Friday, October 20, 2006

78. I like lesbians!

The title of this post probably doesn’t need to be so “Rah! Rah! Rah!”, but it made me laugh.

So, once again it’s been a little while.  I apologize to my blog compatriots!  My thoughts for this post have been brewing in my head for quite a while though, so perhaps this will be more coherent than normal.

You may recall in my previous post my mentioning a moment of clarity (or perhaps a moment of desperation) when I had the sudden realization that I “needed new friends”.  Well, I went out and got some… and so I thought I’d discuss them (or more to the point how I feel about them) on my blog.  

So, these ‘new friends’… well, before I came to Korea I stumbled across a website for English speaking “queers” in Korea, so after that moment of clarity (or desperation) I decided to check this group out… Because of the situation here, you can’t actually ‘check out’ this group without joining, so I joined.  This is the first time I’ve actively sought out gay friends.  Two of my closest friends are gay, but that is actually entirely accidental.  One of them is my only remaining friend from high school – and she had a boyfriend back then.  She didn’t come out until we’d been friends for about 7 years (I came out about 2 years after her).  The other is a guy I met in Ireland.  I knew he was gay about 3 days after I met him because someone accidentally outed him to me, (I had to wait for about 3 months for him to tell me himself).  I didn’t care either way about his being gay, I was just so excited to make a friend close to my age.  Up until then my Irish social circle had consisted of people who were literally twice my age.  The fact that he has turned out to be one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met has been an incredible bonus.

Anyway, like I said, this is the first time I’ve made a point of hanging out with other ‘deviants’ (please note my sarcasm) and I have to say that I like it… for a number of different reasons.

I should probably preface this by saying that I have not decided on a Side A (or a Side B for that matter) stance.  Because I am still in this limbo stage, I have no intention of dating any of the women I have to meet.  You’d think that having that sort of attitude would make the whole thing really frustrating, but oddly it has had the opposite effect.  It actually makes the whole situation really stress free, which is kind of cool.

The first reason I’m enjoying this group actually has very little to do with the fact that these women are gay.  It’s a group for English speakers in Korea, which means that I’m meeting other people who have a lot more in common with me than sexuality.  They are obviously somewhat adventurous, or at the very least they are not afraid to travel.  We have a lot of great conversations about the numerous places we’ve all been, different cultural experiences, etc…  plus we are all women in Korea, so we can all understand the frustrations of dealing with the sexism here (not that there isn’t sexism in Canada, it’s just not as blatant, or as accepted).  Plus, because it’s merely a group for English teachers, but for English speakers, it means I’m meeting people who are here for various reasons, ie: studying, or simply working – I’ve met writers and women in the army (no asking, no telling!), migrant workers… it’s a fairly diverse crowd (although, to be fair, the reality is that most English speakers here seem to be teachers).

Meeting people from various fields means that I’m meeting people with totally different experiences and totally different perspectives on Korea… it’s quite interesting.

Another reason I enjoy hanging out with these women is entirely wrapped up in the gay thing.  We’ve gone out to a few lesbian dance clubs (one in particular I’ve been to a few times) and I really enjoy it.  It shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did, being gay and all, but I really like dancing with girls.  I apologize in advance to anyone who is squeamish about the gay stuff but… well, I’ve discovered that I love having my hand in the curve of another woman’s waist.  That is something rather benign, I suppose, but it is something I have often found myself daydreaming about in years gone by (does that count as sexual fantasy?) and it was interesting to learn that the reality is even better than the fantasy.  I love being flirted with by pretty women, I love asking them to dance, or being asked to dance… that’s even better.  The best night out so far was about a month ago – I’d spent the day getting my hair braided (7 hours sitting still, I had energy to burn) and I went out to the club.  My hair was like catnip for Korean lesbians.  That was pretty awesome.

One of the things that this is making me realize is that… well I’ve tended to avoid using the word “lesbian” to describe myself, because I am attracted to guys – but I’ve always said that my scales were tilted towards women, but that first night… dancing with one young Korean who kept trying to get closer to me than I was prepared for, well I realized just how far my scales are tilted.  I’ve danced with plenty of men, some of whom I was quite attracted to (or at least I thought that I was) and yet nothing had prepared me for the explosion of sensation and desire I felt when she tried to press up against me.  My outward reaction was to curse rather loudly, which I don’t think she understood as her English seemed to be limited to the sentence “You are so lovely”… at least, that was one of the few things she said over and over again.  It’s all given me a new appreciations for my friends who waited until marriage for sex – something I’ve always agreed would be hard, but never really understood how hard it would be if you actually desired the person.

Anyway, the point is that I may have to drop the ‘bisexual’ label and just go with ‘lesbian’.  Not that it matters, really. It’s just a label.  But I’m wondering if the level of attraction I feel towards men isn’t in fact the equivalent of the level of attraction that most straight women feel for other women (something I’ve discussed before).  

It’s also making me realize how much I’ve missed out on.  I was watching The Daily Show the other day and Jon Stewart mentioned how he has some gay friends who came out when they were older and how they are like 16 year olds – all excited and gushing about everything… and as much as I hate to admit it, that’s kind of how I feel… all “OMG!  She looked at me!”, or “She asked me to dance!!!”, with accompanying fluttering and butterflies.  I get all giggly and girly (something very few of my friends have seen) and I feel like I’m in high school – except that I didn’t feel like that in high school… or junior high… it’s how I remember my friends talking, I feel like that.  It makes me sad and ecstatic at the same time.

