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Friday, May 25, 2012

164

Late Starts and the Umfriend

1. So, I've pretty much known that I've liked chicks from the time I was 13 on. However, because my spirituality conflicted with my sexuality, I never really acted on it. I went on a few dates with chicks in my late teens, got kicked out of my house for that and then stopped dating entirely. Here I am 32 years old now. I went through therapy hoping to "fix" my sexuality. It didn't work. I went through a "de-gayification" program (for lack of a better phrase) that I ended up quitting because I felt like scum every "class." I then did my own research on the Bible and all that stuff and found that it doesn't conflict. Woot! So, now I'm entering the world of dating. I have no clue how to meet chicks, talk to them, date them... don't even get me started on sex. How do I do this? I am this freakish anomaly that really hasn't dated, is a virgin (yikes) and is really into Jesus. Am I doomed to be celibate (still) the rest of my life? Is there hope for me?

Oh, sweetheart! No, you're not doomed to be celibate; yes, there is hope for you; and this wasn't really a question you asked, but yes, you should definitely stop describing yourself as a “freakish anomaly.” Lots of folks get a late start at being gay, many of them for reasons very similar to yours: they're afraid there's something wrong with them, or they don't want to deal with the judgment and discrimination, so they either try their damnedest to be straight or avoid dating altogether until it becomes clear that those choices are making them miserable. I promise, you're far from the only person to be entering the queer dating scene for the first time post-30. Don't be so hard on yourself about it, and when you do meet a lady you're into, don't present your inexperience as though it's some huge embarrassing secret like uncontrollable flatulence or voting for McCain. There is nothing wrong with you, but if you come off like you think there is, chicks will sense it and you'll have a much harder time getting them to take their pants off.

So what do you need to know about finding / picking up / getting down with ladies? A healthy social life is always a good place to start. The more people you're meeting, the more likely one of them will be single, gay, and interested. Join a book club, take up yoga, go to an open mic night — whatever you're interested in, find a way to be around other people who are interested in that thing. If your city has a decent queer scene, consider hitting up a lesbian dance night or something similar. We've talked about how it can be hard to find conversational ground beyond “You're gay? What a coincidence, I'm gay!” at queer events; still, it's kind of relaxing to know with 98 percent certainty that the woman you're chatting up is not a straight chick thinking “Dammit, I knew these Converse were a bad idea.” 

When you've been out of the dating game for a long time, probably the scariest part of diving back in is the possibility of facing rejection. How do you steel yourself to the idea of putting your whole self out on the line and asking that cute girl for her number when you know her response might very well be, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Well, as anyone who has spent several years trying to make it in the lucrative field of poetry can tell you: oh, God, I'm never going to get a real job. No, wait, what I meant to say was: rejection gets easier to handle the more practice you have. The first time someone turns you down for dinner and a movie, you will probably feel like going home, weeping, watching your entire DVD box set of Firefly, and drinking a bottle of wine in a sitting. Go ahead and do that, it sounds like fun. But then the second time will be easier, and the third will be easier still, and eventually you'll reach the point where a lady says “no thanks” and you're like “Whatever, her loss.” (Just kidding, that never happens to anyone! But we all like to pretend that we'll get there someday.)

The upside is that, among the rejections, you'll also undoubtedly encounter some women who are totally into you, and want to get to know you better, possibly while naked! This is where shit is really going to get crazy. There is no way to prepare you for the first time a relationship becomes central to your life, then goes catastrophically wrong. (You may have already lived through this as a teenager, but I think given your decade-plus hiatus, we're kind of starting over from the beginning, emotionally.) All I can tell you is: it's going to happen, it's going to hurt, and you're going to live through it. Keep in mind that getting a late start on your romantic life does not mean you get to skip to the end any faster; you're still going to have to get through the usual hopeless crushes, disastrous dates, and regrettable one-night stands before you find someone who really makes your heart/vagina sing.

As far as sex goes, again, don't psych yourself out about being a virgin, and don't approach it like you're ashamed of your inexperience. It's up to you whether to disclose to the women you date that you've never had sex before; I think it's a good idea, especially if you're feeling uncertain about what exactly to do and you want to move slowly, but it's certainly not required. Either way, the best thing you can do for yourself as you prepare to plunge back in — a word choice I'll almost certainly regret before the end of this sentence — is to masturbate a lot. And make sure to change it up! Use vibrators, the showerhead, or just your hand. Experiment to determine whether you like penetration, clitoral stimulation, or a combination. Fantasize wildly, and figure out what gets you wet.

All this solitaire serves a couple of purposes: first, it allows you to be clear with your future partners about what you're into, which will make a huge difference in how satisfied you are with any sexual encounter. Second, the first time you're faced with a vagina which is not your own, instead of thinking “Oh my God I have no idea what to do,” you can think “Well, I like some gentle back-and-forth rubbing at first, so I'll start with that and see where it goes.” Be aware that what turns you on in the comfort of your own bathtub might not be exactly what you're into when there's an actual naked girl in the room, and be prepared to make adjustments on the fly based on what's working for you or your partner. Things will probably be a little awkward at first, but that doesn't have to be a mood-killer. Sometimes a shared giggle or a “well, THAT's not as much fun as it looks in porn” can be a moment that brings you and your lady-friend closer together.

Oh, and the Jesus thing? I don't think it's going to get in your way at all. If you live in a big city, there is probably an explicitly gay-friendly church nearby — Google it — where you can meet awesome people who share your faith, and possibly make out with them. I went to one recently for my friend's son's baptism, and holy crap, there were a lot of cute butches there. I wish I'd known about this when I was single. (And still Christian, so I guess around age eleven.)

Congratulations on coming to terms with who you are and deciding to embrace yourself in all your queer awesomeness. Now, get out there and make some bad decisions, then come back here and tell us all about them!

2. Dear Queer Chick — I am going to make a long backstory very short: my parents divorced when I was two, and both of them remarried within two years. My dad and stepmom had four kids in the following 10 years, and while I love all my siblings, I am closest with my youngest sister. Dad and Stepmom (SM) got divorced about 15 years ago, and SM moved in with her "best friend." I was in college by then, and knew pretty much right away that SM and her best friend were lovers, but it was never really discussed, nor did I care. (Enter comments here about hippie parental units who believed in free love, and loving the one you're with and blah, blah, blah.) SM and her friend always maintained separate bedrooms, and never I never witnessed any PDA, but there was still a vibe, you know? I don't know if it was just a show or not, since we live in a pretty small community, but whatever works for them, right?

Fast forward to my youngest sister going abroad for the last two years of her degree.  While she was gone, SM started introducing her friend as her life partner. When my sister came back to the States after graduation, she just about came unglued over this. All the rest of my siblings (including the ones from my Mom's remarriage, because hey, we all grew up together) are totally cool with this situation except her. I don't get it. She has gay and lesbian friends and is not a total asshole to them, but is the biggest jerk to her own mom, and to the person her mom has chosen to spend the rest of her life with! I have tried discussing this situation with her, but every time I do, it just pisses her off. It makes me sad, because now she just completely avoids her mom. What can I (or even should I) do to help fix this situation?

This is an awful situation that you're in, and what's even more awful — as I think you've already figured out — is that there's really nothing you can do about it. Your sister's relationship with her mom is complicated enough right now; if you get involved, there's about a 1.6% chance you'll make things better, versus an 89% chance you'll offend or alienate your sister, which is the last thing she needs. I know it's so painful to watch people you love hurt each other, but in this case, I have to advise you to stay out of it.

Usually I absolutely can't be bothered to make excuses for people saying and doing homophobic shit. However, I can kind of see how your otherwise tolerant sister might have trouble coming to terms with her mother being gay. It sounds to me like she's probably spent the last fifteen years in denial about her mom's orientation and (perhaps) the role it played in her parents' divorce; realizing belatedly that the woman her mom lives with is the woman she left your father for must be painful. Even if her mom's current relationship is not what ended her marriage with your dad, the fact that she's gay probably didn't help. If your sister is struggling to come to terms with the newly revised history of her family — if she's working through blaming her mother for her parents' divorce — telling her to snap out of it will neither speed up the process nor improve your relationship with her.

Just be patient, and as supportive and loving as possible. If your sister insults your stepmom or her partner in your hearing, I think it's fine to tell her that she's being too harsh, but don't push it to the point of a fight. All you can do is remind her — through your presence, not your words — of the loving, supportive family you both come from, and hope that will inspire her to decide her relationship with her mom is worth preserving.

