Archives

Nameless

Believe it or not, I have a life outside this blog (No! Really???LOL!).

This life includes my wife, our cats, my work, our home, family, friends, chores, and errands ~ and, for the last several years, it also included something else that I once truly loved: a specific creative practice in connection to an organization in which I’d felt that I was a part of a larger community…but that part of my life ended abruptly earlier today.

Early this morning, I received an email from the official representative of this organization, which I will call “Nameless” (Note: The email has been edited for clarity/brevity; but also to remove any identifying information, of course):

Hi Anna,

I read your blog and support you speaking out and telling your truth, but…my concern is having your “Nameless” credentials listed on the account where a lot of angry postings are might make people feel unsafe to do “Nameless”…I know you said on your blog that “I will continue to speak up, to speak out, and to stand in solidarity with other Lesbians & with gay men, but I plan to try to do so in a way that doesn’t tear others down and create unnecessary angst/division.” and that is great, we support that mission, but the conversations don’t seem to concern “Nameless” per se and it might be better for “Nameless” work…if we could prevent people connecting “Nameless” inadvertently with any of those pretty ugly postings from others. Can you let me know if this makes sense to you?

Warm regards,

(“Nameless” Representative)

So:

Based upon this email, I truly feel it is best for myself, as well as for “Nameless”, to sever my connection with this organization.

Although I seriously doubt that my arguing with lesbophobes (who attacked us first, by the way) on social media would, or even could, make anyone “feel unsafe” to do a nonthreatening creative activity (why would it???), I nevertheless felt it best to remove myself immediately from an organization which clearly feels that being associated with me is undesirable.

I think I have now removed all traces of my former connection to “Nameless” from this blog and from my other online accounts, including removing old tweets that even tangentially referenced any connection whatsoever to “Nameless”. If I come across any other references in the future that I somehow missed, I will promptly remove those too.

Contrary to my typical first emotional response (anger masking hurt), I am not even angry about it right now; instead, this time, I somehow completely bypassed anger and went straight to hurt.

Although I was confused by the first email, because she mentions my blog, even quotes from my blog, and Twitter, it later seems that she was referring primarily to my Twitter account, and seemingly especially so in regard to the recent lesbophobic brouhahas, which I fought against and documented, in part, here at this blog.

What I do find rather odd and quite ironic, however, is that the very quote she used from my blog was taken from the post where I was specifically denouncing all of the hostility on Twitter and vowing to do my part in ending it ~ despite the entirely justified hurt and anger I felt (and still feel!!) toward those who were/are shockingly lesbophobic (and just plain mean) to me, Dirt, and other Lesbians.

I also find it quite intriguing that somehow suddenly this is an issue, when my connection to “Nameless” had been going on for several years (and I haven’t suddenly changed my topics/style here or elsewhere).

I will likely never know the answer to the question of “why now?”, but my best guess is that someone complained to “Nameless” about me. (If so, I have one word for that person: Karma).

The other major puzzlement I have is: Why am I being called out because of (and I quote) “pretty ugly postings from others“?

As I have always known, but have cruelly been reminded of in recent weeks, lesbophobia is alive and well, and it rears its ugly head on Twitter on a regular basis.

I cannot help that sad fact; nor can I control the postings of others; and my anger and defensiveness at the recent situation were my attempts at fighting the overt and covert lesbophobia that is constantly hurting me and my fellow Lesbians.

It also hurts that this representative showed absolutely ZERO concern/empathy for the horrible lesbophobic treatment I have been subjected to on Twitter…she doesn’t even attempt to pretend that she cares! There was not even a general “I’m sorry that happened”. Instead, she clearly blames & penalizes me for other people’s cruelty.

I can’t help but wonder whether some of this organization’s members’ seeming “acceptance” of me as a Lesbian was conditional/superficial, and I also can’t help but wonder whether there may even be some subconscious, covert lesbophobia lurking behind this person’s emails.

It feels as if I am being told: “It’s ‘fine’ to be a Lesbian, well, as long as you are always super-duper nice at all times, so as not to provoke the hatred/homophobia of others; and then you need to remain super-duper nice, even when under direct attack.”

