A Woman Works

(Originally written on March 9, 2014.)

I am a bisexual woman engaged to a woman. A wonderful woman who has made me happier than I’ve ever been before. There is that saying that, someday, someone will walk into your life and make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else. This is what I have, and it’s phenomenal. I feel like I’m the luckiest person alive! But of course, all my exes are men, and my fiancée is a woman. So the question always comes:

“Do you think it’s working out so well because of who she is, or because she’s a woman?” Continue reading “A Woman Works”

Finding Church

I’ve been a member of my church for about five years. I started going shortly after I first moved into the neighborhood. I’ve wanted a church to call home for a very long time, but as a youth did not want one that prescribed a belief system I could not get behind. Mostly, I’m talking about Christianity.

When I was in high school, those were still the days before the cross-Canada legalization of same-sex marriage. I was starting to explore organized religion after my studies in individual spiritual systems left me feeling unfulfilled, and an unidentified nagging pushed me onward. I decided to attend a local United Church and loved it. The friendliness, the singing, the shaking hands. It wasn’t overly preachy. I couldn’t wait to dive all the way in.

I had many chats with the church’s youth pastor and eventually the subject of confirmation classes came up. I only had to clear up one thing.

“How important is the belief in the divinity of Jesus?” I asked.

“It’s the core of our belief system,” he told me, slightly bewildered.

I thanked him for his time and never went back. I would find Church elsewhere. Continue reading “Finding Church”

I respectfully disagree with both Simon Pegg & George Takei over Gay Sulu

So I just saw Star Trek Beyond. You know, the one with gay Sulu.

Not to spoil it; it’s super subtle. While on temporary leave on a star base, Sulu is able to meet up with whom we are led to assume is his partner and his daughter. His partner is a man. The only other shot we get is his partner appearing next to him at a party later on.

And so, everyone has been freaking out that Sulu is gay.

George Takei has stated that he is disappointed that the character he played on The Original Series has been changed so fundamentally. He agrees that it’s about time for an LGBT hero to show up in the Trek universe on screen, but feels that a new character should have been developed instead of changing one that Gene Roddenberry created as a heterosexual. He says that the interracial kiss that Star Trek aired in 1968 was about as far as they could push the envelope at the time, so excluding LGBT characters was “not some oversight by [Gene Roddenberry]; it was a conscious decision with which he grappled.”

Simon Pegg has respectfully disagreed. He claimed that in introducing a new character as gay, the character “would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?” He argues that Roddenberry would have made Sulu gay himself, and “[i]f he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have.”

While I see both points of view, why is nobody considering the option of Sulu just being bi? Continue reading “I respectfully disagree with both Simon Pegg & George Takei over Gay Sulu”

A Bisexual’s Secret: I Am Intimidated By Women.

(Originally posted on March 27, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I’m bisexual, and the prospect of dating a woman terrifies me. It’s probably the main reason I took ten years to finally accept myself and come out. I knew I wasn’t just straight-but-not-narrow when I was fourteen. But the few times I hesitantly reached out beyond the fear of rejection in high school, I was shut down – and painfully. It was easier to just focus my attention on boys and pretend I didn’t notice girls.

I also have the worst gaydar ever.

Honestly, I even have trouble sussing out whether straight men are hitting on me or not, so the idea of trying to read signals from a lady gives me serious anxiety. The awkward, hurtful experience of confessing a crush to a straight girl is something I don’t want to repeat at this point in my life.

Getting involved in LGBTQ events in Edmonton has been helpful, since I have met women I can say with certainty are attracted to other women, but not all crushes pop up at lesbian events. Sometimes they show up inconveniently at work, or at school, or at church. Men confuse me as it is. Continue reading “A Bisexual’s Secret: I Am Intimidated By Women.”

My Dad: Bisexual Ally

Guest post by PhebeAnn.

My dad and I have always been close, but we have especially been so since my mum died in 2001, when I was 17, and my dad became my only parent.

I remember when I was around 12 – this would be the mid 90s – I told my mum that although I sometimes had crushes on boys, I thought I might be gay because I was definitely attracted to girls, and not just in a friendship way. My mum’s response was basically that I was too young to know and that while it was okay to experiment, she really hoped I wasn’t gay because gay people’s lives are difficult.

