Monday, October 15, 2007

Dyke Drama

Once you enter the lesbian world you will hear the word “Drama” bandied about with great frequency. For example, many personal ads will insist that the sender “doesn’t want drama,” or “isn’t into drama”. It makes you wonder, what’s been the reason for all of the drama in their past? Could it possibly be that their behavior has generated it?

Dyke drama, as closely as I can figure, happens so much because women are more vocal about expressing their feelings than men. Men will go to great lengths to keep situations from getting too messy. They will date you, proclaim that they are totally into you and having a wonderful time and then just fade away... anything to avoid an unpleasant scene. But women expect more from each other. They believe in communication. They are only too glad to share with you why they don’t ever want to go out with you again.

Also, women tend to jump into relationships. The scenario plays out something like this ~ You like me? Wow, well, I like you too … and they’re off. Suddenly you are two or three months into a really intense relationship (during which time moving vans have been put to use and multiple promises have been made) before you begin to get a glimmer of what kind of relationship problems you’re facing.

Even if a couple seem pretty compatible, there are drama queens who can turn any molehill into a mountain. They are the kind of women who seem to require adrenaline coursing through their veins constantly and thrive on the heightened tensions they create. This is the type of woman who will walk into an event filled with single lesbians and zero in on the only one wearing a wedding ring. They will purposely pursue that person and then become the victim when all hell breaks loose.

So the next thing you know voices are being raised and random items are flying about the room. The fall out can range from a few words being exchanged in private to the justice system becoming involved.

The best say to survive Drama is to try to get a feel in advance for how much drama will be involved with perspective partners. Proceed with caution, take your time getting involved with someone (especially sexually,) don’t make promises too soon, pay attention to red flags, don’t ever feel that you are too far into a relationship to do anything other than proceed full speed ahead. It’s okay to ask for a time out or take a step back. It’s okay to keep your own space for the first year or two or even longer.

And most of all ask questions and listen, really listen, to the answers. People will tell you the truth about themselves right off the bat. Believe what they tell you. Don’t let your ego get involved and start thinking that this person will be different with you. Don’t project higher qualities onto your love interest than they actually possess. Good luck.

Monday, August 27, 2007

101 Things About Me That You Don't Know

1) I love marching bands
2) I was a majorette in high school
3) I still own a baton and still twirl it
4) I used to run a Barry Manilow fan club
5) I abhor fiction and only read non-fiction
6) I've written two plays
7) I am writing a screenplay
8) In every live-in relationship I've ever had, I was left for another woman
9) Evidentially, it takes no time at all to get over me.
10) I clearly have unresolved abandonment issues.
11) I'd rather have too much work to do than not enough
12) I have been to Italy, as everyone should
13) I look so German that strangers frequently comment on it, more so as I get older.
14) I'm left handed
15) They don't like German-looking left handed people in Italy
16) I've taken two cruises
17) This is my 5th year of blogging
18) I miss water skiing and wonder if I will ever get a chance to do it again.
19) If I do get to water ski, I wonder if my arms are strong enough to haul my ass out of the water.
20) When I was 13, I wrote in my diary that I was married to Paul McCartney
21) My favorite flowers are white ones
22) I HATE the smell of roses
23) I try to follow a low fat/high fiber eating style with varying degrees of success.
24) My personality profile said that I am a "Perfectionist"
25) Apparently, I'm rather anal about getting the details right
26) I'm an orphan
27) I am the first-born child
28) I have two younger
29) I like wispy, ethereal-looking things … like fairies and white peacocks
30) If I lost 100 lbs. I'd weigh exactly what I weighed in high school
31) I'm into spiritual self-help books like The Secret and Sacred Contracts
32) I've been married once to my three daughter's father
33) My ex-husband and I used to own an RV center
34) I've had a gay commitment ceremony
35) I've lived in 6 different states
36) I was born and raised in Flint Michigan
37) I have a mermaid fetish
38) I used to have a kitchen decorated entirely in a panda bear theme
39) I have a Xena Warrior Princess comic book collection
40) I am a codependent parent
41) I've had children living at home with me for over 36 years
42) I came out at the age of 49
43) I am an experienced stage makeup artist
44) I do face painting for children's parties
45) I have a real estate license
46) A foreign exchange student from Spain live with us for a year
47) I was single for 20+ years between my divorce and coming out
48) I've decorated many cakes, including wedding cakes
49) I have been wealthy for most of my life
50) I have been bankrupt twice
51) I've been to over a 100 Barry Manilow concerts
52) I have the kind of hearing loss that comes from going to too many concerts
53) I used to have better than 20/20 vision
54) I can still see far away extremely well
55) A friend and I have a cooking blog
56) I was married at 17
57) My best friend in grade school is still the most intelligent person I've ever known
58) I used to model bathing suits in high school
59) I got my senior pictures for free by modeling different colored caps and gowns
60) I crashed a lecture at Harvard to meet author Leslie Feinberg ("Stone Butch Blues")
61) I once crashed a convention because I heard that Barry Manilow was the entertainment
62) I like small dogs
63) I don't like my job
64) I retired from the California school district system
65) I used to have a bad reputation in high school
66) I've owned 10 houses and 1 condo
67) I once had a red-boned coon hound named Red Blaze of Glory
68) My parents won me in a Bingo game (it's a long story)
69) I went to Catholic school for 11 years
70) I'm a trained belly dancer
71) I started turning grey at age 12
72) I was almost completely grey by age 40
73) I am 3rd generation American
74) The fastest I've tested at typing is 82 wpm
75) I know shorthand
76) My favorite color is green
77) I created a board game
78) I co-wrote a book, printed it and sold 350 copies
79) I'm a seller on ebay
80) I am supporting myself financially for the first time in my life
81) I've taught modeling classes
82) My first job was babysitting in a bowling alley
83) I've interned as a legal secretary
84) I'm a certified travel agent
85) I was a licensed manicurist
86) I took a 2 year medical secretary course in college
87) I've taken a medical transcription course
88) I still have a lot of family back in Michigan
89) I haven't left the house without makeup on since I was 13 years old.
90) A psychic predicted my last live-in relationship in excruciating detail
91) I almost died having my tonsils removed
92) According to my mother, I had polio when I was two
93) I've never believed that
94) I went out and found a Chihuahua that looked just like my last Chihuahua
95) The two dogs are nothing alike
96) In total, I trained for 5 years to be a secretary, including continuing ed classes
97) I'm tired of being a secretary
98) I spent 7 years of my life breastfeeding
99) I would have liked to have had 5 children, all girls
100) Instead I have 3 daughters and a granddaughter
101) I am the parent of a Peace Corp Volunteer