Plus, what do you think an appropriate response to overt lesbophobic bullying would be?:

A). Come to the defense of a loyal long-term member of your “community” who is being attacked?

(OR)

B). Blame the loyal long-term community member for being bullied, and demand that she distance herself from your organization on the bizarre and nonsensical premise that some unknown person who may (or may not) want to try your technique in the future might be inexplicably afraid to do so, based on a stranger defending herself in her own Twitter account?

Hmmm. Think about it. Is it lesbophobia or just a supremely insensitive response to a terrible situation?

Who knows?

Regardless, it is all a moot point now.

Life will go on. I will do what I always do when dealing with any sort of hurt/loss: I will think, journal, and do artwork about it, until it feels like I am ready to truly move on.

Until then, I will allow myself to feel sad about the loss of something that has been important to me and that I truly believed in…even though I belatedly realize now that my feeling of community with “Nameless” was always just an illusion.

August 25, 2017: 9:30 a.m.: Edited to Add:

Subsequent emails have sadly clarified my suspicions about covert lesbophobia lurking beneath the civil surface.

Specifically, later emails from the “Nameless” representative included the following direct quotes (again, note that I am redacting the name of this organization and any other personal information):

“…where you are doing some good activism re helping people understand sexual preference, but yet are unfortunately attracting some comments that make the site feel unsafe for prospective _______________(customers of ‘Nameless’)

AND

“I did get an email from (someone) who was worried whether followers to your Twitter account would feel safe re: ‘Nameless’.”

AND

“I am truly sorry you want to sever your connection with “Nameless”. To be clear again, we just wanted to….separate that part of your work from the page where people are responding to your lifestyle with lots of judgments and homophobia.”

So: Let’s sum it up:

The “Nameless” representative is apparently worried about being associated with me because my Twitter account allegedly “attracts” lesbophobic and judgmental comments from others because of my so-called “sexual preference” and “lifestyle”, which then might inexplicably cause my own Twitter followers to be afraid to do “Nameless”. (Um…Huh????)

Ugh!  I think/hope my readers will immediately see the underlying lesbophobia in these quotes, and I trust that you will also see the glaring problems with her  “logic”.

And: to the sniveling, sneaky, lowlife, despicable, immature coward who emailed the “Nameless” representative: I fervently hope that Karma has something very special in mind for you, something you truly deserve.

Also:  Please see Dirt’s post, here, on this situation.

With Friends Like That, Who Needs Enemies?

Recently, I have been seeing posts and memes on Facebook, calling for unity and/or wishing for simpler times, when videos of cats doing silly things were the most serious things you’d see on your Facebook feed.

I do understand the wishes to keep Facebook light & fun and free of politics. I wish that were the case too.

But the current administration makes that impossible; I am afraid those days are gone, perhaps forever. We are living in a new world now.

Why? Because when you realize that your cousin (or uncle, brother, aunt, sister, friend, neighbor, coworker) supports the Trump administration, an administration which actively promotes hate, intolerance, injustice, discrimination, and untruth, you realize that there is no way you can remain friends with that person.

Because with “friends” like that, who needs enemies?

Social Media: The New Playground For Pyros-When Gaslighting Goes Viral

 

Have you ever had a friend, partner, family member, coworker, or even an acquaintance do/say something stunningly mean, but when confronted about it, the person suddenly completely denies, minimizes, redirects, distracts, deletes the evidence, calls you a liar, tries to make you feel like you are “crazy”, and/or otherwise attempts to invalidate your perfectly legitimate outrage?

If so, welcome to the dark, twisted, manipulative, maddening, bizarre world of gaslighting.

The effects of being gaslighted can range the gamut from simple, but utter, puzzlement if it is a unexpected situation by a Twitter acquaintance all the way to devastating, destabilizing self-doubt if it is done on an ongoing basis by a loved one.

The term gaslighting was named for the 1944 Ingrid Bergman/Charles Boyer movie, Gaslight, in which a diabolical man manipulates his wife into doubting her own sanity.