3. So, as a straight, cis-gendered white girl, I want to be sensitive and thoughtful about how I refer to friends who would self-identify as queer. And maybe I'm bogged down in historical context, but I'm a little uneasy about describing someone as "queer." It seems like a re-appropriation of a pejorative, and that as someone who is not a part of that community, it's not appropriate for me to casually refer to a friend of mine as "queer"; I'm concerned that it could sound like Harry Crane on Mad Men. So, is this ... a thing that I can say? Should I just consider the context, or is it never really okay?

I can't really give you an across-the-board dispensation here, but I can tell you that I've never been offended by a straight person saying “queer.” It may just be the most successfully reclaimed formerly pejorative term in the entire English language. There's even an entire field of academic study devoted to it. Sure, it's still possible to use it as a slur, but pretty much anything can be an insult if it's intended that way, right? (“Dude, that is SO pre-Cambrian.”)

I think you're completely fine to use the word “queer,” especially when you're talking to or about people who identify with it. A lot of folks really prefer it, in fact, and are much more comfortable comfortable being described as “queer” than “gay” or “LGBT” or what have you. Just be sensitive — if someone tells you they're offended by it, don't use it around them anymore. “But this queer chick on the Internet said it was okay!” is not a good excuse for anything, ever.

4. Perhaps this will sound terrible, but although I'm not sexually attracted to men, I've spent most of my life dating men because doing so is easy and safe. Basically, all of my long term relationships have been with men who I like, but do not love, with whom I enjoy snuggling, but not having sex.

In the last three or four months, a friendship with a beautiful lez lady has become something in between friends-with-benefits and romantic relationship, sans title. I enjoy every moment I spend with her, and I know she enjoys spending time with me as well. Basically, I want to date this girl. I want to do things which make her smile and introduce her as my girlfriend and use all of my available resources to make sure she never feels sad.

However, she thinks of me as straight, as does the rest of my social world. While we've had conversations about sexuality, she doesn't take me seriously as bisexual, queer, whatever (I hate all of these words and I don't know how to begin to apply one to myself). In conversation, she indicates that there is a big difference between me (and my kind) and her (and her kind) in a way that makes me feel a little bit like a joke. Not that she's into binary essentialism or anything, but she'll say things like, "I wish I had more gay friends. I mean, talking to you is great, but it's not like talking to another lesbian."

I don't blame her for thinking this, I'm the one who has been lying to the world for about almost a decade, and she's always known me as a girl who dates boys. I know she came out, loudly, very early in life, so I worry that she can't relate to being 22 and still struggling with identification. Also, I get the idea that some girls have used her as a kind of "sexperiment" or drunk make-out-buddy without seriously breaking any hetero mores.

So, how can I convince her that I'm not just a tourist in gay-town? And, beyond that, how can I convince myself?

Hold up, this woman is having sex with you, right? I mean, I assume that's what you meant by friends-with-benefits. You're exchanging orgasms on a regular basis, but she still doesn't consider you “gay enough”? I feel like the main problem you have here might just be that you're banging a judgmental juicebox. Have you considered dumping her ass and finding a nicer girl to grind on?

Maybe that's too harsh. Dating someone who's closeted is no picnic, and I can understand why your umfriend (a useful term for those romantic-but-undefined relationships in your life, as in “This is Hannah. She's my, um, friend”) might be hesitant to upgrade you to girlfriend status if you haven't come out yet. Still — as she should well remember — coming out isn't the easiest thing in the world either, and I wish she were offering you some emotional support, instead of writing you off as “one of those girls.”

Except ... You have told her you're not one of those girls, right? You've told her that you're gay? Because you kind of avoided coming out and saying it in your letter, and instead described yourself “struggling with identification.” If you refuse to identify yourself as a member of Team Dyke, it makes sense that your paramour doesn't see you that way either. But everything you say about your romantic and sexual predilections — not into dating boys, not into sexing boys, very into dating and sexing girls, particularly this girl — tells me that you're gay with a capital I [HEART] VAGINA. You can call yourself “lesbian” or “queer” or whatever feels best to you, but the sooner you start admitting to yourself and the people in your life that you really dig chicks, the happier and healthier you will be.

I know it's scary. I know it's easier to continue dating boys, and telling yourself that you just don't know who you are yet. But the thing is, I don't think that's true. You know who you are and what you want, and that big closet door is the only thing standing in your way.

So here's what you do: you sit down with your umfriend, and you say “Listen, I know I've been hesitant to put a name on the way I feel about you, but that needs to stop. I'm crazy about you, and I want us to be together. And because you deserve a girlfriend who's proud to be with you, I also want to come out of the closet and tell everyone that I'm gay. I hope you'll be there to hold my hand when I do, because I am scared as hell right now.” Almost definitely, she responds with “Finally! I had just about given up on you!” and then you guys make out and everything's great. (There's a small but awful possibility that she will instead say “Wow, I'm flattered, but I'd really rather keep this casual,” in which case you go home, cry, and then start looking for a new lady — one who knows you're gay from the start.) After that, you call up your friends, and any non-homophobic family members you're lucky enough to possess, and you break the news: you're gay, your “friend” is your girlfriend, you couldn't be happier to get this off your chest, now who wants to go get a lot of mojitos?

Good luck, darlin'. This is going to be terrifying, but your life is going to become so much more awesome from here. I'm really excited for you.

Previously: Future In-Laws, Appealing Coworkers, and Lesbians With Interests (?!)

Lindsay Miller knows everything (and is now on Twitter!). Do you have a question for her? (300-word max, please.)

Photo by Anna Sedneva, via Shutterstock



164 Comments / Post A Comment

HeyThatsMyBike

Umfriend is the best term ever.

QuiteAmiable

@HeyThatsMyBike I concur.

You'll be sorry Jo March

@HeyThatsMyBike SO useful!

cat_ballou

@HeyThatsMyBike I have been totally in need of "umfriend" and didn't realize it until just now!

Decca

@HeyThatsMyBike Oh, umfriends. :(

meetapossum

@Decca Umfriends are the worst. The last guy I dated would always introduce me as "my friend, L" and it really drove me crazy. I guess it was a sign things weren't going to work out, but dude, can't you just say, "This is L"? It is commitment-free and also doesn't make me feel like I shouldn't be sleeping with you if we're just "friends."

mystique

@HeyThatsMyBike Hahaha, I actually had a moment on a date-that-was-not-a-date (but led to dates! yay!) where I said something about "this, um, friendship."

SarahDances

@HeyThatsMyBike I use the term "my um" to refer to someone in that period of time where you're dating regularly but haven't had the official relationship talk yet. I am pleased to see another variant of this out in the world!

fondue with cheddar

@meetapossum My boyfriend has a habit of introducing me as his friend because he's going through a divorce from his abusive ex, and for the first few months we agreed that it was a bad idea for us to be "out" as a couple. We're no longer keeping it a secret, but he still sometimes introduces me to people as his friend out of habit. Even though I know it's not on purpose, it still hurts a little bit.

I wish I knew the term "umfriend" when I had umfriends! It's great.

rocknrollunicorn

@meetapossum Oh, lady (lady? you could be a dude), I feel you. The last guy I dated before my current boyfriend did this once, and I was seriously offended. It is SO EASY to introduce people without definitions. This was months before we stopped dating and I should have ended things right then. My current boyfriend has actually told me how happy he is to introduce me as his girlfriend. Thank god for the original jerk, though, or I wouldn't appreciate the current gem at all.

Speaking of OJ (original jerk), he texted me something of a sexual nature today. We haven't had sex since 2011 and he knows I'm taken now. Asshole.

permanentbitchface

LW4! The way I read it, this girl is dismissing you or something. I don't like it! You shouldn't have to prove or convince anything to anyone about your sexuality.

Also Lindsay's advice is spot-on!

Inkling

@permanentbitchface
I was really surprised when LW revealed she's 22. I feel like that's a perfectly acceptable age to start accepting your sexuality, especially since it can be hard to actually have sex until you're 18 and away from your parents!
Note: I think all ages are perfectly acceptable, but this is like, I don't at all see how the umfriend can think this 22-year-old is already set in her ways.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Inkcrafter Agreed! I was waiting for her to say she was also in her early 30s! Girl, go be you, and don't let this woman tell you what you are and aren't!

