People, we are living in some rather dykey times. Just when you thought people had forgotten about lezzbians, we’re suddenly in every corner of the media. Used to be you had the occasional big splash: Ellen coming out, Madonna snogging Britney, or um, that-Brookside-storyline-I-hate-having-to-reference. Now we’ve got the sensational, but fairly well-received Lindsay Lohan being all loved up with Sam Ronson and Jodie Foster outing herself at last in an acceptance speech.
Really, it’s all just one big elbow in the ribs for me to get out and make some comment as the Grand High Lesbo that I am. Let’s turn our attentions to the issues of the day, or whatever I just clicked on from the Guardian homepage as the case may be.
Since I tolerate commercial radio during my driving lessons, I got the super-catchy “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry stuck in my head. Not being able to absorb lyrics until I hear them through my earphones, I made a quick iTunes purchase when getting ready for work tonight. As soon as I got the jist, I couldn’t help but smile. It’s funny, it’s feelgood and it references cherry chapstick. Sure, it’s all ‘oops, don’t tell my boyfriend’, but the ultimate message is kissing girls = a very good thing. How can I disagree with that? And yet, as soon as the iPod shuffled on to the next track, I mulled over the possibility that a percentage of the gay community would be up in arms over this trivialising lesbian relationships. Predictably, today’s Guardian has this. No doubt we’ll be hearing about a Stonewall boycott before long, and while I didn’t know about her previous single which is a little bit more pejorative about the homos, I just can’t bring myself to get worked up over a little bit of name-calling. With all the honest to God oppression still going on in this world, can we really devote so much time and energy to reclaiming the word gay? It’s the same as this stop bullying campaign which only deals with kids being bullied for homosexual tendencies. Guess what? Kids get bullied. Not ideal, but why should the gays be exempt? Maybe I’m just sheltered because I didn’t ‘realise’ until out of the pressure-cooker school environment, but it just doesn’t feel like a priority.
I should preface my next item by pointing out that I haven’t actually read The Well of Loneliness. Sure, it’s sitting on my bookcase, somewhere near the bottom of my haphazard ‘to read’ pile; there was never any doubting my access to it, given that I live with a double-Masters expert in books and queerness. I struggled through Oranges are Not The Only Fruit out of a misplaced sense of obligation, and generally resist any recommendations about books that are formed purely from them being about the lezzbians. Reading this article I’m tempted to conclude the label is in fact defunct. Mostly I used to feel a little self-conscious about hitting the Gay/Lesbian section in Waterstones Piccadilly, but more because I thought people would assume I was looking for p0rn than because I was ashamed of my sexuality. Surely though, the whole essence of a good story is that it ‘transcends genre’ as my bezzer expressed it (with her customary eye-roll) last week. Some of the greatest books I’ve ever read have had, on the surface, so very little in common with my own life. A skilled author, however, can take anything from the life of a magician’s assistant, a homeless man, or a teenage terrorist and make it resonate with me. While the historical breakthrough is something we ought to be grateful for, since acceptance in the arts can go a long way to acceptance in society, I think doing away with the label of ‘lesbian’ fiction can only further that progess. Think of the close-minded sorts who might never pick up something like that, but who could stumble across it and gain just a little bit more tolerance from a story well told, something that can humanise the abstract idea they held a prejudice against.
To round off a busy few days, it seems the Archbishop of Canterbury no longer bemoans our very existence. So long as we don’t shag around obviously, but then churches are that uptight about the heteroes as well. Maybe he mellowed because there just aren’t that many lesbians on TV these days. Maybe there would be more if the L Word wasn’t so utterly rubbish. Thank God the torture is almost over, and as long as I avoid the constant late-night repeats on cable, I won’t accidentally sully my brain with any more of it’s unrealistic nonsense. To think what a vehicle it could have been for the lesbian community, and instead we get poorly-acted soft p0rn with no basis in reality.
With that, I’m off to stare at the latest promo pics from House, because a girl needs some eye candy after thinking all these serious thoughts about her lifestyle.