2016-18-12-15-57-43

The term now is used to refer to an insiduous form of psychological manipulation in which the gaslighter attempts to confuse and disorient by twisting facts and clouding reality.

As evidenced by the movie, gaslighters have been around since the “good old days”, but now social media has exponentially increased their visibility and reach, allowing gaslighting to even happen on a hit-and-run basis from internet acquaintances.

Gaslighting examples might include:

**Your partner makes a derogatory comment about you while you are present. When you confront her about it, she denies that it ever happened, says you misunderstood, says you are always “too sensitive”, and/or blames you for the situation. As a result, you begin to doubt your own perception, and you may even end up apologizing when there is nothing to apologize for.

**You can never do anything right, according to your mother. She belittles your weight, your hair, your clothes, your books, your choice of career or partner, even the color of your shoes. When you tell her how a specific demeaning comment makes you feel, she denies ever saying anything of the sort (even though you heard her say it yourself). She starts crying, saying that you are ungrateful and selfish and always “misunderstand”.  You end up feeling guilty that you could have possibly blamed your poor little old mother and vow to keep your mouth shut next time.

**A Twitter acquaintance suddenly attacks you (or an ally)…seemingly out-of-the-blue. Horrid name-calling and complete rudeness ensues from the gaslighter. When confronted, however, the gaslighter vehemently (and very treacly-sweetly) denies ever saying anything nasty at all, and, in the meantime, the gaslighter has deleted all of the offending tweets. The gaslighter then garners sympathy from unwitting outsiders (who never saw the offending deleted tweets) by saying: 1). that you are inexplicably lying about her; 2). that she would never-ever-EVER do such a thing, because she is such a nice person and everyone should know that; and 3). that she often deletes her tweets (although you can’t help but notice that she did not delete any of her tweets…except for the ones in which she looks bad).

**Your best friend flirts in an obvious and inappropriate manner with your partner. When you confront her about it, she says that you imagined it, that you are always so unreasonable and possessive, and that you are always so insecure and needy. You end up apologizing for the “misunderstanding” because, after all, you tell yourself, friends are forever. Right? (Then why do you feel like you just got run over by a Mack truck)?

This kind of dynamic can play out in endless scenarios; the above examples are just a few of the possibilities.

Regardless of the players or the topic, however, the underlying factors are always the same and involve some or all of the following:

1). The gaslighter will not take responsibility for her own actions nor admit any fault.

2). Instead of taking responsibility for her own actions, the gaslighter manipulates the gaslightee and the situation in order to destabilize the gaslightee’s sense of reality and to twist the facts.

3). Gaslighting techniques might include (but are not limited to) denying, minimizing, lying, insulting, demeaning, destroying evidence, twisting facts, bringing others in for support, and/or manipulating people, the situation, and/or the physical environment to support their contorted version of events.

4). The end result is typically the gaslightee feeling guilty, bad, confused, self-doubting, and/or unsettled. The gaslightee often questions herself and her perceptions of events. The gaslightee will often end up apologizing, even when she did nothing wrong. The gaslightee’s feelings after such an incident are somewhat akin to a bad hangover, although much more long-lasting and damaging.

5). Often, others who are naive to gaslighting tactics will jump on the bandwagon in support of the gaslighter, rather than understanding that they are only pawns in an intricate game of deception. Some may be intentionally brought into the situation by the gaslighter, for the dual purposes of gaining support as well as to further make the gaslightee doubt her own perceptions.

6). Gaslighters are typically charming and well-liked by acquaintances and the general public who have not had the misfortune of being their target, yet. They are usually articulate and friendly to strangers/acquaintances, which also helps them succeed in looking credible and gaining support, contributing further to the gaslightee questioning herself.

So, what can you do when faced with gaslighting? Here are a few suggestions:

1). Read The Gaslight Effect by Robin Stern, Ph.D. (and read it immediately if you are in a romantic relationship where gaslighting is happening). Dr. Stern’s book thoroughly covers the topic and gives many practical and insightful suggestions. As Dr. Stern says here in regard to the gaslight effect in long-term relationships:

“Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another’s reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person. Gaslighting takes two – one person who needs to be in control to maintain his sense of self, and the other, who needs the relationship to maintain her sense of self and is willing to acquiesce. The Gaslight Effect happens when you find yourself second guessing your own reality, confused and uncertain of what you think, because you have allowed another to define reality and tell you what you think — and who you are. Gaslighting can be maddening in the early stages and soul destroying when it fully takes hold.”

