I never really got lesbians. To be honest, I was always quite afraid of them. I figured that if gay guys could relate to girls more than guys, then lesbians could relate to straight guys more than girls. So if lesbians were more like straight guys than anything else, then I probably wasn’t going to have much in common with them.
Then there is the fact that a lot of lesbians I saw at gay clubs and out and about always dressed ….. scary. A lot of them had short hair, wore a lot of leather and camouflage pants and they just didn’t look like very inviting people.
My ignorance was almost as bad as homophobic heterosexual ignorance towards gay people in general. But then I met two lesbian girls in a committed relationship, Violet and Tulip. I met Violet and Tulip, through my brother, Wattle. Wattle used to work with Violet, and had no idea that Violet was a lesbian until she told him over email.
Violet and Tulip, on first impressions, did not appear to be what my perception of “lesbian” was at all. But I guess that all comes down to the fact that, just like gay guys, there are lots of different types of lesbians and not everyone fits the same stereotype.
Violet and Tulip are both very attractive young women. Violet is impeccably fit and has natural beauty without needing to really even wear make-up. Tulip has more feminine curves and a beautiful warm smile. These two together are a powerhouse. Some may say that their relationship is too intensive and that they don’t spend enough time apart, but whatever they are doing seems to be working, as they have one of the strongest relationships out of anybody I have met.
One thing I envy about Violet and Tulip’s relationship, is that they are able to be very open and public about their feelings without threat of physical or verbal backlash from the public.
One such example happened a month or two ago, when I was with them on the train, travelling back to our homes after a big night out. Violet and Tulip sat together, holding hands. It wasn’t long before a straight guy, obviously drunk, got on the train and struck up a conversation with them.
I’m not sure if he was trying to flirt or just being friendly, but he asked them where they were from.
Tulip proceeded to exclaim to the young man, “Violet and I live together, in our apartment. We are lesbians.” Violet then added, “yes, so stop hassling my girlfriend.”
Now, granted Violet and Tulip did get unwanted attention from a male stranger on the train. But it was the kind of attention that was more light-hearted curiosity and infatuation.
I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if it would have been two gay guys in a committed relationship on the train? Two guys holding hands on the train may very well have attracted attention from a drunken straight man. But I highly doubt the mood would have been quite so friendly. Most gay guys who exercise caution and want to be safe in public situations like this one, would not hold hands in the first place. I have been on a train with a boyfriend of mine plenty of times in the past. We don’t hold hands, we don’t even really say much. We just wait until we reach our stop so that we can get home safe. And even with the lack of physical intimacy, sometimes the odd member of the public with a bad attitude will pick up on the fact that we’re gay.
I have had smirks and girls pointing and laughing. I have had mixed groups of teenage men and woman walk past me, and a guy in the group coughing “faggot” as he walks past, which is followed by giggles and laughter even from the girls. Fortunately, I have never had any physical threats against me, and I attribute this to the fact that I am so careful not to act flamboyant or draw attention to myself in any way when I feel I am in a place that could be considered dangerous; areas such as backstreets on the way to a car park or trains and buses full of drunk people on the way home from nightclubs.
Not to say that there aren’t a lot of straight people who are supportive and completely respectful, but as it always happens in life, it’s the small minority that tend to be the ones that go out of their way to give people a hard time. And unfortunately, a lot of people who aren’t bullies in this regard still stand or sit by and watch this kind of behaviour take place. I’ve always thought it to be so cowardly, especially when I’ll be walking down a street and somebody will yell out “fag” or “homo” as they drive past. So utterly gutless. But I’m grateful they don’t stop and get out of their cars.
Until you have ever experienced this personally, it’s hard to imagine the sense of being a second class citizen that you get, the sense of being completely ridiculed for the person that you are.
I am sure that being a lesbian comes with its own set of stuggles and obstacles. But to me, it seems to be a lot easier for lesbians to express their sexuality in public. You rarely, if ever, hear of lesbian bashings. Is it the fact that lesbians are still women, and it’s not okay to harass women in this way? Or is it the fact that lesbians are actually a lot more accepted in the wider community, at least more by straight men?
Until the time comes when I will feel completely comfortable walking down a street holding my male partner’s hands, I will envy Violet and Tulip as much as I adore them.