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Polyamory

My daughter and I are hooked on the HBO series Big Love. It's a show about a polygamist and his three wives. Very cleverly and thoughtfully written and highly entertaining! Something similar exists in the gay world and the term is Polyamory - a Greek word which means "many loves." I'd never heard of it until I began to explore gay culture.

It's not exactly the same thing. Polygamy is a religious, cultural thing and the general consensus seems to be that not all the participants are there by choice. Polyamory is more of a lifestyle choice and consent is necessary. Also, while polyamory may not be exactly smiled upon socially, it isn't illegal ... as long as you don't attempt to marry all of your partners.

My friend Ann took a workshop on Polyamory and explained to me that it starts with a core person who has a primary relationship and then opens it up to an additional lover. What makes it different from cheating is that all parties are fully informed and in agreement and frequently all live together.

I always assumed that it meant that all 3 people in the relationship would be intimate with each other, but that is not always the case. And it's different than a couple who have a 3rd roommate. Evidentally someone has to be having sex with both of the others. Usually it is three people, although my research turned up the fact that there are larger groups of polyamorous people somewhere out there.

I had to ponder why it seems to be more prevalent in the gay world than in the straight world ... possibly because if you have 3 people all being intimate together somebody must be doing something gay? I also have to admire those lucky core 'people collectors' who are able to keep multiple partners happy and interested. I personally can't hold on to even one.

I actually know someone who tried out the polyamory lifestyle. It wasn't for her. Like me, she needs to be number one in her partner's life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Butch or Femme?

One of the landmines of lesbianism is the Butch-Femme phenomenon. I was lucky enough to get a crash course in it as soon as I came out so I’ve been able to hold my own whenever the subject came up.

Calling someone Butch or Femme is considered to be very politically incorrect by a lot of lesbians and even more are offended by the word Dyke. Dyke is used as a slur - thrown vindictively at masculine looking women all the time, even now. They are “labels,” which especially offend the academic types. But there’s a whole faction of people who enjoy the terms. These people embrace all 3 words and feel that they define who they are when they are telling the truth about their lives.