2). Trust your own intuition and observations. If you have seen something with your own eyes or heard it with your own ears, and someone is telling you that you are wrong, realize that you are not the “crazy” one in this situation.

3). State your truth, then disengage from the gaslighter as quickly as possible. You aren’t going to “win” a battle with a gaslighter, because she will never admit she is wrong nor acknowledge your legitimate concerns. Stick up for yourself, assertively but briefly, then move on.

4). Be aware of this behavior, so you will know how to recognize it quickly in the future and act before becoming close to a gaslighter.

5). If you see this behavior in someone you do not HAVE to interact with, avoid that person at all costs, no matter how “sweet” and “friendly” she may seem. A good analogy is a cobra in a bunny suit; the bunny suit looks fluffy and happy and safe, but make no mistake, the cobra inside is coiled and waiting to strike.

6). If you see the behavior in someone who you do currently still have to interact with, stay on guard. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of well-being.

7). Keep a private journal in a safe place, and/or talk to a trusted friend or therapist, in order to maintain your own sense of reality and self-esteem. Write down exactly what happens, as specifically and in as much details as possible. Refer back to your notes frequently. Look for patterns of behavior.

8). If the altercation occurs via email, letter, or online, consider keeping physical evidence of the event ~ for your own sense of reality ~ not as a way to argue or engage with the gaslighter. (Keep the email or letter, or screencap the nastiness if it happens on social media, and email yourself a copy).

9). Minimize your contact with the gaslighter, and keep interactions neutral whenever possible.

10). Consider your part in the interactions. As Dr. Stern says, it takes two to engage in the dance of gaslighting. If there are ways you can protect yourself or change the outcome of feeling disempowered, do so.

11). Seek mental health or legal or other professional advice if needed (please see **Notes**, below).

12). Above all, take care of yourself and don’t let anyone’s manipulations crush your sense of self or confuse your sense of reality.

In summary, I wanted to bring up a well-known Maya Angelou quote:

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

When you see serious gaslighting behavior, please don’t just write it off as “a fluke” or excuse it by saying “She was just having a bad day”.

Of course, everyone can be grumpy and say things we don’t mean, but the critical difference to consider is that most people are capable of analyzing our own actions, taking responsibility, respecting the other person’s feelings, apologizing when necessary, and learning important lessons when altercations happen.

Note that a gaslighter does none of these healthy behaviors, but rather, a gaslighter makes the situation even worse by engaging in the gaslighting behaviors listed above.

You cannot get blood from a turnip, and you cannot get reason nor empathy from a gaslighter.

So, when a gaslighter shows you who she is…please believe her…the first time.

**Notes**:

1). I am using “she” for this post for simplicity’s sake, but please note that gaslighters and gaslightees can either be male or female.

2). As always, please be aware of this standard disclaimer: Nothing I write is ever intended to be professional advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for the advice of a professional. Please take appropriate precautions, and always seek professional help regarding any/all mental health issues/needs.

A False Sense Of Well-Being

There has been a nebulous feeling fluttering at the edges of my consciousness lately, something that I haven’t been able to put into words until now. This bewildering feeling has nagged me every time I log into Twitter; it is a vague sense of apprehension, a certain wariness that I wasn’t even fully aware of until very recently.

For one thing, I have been super-busy lately, so I haven’t had much time to contemplate my thoughts and feelings (thank goodness for an Election Day holiday today!). For another thing, I have been sick, several times in a row now, so what little energy I’ve had has been focused on getting well.

Dirt and I recently wrote Portraits of a Straightbian and writing that started to bring this ill-defined feeling I was having into a clearer focus.  But it wasn’t until we published that post that a bigger picture was revealed to me; sort of like when I first wake up in the morning and I can only see the blurry outlines of shapes, but then I put my glasses on and BOOM! I can see.

