'When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person by an emotional link that is stronger than steel.
Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link, and get free' Catherine Ponder
Oscar Wilde said that to forgive your enemy was the greatest revenge.
I think that he was right.
I know that one of my greatest lessons and challenges has been forgiveness. I have an elephantine memory and I have in my time remembered infractions going back to primary school days.
They say that nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. However, I think that another certainty seems to be the unnecessary conflict between homosexuality and religion. Most major religions reject homosexuality, claiming it is a sin. Or if homosexuality on its own is not a sin, the sexual acts that go along with it are definitely labeled as sins. Each religion usually has a couple of quotes in their religious books which can be interpreted to outlaw homosexuality.
This has unfortunately isolated many religious gay people, and turned them away from their religion. Many feel abandoned by their religion, and now feel lost. Some gay people have rejected religion, and some even hate religion. One can understand all these emotions, as us gay people just want to be accepted and loved. We want to fit in, and also be welcomed by religion.
Lesbians have issues. I have issues with lesbians. The world has issues with lesbians. Lesbians have issues with the world. And we all have issues with ourselves.
I have kept myself removed from more distinctive lesbian flocks for the majority of my happy-go-lucky life. Until recently.
In an attempt to overcome my judgements, I like so many tortured souls before me, have turned to writing. Well blogging. Cos it’s quicker and easier and people might actually read it. And this is all I will say on the matter.
Lesbians are different. We chose to not accept the typical ways of hetero life as what we want. We WANT different. And then we hate being branded as different. The inacceptance of not being accepted is mildly amusing to me most days.
I am horrified by the incident between clashing sections of the LGBTIQ community at Joburg Pride this year. It deeply saddens and angers me that divisions within a community already much-maligned by society at large turned on each other. The fact that the Pride organiser shouted out of the window of her luxury car to a group of people paying homage to the rapes and deaths of queers in the townships that “this is my route” is just abominable and speaks of the classicism, depoliticisation, commercialism and narrow-mindedness that Pride has been associated with for too long now. I don’t want to go into the issue of the horrific stand-off that happened between Joburg Pride and the 1 in 9 Campaign* this past weekend (the YouTube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Hnxip-T_Hnw&fb_source=message and a selected article http://www.mambaonline.com/article.asp?artid=7478 are provided here though if you haven’t seen them online), but the point I want to make is that what happened stems from the danger of homonormative* politics, from placing people under the same umbrella for the sake of making people who do not, or do not solely, identify as homosexual, more palatable to the straight community.
But engaging in political rhetoric is a futile, blood-pressure raising effort to eat an elephant in one go. (My father once shared this quirky metaphor, and it’s stuck). The only way to eat an elephant is spoonful by spoonful. My politics extends as far as my ability to change things goes. And my ability to change things only goes as far as me living my truth and sharing it with others, spoonful by spoonful, one person at a time. So that’s what I’ll do: speak from the personal, the individual, the private (as this is where all politics stems from, is it not?)
I chose not to attend Joburg Pride this year, for many reasons. I also choose to identify as queer rather than gay, lesbian or homosexual. This identification is very confusing to many people. I’ve had numerous conversations with my girlfriend, who identifies as lesbian/homosexual, as to why I choose queer over lesbian. The term ‘queer’ is misunderstood in both the straight and LGBTI communities and I will explain here why I insist on this identification and why I did not go to Pride.
Why do I want to write about this and share this? Because it’s very important to me, and because it’s very important to the LGBTIQ community: this community is as diverse as every person who is part of it, and it is the lack of recognition of this diversity that leads to the misrepresentation of ‘straight’ and LGBTIQ people. And if we’re not represented properly, how can our rights be protected properly? It might appear to be a case of splitting hairs, but the bracketing of these diverse groups into one ‘gay’ group is extremely problematic when it comes to recognising and respecting the huge differences within the ‘gay’ community.
I raise a sternful eyebrow at lesbians that don’t like bisexuals. And mutter a confused, ‘what the fuck’ under my breath when listening to their justifications.
When did there become a moral upper ground on sexuality?
And then even more quizzical: Why would we have it?
It’s almost baffles me to the point of struggling to write this blog.
I really do struggle understanding how people can hear the shit coming out of their mouths and then believe it.
It’s like dumb and dumber. The monologue.
Having cheated on my husband, and since I credit this as part of my path to becoming polyamorous, I must confess I am biased in the argument over whether polyamory is of any use in resolving cheating. If cheating is symptomatic of a grave and incurable narcissism in a partner then certainly polyamory will not resolve anything. However there are other reasons why people cheat.
I think very often one of the true motives behind cheating is treating love as a currency in relationships, and assuming you are poor. I certainly know this to be true of my own relationship before we became polyamorous. Furthermore there is a great deal of insecurity and distrust in relationships where one or both partners cheat.
In most monogamous relationships there is a quite common idea that states that, upon marriage/dating/co-habiting all your romantic love now belongs to your partner.