Lily Rowan

@Inkcrafter Yeah, I feel like 22 can go both ways (not like that. I mean, also like that) -- either you know you're still just a kid figuring things out, or you are so sure you're an adult who has everything figured out. Sounds like LW #4 is the first type, and the umfriend is the second.

Cat named Virtute

@permanentbitchface Yeah, but if all/most of the queers you know are super scene-y queers who all went off to uni, made a bunch of queer friends/fuckbuddies/girlfriends, and came of age in a sexually adventurous monolith (not that I would know ANYTHING about that), it can feel super disempowering and scary to admit that you're just starting out with stuff they (publicly behave like they) figured out at 18.

OhMarie

@Inkcrafter Right? Girl, do not even worry about it!! I know 22 seems ancient when you are in high school and college, but you are well within the standard figuring-yourself-out period.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Cat named Virtute Totally agree, but if you're seeing a girl who says you aren't a "real" lesbian because you didn't do those same things, then she's the small-minded one!

Cat named Virtute

@HeyThatsMyBike Absolutely true!

permanentbitchface

@HeyThatsMyBike This!

notfromvenus

@permanentbitchface Yeah, totes. I was still figuring out my sexuality at that age, it's nothing to be ashamed of.

(And coming out as a lesbian at 16, and then at 23 going, oops, wait a minute, actually I also like guys sometimes? That was srs awkward, lol.)

jaimie

Not trying to make excuses for the sister in letter two, but it also sounds like her mom coming out happened while she was away, without her knowing, and so she came back to a whole new situation. I can imagine that being pretty jarring (on top of the whole re-assimilating to life in the US thing), so maybe part of the problem is that she feels like she was left out of the loop, like she was lied to, before that. Feeling like you're the last to know about something major like that can be really hurtful and cause you to lose some trust in that person.

JoanTition

@jaimie
That's a really good point. When I was 19 or 20 there were a few family things I was last to know about and for whatever reason it absolutely *wrecked* me.

I say the LW should tell her sister when she's being a jerk, though. It's really easy to be extremely hard on your own parents at times and an attitude check wouldn't be the worst...

ilikemints

@jaimie Yeah, I think it was more the being lied to and being completely out of the loop thing than the gay thing. I think being betrayed and dealing with the fury of being made a fool of by your own mother can go a LONG way to cause rift.

Not that I would, um, know about or still be dealing with things like that or anything.

thebestjasmine

@jaimie YES, exactly. Feeling like you were lied to and everyone else knew this big secret and kept it from you can make someone really furious, especially when those everyone elses are your family.

insouciantlover

@jaimie I really think that living in another country for 2 years is a huge part of it. Having been through it, the culture shock of returning home can be even more intense than the culture shock of being in that other country... little sister is probably working a LOT of stuff out right now, and this is just another shock to add to it.

Carrie Ann

@jaimie Yeah, and I couldn't really tell from the letter whether Little Sister was specifically upset that Mom is *gasp* gay. If I came to believe that my parents' relationship broke up because of any 3rd party, I wouldn't be very accepting of that new relationship or that person. Not that that's necessarily what happened here, but given the divorce, followed by coming out, I can see how she might relate the two.

entangled

@jaimie Yeah, it does not sound to me like this is a homophobia issue. I mean, it's possible, but there's more than enough that the sister could be upset about even if she were 110% OK with the idea of her mom being a lesbian. The LW acts as if it was kind of an unspoken truth that the mom and the friend were an item, but it sounds like her sister is 10+ years younger. What's obvious to a college student is not going to be obvious to someone who is age 8 or 10. It seems to me more likely that she's reprocessing the issues with her parents divorce and the fact that her mom has been living with someone who may have broken up her marriage for years without her daughter being aware of this. Between that and being away for two years to find that a huge part of her family history has been rewritten, I can see a lot that it would be pretty normal to be upset about.

That's not to excuse being a dick. Just because it's understandable to be upset doesn't mean that the correct response to that emotion is to alienate her mother. I just think that unless there's some other evidence that she's only comfortable with gay people when they're at a distance, that this is about her family, divorce and feeling misled and not sexuality.

notfromvenus

@jaimie Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Also, just seeing your parent move on and partner off with someone else can be pretty tough for some people.

I suspect that the little sister is just feeling hurt because of these other issues and can't express it well and is grabbing onto homophobia as a way to lash out.

Cat named Virtute

Oh man, number 1 gave me a lot of feelings on an already feelingsful day. Between that and number 4, people, can we just agree to stop being massive juiceboxes about people not having a lot of our kinds of sexual/dating experience? We all gotta start somewhere, and not everyone has the same, ahem, leg up. Late bloomers, we are great!

H.E. Ladypants

@Cat named Virtute Agreed. Everyone's sexual path is different and there isn't really a "standard." I wish we could all just agree that, that's okay.

Cat named Virtute

@H.E. Ladypants Here here! Early bloomers are great! Late bloomers are great! Personally I have found that the best quality one can bring to dating and sex is enthusiasm. No storied history or toy chest can make up for a sick grin and eager hands.

all the bacon and eggs

LW3, I would exercise caution in using the term "queer," because my middle-aged lesbian relatives are completely offended by it. (Though I can't say whether this represents the attitude of their generation generally.)

Mira

@all the bacon and eggs To be fair to your middle-aged relatives, I'm 26 and I don't like it either. I have a straight friend who is constantly saying "queer" and "dyke" and all that and I know she means well, but I hate it anyway and it's exhausting to have to keep hearing jarring language from your friends. I know lots of people prefer "queer," but I'm not one of them.

LW3, you sound like a good friend/ally and I think it's cool that you're concerned about this. There's no harm in just asking your friends what they prefer, you know? Maybe just do that? I'd guess that some or most like/prefer "queer" and maybe a couple don't. But they will all probably appreciate being asked.

all the bacon and eggs

@Mira Oh I totally agree, I just meant to point out that the perspectives of the mostly 20- and 30-somethings on Hairpin might not reflect that all LGBT people are cool with the term "queer." "Just ask" is definitely the solution.

Mira

@all the bacon and eggs Sorry, I didn't mean to sound critical of you! You made a good point, and it's true that comfort with "queer" often tends to be a generational thing.

Judith Slutler

@Mira As a straight person, I am cool saying "queer" (mostly because most of my nonstraight female friends call themselves that, and see "bi" or "lesbian" as overly reductive) but "dyke" is not a word I'd fix my mouth to say. That's just bound to come across as a slur, right? Not mine to reclaim.

Mira

@Emmanuelle Cunt I mean, to me that seems pretty obvious, but apparently it is not! My dislike of/discomfort with "queer" is kind of a personal thing, I don't see it as an inherently offensive word for straight people to use, but "dyke" is just...come on, dude, really?

Ahhhh I should probably be having this conversation with my friend instead of complaining about it to the Internet.

all the bacon and eggs

@Mira It totally makes sense why one would be uncomfortable with the term queer! I mean, the ordinary meaning of the word is that there's something deviant or strange about, or something wrong with [the thing being described].

LaLoba

@Mira I don't often throw "dyke" around and I've never called anyone else a dyke, but I I've said it before because it's been used many times as a slur against me, even though I'm not really gay. I'm sorta queer I guess but mainly in a way that makes me identify as just me as opposed to anything else, but I have been hatefully maligned by boys and men since I was about eleven years old as a "dyke" or the implication. I don't say "maligned" because I think it's an insult to be called gay, but because it's always been hurled as an insult as a kind of punishment for not making myself visually-sexually appealing or available to the men around me in a mode they find acceptable.

Because of that I've felt an odd kinship with the word, even though perhaps I shouldn't as i'm not REALLY a "dyke." The motivations behind using this word as an insult and as a dehumanizing slur at women is fascinating. I read this story on Reddit the other day about a woman who, at twelve years old, had been told hatefully by a boy that she was "Just wearing that shirt so people would look at her boobs." It reminds me of that notion that sometimes men are angry when women are in charge of their own bodies and operating independently, so they take the thing that they are doing perhaps on purpose and try and turn it into something shameful and sick. AH.

THAT WENT SOME PLACES.

And when I really think about it, I guess I've only used the word when I'm telling a story about someone calling me that, or making light of people's assumptions.