The clarity happened when joannadeadwinter and Mint Leaf, both commenting on Portraits of a Straightbian, articulated precisely what had been nagging at me, finally bringing the actual underlying issues to the forefront of my consciousness ~ please see the “Comments” section of that post for details.

So, in essence, here is a basic list of some of what has been nagging at me:

Lesbians, in our eagerness to support our straight feminist “sisters”, often willingly jump on their bandwagons and spend our precious time and energy fighting for causes that do NOT directly affect Lesbians (abortion; male domestic violence; etc.).

In fact, Lesbians spend so much of our precious time and energy supporting Straight feminist causes that we fail to notice that it is not reciprocal; Lesbian-only issues are typically ignored and we are often too depleted from fighting other people’s battles that we have nothing left over for our own battles.

When Lesbians speak out against this omission of our needs, or about other issues affecting Lesbians only, we are typically ignored, muted, blocked, mocked, minimized, and/or outright excluded by the very people we mistakenly thought were our “allies”.

Furthermore, Lesbian solidarity with our straight feminist “sisters” allows Straightbians a wide open door into Lesbian space and lives, often with devastating consequences for Lesbians. As Mint Leaf said so well in one of her comments: I think lesbians believing that they share fundamental values and a worldview with feminist Straightbians is actually a common way for these damaging relationships to get started. It’s not hard to confuse being really passionate on behalf of women’s rights with being passionate for women themselves.”

A lot of radical feminist rhetoric is actually shockingly anti-lesbian; for instance, the common phrase used about “eschewing femininity” is not only inaccurate, fake, and ridiculous (as joannadeadwinter‘s comment said: “…when you go out of your way to avoid anything that might be considered feminine…that’s an act.”)…but even more importantly, it is also deeply misogynistic, because it displays an underlying disrespect for so-called “feminine” women, and reinforces the patriarchal idea that the so-called “masculine” is preferable. As joannadeadwinter said: It reinforces men as the default human, which is supposedly what rad fems are trying to oppose.”

There are a LOT of mistaken assumptions and underlying straight privilege that leads to often-seemingly-subtle lesbophobia among straight feminists, something that I have been noticing for some time while trying to put my finger on exactly what was bothering me. Mint Leaf summed the main issues up excellently in her comment: “The really upsetting part is the underlying assumptions which fuel all of this: that heterosexuality is a relentless shitstorm for women, chosen out of social pressure; that lesbians are fortunate to escape men, and lead some sort of charmed, misogyny-free existence; and thus, that it’s a positive ‘lifestyle choice’ for straight feminists to become lesbians.”

I will likely think of more issues later, but those are the basic points that are at the forefront of my mind at the moment.

The underlying lesbophobia that exists underneath the shiny surface of “sisterhood” is illustrated well by something that recently happened to me:

After doing a guest post, I was initially included by some straight feminist “allies” in conversations and in the possibility of future projects together. It seemed like a good opportunity to bridge the gap between lesbian and straight feminist interests, and I was excited about being a part of a group of (what I thought were) like-minded individuals.

However, when Dirt spoke out against a particular straight woman who is associated with them…someone who has publicly admitted to having previously called herself a Lesbian and to having gained attention for it, by the way…I very quickly found out where I stood with these individuals who I had mistaken as “allies“.

I was blocked immediately by the majority of these straight feminist “allies“, without any conversation…I was excluded from their clique more quickly than you could say “Adios, Lesbo!”

I was immediately and firmly (though very politely) informed by the one (one!!!) individual who would even still speak to me that it would be better if we parted ways.

Would they have excluded a straight woman for something her husband did?  I don’t know…but I highly doubt it.

And, the thing is, I agree that it is actually better that we parted ways. Better for them to rid themselves of the pesky Lesbians with our Inconvenient Truth(s), and better for me to have seen clearly that the initial excitement at being included was really just an illusion, much like the warning on some medications:

A false sense of well-being.

image-1

Because that is what happens to Lesbians…all the time.  We are often lulled into a false sense of well-being by various people who we mistakenly think are on our side, but when the high wears off, as all highs inevitably will, that false sense of well-being is replaced by the dull ache of cold, stark realization that we were always outsiders.