The last part of this personal social experiment that I enjoy is also to do with the gay factor, but it’s a little more complex.  For the most part I find myself feeling really relaxed with other lesbians… which sounds fairly obvious, but it isn’t.  Most of my friends know I’m gay, and most of them don’t care.  I don’t feel relaxed because of a lack of judgment, I feel relaxed because I feel understood.  I actually just put my finger on exactly what I mean by that last Saturday when I was out with some (straight) friends for a birthday party.  There was one guy there who I had not specifically come out to, but I had made no attempt at cover up and I figured he’d figured it out.  Well, he mostly had, but I guess he decided to ask just to be sure.  The conversation went something like this.

Guy:  Can I ask you a personal question?

Me: Sure

Guy:  Are you gay?  Like… a lesbian?

Me:  Yeah… I thought you knew.

Guy:  Well, I kind of figured it out by some of the stuff you guys said.  So… do you like white chicks, black chicks or Asian chicks?

At this point I just stared at him for a few seconds before sort of stuttering out “Uh… I… um…have no… uh… preferences.”  

I couldn’t understand what made him think that that was an appropriate question to ask.  It took a little while but I think I’ve figured it out.  That’s the sort of question a guy would ask another guy.  No girl I know would ask another girl if she liked “black, white of Asian guys” – and as sure as hell, no guy would think to ask a girl that.  But when people learn that I’m gay, they seem to decide that they should treat me like a man.  I’m not a man, I’m a woman attracted to other women – did you catch that?  I’m a woman!  I think and feel like other women think and feel.  It’s not that straight women don’t find men physically attractive, or sexy, or have particular body parts they like.  Most women seem to like men’s asses or chests… abs… whatever, and they talk about them for sure, but not at such length or in as great detail as men do.  If I mention a woman I’m attracted to (or a woman I merely find attractive, or perhaps a previous crush) to a group of straight (non-Christian) people, the first question I get is almost always “Is she hot?”, or a more vulgar version like “Did she have a nice ass/nice tits/nice (fill in the blank)?” and I’m always left sitting there wondering why I feel offended.  I mean, aren’t they being affirming? Aren’t they merely encouraging me to explore my sexuality?  And maybe they are, but they’re doing it by treating me like a guy, or at least that’s what I’ve realized bothers me about those comments.  When a girl mentions a guy she likes, she’s generally asked questions about his personality, his ambitions, his job… and if they ask about his appearance, 9 times out of 10 it comes out “What does he look like?”, or possibly “Is he cute/good looking?” – rarely does it immediately have to be sexualized (at least in my experience).

I think that this is probably a big part of my problem with A.  The night of the boob licking, of course, is an extreme example.  I was not the only woman there that night – it was 6 women, 1 guy.  Guess who she demanded to lick salt off of her cleavage?  Me and the guy.  She didn’t try and get any of the other women to do it.  I was the same as the guy to her.  That’s an extreme example, but she’s often trying to get me into those sorts of conversations – you know, do I like big boobs or small ones, that kind of thing.  She’s even once asked me (in the presence of a pretty girl) if I had “a boner”.  Hilariously, she has also asked me the same racial preference question the guy did last Saturday, and I pretty much had the same reaction.   Look, I’m a gay woman, a lesbian I guess.  I like women’s bodies, there’s no denying that fact.  But I don’t really want to talk about it any more than any straight woman wants to talk about men’s bodies.  That is to say that unless I’m having a giggly girly night with a close friend, I pretty much don’t want to talk about it.  I don’t like being treated like one of the guys because I’m not one of the guys.  And to get back to the lesbians – they understand that.  They talk about women the way straight women talk about guys.  They don’t ask weird sexual questions – they know that I like women, and to get graphic (because I know that this is foremost in most straight people’s minds when they think about gay stuff), they know that I want to be sexually intimate with another woman – they even know exactly what that means.  They know all of that, but they don’t let it overwhelm the fact that I’m a woman.  It’s so basic, really, and I find it so relaxing.  

So, that’ it.  Sorry, this has been a mammoth post.  I really must learn to not go so long without blogging.  Then I wouldn’t feel the need to put all my thoughts down at once.  


Michelle said...

I'm interested in what you said about being a woman, that you don't want to be treated like a man just because you like women. I've been thinking lately about the essence of sex and gender: what is the elusive element unique to females? Or males? I believe there's something more than physical... but for every rule I could attempt to define, there would be exceptions. It probably can't be defined, but I think it's there.

mandy said...

first of all, JJ, I am *so* happy for you. I'm so glad you've found a way to explore your physical attraction to women that feels within the bounds of your faith. I've been reading your blog a long time, and as somebody raised in a less, well, demanding faith tradition I have always felt that it was not really my place to suggest that you push those boundaries, or how to do it. So good for you! I'm glad you're having these experiences. whatever decision you ultimately make, you will have given the truth of the body its true weight.

Desire feels wonderful, doesn't it? and I believe it's real.... spiritually real, that is. spiritually significant. We are body, soul and spirit all rolled into one, and I really believe that physical desire - especially when directed at one's life partner - is the companion piece to what CS Lewis calls joy (and like that joy, it is only found at the cost of a lot of false starts and wrong turnings). There is a sense of wholeness that comes into one's life when one has a partner who can stir intellectual, spiritual *and* physical desire. What you're feeling at these dance clubs, JJ... it can be the beginning of that journey. I'm so glad to see that you're not afaid of it; I hope you will take your self-exploration to the next level. Your body and your spirit will tell you what the right decision is - whichever it may be - but I think you should give yourself a chance to choose.

Liadan said...

I have several straight male friends who tend to try to treat me like I'm an honorary straight man as well, so I completely understand that. It's fairly annoying to explain why I don't automatically find enormous boobs to be the pinnacle of female beauty.

I also experienced the sixteen-year-old phenomenon myself this past week. "You mean she really talks about me?" "Maureen, I don't know what to wear Saturday!" My roommate finds it all hilarious.