LaLoba

@LaLoba And sometimes I feel pleasantly subversive letting people assume I am gay when I'm not really, actually gay (even though I have done sex and could, in the future, do it again with a girl). I feel like Cary Grant golfing and wearing swim trunks with his best pal.

thebestjasmine

@Mira See, as a straight girl, I don't think of dyke as being beyond the pale at all, mostly because it was very effectively reclaimed in college with events named Dyke this that, and then in SF there's the Dyke March every pride weekend, and I grew up with that. I probably would never describe anyone as a dyke (because, again I'm a straight girl), but I can see why other people would think it's been reclaimed in the way that queer has been.

But just tell your friend that you hate those words! Because if you hate them, you do.

runner in the garden

@all the bacon and eggs - I approve of the Cary Grant scale of slightly-queer-ness.

joie

Queer Chick, you are just the bee's knees! Thank you for your continuously thoughtful, wise advice. <3

paddlepickle

Hmmm. . .so with LW2, I am really curious about what the sister's impression of her mother's sexuality was growing up, and to what lengths her mother went to hide it. Because sometimes what's really obvious to one person isn't obvious at all to others, even someone really close to them. And being lied to, even for legitimate reasons, sucks.

I can say that when my best friend finally came to terms with his sexuality, it was difficult for me not because I had any problem with it but because he'd told me a lot of lies throughout the years. And it was especially jarring because it seemed like everyone else on earth had figured it out much earlier, but I hadn't. When you really, fully trust someone, you're less inclined to examine what they say; you just believe it. So when I realized he had been telling me lies all this time, it was really hard. We've since talked it out, and of course I understand why he lied- he was lying to himself as well as to me- but it was really difficult at first.

So basically. . .I think the mom might have invested a lot of effort into the 'friends' thing, and said a lot of blatant untruths. So the sister might be feeling more 'Why have you been lying to me all these years?" than "Ew, you're gay".

anachronistique

@paddlepickle And her mom waited till she left the country for two years to do this. Ouch.

noodlestein

@paddlepickle - That's just what I was thinking! Taking her relationships with other non-mom queers, it could certainly be the lying. At least, I hope so. I hope that it is hurt and not immoveable prejudice that is motivating her to act like a complete juicebox.

Hello Kidney

@paddlepickle My (lesbian) friend is dating a recently-divorced woman with a 9(I think?)-year-old daughter, and they are also claiming "just friends" to her kid. I try really hard not to judge that choice (because who's to say what's "right" when it comes to raising children) but having experienced being lied to by my own mother (often ughhh), I can say with confidence that lies degrade trust and leave lasting scars on that relationship.

It's hard to watch someone lie by omission to their own child. I can definitely see all that deception lead to something like LW2's sister's reaction, unfortunately.

saythatscool

Every time I read this column, I get upset because it never turns into a sexy pillow fight.

WHEN IS MY TIME GONNA COME LAWDY?

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@saythatscool Someone get over here and braid my hair!

EternalFootwoman

@saythatscool I brought some nailpolish and a stack of YM magazine!

timesnewroman

To be fair to the gals in #4, the LW says she's 22 and that her umfriend came out "early in life" - thus if the umfriend is the same age as her, "early in life" possibly translates to 14 or 15, in which case the umfriend probably doesn't actually remember what coming out is like all that well!

Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter

@timesnewroman Yeah, this might be one of those "Your gayness is inauthentic because you are not out/have not been out for as long as I've been out, no offence" in which case, offence.

HA HA youthful hurt feelings!

sarah girl

A practical note to the LW#1 looking for Christian lesbians: At least in my experience, there are lots of LGBT-friendly churches with lesbians in attendance, but said lesbians are not usually single. I think a lot of the couples do the same thing people in hetero relationships do, which is to not feel the need for church community in their single/dating years, but as they start to build a family go "wait, I'd like to have a community where I can raise my kids/grow my family."

This obviously isn't the case in ALL churches! Especially in urban areas, the more liberal churches have a stronger young adult/single crowd. But, for example, my parents attend an excellent UCC church with a sizable queer population, and basically all of the regulars are coupled and many are having/had babies.

EternalFootwoman

@Sarah H. I go to a super-gay-frindly church with a sizeable queer population and have found this to be true. It's one of the perils of being young and into church-going. BUT I speak from experience when I say that, if you've been struggling to balance spirituality with sexuality, the first time you see "your people" in church, as an active part of a church, the first time you hear a pastor talk about equality from the pulpit, the first time you see a church in a Pride parade--amazing. Absolutely, heart-wrenchingly amazing.

runner in the garden

@Sarah H. - Good point. My church back home had a queer singles group that would go out to lunch after church... If there's something like that (which may take some time to find out about), then you can cling tightly to each other as the only hip young people around who don't want to talk about babies and mortgages.

bacon

@Sarah H. LW1 here. I've tried a few gay friendly/inclusive churches in my area. They seem to be more about being inclusive than being I dunno... Jesus-y. But, I'm going to keep sticking with it. Keep trying to find a good mix of "You aren't going to hell because you're gay." and "Seriously, try to follow Jesus."

Hot Doom

@bacon Not sure what denomination you are or what types of congregations (congre-gay-tions?) are available or appeal to you, but the church I went to in my hometown was Episcopalian and and gay-friendly as they come, but very Jesus-y as well. They had a LBGTQ coffee-hour/book club/singles night and all that jazz, so maybe check out that avenue? Best wishes for your journey and finding a community!

pomobabble

@bacon The church I go to (Episcopalian, in NYC, if we're keeping count) is both very LBGTQ friendly and pretty Jesus-y (hello three hour Good Friday blues mass!). And seriously, three cheers for being both totally committed to your faith and open to non-hateful interpretations of the Bible.

sarah girl

@bacon If you want more Jesus, definitely avoid Unitarian churches, ha. UCC is often a good bet, although their theology varies; I think Episcopalian sounds promising!

Paul_Funyun

This thread of gay / ally hairpin-reading Jesus-y people is making my heart / vagina sing.

iceberg

Trans* related but totally off-topic question: better here or saved for the Open Thread?

Porn Peddler

@iceberg Here, and if you are unsatisfied with answers, open thread it!

iceberg

@Third Wave Housewife OK here goes:
So this morning I read someone's comment on a FaceBook link about a trans lady.
I skimmed the link but didn't have time to really absorb it, but basically I think the deal was: she wants to use the ladies bathroom at her college but because she hasn't had reassignment surgery she is still legally male and so she might be banned from it.
Now let me preface this by saying that *in her case* I would totally welcome her into the ladies bathroom, but there was this whole extra tangent about trans* becoming a federally protected thing like race and gender, and some asshat comments about ooh everyone is part of a federally protected class when does it end *hand-wringing* and also some super trans phobic comments like they just need to get over themselves and be what they were born as (UGH).
So then I started thinking, like in theory it's good to just let people identify themselves, but like, what if some juicebox frat-boy decides to pretend he's trans* so he can go in the ladies bathroom? I would not like that. But I also would not like for trans people to have disclose where they're at as far as surgery or whatever, or be judged on whether they are presenting as their chosen gender, in order to use the bathroom they feel safest in. So how do we protect trans people without making it possible for people to take advantage of this self-determination of gender for predatory purposes?

(or am I just overthinking shit as per ushe and this will never happen except in an Adam Sandler movie?)

Porn Peddler

@iceberg I think the stigma that comes from being trans would probably prevent cis people from "pretending."

DOWN WITH GENDER ESSENTIALISM. SMASH THE KYRIARCHY. (my answer to everything)

noodlestein

@iceberg, I think you may be ovethinking this, and it's understandable, really. Here you are, a sympathetic and fully developed person thinking about an issue, and here comes this cro-magnon juicbox blasting you with his(?) issues. Hopefully, this person is in the minority, and the issue would never arise in real life. Plus, I truly think that getting people their rights is worth a little discomfort, i.e., taking a chance that some douchwad would pretend to be trans to pull a prank. And, if this actually ever happens, I bet that whoever did that would most likely get kicked in the nards hard enough to prevent procration, so there's that to comfort yourself with, as well. :)

Quinn A@twitter

@iceberg We protect trans people by having gender-neutral bathrooms!

I read somewhere that for the longest time, there was no such thing as a gendered bathroom. Then a law came into place that stated that all restaurants were obligated to have two bathrooms, and some genius thought that if you had to have 2, they might as well be marked "men's" and "women's", and then it stuck.