The major lesson here is it is up to Lesbians. It is up to us to fight for our own rights; speak out about our own issues. We are on our own, as we really always were…but that is okay, because we are stronger than we have given ourselves credit for. We don’t need others’ approval, friendship, or help.  We just need to stop diverting our valuable attention and resources and begin ALWAYS putting ourselves and our LESBIAN sisters first.

Why The Truth Matters To Lesbians

The most frequent comments/questions my sweetie Dirt and I have received since we began our quest to expose some of the fake “lesbian experts” who are neither Lesbian nor expert and to call attention to the myriad of ways Straightbians wreak havoc upon Lesbian lives are some variation/combination of the following:

“Why do you care?  Why does it matter? Why can’t you just live and let live? Why are you being mean? Who are you to say who is really a Lesbian? Etc.”

This post will attempt to answer these questions (as well as endless variations of the same theme) by explaining why the truth matters to Lesbian lives…and yes, even to those Lesbians who are asking these questions.

At least on the surface, it initially seemed that it would be obvious why the truth matters to Lesbians (or, at least, why it should matter).

Intuitively, it would seem that everyone would want to know the truth about themselves and their partners, as well as about the so-called “lesbian experts” that have taken it upon themselves to define “Lesbian“.

After all, who would consciously say to a potential love interest: “Please lie to me, because I don’t care who you really are and I don’t care that I am going to get hurt!”?  Who would intentionally pay hard-earned cash to buy a book or to attend a lecture by someone who is an active charlatan peddling false facts?  Who would deliberately follow an alleged “Lesbian expert” on social media if it were known that their “hero” is not really a Lesbian (or an expert)?

What we have learned (and are still figuring out) from the backlash is that there is much more going on underneath the surface than was/is immediately apparent to us.

There is so much resistance to hearing the truth that all women cannot just magically become Lesbians and so much resistance to hearing the truth that the much published and publicized alleged “Lesbian experts” are neither Lesbian nor expert that we need to pause to consider the underlying reasons for this brouhaha.

The primary, and most obvious, issue with facing these truths is denial. It might be that a Lesbian has already fallen in love with a Straightbian, perhaps even invested years of her life with said Straightbian. To admit that it all has been a lie is too painful, so it is much easier to knee-jerk into defensiveness and to lash out at Dirt and me.

From the Straightbian‘s perspective, there are also many reasons to either stay in denial herself (if she is trying to convince herself that she “really is” a Lesbian)…or, if she is self-aware enough to realize on some level that she is a Straightbian, to deflect the attention in order to maintain the ruse. For example, perhaps she has been sexually, emotionally, and/or physically abused by male(s) and is therefore resistant to being with a man, and being a faux “Lesbian” is her safety net, rather than dealing with the real issues.  Perhaps she is getting positive reinforcement for being a fake “Lesbian“: money, attention, security, adoration from a lesbian partner, fame, followers, book readers, lecture attendees, interviews, etc.  Perhaps she is having fun “exploring her sexuality” and feeling like she is “edgy” or a bad-ass rebel. Perhaps she wishes to dominate her relationships and finds it easier to dominate Lesbians than men. Whatever the case (and the situation will vary depending on the reasons she is a Straightbian), there is enough gain for her to continue her behavior — and she doesn’t want us pointing her out as a trespasser, a fraud, and a Nightmare on Lesbo Lane.

One thing that both of us initially underestimated was the sheer amount of Straightbians who have invaded Lesbian lives, both in our everyday social circles and in our collective consciousness. We will write more on this topic later, but, for now, I just want to say that I used to wonder why someone would say she is a Lesbian when she is not.

After all, it is not always easy being a Lesbian. We face many hurdles that straight people do not: potential discrimination in jobs or housing; possible rejection from family, friends, and society; legal struggles;  even the possibility of violence; just to name a few. Lesbian don’t have the straight privilege that heterosexuals blithely enjoy.