I don’t remember talking to my dad about my feelings at that time. After my mum’s response, I was hesitant to talk about my sexuality again. But then, when I was 18, I fell in love with my friend S., a straight woman. Falling for S. is another story, but suffice it to say, I have never been so lovesick before or since. This love was so elating and torturous that I couldn’t keep it to myself.

I remember telling my dad “Dad, I am attracted to girls,” to which he replied cheekily, “me too!” His casual answer is memorable because to him the news was just that: casual. It didn’t change anything between him and me. I’m a bit of an oddball, and so is my dad. He is the one person in my life who from the minute I was born has always accepted me for exactly who and what I am and has never asked me to be anything else. My sexuality was no different. When I told him I was in love with S., he was not surprised. He knew her well as my friend, and likes her very much. He grieved my unrequited love with me and provided a shoulder to cry on many times.

Our discussions were mostly focused on my feelings about S. We didn’t talk about labels as far as I recall. I don’t remember ever telling my dad I was a lesbian, which is how I identified at the time.

Continue reading “My Dad: Bisexual Ally”

Our Progress Since 1959

I recently got back from vacationing with my wife. Among our many adventures in Nova Scotia, we stayed at the inn where she proposed to me, as is usual with our trips out east. The little inn shall remain unnamed, but they offer a small glass-door cupboard of books for guests to borrow, with a request to return for others to enjoy.

There were three or four shelves in a cupboard about two feet wide, so there weren’t a whole lot of books. It’s quite an eclectic mix, I must say. There were a few titles by L. Ron Hubbard, and several books in other languages. There was a 2006 – 2007 copy of Sunday Missal: Living with Christ and a small Lizzie McGuire chapter book.

But this immediately caught my eye: The New Illustrated Medical Encyclopedia For Home Use.

This beauty had four volumes, and looked old. I thought for sure it would be an entertaining read.

I brought it back to our room and delved in. It was published in 1959, back when having a medical encyclopedia for home use was a good idea and wouldn’t lead to chronic hypochondria.

The index was quite entertaining by itself.

themenopause
Not just any Menopause; THE Menopause.

Some of the information I encountered was progressive, and some of it was dated in that it was sexist, offensive, or incorrect. Or all of the above. Continue reading “Our Progress Since 1959”

Bad Lesbian Advice

I was a late bloomer in the romance department. For that, we can blame my introverted nature, or my low self-esteem, or maybe just my lack of prospects. When I was 22, I left my rural homeland and moved to a big city full of strangers. I moved because, deep down, I had a sneaking suspicion that I might not be the only lesbian in the world.

Incredibly, the hordes of queer ladies I had hoped to be welcomed by failed to materialize. Day after day I would walk out my door to go to work, and I would fail to find the perfect woman waiting for me on my doorstep, or at my bus stop, or draped across my desk.

I didn’t get it. I was here, I was queer, and my city was like “so what?”

I spent my twenties in a sort of passive denial. I kept hoping that I would meet my soulmate organically, while living my ordinary life. Years passed, and friends kept insisting that I had to be proactive if I wanted to meet women. But taking good advice wasn’t exactly my “thing” back then. Instead, I opted for falling in love with straight friends, over and over again, repeatedly breaking my own heart. This proved super effective and healthy.

I finally gave in and joined a queer social group at the age of 31, in the hopes of making queer friends and finding women to date. This very straightforward approach proved incredibly successful (hi, Kate!) but the process wasn’t without its hiccups. As I immersed myself in the metaphorical hot tub of the gay lady community, I was given several pieces of advice from fellow lesbians that made me raise a roughly hewn eyebrow (or two):


SUGGESTION 1: STEER CLEAR OF BISEXUAL WOMEN

On the surface, the queer community is all about inclusiveness. Just look at our acronym! My goal was to meet gay ladies, but as I got to know the people in my women’s group, I quickly realized that calling everyone a “lesbian” was inaccurate. We had bisexuals, and trans women, and gender non-conforming folks. There was even a cis straight woman!

We met twice a month. Sometimes the room was bursting at the seams with women, and other nights there were only a handful of us. I noticed that, when the group was small enough, when it was lesbian enough, people were less careful with their words.

