Every time I hear or see the word “Queer”, I involuntarily flinch. This word has become one of the banes of Lesbian existence, as it is used as a catch-all term to denote pretty much every Special Snowflake from here to San Francisco. Well, mainly San Francisco, but geography is irrelevant to my point. My point is, the use of the word “queer” has come to mean anything from any random individual with more piercings than common sense to the pro-pedophile freak Pat(rick) Califia.
As I have said before, Lesbian is not “Queer” and “Queer” is not Lesbian, and never the twain shall meet.
I remember hearing “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” being shouted in Pride marches of yore. I didn’t mind the word then, because “queer” was being used to reclaim a slur that had been used against us. Quite simply, “queer” didn’t mean what it does now…and in that context, it certainly wasn’t being used to erase Lesbian reality in that context as the “queers” of today are seeking to do.
As my readers know, Dirt and I are quite outspoken about our thoughts and feelings on the on-going bastardization of the meaning of the word Lesbian. We are also very outspoken on the fact that there is no LGBTTQQIAAP+++ community.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I was asked to read/review a book called “Hashtag Queer: Lgbtq+ Creative Anthology (Book 1)“. In fact, I hesitated before accepting, because, believe it or not, I actually don’t enjoy controversy, arguments, and/or negativity. I truly WISH we all were one big happy community frolicking hither and yon in peaceful harmony. However, as much as I may wish for harmony and community, the stark fact is: reality always trumps feel-good naivete.
So I held my breath when downloading the copy they sent me, even feeling a little queasy with anxiety. However, despite my apprehension, I admit that I hoped that, amidst all the queer, perhaps a tad of Lesbian would peek through.
Sadly, I found most of it to be completely unrecognizable to me as a Lesbian.
Let’s just take a gander at just a couple of examples, shall we?
1). “How Jac Twist’d Turned You” by Emma Munro starts with:
“Jac Twist’d is staring and it is annoying.
He is both female, femme, and Drag Kinging…”
And ends with:
“You now feel powerful in red heels and red lacquered nails, with your bosom sweetly strangled in a corset and a dildo dangling between your legs. Jac and you take the straight and bend it into shape. Any shape.”
2). “The Flip Side of Coming Out” by Eva M. Schlesinger starts with:
“I had just arrived at the coffeehouse, when I ran into an old friend. ‘What’s new?’ Kate asked. ‘I’m now partnered with a man,’ I said…I came out as a
lesbian when I was nineteen…Being a lesbian made sense. I was certain a relationship with a woman would soon follow. Instead, I fell in love with a man.”
And ends with:
“I remembered running into
another lesbian friend at the grocery store. She, too, had asked, ‘What’s new?’ Glancing at the cashiers, I turned back to her warm gaze. ‘I’m now partnered with a man.’ I held my breath, wondering what would happen next. I was surprised when she said, ‘I have felt that yearning myself.‘”
3). “I Like Dick” by Maddie Godfrey starts with:
“I like dick, Big dick, small dick, medium dick, I like dick that is thin and dick that is thick…”
And ends with:
“and maybe this is why I enjoy being choked during sex those gasps for air, like the feeling of drowning it almost reminds me, of her”
(To be fair, I should note that at least Maddie Godfrey states that she is a “straight-presenting bisexual” in this entry, so at least she doesn’t call her love of dick “Lesbian”. Thank goodness for small favors, huh?).
My point is: None of these entries are Lesbian. None of these entries are anything a Lesbian can even relate to.
Once again, Lesbian is hidden under the oppressive umbrella of queer.
This phenomenon is nothing new or shocking; in fact, it’s par for the proverbial course…but it is still disappointing nonetheless. I have said this before, and I will say it again, us Ls need to remove ourselves from the never-ending LGBT+++ acronym; in fact, we already are not a part of it except for our initial.
My feeling about this anthology is that it’s fine if you are interested in reading a variety of “queer” poems, essays, and stories without any expectation whatsoever of getting an accurate representation of Lesbian lives.
But if you are looking for an accurate representation of Lesbian lives through fiction, poetry, essays, or even non-fiction, I wish you luck, because a snowball has a better chance of surviving in Hell than Lesbian truth has in a queer anthology.
I’m not saying that this anthology itself was terrible; in fact, many entries were interesting, well-written, and heartfelt. They just weren’t Lesbian, which is my sole focus.
The only entry that I felt any true empathy or kinship with was “Presence and Absence” by Laury A. Egan; this was a moving poem about the mourning of the dying/death of a long-term partner. I felt that this piece was written in such a way that it is universally relatable.
In fact, a particular quote from “Presence and Absence” reminds me of how I feel about the on-going loss of Lesbian truth (although the speaker is referring to a now-deceased partner). Therefore, I think the quote is a fitting way to end this post:
“I want the nothing
that remains to become
for the lost
to be found
transformed from empty air to real”