So, Dirt and I have both frequently wondered in the past why a woman who is straight would choose to say she is a Lesbian.

Well, the potential reasons vary, as mentioned above and in this post, but a major point I want to make today is that it does, in fact, happen ALL THE TIME ~ for various reasons.

And: most importantly, I want to make the point that because, as Lesbians, we do intimately know the potential problems inherent in coming out and therefore we cannot imagine why someone would falsely claim to be a Lesbian, we, as a group, have had a tendency to automatically believe any woman’s claims of being a “Lesbian“.

Lesbians’ own good-hearted, but ultimately naive, suspension of disbelief has had the chilling effect of leaving our metaphorical windows open for intruders to easily enter and to rape, rob, and rapine whatever they want from right under our trusting noses, including the very definition of our existence.

This harsh truth is difficult to face, but it is necessary for us as a community to start facing the truth in order to reclaim our existence and begin to finally define true Lesbian existence for ourselves.

As long as Lesbians believe, promote, and/or support the false myth that any woman can become a Lesbian, we will be at least partially responsible for the devastation wrought upon our own Lesbian community.

The truth matters, because Lesbian lives matter. The truth matters to Dirt and me, and we have the right to speak out about it, because we are LESBIANS and because we care about other Lesbians. We can say who other Lesbians are because of a little thing called gaydar (and common sense once you know what to look for). And: we won’t shut up as long as Lesbian lives are being harmed and until only true LESBIANS define Lesbian.

“Dear Lesbian”

Today, after witnessing the vague “advice” given to a lesbian in this column, I have decided to start a “Dear Lesbian” feature.

2016-19-8--14-38-29

Image: #PicsArt #FreeToEdit

Feel free to email me at sayebennett@gmail.com to ask any lesbian-related questions and/or submit requests for topics. Dirt and I will be happy to answer, and we hope our lesbian readers will feel free to chime in with your thoughts also.

(Note: As a blanket cover-my-ass statement, note that everything I say on my blog is my opinion as a lesbian, and should never be considered as any sort of therapy or professional advice).

Today, I will start with addressing the lesbian’s question from the link above.

I will paraphrase the lesbian’s question to the advice columnist (you can read the entire question at the link above if you’d like, but it can be quickly summed up as follows):

Lesbian Question: “My girlfriend of 2 years recently had sex with a man. Should I take her back?”

The advice columnist at the link above gave some generic advice along these lines: “Blah blah blah, get some counseling, it’s not up to me to say, relationships are tough, blah blah blah“.

I can sum up the correct answer to this lesbian’s dilemma very quickly:

Correct Answer: No, you should not take her back. Run like the wind, sister. She is a Straightbian.  Thank her for showing her true colors before you wasted any more precious years of your life, and hold your lesbian head up high as you’re escorting her sorry ass out the door. You deserve someone who will love you for you. You deserve a lesbian.

Sometimes, the answers in life are pretty darn obvious.  This is one of those times.

Truth & “Later-In-Life” Lesbians

All of us probably know, or at least likely know of, a Lesbian who initially married (or partnered with) a male, had children (or not), and later (sometimes even much later), finally came out of the closet.  I have known a few of these individuals myself, and I have heard many other such Lesbian-coming-out stories over the years.

Some of the objections to recent posts regarding the question of “Can any female become a Lesbian?” have used this scenario to suggest that it is possible.

Many people also apparently mistook our posts to exclude “later-in-life” Lesbians in these scenarios from the category of Lesbian, when that is not the case at all.

Although we previously addressed the topic of “behavior versus orientation” a few times in various posts, we neglected to do a entire post focusing on this specific subject.  I belatedly realized that we needed to clarify this aspect of the topic a bit more, because it seems to be a major point of confusion.

So I will attempt to answer this question in this post by using an explanation based on a compilation of all the stories I have heard over the years of various lesbians who came out later-in-life.

So: what is the difference between a “later-in-life” Lesbian in the scenario mentioned above, versus a Straightbian? (A Straightbian is a straight woman who falsely claims to be a Lesbian).