In this context having another relationship essentially involves you giving your love, which does not belong to you because you are part of a couple, to another person. If love is a currency, then having a second relationship is like buying one partner with your finite measure of love, then taking the love back and buying another with the same currency. Apart from the pain of the implied rejection, there is a great measure of outrage over the fraud implicit in this scenario. Even if this is done by agreement it will be very painful for at least one party in the trio.
Some of you may remember my previous post (Surviving Cape Town: A Single Lesbian’s attempts). A lot has happened since then, and it deserves an update. I was stunned and amazed by the response my post generated, as I had no idea that so many women felt the same way. I’ve had lesbians seek me out on social media, and I even landed a little freelance writing work. I’ve even had girls contact me from faraway places: Thailand, Australia, and Simon’s Town.
I’ve met lesbians who were going to get married, lesbians who secretly eloped to Paarl to get married, and lesbians who have been married to men. I’ve communicated with caffeine-addicted PR hotshots and psy-trans hippies. I’ve met a single gay mum, a girl with a ‘chequered past’ (her mother’s words), and a woman with the most beautiful sense of urban Woodstock chic you’ve ever seen. I’ve also met an ADD artist, and a lesbian who’s never been with a woman. My orgy of Sapphic coffee meetings wasn’t limited to the Mother City, though. During a recent visit to Jo’burg, I even met a talented tattooed photographer, whom I now dub ‘ladydude’.
I’ve been introduced to concepts like masculine femininity, queer and gender fluidity. I’ve learnt about Unitarianism, Sado-Masochism and Political Lesbianism. I’ve also discovered that a ‘flat white’ is Capetonian for cappuccino.
Insane? Yes. Wonderful? Yes. Filled with gratitude? Totally. Screw up my coffee order again? Not a chance.
I have lesbians coming at me from all directions, from out of the woodwork to out of the closet. But this isn’t a brag-fest. I want to share my insights and observations with you. Read and learn, introverted lesbian grasshoppers.
First thing’s first. Contrary to popular belief, women won’t know you exist if they can’t see you. Flying beneath the radar will only result in you bumping your head, on rather low things. Granted, it’s taken me a while to figure this one out, but – finally – I get it. Write for AllThingsQueer, or go to a CTL discussion evening (which, by the way, I have yet to attend. I have ‘lesbian inundation’ as an excuse to give to Lara). Don’t be over-zealous at first. There’s no need to work the room, or go balls-to-the-wall at Beulah. Start off small and meet a couple of people at a CTL event. Get their contact details. Then, meet one-on-one for coffee, a beer, or shark cage diving. Whatever you’re into, really. Social media is also great for creating a dialogue to get things started – just don’t use it arbitrarily. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you send someone a friend request, introduce yourself and say something interesting or mildly amusing. A ‘bbm me bby’ usually isn’t part of the Forging Meaningful Connections 101 syllabus.
When we come out as gay, we say that it is a deeply personal experience. And it is. I think everybody’s story is unique. But we can also relate to almost everyone else’s coming out story in some way or another. We might have experienced similar reactions by parents or friends. Or we may relate to that initial fear before we let those difficult words escape our mouths: “I am gay.”
Fearing the “I am gay”
I think most of us have had (and maybe still have) this immense fear of saying the words “I am gay” to someone who is important to us when we can’t predict their response. It is this crushing fear of complete rejection. Maybe we fear abuse, physical or verbal. Or maybe we fear we will lose them. We fear they will take it badly, and suddenly our whole world will cave in.
How much of that fear is the fear of their reaction, and how much is the fear we have of ourselves?
I have dated a lot. Not commercial pilot a lot, but for me, it feels like a lot. I started dating when I was 19 years old, probably a bit later than most, when I fell head over heels in love with someone who was totally wrong for me. This happens to everyone, I’m sure, and just like everyone, I got my heart broken and thought it was the end of the world (spoiler alert: it wasn’t!). What happened immediately afterwards though set the tone for a lot of the relationships that followed. I began a quest to ease that terrible heart break by looking for someone new to fill the void. Of course, as we all know, this strategy doesn’t work and I soon realised that you just have to get over heartbreak in your own time.
Since then I have had on average 1.5 relationships a year, and I am now 26. I am on good terms with (almost) all of them. We speak. We keep in touch. Some were more serious than others. Some were good, some were shitty. I was in desperately in love with some, I was momentarily in love with others. But one thing is true for almost all of them. It was me who broke up with them.
If I had to describe my romantic inclinations, I would generally site William Thacker of Notting Hill and say “I’m a fairly level headed bloke, not often in and out of love…”, but the evidence says otherwise. Please note here that I am a fairly well-adjusted person, and I am pursued by very few ‘relationship issues’ demons. How did it come to be, that level headed, unromantic me, has so many ex-girlfriends? I am not a “playa”, and I am often single for long stretches of time, I don’t rush into relationships, I don’t (often) accidently keep one night stands (I never said I was a saint), and yet I have this huge suitcase of exes.