I may be misremembering that, and it may not be true, but anyway. Trans people quite often fight for gender-neutral bathrooms and changing rooms in public buildings. It seems like the easiest fix, and wouldn't necessarily out people as trans - I have been known to open the door to the men's room, ask if anyone cares if a lady comes in, and go ahead and use it rather than go up two flights of stairs to use the women's room. (Why there are more men's rooms than women's rooms in the Education building of my university is a complete mystery)

iceberg

@Third Wave Housewife Oh I don't mean like constantly pretending, in which case yes obvys. I mean like one day to go in to the ladies locker room or whatever and then he can't be prosecuted for invading or something because all he has to say is "I'm trans" and boom he's safe. You know? and yet I don't want legitimate trans ppl to have to "prove" it.

Cat named Virtute

@iceberg Oh man, I feel you--nothing brings out juiceboxery like trans bathroom conversations. It's a false distinction though (I know you know that) because the lady in question is using female pronouns. I would guess, though I don't want to assume, that she probably uses a female name and presents physically in a way that embodies some kind of femininity (not necessarily femme). These are just physical markers, but what I'm getting at is that she lives her life as a lady. She has given up the male privilege that other people would ascribed to her based on their projections onto her physical body. That is the difference between a translady and some blowhard frat boy--unless he's also willing to relinquish that privilege, he shouldn't be permitted access into a space for women of any kind.

This is still not very satisfying (especially for non-binary/genderqueer folks) though, and really we should all be working harder to make nongendered washrooms happen.

Decca

@iceberg If a trans* woman who is still legally male wants to use the ladies bathroom, she absolutely should be allowed. Trans* people face so much prejudice - both the institutional, truly hateful type and, sadly, the casual unthinking type even in the wider gay community - already that I think in cases like these, always err on the side of inclusion. Also, I think this is the type of situation where common sense provides you with the answer. I'm fairly sure not even the most juiceboxy straight dude would stroll into the ladies bathroom with the excuse "Oh, I'm transgendered!". And even in this did happen in a few lone cases, the difference between a trans* person genuinely trying to go about her business and a fratboy wanting to see the inside of a ladies bathroom is probably very clear: he could be turfed out immediately. And the (low, in my opinion) possibility of an idiot or two trying to take advantage of this isn't enough to tip the balance of the scales away from being a respectful, decent human being and allowing trans* people to assert their rights.

ETA - after reading everyone else's comments, yes yes yes to gender neutral bathrooms.

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@iceberg This would never happen except in an Adam Sandler movie.* Those juicebox frat-boys would never, ever actually want to go into a women's restroom because, ew gross periods; dudes who are very invested in their heterosexuality would never dress in women's clothes except in a very "look at how disgusting this is, hilarious!" sort of way; maybe they'd pull a prank but that would not be accepted by the school administration, and they would likely be reprimanded for it.

Did you know: in order to get the college to accept her as trans and get pass to use her preferred bathroom on most college campuses, she would have to be living it full-time, usually already gone through a screening process with a psychologist and gotten paperwork in order, filed a thing with administration, gone through piles of shit and discrimination, etc etc. Random frat-boys are not gonna do that, they wouldn't even be able to.

Do you really want to force trans women, who are required to be on hormones, who are required to dress and be referred to exclusively as a woman in all classes/workplaces in order to even qualify for surgery, to use a men's bathroom where she will very likely get harassed/beaten/raped? This is why a lot of trans people just look out for and note all the non-gendered single-stall washrooms in their area and then just use those. They don't want to make other ladies uncomfortable, but they don't want to put their own lives at risk.

*There are a very very TINY number of dudes who get off on going into ladies' restrooms. These dudes are easy to notice and prosecute, because they are just dudes most of the time and then throw on a dress for a second to try and sneak in. They are vastly outnumbered by all the trans ladies who just want to go about their day and occasionally pee.

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@iceberg he can't be prosecuted for invading or something because all he has to say is "I'm trans" and boom he's safe. You know? and yet I don't want legitimate trans ppl to have to "prove" it.

This is what i was getting at: you can't just say "I'm trans." It's not allowed. You always always have to prove it, usually to a panel of specialist psychologists. It's nice that you don't want to make people have to prove it, but that's not how things stand right now. The frat boy would say that and then the administration would say "oh so then where's your psych eval" and he'd be like "what" and they'd be like "YEAH WE THOUGHT SO. BUSTED."

thebestjasmine

@Quinn A@twitter See, I would not want to have gender neutral bathrooms, because (especially at night, or at a bar, or if it's deserted) that sounds like yet another place where a woman would have to be terrified of sexual assault.

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@iceberg Sorry that was a teensy bit ranty, it really impacts my life/community. There are a lot of gross assumptions about trans life that get circulated through pop culture that no one ever thinks to question! And I appreciate you taking the time to think ... hey maybe that's not quite right. thumbs up!

Porn Peddler

@thebestjasmine Single occupancy bathrooms though?

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@thebestjasmine I think the idea is that all bathrooms are single stall, one person allowed in only. One gay bar I know does this, where the "bathroom" is an open hallway with sinks, facing a series of toilets with individual doors. And the hallway is full of back-and-forth traffic so it's not a dangerous enclosed area. Just requires a bit of rethinking spaces!
@Third Wave Housewife jinx!

Quinn A@twitter

@thebestjasmine See, I'm not sure it would be! Like if it's a single-person bathroom, or bathrooms/locker rooms with stalls whose doors lock, or whatever. As I see it, that's really no less safe than a single-gender bathroom would be, and much more safe for a trans person.

thebestjasmine

@Quinn A@twitter Most of those things would keep a guy from hiding in a stall and waiting for a woman to come in alone. I appreciate the need for safety for a trans person, but that sounds like a nightmare for all women. Single occupancy bathrooms are different, but the situation initially described was at a college, where bathrooms are usually not single occupancy for space issues. And even most bars don't have single occupancy bathrooms because of space issues, and I can't imagine them rebuilding to make them safer.

Quinn A@twitter

@thebestjasmine Nothing really prevents a man from hiding in a stall in a gendered bathroom, either. As long as no one sees him go in, what's to stop him?

thebestjasmine

@Quinn A@twitter Weren't we just saying above that men wouldn't want to go into womens bathrooms because it would brand them as gay? Also, if it's a womens bathroom, people on the outside could see him walk in, or women on the inside would see him come in and tell him to get out. If it's a gender neutral bathroom, none of those things would be an issue. Yes, if a man was super dedicated, he could find a way around all of that, but building up those barriers makes it a lot harder for him and safer for the women around him.

Quinn A@twitter

@thebestjasmine I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. You're determined to see it as unsafe even as you say things like "there are women inside who can tell him to get out!". And for my part - I'm not sure there's an argument that would convince me that the existence of gender-neutral washrooms would present a greater threat to cisgendered women than the current threat to transgendered people with no good options.

thebestjasmine

@Quinn A@twitter "Even as I say things like 'there are women inside who can tell him to get out'"? Yes, that would happen in a womens restroom, and not in a gender neutral one, I really don't get your point there. Women would not be able to tell a man to leave a gender neutral restroom, which is the problem. Transgendered people should be able to go to whichever restroom they want, I have no objection to that. I do have an objection to putting all women at risk.

Quinn A@twitter

@thebestjasmine My point was that you started out being concerned that a man might go into an empty gender-neutral bathroom, hide in a stall and wait for a woman to come in, which, okay. Then you moved to being fearful of what a man might do in a washroom even if there were other women around. What do you think a man is going to do in front of witnesses that he wouldn't do in ANY public space? I maintain that a man isn't going to do anything in a gender-neutral washroom that he couldn't do by sneaking into a gendered washroom when no one was looking. Which, incidentally: not actually that hard to do! I've gone into empty men's washrooms unobserved on multiple occasions.

Basically: men who prey on women are going to prey on women. Forcing trans people to be less safe? Does not solve that problem!

thebestjasmine

@Quinn A@twitter I never moved to being fearful of what a man might do in a washroom if there were other women around, that's is a misrepresentation of what I said. You said that there is nothing stopping men from going into a womens only restroom today, and I said that yes there is, because people will see him go in and tell him to leave.

And yes, you and other women have gone into empty men's washrooms on multiple occasions. There is a significant difference between the threat level that men feel towards women in their spaces and that women feel towards men in their spaces.

