Monday, December 10, 2012

On Being An Ex-Lesbian

The frequency of the identity trajectory
lesbian --> trans guy
 is well remarked upon, but that doesn't make it any less weird to experience.

I was never that big into lesbian culture. I mean, I like Tegan and Sara and alternative lifestyle haircuts, but that whole Dinah Shore, L Word, second-date u-haul, group-of-lesbian-friends-who-have-all-slept-with-each-other scene always kind of mystified me.

(Not, of course, to suggest that that scene is either prescriptive for all lesbians or somehow worthy of condemnation. I just mean that it's a big part of lesbian subculture, and that it was not for me.)

So I don't feel as though I'm leaving behind a whole community, which it seems like some people do. You know, the kind of guys who keep going to womyn's music festivals and stuff. I was never comfortable in women's spaces being around an all-female group is easier for me now that I'm not expected to be one of them, but the majority of my friends are and always have been people who are not women and the only thing I really miss about femaleness is clean public restrooms.

The fact is, though, there are things you do and say as a lesbian that have a very different resonance if you do and say them as a guy.

For example, my ships. Yelling, "Make out already!" at a movie screen when two female characters are talking seems like a pretty okay (if potentially obnoxious) thing for a lesbian to do. Insisting on some offscreen headcanon Hermione/Ginny experimentation might not make any damn sense (on Hermione's part anyway), but it's understandable in a lady-loving lady. Obsessively scrutinizing every minute aspect of your favorite lesbian relationship on TV is, contra Ryan Murphy, fair play in a community that gets so little pop-culture representation.

In a guy, though? Those behaviors are kind of creepy.

If you're a guy who spent a few years being part of that community, it's a little more complicated than that, but it's still something to be cautious about. My sexuality, which for years I've been used to considering inherently transgressive, now risks reinscribing the male gaze.

(Not that I consider myself straight now. If there's one thing I've learned about sexuality from this whole transition business, it's that "gay" and "straight" are untenable identities. Also the last person I made out with was a gay cis man, so whatever.)

It's very weird, though. I'll hear mention of something very lesbian, and instinctively think, "That's me!" and then, almost as instinctively, "No it's not."

In the end, I guess I think of being a lesbian in the same way I might think of a place I used to live: with fondness, recognition, and a degree of nostalgia, and also with the understanding that it's in my past, that I am no longer the person I was back then. I don't live in Lesbitopia anymore.

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