Here are some of the more commonly used terms you’ll encounter, along with my own befuddled definitions:

lipstick lesbian – someone who doesn’t look like a lesbian, such as most of the L-word cast
soft butch – doesn’t always wear masculine clothes but is not feminine either
bull dyke – older, hard core, extremely masculine looking and acting
baby dyke – young, boyish-looking woman.
high maintenance femme – long nails, long hair, very feminine apparel, high heels, makeup
granola lesbian – androgynous looking, academic type, probably eco conscious
daddy – older dyke, controlling, likes to be called Sir
old school butch – chivalrous, traditional, very into role playing
pillow princess – someone who lies there during sex doing all the taking, none of the giving
late bloomer - someone who comes out later in life

Then there are a a whole lot of sexual sub categories, most of which are self explanatory, such as Tops, Bottoms and Stone. Don’t be fooled by appearances – there are femme tops and butch pillow princesses and all possible variations in between. For example, Stone Butches are women who don’t want their female parts touched during sex. But there are also Stone Femmes, although I’m not exactly sure what THAT’S about. For further explanation, check out the butch-femme.com website. Be forewarned though, if you decide to check out their personal ads a lot of women on it are rather … how can I put it … extreme. Don’t let that put you off though, I’ve happily dated people from that site.

Whenever you see a lesbian couple, you can bet that everyone in their lives are interested in two things – who is the boy and what do they do in bed. Even fellow lesbians wonder about these things, not just hetero people. My ex-partner and I had many fun discussions, trying to guess what our friends were all about.

Speaking of my ex, Sam had a lot of confusion about all of this. She was born and raised in Cambridge Massachusetts – home of Harvard and probably more PhD’s per capita than anywhere else. These highly educated sorts did not approve of labels or role playing so Sam came out of there quite confused about everything. She was the butchest thing I’d ever seen but was still wearing nylons and high heels to family events because her Mom and sisters kept saying those magical words she'd heard all her life ... “But you’re a girl.”

I moved her out west and then took her to a Butch Femme Convention in Las Vegas. She was shocked to see everyone so comfortable in their extremes and found that she really enjoyed being referred to as “guy” or “man” by the other butches. Watching Sam become comfortable in her own skin was one of the highlights of my life.

Another note – the way that people ID ( self identify) is what it’s all about in the queer world and that can have absolutely nothing to do with their appearance. The best way to proceed is to address someone as the gender in which they are presenting themselves. As you get to know them, they’ll straighten you out about how they see themselves. Believe what they tell you.

In my opinion, the sexual energy in lesbianism lies in the butch-femme synergy – the ying/yang of the Butch-Femme dynamic. The entire two years I lived in Boston, the only time I saw the butch/femme crowd out in public was at an Evening Of Erotica lesbian fundraiser. Didn’t surprise me a bit. I am a femme and the times I’ve made a conscious effort to date more feminine women, lesbian bed death would set in almost immediately. If you are looking for companionship - that’s fine, but if you want some serious action - go for the extremes.

One of my favorite things about dating butches is how vulnerable and open these amazing women will let themselves become with a beloved femme. They live hard lives – being ridiculed at every turn - at home, at work or just walking down the street. To find themselves being adored and appreciated when they present their true selves, is what makes them open up like a flower. There’s a swagger to a butch walk, a courtliness to all femmes they encounter – these are things that just make me swoon.

As a femme who dates extremely masculine women, I’ve endured my share of ridicule. Just last week I was trying to explain to someone I’d met online why I preferred dykish women. Finally I gave up and said “I don’t know why I do, I just do. Always have, always will.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My First Girlfriend

My First Girlfriend

My very first girlfriend, whom I met online thank you, was a major butch. Triple XXX chromosome butch. I don’t know if that’s what I was looking for, I can attest that I was consciously searching for someone who ID’d as 100% lesbian, my thinking being that I needed someone who knew what they were doing … which led me to Robin.

Robin was a very troubled soul. She was fighting a history of mental illness and not in good shape physically, but very good looking and not put off by my lack of experience. I was surprised to discover initially that most lesbians my age did NOT want to introduce me to the pleasures of lesbian love. They were not amused by my inexperience or curiosity. They didn’t want to take a chance on bringing me out, and then losing me if I decided to return to the world of men. They also were afraid that once I found out what I’d been missing, I would want to do a lot of experimenting. In other words, they wouldn’t take me seriously.