Sure, men who prey on women are going to prey on women, but having gender neutral bathrooms makes it easier on them, and much more stressful and threatening to women.

mustelid

@thebestjasmine Sorry, but I have to agree with @Quinn A@twitter. A man who is going to hide in a bathroom to assault a woman is not going to let the sign on the door stop him.

It's empty, and he sneaks in to lie in wait. All he'd have to do is pop open the door and say, "I'm here to clean, is anyone in here?" and if no, he's golden. Or if there's just one woman in there, he goes in and assaults her. Or if there's multiple women in there, he goes in and assaults one while telling the others that he has a gun and will shoot if they yell/try to escape.

Assholes who are going to assault women will do it regardless of whether the sign on the door says they are allowed to be in that space.

In fact, I might even think that having gender neutral bathrooms might help. With one bathroom for 100% of the population, it's less likely to be deserted. Also, said asshole may be less likely to assault a woman if another man was in there, or may show up at any time, considering that a good percentage of men do not assault women.

I just really don't think that gender neutral bathrooms make it easier for men to prey on women in the slightest. Denying or limiting facilities for trans people so that cis people can feel safer, regardless of any actual proof, does not sit right with me.

thebestjasmine

@mustelid "Assholes who are going to assault women will do it regardless of whether the sign on the door says they are allowed to be in that space." -- I absolutely do not agree with this. Many crimes are those of opportunity, and not advance planning. I'm sure that there are some men who set out to rape a woman that night, but that's not how most sexual assault happens. It's not about a man lying in wait for a woman in the bathroom, it's about a man being alone in the bathroom when a woman comes in who he hits on, she says no, and he gets pissed and decides to push her on it, and then pulls her into a stall, locks it, and assaults her. It's the version of getting catcalled by a drunk guy on the street, except this time you're in an enclosed space with him and can't get out.

I'm all about increasing facilities for trans people, but I do not think that it should be done in a way to make all women (them included) become safe.

Quinn A@twitter

LW3: Use the terms people identify with! I use queer, and it actually makes me really uncomfortable when straight people go "OH MY GOD I CAN'T CALL YOU THAT!". I get that they don't want to use a slur, but a) I'm not a lesbian, though I am in a same-sex relationship and hope to stay in it for life; b) the term bisexual is inaccurate; c) the term pansexual makes people ask me, in all sincerity, whether or not I would fuck a dog.

I end up saying "look, if it really makes you that uncomfortable, go with 'not straight', but ugh. I'd rather you didn't." And then they go with 'not straight', and I feel that much more marginalized. It's gross.

So yes. Don't apply the word queer to people who do not apply it to themselves, but feel free to ask anyone who applies it to him/her/hirself if they're comfortable with your using it to refer to them. I imagine they will all (or almost all) say yes.

Inkling

@Quinn A@twitter
Man, really? "Not straight" sounds just as slurry, to me. Like, "there is the norm, and it is not you."
Also sorry about the dog thing, that is... I have no words but a lot of furrowed brow/gritted teeth.

Mira

@Quinn A@twitter Yeah, this is what I meant, only you put it better. LW3, listen to this, it is wise advice!

A Queer Chick also gives wise advice, of course, I just feel a little uncomfortable with it because I am one of those lesbians who really, really hates the word "queer." I'm not really into "reclaimed" language in general so "queer" feels like a slur, at least when applied to me. But as QuinnA points out, lots of people prefer it and think it is more accurate/respectful (and I refer to them as "queer" even though I don't like that word myself, because that's what they think is best for describing themselves). So just go with what your friends like. But don't be afraid to ask, it's cool to do that.

(P.S. A dog, really?! CALLS FOR FIRE.)

Dusk

@Quinn A@twitter Yeah, as a member of the statistically prevalent sexual type person grouping, I also prefer queer since it doesn't distinguish. To me, it's "quirky in a way that means you gotta pay closer attention to pronouns for SOs". But I can see how other people would be offended by the perceived insult of "not normal" that queer could be taken as.

Quinn A@twitter

@Inkcrafter I agree! That's why I tell people that I'd rather they stuck with queer. "Not straight" makes me less uncomfortable than the stupid questions people ask if I identify with the term pansexual (which I'm also not sure is accurate - I'm definitely panromantic but I tend to be less-than-enthused about PIV sex), and it is accurate in its way, but it definitely does make me uncomfortable.

This is why I am very firmly in favour of using the terms people identify with. In mixed company I might be very pointed about saying "Friend X identifies as Potential Slur" rather than "Friend X is Potential Slur", but I think applying unwanted labels to people is the greater evil.

Quinn A@twitter

@Mira Yup. And the sad part? That is not a thing that has only happened to me.

Mira

@Quinn A@twitter So much fire, so little time.

gobblegirl

@Quinn A@twitter Sorry to be interrupting the conversation, but I don't think I've ever encountered the term "pansexual." How is that different than bisexual? The only thing I can think of is maybe "bi" implies either/or in an on-off switch kind of way?
Just curious - but if it's an inappropriate question I'm sorry and ignore it!

Judith Slutler

@gobblegirl "bisexual" kinda assumes a gender binary as valid, but maybe you want to date someone who is genderqueer or nonbinary or something other than a man or a woman. Hence, "pansexual".

Cat named Virtute

@gobblegirl Pansexual is used in a variety of cases, but especially when one is part of a community that includes non-binary gender-identified people, since bi implies "both" genders rather than "all" genders.

melis

"Pansexual" is shorthand for "an adult who owns several pairs of costume fairy wings," god bless 'em.

Quinn A@twitter

@gobblegirl Not inappropriate at all!

Bisexual implies sexual attraction to "both sexes". Some people feel that this leaves out transgendered people, which...I don't really agree with? But it does leave out intersexed people, who don't fit neatly into a male-female binary.

Pansexual implies sexual attraction to "people, regardless of sex or gender". This would include intersexed people, transgendered people, two-spirited people, agender people, genderqueer people, etc.

The problem I encounter is that people hear the word "pan" and think that it means that I will fuck anyone and anything, often before they give me a chance to explain that it only applies to people and that I don't actually sleep around that much (not that there'd be anything wrong with it if I did!). This is not the case at all.

anachronistique

@Emmanuelle Cunt Sometimes all of this stuff makes me want to lie down in a dark room for a while. (Saying this as someone who is probably most accurately pansexual but has an aversion to that word and doesn't feel queer enough to use "queer" without feeling appropriative. Labels are hard!)

H.E. Ladypants

@anachronistique Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where folks didn't have to label the category of folks they were interested in seeing naked? Like, if instead of gays and straights and all that jazz, it was just folks and sometimes they wanted to do naked things with other folks and even sometimes fell in love with them.

I really want to live in that world sometimes.

Summer Somewhere

@Quinn A@twitter I dislike "bisexual" because of my distaste for the concept of binary gender, and because of all the stereotypes associated with it. I like "queer" in an academic way, and it worked for me while I was dating men. However, I find that when people think I am single or know that my partner is a woman, they hear it as "gay" and it feels like it erases my history. If people don't hear "queer" as "gay" (or if I correct them when they call me a lesbian) sometimes they will ask me really invasive questions about my sex life that make me more uncomfortable than the word "bisexual" does because they want to find out what my REAL orientation is. Have you experienced any of that?

Quinn A@twitter

@Summer Somewhere Yup. When I'm being asked invasive questions that I don't want to answer, I use the Miss Manners-approved tactic of raising my brows and saying "wow, that's a really rude question! Why would you like to know?". When I feel as though an incorrect assumption is erasing a part of my identity but I'm not in the mood to answer questions at all, I smile sweetly and say "actually, that's not quite accurate. So, did you hear about this really interesting current event? What do you think?"

Quinn A@twitter

@Summer Somewhere (Basically, I don't think there's anything that will keep a rude person from asking a rude question, and frankly I don't think marginalized people should have to police their language to keep rude privileged people from behaving badly. The tactics I mentioned above do put rude people in their place or make it clear that I don't want to discuss things, though, and I think that's the best we can hope for)

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@H.E. Ladypants but what if you *do* only have one category of folks you want to see naked? For me it's extroverts. Ugghhh karaoke rockstars kill me every time.

