stoned in the john, about the camping trip she took with her musician boyfriend.
BUT gays shouldn’t be blatant.

You go in a public bathroom and all over the walls there’s: “John loves
Mary”, “Janice digs Richard”, “Pepe loves Delores”, etc., etc.
BUT gays shouldn’t be blatant.

Or your go to the amusement park and there’s the ‘tunnel of love’
and pictures of straights painted on the front; and grinning couples coming in and out.
BUT gays shouldn’t be blatant.

Fact is, blatant heterosexuals are all over the place.
Supermarkets, movies, on your job, in church, in books, on television - every day
and night, every place -- even, gay bars!

And they want gay men and woman to go and hide in the closets.

So to you straight folks I say, “Sure! I’ll go - if you go too!”
“BUT I’m polite so, after you.”