This group was meant to be a safe space for women to speak openly. That’s harder than it sounds. You can let people speak their minds without judgment, or you can allow everyone a space to feel safe and respected. But doing both can be tricky. And so I was warned away from dating bisexual women.

I heard all the old, tired stereotypes. Bisexual women aren’t trustworthy. They won’t commit. They’re just experimenting. You’ll only get hurt. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

The lesbians spouting this garbage assured me that they knew what they were talking about because they had experience with bisexual women. As if that allowed them to speak about an entire group of people. If that’s any different from saying “don’t date black chicks,” I fail to see the distinction.

Verdict: I ignored Suggestion 1.


SUGGESTION 2: HIT IT AND QUIT IT

Throughout the course of several meetings, I opened up about the fact that I was still a virgin at age 31. Since literally everyone else in the group had more experience with women than I did, I deferred to their knowledge base. I quickly became their “project,” which made me slightly uneasy. But I knew I would have to stretch out of my comfort zone if I wanted to achieve my goal of lady-loving, so I kept my peace and told myself humility was a good thing.

I had made a new friend during the Pride Parade. She was smart, and sensitive, and a good listener. We hung out a lot, and over time I came to realize that she had feelings for me. How simple things would have been if I’d felt the same way back! But the attraction just wasn’t there.

Some of my group mates believed that my only obstacle to getting some action was the fact that no one was expressing interest. They were delighted to discover that there was someone out there who wanted me. On two separate occasions, I was advised to “hit it and quit it” with this chick.

I had no desire to have sex with someone I wasn’t attracted to, especially someone who had feelings for me. It seemed mean, and I was pretty sure it would make me feel worse instead of better.

Verdict: I ignored Suggestion 2.


SUGGESTION 3: BE MORE MASCULINE

Once I told the group that I was interested in women that were somewhat girly/feminine, I was told that I had to dress and behave a certain way in order to get anyone to date me.  This included changing my wardrobe to more masculine clothing, being more assertive, paying for everything, and learning how to drive.  (Oh, and also buying a car to drive.)

I didn’t feel butch; at least, not the idea of butch I had grown up with. But maybe I was wrong. I’ve always been quick to assume others know better than me in situations just like this. I was the novice lesbian, after all. What did I know?

So I listened as they told me I was meant to dress dapper, and pick my date up, and pay for dinner. Essentially, I was expected to “be the man.” This sounded very weird to me. Weren’t we a bunch of feminists raging against the patriarchy? Why were we including men in our lesbian activities?

Verdict: I dressed butch for a friend’s wedding, and I looked amazing. My behaviour, however, remained neutral.


SUGGESTION 4: BE MORE FEMININE

While half the group was telling me to embrace the butch aesthetic, the other half was insisting that I would never attract anyone unless I showed more skin.  Low-cut blouses and/or tank tops were suggested as a way to draw attention to my woman-curves.  Emphasize the goods, they said. Make sure people know they’re up for grabs (so to speak).  And would it kill you to put on a little make-up?  Can you at least look like you’re making an effort?

Obviously, I wanted date prospects to know that I cared about looking good for them. But I struggled with having the first idea how to do that.

I was accustomed to wearing unisex t-shirts, sweaters and hoodies. I shied away from anything hinting at cleavage, which left my top options (toptions!) pretty limited. The ladies assured me that showing a little bit of cleave would be flattering, and wouldn’t always be terrifying; it was something I would get used to and would help me gain confidence about my body.

I wanted to be seen as attractive. But it was starting to feel like the only way I could achieve that sort of support was through doing exactly as I was told. Would I have to follow someone else’s directions to the tee if I ever wanted to attract a lady? Wouldn’t that require an impossible level of upkeep?

I would have felt much more comfortable having someone interested in me based on the clothes I would wear everyday, or more to the point, based on things that had nothing to do with what I was wearing. I didn’t want to have to try so hard; not at this. I was willing to put infinite effort in when it came to sensitivity, and understanding, and making my woman laugh. But I was never going to be that girl who spent two hours “putting my look together.” Just, no.

Verdict: I bought a few tank tops that I rarely wear outside of the house.


SUGGESTION 5: SURPRISE THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT!

