Why am I so adamant about stating that I am a Lesbian?
This question arose on Twitter yesterday when an unknown man appeared in my mentions. At first, I simply assumed that he was just a typical troll, and responded accordingly. However, after the initial battle, it turned out that he actually wanted to have a conversation about those questions.
It started when I tweeted (for about the 584,328,901,475th time) that being a Lesbian is NOT a choice. To make a long story a little bit shorter, after we got past the initial volley of back-and-forth insults, he finally tweeted the following (which I have combined here for both clarity & brevity):
“i don’t define everything i stand for by which gender i prefer. My original point was that. Dont sell yourself short…my point is there is no reason to identify by sexual preference. Its an act for attention. …But im not saying its a choice. I agree…its like your saying to yourself- if people dont know im gay they wont value me as much. Not true…my whole point is i hate seeing people pigeonhole themselves behind sexuality, like its their greatest asset….I dont understand why you have to explain/declare sexuality to the masses…shouldn’t sexuality be way down on the list of things you tell strangers about yourself?…i just think sexual attractions are not something to be judged on and when you throw it out front, your actually asking to be.”
Basically, Twitter guy was wondering about why I so publicly and repeatedly say that I am a Lesbian. He apparently felt that my insistence on doing so both limits and pigeonholes me, and, in his opinion, since it’s not really anybody’s business who I sleep with, he wondered why am I making such a big deal about it by stating it publicly.
Upon reflection, I realized that this general attitude is actually very common among heterosexuals, even among those who allegedly “
support” us. When Ellen DeGeneres first came out on her show, I heard numerous straight people say things like: “I don’t care who she sleeps with, so why does she have to tell us?”; “It’s not my business; I don’t need to know!”; “I like her even if she is gay, I just don’t want to hear about it“; etc.
(These are the very same “
supporters” who say things like, “I am all for you people to have rights, but why do you have to call it MARRIAGE?”).
So this post is to explain, listed in no particular order, why it is important for me as a LESBIAN to say so, both publicly and privately, and why such questions themselves are based on faulty reasoning and Hetsplanations of “
1). The reason heterosexuals do not have to state that they are straight is because it is already assumed. Nobody has EVER had to come out as straight!
2). When I say I am a Lesbian, I am not trying to make my “sex life” public. Being a Lesbian is not all about sex (although, obviously, attraction/orientation are biological components thereof). Think about it: People do not assume that if a straight woman mentions her husband (or talks about dating, or makes any other reference to her heterosexuality) in conversation that she is talking about her “sex life” ~ but straight people seem to assume that if Lesbians mention that we are Lesbians, or if we mention a female partner in conversation, that we are somehow talking about our “sex life” ~ even when we are not, in any way, talking about actual sex. (Straight people project such hypersexual misconceptions onto Lesbians because of their own twisted notions of “
3). Even though being a Lesbian is certainly not ALL I am, it is indeed integral to who I am…and therefore it is important to say so. Unlike being straight, being a Lesbian is not immediately assumed. Silence would be a form of covert lying.
4). By saying I am a Lesbian, I am not “pigeonholing” myself. It is simply an important fact about who I am. (Plus, quite frankly, anyone who would “pigeonhole” me in any way for being a Lesbian would not be someone who I would care about).
5). Saying publicly that I am a Lesbian is also not “an act for attention”, nor do I feel it’s my “greatest asset”. First of all, in case heterosexuals haven’t noticed, there’s a thing called homophobia, and it makes our lives hard and even dangerous. It would be much safer to stay in the closet and be silent, but it would also be dying a slow, painful, invisible death. Second, stating something factual is not the equivalent of bragging or attention-seeking. Third, it is illogical to believe that I am bragging about Lesbianism being my “greatest asset” when being a Lesbian can get me fired, denied housing, denied other rights/privileges, attacked, or even killed. That sort of “
logic“ just doesn’t add up.
6). Lesbian invisibility is a real issue, and this issue is illustrated well by what happened with this Twitter guy. Heterosexuals encourage Lesbians to be invisible…because they are uncomfortable and don’t want to actually see, hear, or think about real Lesbian lives. Even our most famous token Lesbian celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres, has been desexualized completely in the eyes of the public. She’s funny, she’s friendly, she’s cute, she’s approachable, and she’s neutral. And while sex is not everything to Lesbians, it is nonetheless an important part of our lives/relationships…and the same principle is true for heterosexuals, only MORE. In fact, sex is so important to heterosexuals that you cannot even watch TV for an hour without being exposed to sexual content, ranging from the innuendo of a shampoo commercial to actual depictions of heterosexual sex on practically every show now.
7). One reason I personally am so vocal about my sexual orientation, both online and in real life, is because I am a Femme. As such, people often mistake me for straight based on their own preconceived stereotypical and incorrect notions of what they think Lesbians look like. This makes it all the more imperative for me to speak out.
8). Twitter guy said that he thought that I believed that people wouldn’t “value” me as much if they don’t know I am a Lesbian. However, my experience is quite the opposite. I have lost “
friends” and “ family” over being a Lesbian; I have been told to be silent and “pass”. Ellen lost her original TV show over it, and it took years to recover. Other friends have been thrown out of college or fired from jobs because of it. Instead of people magically “valuing us more” for being a Lesbian, it is much more common to be hurt or rejected, which is hardly the privilege that straight people enjoy and take for granted every day.
9). Twitter guy’s questions centered on why would I find it important to say publicly that I am a Lesbian. In addition to all of the reasons mentioned above, one very important reason for us to come out of the closet and speak publicly about being a Lesbian is to show other Lesbians that they are not alone; and that it is okay to be open, comfortable, and yes, even proud of who we are. We are not second-class citizens and we don’t have to accept being treated as such. By showing acquaintances, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and the rest of world that we exist and we are normal, we are doing our part to increase Lesbian visibility and acceptance, both of which are desperately needed.
10). The only thing that Twitter guy and I agreed upon was the fact that sexual orientation is not a choice, so I do have to give him credit for that. By acknowledging that fact, he showed more insight and common sense that many so-called “
lesbian experts” and many alleged “ lesbians“ on Twitter and elsewhere. Which is sad…very sad.
In summary, I realized that Twitter guy’s questions were important, because they represent the underlying assumptions/curiosities of many straight people….assumptions that we must address and challenge at every opportunity. The only way to free ourselves from damaging heterosexual misconceptions is for Lesbians to shine a light on our TRUTH at every opportunity.