Summer Somewhere

@Quinn A@twitter SOMETIMES people interpret queer as gay and don't say anything, like this one time a boy thought I was cute heard me say queer and his face fell, and then I was like, wait noooooooooo. :( :( :(

I do like the Miss Manners reply though.

17th Floor

@Quinn A@twitter And werepeople. Don't forget werepeople.

Quinn A@twitter

@Summer Somewhere Hmm. Yeah, that's trickier. Maybe, if you feel like it, you could just add qualifiers? Like "I'm queer, which does not necessarily imply lesbian!", while smiling cheerfully? I don't know!

Summer Somewhere

@Quinn A@twitter UGH LANGUAGE IS HARD

Decca

@Summer Somewhere Perhaps everyone should just carry around a boombox at all time, primed to play Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" whenever someone you would like to get naked with strolls by?

harebell

@Quinn A@twitter this makes me (ambivalently, of course) nostalgic for the days when you were just assumed to be "sexual," & who knows what goes on behind closed doors in the dark, but it doesn't have to be labelled.
There was a lot of bad repression that came along with that, of course (and it was probably more possible/a lifestyle for wealthy upper class people in France and Italy but not elsewhere), but there's something to be said for privacy, polite respecting of the privacy of others, and not having to label oneself.

sceps yarx

@all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy Ha, I feel the same way except about introverts who record songs alone in their bedroom! But since I am myself a karaoke-loving extravert, I say thank you on behalf of us all.

BadWolf

@Summer Somewhere In my experience, as a self-identified bi girl, I've found that people hear "bisexual" as "not really gay." Which I find upsetting. I do feel like "bi" it's an accurate definition of my orientation, because, while I reject the imperative of a gender binary on principle, I find I am personally attracted to the same performances of gender whether the actor is a man or a woman. (Was that even English? I am attracted to a masculine presentation in both the dudes and the ladies, if that makes more sense.) Whereas I feel uncomfortable identifying as "queer" because I feel like people hear that and assume it means a degree of genderfuckery on my part, and I am pretty stereotypically femme in my own presentation. I pass for a totally straight girl, which, even though I am not, is a position of privilege; I feel like "queer" is not a term I really am entitled to, because I am that privileged.

All that aside, rude people be rude, yo'. And they just suck.

Hello Kidney

@H.E. Ladypants THIS!! Instead of having to label ourselves with ever-more-specific and confusing sexual identifiers (which are ususally evolving anyway), wouldn't it be nice if people just got to know each other and, when struck with Romantic Feelies, flirted willy-nilly, and then gracefully accepted rejection if the other person wasn't into it?!

This would require way too much tact and self-esteem on all parts though. Forget it. Let's all just get shirts made with every possible gender/sexual preference in existence and puff-paint check-marks in the boxes of those we'd like to have sex with. :D There! Solved it.

GoToaster

@H.E. Ladypants This is why I love you.

My neighborhood (and life!) is full of non-binary-gender-expressing people whom I love dearly. It blurs all kinds of lines and so as a cis-gendered "mostly straight" lady, I sometimes identify as queer in the sense that I often find myself attracted to transpeople of all kinds. I don't worry much about what to call myself, though. In referring to the people around me, "queer" is tossed around with such casualness as a catch-all term to the point that I have no squeamishness toward it whatsoever.

sarah girl

Oh oh yes, LW#1 - does your city/a nearby one have a Pride festival this summer? A thing I've noticed about many Pride festivals is that the local LGBT-friendly churches come out in full force with booths and supportive messages. This would be a great way to sort of "church shop" without having to go through a bunch of (often crappy and outdated) websites, visit random places and generally squint and try to read between the lines for how liberal they are.

bacon

@Sarah H. Yes. I'm in Chicago- so I know there's a huge queer population, parade, events, activities, and places... it's just getting into them seems daunting. Almost everyone I know is from church (well, my previous church that I quit going to because I wasn't allowed to be a member or serve)... so I'll have to do it solo. Maybe I can convince one of my friends to go with me...

candybeans

LW#1 it's hard for me to understand devotion to a religion that put such a mindfuck on you for 32 years that you're only now coming to terms with your sexuality. Seconded all the comments saying that late bloomers are 110% ok, that it's reeeeally not that big a deal to be coming out so late and to be a virgin, esp. in the queer community, but, muffin, you knew you were gay so young! It's not that you're just figuring it out; you've just been trying to trick yourself out of it because of some judgmental old biddies sitting next to you in the pews! WHYYY would you want to be around those people?!?!
I guess I'm probably being a jerk right now. i know there's sooo much good stuff about Christianity; I dearly miss my church community and the people there who basically raised me. but letters like this make me so sad. To think of all the kids who are at this moment trying their hardest not to be gay, all because of the crappy exegesis that the church has done on passages of the Bible that allegedly talk about homosexuality... UGHHHH IT MAKES ME ALL CAPSY.

SarahP

@candybeans She's not choosing to be around those people, she's choosing to continue her spiritual practices despite those people. And I say good for her! Remember that individual church communities do not represent all of one religion.

slutberry

@candybeans I think the difference is the difference between a religion-- the ideology presented in its purest form-- and the practitioners. It's not the Christianity that's making the old biddies do awful things, it's that they are doing awful things and, unfortunately, justifying themselves by calling it "Christianity".

candybeans

You're totally right, both of you. The religion is much, much bigger than ugly people doing ugly things. And remaining devoted to a higher concept despite the years of mistreatment requires an extraordinary fortitude of character that I guess I don't have. My own departure from Christianity is based on more than just the mainstream church's stance on homosexuality, but boy, does that issue get my blood boiling.
ETA: I don't think all christians are monsters, by any means. I don't think all people who identify as christian hold identical worldviews. I tried to convey that in my original comment--christianity can be truly wonderful, life-changing, loving, and a force of tremendous good in the world. But i am still sad that this lovely-sounding woman was made to feel so ashamed of who she loved because of what she was taught at her church. not every church, but hers; and a lot of other ones would've taught her the same shame.

H.E. Ladypants

@SarahP Yeah. I think it's very important to distinguish between the spiritual practice and people who sometimes lay claim to it. I think we'd lose out on nearly every good and rich idea mankind ever had if we chose to toss out because others used it as a means to justify their bad behaviours. To me, being able to recognize the value in the ideas, even when many of the ideas' adherents or a certain interpretation of the ideas have caused you pain is actually an admirable thing. I think it demonstrates fortitude, patience and an inquisitive mind.

Lily Rowan

@candybeans Yeah, but that's why it may be worth it for the LW to find a welcoming church -- I grew up in a very LGBT-friendly Christian church, and it's kind of heartbreaking and wonderful how many people are kind of stunned and grateful when they realize that not all churches (and families) are like the one that kicked them out.

candybeans

@Lily Rowan that sounds like the loveliest place. sincerely. I hope the LW finds one like it.

Lily Rowan

@candybeans It has its moments, for sure.

gobblegirl

@sniffadee There's also a difference between a religion (a particular denomination, as well as the history and habits of a particular church/parish), and Faith, which is separate from the bureaucracy and politics and people of the former.

bacon

@candybeans LW1 here- I want to find a way to express my faith in a loving and safe environment. I don't want to hang out with old snots who tell me (incorrectly) that I'm going to hell. The problem is that people are involved in religion. What God meant to be pure, people screwed up. That's what happens with free will. I know what God has told me about my faith and my sexuality- and no one, No One, NO ONE can tell me otherwise. God and I are cool. Some of the people that follow Him sadly are juiceboxes. Just the same as every other culture, religion, ethnicity, etc... there will always be juiceboxes. So yeah, my goal is to find a church that is actually church-y with as few juice boxes as possible. Well... for the religion side of things anyway.

ms. alex

Even if you don't live in a big city, you can hopefully find a gay-friendly church or two to choose from. I live in a town of like 30,000 and there are 2 rainbow-flagged churches that I've seen around town, one a Presbyterian and one Unitarian Universalist, which isn't exactly into Jesus, but is definitely into accepting people.

Best of luck!

slutberry

@ms. alex I get that Unitarian Universalists are fun people and like poetry and all, but I cannot understand why anyone ever categorizes them as "Christians". It just seems like a completely different worldview/almost nonreligion?

Bittersweet

@sniffadee You are right. Some UU churches, such as King's Chapel in Boston, still use Christian language and imagery and are somewhat similar to UCC churches. Others, such as the one I grew up in, were less Christian-oriented. It really depends on the history/minister/congregation of the specific church.