I eventually started dating a woman (hi, Kate!) but this didn’t stop the all-knowing lesbians from offering tips. Now, instead of “how to get a woman” advice, I was getting “how to satisfy a woman” advice. I figured the ladies probably knew their shit in this regard, so I was all ears. At first.

Some of it was common sense. Some of it was logistics. Most of it I already knew. Still, I listened intently as the ladies described their sexual experiences and suggested fun things I might like to try with a partner.

Then one day, in a conspiratorial whisper, one of them suggested I wake my girlfriend up in the morning by inserting a finger into her.  Because she can’t say no if she’s not awake, amirite, ladies?

Verdict: *disgusted shudder*


The lesson I took away from all of this was that, in many ways, this group of lesbians was clinging to outdated stereotypes harder than the traditional-minded straight folk they were meant to be a haven from.  The importance of filling certain roles, of dismissing certain groups outright, of refusing to be myself, felt completely counter to what I expected from a queer safe space. I also found it decidedly un-feminist to suggest rape as a way of being “playful” in bed.

I had walked into that women’s group expecting to learn a few things, and I did. I learned that opinions can vary widely, even among lesbians. I learned that having romantic experience with women doesn’t make you an expert on them. I learned that even virgins know a few things.

People love to give advice. More often than not, they give it with the best of intentions, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it. Your inner voice matters, and you shouldn’t do anything that doesn’t feel right to you. Go with your instincts. You’ll do ok.

Trust me. I’m a lesbian.


Author

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CLEXA: The Best Ship That Ever Shipped

Arrr ye matey, tharr be spoilers ahead!

A quick recap:

It’s been 97 years since a planet-wide nuclear war. A very small percentage of humanity escaped into space, and has since been biding time in The Ark, a space station orbiting post-apocalypse earth. It is ruled with the iron fist of the democratically elected chancellor, and any rule breakers above the age of 18 are “floated” – sent out an air lock to their death, floating into frozen space. Under-age rule breakers are kept confined, awaiting a retrial on their 18th birthday, when they will either rejoin The Ark’s society, or be floated.

The air starts running out on The Ark. Dramatic, drastic measures are taken but little time is gained for the inhabitants of The Ark. There proves to be a chance that Earth is becoming habitable again, so the decision is made to send the juvenile delinquents down to Earth as an experiment. With futuristic FitBits locked to their wrists, 100 good-looking teens are shot down to Earth. The bracelets let The Ark know how their bodies react to the climate – and radiation – on Earth.

No surprise, it turns out to be habitable. The JDs get all Lord of the Flies and a primitive culture and leadership develops. One of these leaders is Clarke, a relatively goody-two-shoes who tries to maintain her moral high ground, but finds herself quickly devolving with the rest of the no-good kids.

But for a select number of people, it’s been habitable the entire time humanity has been waiting it out in space. In “modern” society’s absence, a primitive, tribal culture has developed. These are the Grounders. The JDs are the Sky People. Season one is basically Sky People vs Grounders. But then the adults from The Ark come to earth, and shit gets real. Continue reading “CLEXA: The Best Ship That Ever Shipped”

Bisexual Monogamy

(Originally posted on May 7, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I’ve noticed something since coming out, and I’m not sure if I should be bothered by it or not. I can’t say it’s a trend – can two people be a trend? – but coupled with other bisexual experiences I’ve read about, it seems to be a thing I can’t escape by the very nature of my sexual orientation.

I have officially dated two people since coming out, both of them have been men. Both of them knew I am bisexual, both of them knew my experience with women is limited, and both of them kept insisting I should explore my sexuality by dating women on the side.

I suppose now is a good time to clarify that I am very much a monogamous person. I can’t even casually go on a date with one person one week and a different person the next, unless I’ve completely ruled out the first person. I think I make this clear, as a general rule, to those I get beyond the point of casual dating with. I can’t focus on more than one person at a time to that degree; trying to maintain and further intimate relationships with multiple people would exhaust me.

Yet since coming out, the men I’ve dated have insisted I should carry on with what are essentially – in my mind – affairs! There have been arguments about it, like these straight men know what’s best for me as a bisexual woman and I’m obviously deluded about how bisexuality works. Neither of them wanted a free pass to also date women on the side, and neither seemed bothered by the idea of me forming intimate physical and emotional relationships with women. Continue reading “Bisexual Monogamy”