The difference is actually quite simple, but the explanation is more complicated.

The key factor is the difference between behavior versus orientation.

In the scenario mentioned above, the woman in question is indeed a Lesbian, and she always was.

This Lesbian grew up internalizing all the messages that everyone gets from family, friends, school, church, community, and society in general that being straight is the only “acceptable” route.

She is likely, although not necessarily, an over-achiever, an extrovert, and/or from a religious/conservative family, and she likely received a lot of reinforcement while growing up for meeting other people’s expectations.

She likely felt “different” while growing up, but maybe could not pinpoint why.  She probably had close friendships and attachments with other girls.

She likely married young, perhaps to her high school or college boyfriend; and she married him not because she was passionately, head-over-heels in love/lust with him, but because he felt safe, her family approved of him, and because marriage was the expected next step in life.

She may or may not have children, but regardless, she really tries to be straight. She tries to be everything that society expects, she tries to be a “good wife”, and she tries very hard to be happy with the life she has chosen.

She ignores feelings of emptiness, boredom, and ennui and sublimates her energy into work, family, volunteering, crafts, church, home projects, etc.

She may stay in this holding pattern for a relatively short time, or she may stay there for a very long time.

She may have some conscious awareness of her innate orientation, or she may be so practiced in shoving her own feelings down so deep that even she has difficulty excavating them.

Then, at some point, for some reason (and the reasons will vary), she wakes up and she just cannot do it anymore.

She cannot continue to pretend to be something she is not.

She realizes (or has always known on some level, but is just now admitting it for the first time) that her true orientation is Lesbian.

She starts the process of making the changes needed to move toward an authentic Lesbian life.

And even though it is the right path for her, the journey will almost certainly not be easy.  Often the process will be fraught with pain and difficulty. Many people that she cares about will likely feel hurt, confused, or betrayed. She will likely lose people she thought she could always count on.

There will likely be much resistance, anger, heartbreak, and angst along the way, but her need to live an authentic Lesbian is a more powerful force than the backlash she encounters.

So, yes, the woman in this scenario is indeed a Lesbian, despite whether she was married to a man for a couple of months or for 30+ years (or anywhere in between).

There will obviously be variations between Lesbians’ individual unique stories, because of each Lesbian’s unique circumstances, temperament, background, and situation.

But the general story is universal in such scenarios: genuinely trying to “do the right thing” (that is, what is deemed “right” by society’s standards) by initially attempting to live a heterosexual life before eventually deciding to be true to herself and coming out as a Lesbian.

Also, the coming-out process itself will be different for each Lesbian, and will be based on individual circumstances and personality characteristics. Many Lesbians come out right away and relatively easily, while others may take months or even years to complete the coming-out process. Some may need therapy to help them sort out a variety of issues like guilt about not meeting expectations, dealing with internalized homophobia, learning self-acceptance, etc.

Again, the key factor to always consider is the difference between behavior and orientation.

In this scenario discussed above, the woman’s behavior (initially) appears to suggest that she is straight (after all, she married a man!).  But: this woman’s true_orientation is really Lesbian. This Lesbian found intimacy, closeness, love, and “rightness” with a female that they never even remotely felt with a male, and she moved toward her true Lesbian orientation when she was ready to come to terms with it. She did not marry a man for true love, attraction, or lust, but rather for such reasons as familial demands, societal expectations, security, a desire for approval, convenience, religious convictions, companionship, etc.

In contrast, a Straightbian is someone who is actually heterosexual but she has chosen to partner with females due to a variety of potential reasons, including, but not limited to: political reasons, being sick of dating men, curiosity, thinking “the grass is greener on the other side”, trauma, mistaking friendship for love, rebelliousness, etc.  The Straightbian’s behavior appears to suggest that she is a lesbian (after all, she is dating a woman!).  But:  The Straightbian’s true_orientation is straight, regardless of her behavior.

I hope this post helped to explain the difference between Lesbians who come out later in life, after experience with men, versus Straightbians.  I realize that it is a complicated topic because no two stories are exactly alike, but the underlying answer is actually quite simple: it’s not what you do, it is who you are.