Lily Rowan

@Bittersweet It's if they are more Unitarian or more Universalist, right?

ms. alex

@sniffadee Yeah. I guess I didn't make that clear enough. But! While the institution isn't Christian, it is welcoming to Christians. There's a lot of variety from congregation to congregation.

ETA: I know Unitarians (of the Universalist variety and otherwise) who are Christians and Unitarians who are atheists, so it's pretty varied.

H.E. Ladypants

@ms. alex Yeah but they also have a radical wing. Let's not forget about the Unitarian Jihad: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/04/08/DDG27BCFLG1.DTL

ms. alex

@H.E. Ladypants That sounds about right.

notfromvenus

@ms. alex Also, I've heard United Church of Christ is pretty open-minded. I just checked the website of the one in my small ruralish town, and they have a statement on their homepage about how they accept people of all sexual orientations, so that's probably a good sign.

sarah girl

@notfromvenus Something to look for with UCC churches is if they've adopted the "Open and Affirming" (or "ONA") designation. This is an official designation that says they fully welcome LGBT individuals into church membership and leadership positions. Unfortunately, some UCC churches are not as progressive as others and choose not to adopt that designation; some churches have even splintered due to debate over becoming ONA, which is just awful!

On the official UCC website, you can search for churches that identify as Open and Affirming. Although a note, just because they don't have that designation DOESN'T necessarily mean they're bigoted or anything; some churches are slower to get the paperwork done (it's a whole process with mandatory community meetings/votes and such), or don't see getting the official designation as a priority.

(Disclaimer: I dated a UCC seminarian for a while, I know way too much about this stuff!)

Decca

Important queer question: what is going to happen in the Lip Service final tonight?!?

Apocalypstick

@Decca Lots of makeouts and some heartbreak would be a safe guess.

Decca

@Apocalypstick Team Lexy/Tess.

agreenballoon

Queer chick, you are awesome. As a queer daughter of an awesome lez-bian (she prefers that term) mom, I would also like to suggest the possibility that ANGRY SISTER is dealing with maybe some sexuality issues of her own? My mom came out to me when I was THIRTEEN, even though we were also of the hippy/lefty ilk and I had my suspicions, it made coming to terms with my own queer identity a little bit tough.
p.s. I just wanted to second/third/fourth the term Umfriend; sometimes you do have to Un-friend an Um-Friend to make room for less vague relationships though.

dtowngirl

LW 1: Anyone worth dating will accept that you have a background that may not be totally in line with her background. I don't think you should view it as a detriment, but as a fact that makes you unique. And don't be afraid to be honest about it either. You are not a freakish anomaly, or any more of a freakish anomaly than the rest of us.

Decca

@dtowngirl Agreed. And I have to say, I read all of your comments in Sophia's voice and it makes them extra good.

noodlestein

@Decca - Awesome. I'm now going to do this, too.

Decca

@noodlestein Probably the highlight of my life was asking the DJ in a club whether he had The Golden Girls theme tune - and he did and he played it and everyone went nuts and it was wonderful.

dtowngirl

@Decca Ha, excellent! After watching all of the seasons on DVD, I started telling stories by framing my hands and saying "Picture it..."

EternalFootwoman

@Decca I need to do this. Like, tonight. You know you're in the right club when everyone gets stoked for the GG theme.

Summer Somewhere

LW 3: If you are worried that "queer" will come out of your mouth sounding like a slur, there's a good chance it will. You might want to avoid using it until you've made peace with it/understand the reclamation/hung out with enough people who use "queer" in a positive way. If I am unsure about the language I should be using around others, I wait and listen to see how they describe themselves.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

Aaaaaah LW #1! This could be my life story if you substituted "have premarital sex" for "come out as gay and THEN have premarital sex" (which I realize is WAAAY more treacherous and I'm so proud of you for having the guts to do that). Everyone is saying this but as someone who's (kinda) been there, I have to agree: everyone has a different path, and there's no "normal" age to decide to embrace your sexuality. I was super worried as a 25-year-old virgin that the dudes I dated/banged would be weirded out or think there was something wrong with me, but guess what? No one cared! I really think you'll find that experience or lack thereof is only a thing if you make it a thing. GOOD LUCK!

tea tray in the sky.

@quickdrawkiddo It's only premarital sex if you get married afterwards, amirite.

frigwiggin

While we're talking about the word queer, Erika Moen recently made a big comic about her personal use of the word! As with everything she does, it's pretty great.

mystique

"...and eventually you'll reach the point where a lady says “no thanks” and you're like “Whatever, her loss.” (Just kidding, that never happens to anyone! But we all like to pretend that we'll get there someday.)"

No! You will get there! It will happen! I mean, it's only happened, like, once to me. And, it would never not hurt -- if you weren't a BIT invested, why would you do it? But you will get over it quicker. And reach out even more. And when someone does finally FINALLY meet you halfway, it will be amazing.

Tips: Follow Captain Awkward's advice where you ask sooner rather than later (first or second meeting is best!) so you don't get invested. Actually, let me link you: http://captainawkward.com/2012/04/03/221-there-is-no-normal-way-to-be-or-fall-in-love/

Verity

"The first time someone turns you down for dinner and a movie, you will probably feel like going home, weeping, watching your entire DVD box set of Firefly, and drinking a bottle of wine in a sitting. Go ahead and do that, it sounds like fun."

Damn straight! (Well, not the weeping. Unless it's because of Firefly.)

plumb-bob

Oh hai, LW1 and fellow anomalous freak :) My backstory is a little different to yours, but by the time I hit my thirties I had been on maybe two-and-a-half dates and was still a virgin. In my case I put this down to being shy, socially awkward, and just plain unlucky that I had not met anyone whom I wanted to sleep with. So from this perspective I would just like to offer you reassurance on a couple of things.

1. I will echo a Queer Chick and a few other posters in saying you are not a freak. Popular culture can sometimes give us the impression that everyone is sleeping with everyone all the time but I think you'll find there are more late bloomers like us out there than you realise. This is why I am opening myself up on the internet a little bit today and venturing into the advice arena :) Don't feel bad about not having lived your life the way society expects you to have lived it.

2. Fortunately, there are lots of lovely, kind-hearted people out there who will not be fazed by your history. They will (correctly) see it as just a part that makes up the whole person that is you. I hope that you will meet some of them.

sunfastrose

@Pixa thank you. You don't know how good it feels to be a woman who is two years away from being the title of a Steve Carell movie and to hear from someone else who didn't lose their virginity when they were a zygote. I still have hope that I will get off my lazy ass and meet someone who won't be put off by my non-experience.

plumb-bob

@sunfastrose I was a little nervous to leave my comment, but I always find it helpful to hear about other people out there like me, so I'm glad I could pass it on!

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

“Dammit, I knew these Converse were a bad idea.”

Bi-curious shoes is a real thing?

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Rookie also, LW1, your teen years sound heartbreaking, but I think it's really really cool that you still have faith, because I don't buy into the idea that some people might have about being religious automatically meaning that you're Fox News.

bacon

@Rookie They weren't that bad... well... okay yes, they were bad. But... it made me who I am today (for better or worse).
And as far as Fox News goes... ugh. My mother is obsessed with Fox News and Glen Beck. Though I love Jesus, I'm an MSNBC kinda gal (maybe it's more because of Rachel Maddow than the political spin).

kinglet749@twitter

LW 1: Jesus isn't doing you (or anyone with half a brain) any favors. Ditch him. You will find real human beings so much more relatable.

Miss Maszkerádi

@kinglet749@twitter Was that really necessary?

CupcakeTattoos

@kinglet749@twitter Oh good, thanks for clearing that up.

Logos

@kinglet - I know, right? Just last week we were out, and I was all: Jesus, buddy, how about this water becomes a G&T? He was all: Juniper Green Organic? and I said: eh, I've been drinking mostly Gordon's lately, and he said: for my sake, NO.

... but then it turned out he was kidding, and we had nachos too.

wormlady

I can recommend a book called Living it Out - http://www.livingitout.com/ it's subtitle is 'A survival guide for lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians and their friends, families and churches.' It contains the stories of over 50 people from diverse backgrounds, and covers a broad range of topics including dating. I wish you well with your future LW1!

mikealbert

Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I really want to be thankful for the way you have putted it here
ssc results 2014

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