Photo by Caitlin Ahern
I have been described by one of my closest friends as ‘a lesbian living in a straight world.’ I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a gay bar, and most of those nights have ended shockingly. I only installed Brenda about a month ago, when I was bored one night in Portugal and wondered if there was any cute Albufeiran eye candy about to keep me from chewing off my own arm. I kept browsing for a bit out of curiosity when I got back to England, went on one date and don’t even bother logging in any more because it’s tedious. You might wonder why I have this attitude… after all, where else am I going to meet the love of my life in the 21st century – gay or not – if it isn’t in seedy Soho or online Catfish-style? While it’s true I’m not generally attracted to your stereotypical ‘butch’, this can in no way be held as a valid reason for my non-participation in gay society. Everyone is well aware there are many femmes equally desirous of the female sex . The fact of the matter is: I am simply not interested in lesbians.
I attended an all-girls school. This means I’ve been surrounded by women full-time since the age of eleven and have inevitably developed feelings at some stage or other regardless of the recipient’s sexuality. Having succeeded with a couple of short term ‘straight girl’ flings by the time I left sixth form, I assumed I’d be able to go about things this way forever. Naive, right? Many girls experiment carelessly during adolescence, but my experiences were different. I was not involved in the alcohol-fuelled pile of girls getting with each other on Alex’s lawn the night that Liam poured shots of vodka into his eyeball. I was actually sitting right next to them watching out of my periphery with amused mock-disgust. When I liked a girl we would text every night, and there would be inklings of coyness leading to flirtation and heavy innuendo before we’d even kissed. We’d be alone when we finally did. And so this would continue for months.
I’ve always been genuinely interested in girls’ minds and emotions, and ensured I was a solid friend they could trust before I made a move. I think my greatest strength – and weakness – in that respect, is my desire to fix people. There has to be a problem for me to solve. I remember seeing a girl vomiting outside our school disco when I was in Juniors; it was the first time I’d seen the symptoms of a paralytic and I was filled with the urge to love and mother her, despite the fact she was a good few years older than me, because it was clear that she was vulnerable. That experience seems to have become a recurring metaphor for the rest of my life. And with straight girls, even if they have no physical, emotional or mental wound to kiss better, there is always a problem: THE PROBLEM IS THAT THEY THINK THEY MUST SPEND THE REST OF THEIR LIFE WITH A BOY. It’s something I feel a driving need to remedy, or erase, at risk of sounding ignorant and disrespectful. Ridiculous, I know, and I am sorry (deep, deep down), but it’s something rooted within me like a poisonous seed I’m well aware is possibly going to eat me from the inside out.
Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a tumultuous relationship with my step-dad that I see myself as a female heroine come to extinguish the ‘bad guys’. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of alone time with my young, single mum as a child, that I will always be attracted to women such as her. Women that, similarly, aren’t gay. So I don’t bother going to the ‘right places’. I go about my business, and if I meet a girl I like, I plough full steam ahead the same way I would if I were a guy, or she were gay. And wrongly, by my own admission, even if she has a boyfriend.* So far, it’s worked. Every girl I’ve been with has been ‘straight’ – in some cases never having even kissed a girl before me. And so I enjoy my fleeting months of feminine romance and bask in my sexuality-changing powers. But there is a snag and it will come as no surprise: they always go back to the guys.
Although not always to the same ones. Many girls I’ve been with have cheated on their boyfriends with me, on both an emotional and sexual level, either long or short-term, and some have even broken up with them afterwards. Although it might seem like they’re doing so for me at the time – of course I do play my part in it – thus far it has never been the case that we end up walking off happily into the sunset. I suppose the intimate bond of a girl-on-girl affair makes women in less-than-beautiful relationships realise that they deserve more. So I help them see the light, then when they find their next man, I am left. And fair enough! I’m not playing a healthy game.
I get myself into these situations time and time again, and I do become tired of being a stepping stone. So you’d think that identical outcomes to my repetitively skewed behaviour would make me realise I need to go out and find somebody of my own sexuality. But although the thought is becoming, the reality is that I don’t want to. The idea of going on a date with a lesbian, sitting in a pre-conceived setting, where I know we’re both there for the same thing, kills the fun for me. I love a challenge, and I’m attracted to those who don’t flaunt their sexuality but wear it as a mere accessory for their daily lives. You don’t normally find such women flaunting themselves around Candy Bar at any given hour.
I’ve been on two planned lesbian dates and they’ve gone relatively well. I might have even pursued them if they were straight, but I’ve just never felt to follow it up after a kiss. And that is why, when drinking Pornstar Martinis last Thursday at Freedom with the thirty-something year old I met on Brenda, I kept thinking about my current ‘straight’ girl back home. The one who is going through the toughest of times and really likes me – needs me, even… The one who also has a boyfriend in prison. “Maybe this is the one that will leave him for me?” an increasingly quiet voice whispers. WHO AM I KIDDING? But I don’t care. (That’s a lie. I care, but not enough to stop). I know I’m self-destructing but straights come in girl or cigarette form, and everyone knows attempting to give up smoking is hopeless unless you really want to. WELL GUESS WHAT? I DON’T WANT TO YET. I thrive off the secret, slow breakdown of barriers and gradual submission to temptation of the forbidden. So in response to my friend’s question “When are you gonna get a grip and be a real lesbian Fern?” The answer is: I do not know.
Note: I would like to point out I do not go about heartlessly destroying happy relationships. All past experiences have involved cheating or neglectful boyfriends (and that absolves me of all sin, right?).
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