But Robin fearlessly went where others hesitated to tread. She lived a 5 hour drive away. We visited back and forth a couple of times and spent hours nightly IMing and calling each other. At first everything was fine in the world of Robin but gradually talking to her was like receiving missives from the home front. First her roommates were taking her rent money, but not using it for rent. Then they stopped paying their share. Then she was having trouble at work. Then she broke her collarbone and lost her job and got evicted and … OK, OK, OK, … please Robin, I live in this big, empty house, please come and live with me. I was so new, so na├»ve, so exactly what Robin was looking for.

So here she came, not on her own steam of course – I had to go and get her. And I rescued her from her terrible living situation. Well, she didn’t appreciate it at all. She was no sooner on my turf, than she was on the internet and phone looking for her next savior. I’d come up behind her and hear her telling her next victim (an ex named Joni) the same sorry things she told me about her former difficult life. I was livid. When she announced she was leaving a couple of months after her arrival, I happily handed her over to Joni.

I kept in touch with Robin as the years passed by, amused by the trials and tribulations of her life as she bounced from rescuer to rescuer. She actually crossed paths with me about 4 years later, while I was living with my partner in Las Vegas. She came for a visit to check out the situation and went on her way. Her health had deteriorated over the years. Even though she is younger than I was, both knees had given out and she could barely get around.

After awhile we lost touch and then she surfaced again a few months ago. It has been 7 years since we’d been involved. She saw my personal ad online and realized that I was single again and back in southern California. Guess what – Robin was badly in need of rescuing! She had moved across country to live with a woman and her husband and her ex gf in a single wide mobile home out in the middle of nowhere. Inconveniently, her beloved suddenly died four months later and there she was. She was paying rent to the husband and he was good naturedly driving her around to her doctor and dental appointments, as her health worsened. It was a drama free existence but not very good for the soul.

She asked if she could come for a visit. I agreed and soon, there she was. She befriended my daughter, acquainted herself with the dogs and admitted that she really wanted to move back to southern California. Conveniently, of all her exes I was the only one she’d consider moving to be with. I was the only one she’d ever loved and the only one normal enough to have a drama free future with.

Of course, I knew she was still exactly the same person, still running exactly the same scam. But I care about her and I’m grateful to her and I had an extra bedroom and for about a 2 week period I actually considered letting her move back in with me. But thankfully common sense kicked in. I knew for a fact that she hadn’t learned a damn thing. She wouldn’t appreciate being rescued this time any more than she had the first time.

The reason that I am sharing my story with you is as a warning to all of you newbies out there. There are a lot of women who are looking for someone to take them in and support their sorry asses. Be Careful! An experienced lesbian can spot these types a mile away. As a newcomer, you will be fair game. You will find these con artists inhabiting the outskirts of the lesbian world. They bring newcomers out, they date married women, they stear clear of anyone they could actually have a real relationship with. Because this would keep them from their favorite activity – finding their next savior/victim.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Online Dating

You’ll be amazed at the reaction of people when you bring up Online Dating in polite conversation. There are tons of perfectly intelligent people who are still fearful of and totally against it, even though we probably all know happy couples who met this way.

Meeting someone online is just as legitimate a way to meet as any other. Yes, you might meet a nutcase, but you can meet nutcases sitting right next to you in the movie theater. It would be nice if we could all meet people who were carefully screened and chosen for us by life long friends, but how many friends do we have and how many single people do they know that would be our types? Once you’ve met the one or two folks that your friends want to set you up with, you are then are left to your own devices.

Another traditionally accepted way of meeting is through church or face-to-face while out and about. Come on. Most people who meet regularly in a setting like a church, or at work, or your neighborhood gay gatherings are less inclined to get involved – only because you’ll continue bumping into this person if things don’t work out.

Just as a natural extrovert has the advantage in social settings, there are certain types of people who have the advantage online. People who can type quickly and express themselves eloquently in print are going to do better than those who can’t put a grammatically correct sentence together to save their lives.

An advantage to meeting online is that you can share a great deal of information about each other before The Physical gets in the way. You know what I mean – the physical attraction, the magnetic draw or repulsion, the flirting. Once that sets in, communication can rapidly shut down. That’s how you end up involved with someone for a year before you find out about their arrest record, or political affiliation, or former cult membership. It truly just never came up.

So take a chance on online dating. Sites I recommend are tangowire.com, match.com and butch-femme.com. And be understanding if your new pen-pal doesn’t want to give you their phone number right away. They aren’t hiding behind their keyboard or secretly married or something like that, they may just want to get to know you for awhile first.

But before you get started, here are a few personal guidelines I follow to make the experience as safe and user friendly as possible:

  • Set firm boundaries. Don’t let people encroach upon your life any faster than you’re comfortable with.
  • Don’t rush things once you do meet. Keep in mind that an initial meeting is a First Date. Remember your last unsuccessful first date? What if had lasted for 5 days and the two of you had to share a hotel room? Plan accordingly.
  • Don’t expect immediate results. Chances are you'll have to meet a lot of people before you find someone you could really get serious about.
  • Don’t take it personally if people write for awhile and then drift away. It’s hard to keep chatting with someone long distance unless the two of you find a way to truly connect. Periodically keep in touch with those that have drifted.
  • If you plan a vacation somewhere, don’t hesitate to seek out women in that area for a date or two. Take advantage of your travels to meet as many people as possible. But don’t travel just to meet someone - too expensive. Initially, let them come to you.
  • As always when dating someone new, arrange to meet in a neutral, well-lit place. A coffee shop in the daytime is always good. If you hit it off, you can suggest continuing the date at a restaurant.
  • Pace yourself. Successful long distance relationships require patience. If I’m talking to someone new who proclaims that they don’t think they can get through the next weekend without me, I know this person will burn out quickly and not be able to go the distance.

Last of all, remember that even if you’ve really hit it off online and by phone, all bets are off until you actually meet face to face. Until you look at them, hold them and smell them, you just won’t know if there is really anything there to build on. Attraction is a very finicky mistress.






Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Dress Code

One aspect of lesbian culture that takes late bloomers some getting used to is The Dress Code. From what I’ve read of gay history, the way lesbians dress has been important through the ages. It’s how they spotted each other, even back in the olden days (like, last year). We all know the usual, obvious items – flannel shirts, men’s watches (the bigger, the better), comfortable shoes, leather jackets, men’s clothing.

I once attended a woman’s dance in Boston and went to hang up my coat. There were about 70 black leather jackets hanging in a row. Needless to say, I went out and bought one the next day. How did people spot their own jackets at the end of the evening? Nobody knows.

Late bloomers quickly realize that, unless something changes drastically we are going to be invisible to our new found community. Chopping off our hair and wearing men’s clothes just doesn’t work for a lot of us and never will. Trust me, this is very unnerving to a woman who has spent 50 years honing her style of dressing.

It’s really an issue. If you wear the wrong thing, your community will laugh at you and label you as clueless. For example, Red Hat Ladies … not in the lesbian world. This is strictly a hetero activity. I was at a Palm Springs lesbian mixer once and a woman approached our table. She was very fluffy and femmy, early ‘50’s, and wearing a red hat with a purple bow. She handed us her card and announced that she was running for city council. Someone asked her if she was gay and she replied “No, does that matter?” Well, yes it does. We don’t want to go to lesbian events seeking out our own kind, only to be rebuffed by women who, giggling, reply that they aren’t gay. But that’s an entirely different posting and one of my pet peeves ... don’t even get me started.

But back to wardrobe … a lot of late bloomers (not all) tend to be femmes. As one of those myself, I was very discouraged to discover that I was invisible to the women in my new found community. Lesbian bars and events were very important to my coming out (and still are 8 years later), as it is the only time I can be noticed and taken seriously by “my people.”

This is a problem that all femmes, not just the late blooming variety, face all of their lives, . It’s difficult for us to catch the eye of, and flirt with, women we spot when we are out and about. We miss out on the ‘nod of recognition’ that occurs between two dykes, who are complete strangers, when they spot each other in public. We don’t automatically start talking with other dykes in line with us, as gay women do. If we overcome our shyness and reach out to a strange dyke, they are not sure what to do with us or why we are talking to them. Eventually you can work, my “former partner” into the conversation and that’s a giveaway. But, how else can we make our presence and intentions known?

I have found rainbow jewelry to be very effective, as the vast majority of heteros still have no clue what it means - but all gay people do. I have a rainbow eyeglass holder, one of those chains that hold your glasses around your neck when you aren’t wearing them. It’s got a black background, is tasteful and I can wear it at work. I also wear rainbow ankle bracelets all summer when I have capris or shorts on.

I once read that you should wear your gay jewelry when you fly, as most flight attendants are gay and will give you better service. That hasn’t been my experience, except for once when I was enjoying being patted down by an extremely attractive security agent at the gate. When she got to my rainbow ankle bracelet, she turned beet red and started laughing and waved me on through. Mmmmmmm. Fond memories … LOL!

So good luck to you in your quest to become noticed by other "family." I hope some of these tips help. Anyone have any other ideas?