Archive | February, 2013

Ask a Lesbian!

18 Feb

Something people ask questions because they are really curious, sometimes they are trying to further their own agenda, sometimes they just don’t have good boundaries. I’ve pretty much heard the questions there are, I think. Here are some of my top Q&As. I have kept this purposely G-rated. If you have a sincere question you’d like to ask, feel free to leave a comment.

  • To a lesbian couple, “Which one is the man?”

          Most lesbians find this question very insulting. I find it humorous (because I am sick that way). Some people cannot imagine a woman-woman dynamic and can only see the world via opposite gender couple lenses. This is somewhat understandable.

          The insult revolves around why a lesbian couple is not already “whole” and self-sufficient; why would it need a man? The questioner may be really asking, “Who is the primary decision maker?” or “Who takes out the trash?”

          There is NO man in a lesbian couple’s partnership. If you have a question about specifics, if you are close to the couple, you might want to ask your specific question. If you don’t know the couple well, you should not be asking anything too personal, just like you would not ask a straight couple you are not close to.

  • “Are you sure you just haven’t met the ‘right’ man yet? Were you hurt by a man? Did you not get along with your father? Do you hate men? How do you know you’re a lesbian if you’ve never been with a man?”

          Being a lesbian is NOT how about one does or does not feel about men. It is about how one feels about women.

  • Said by straight men, “Lesbians…nice, gay men…yuk.”

          Some people think by saying this, they are giving out a compliment. This is NOT a compliment. When you say this, what I hear is, “I would totally dig a threesome and want to watch, but thinking about watching or being with men makes me gag.” You are making our relationships all about SEX. Is your straight relationship all about SEX?

  • “Why are some lesbians with women who look like men? Why do some lesbians wear men’s clothes? Why do all lesbians like sports?”

          You may have a “type,” a particular look you are attracted to. Some straight men, for example, prefer gals with larger chests, some only like brunettes. Some straight women like muscular men, some like men who are less muscular. Since lesbians are pretty much just plain ol’ peeps, each one of us has preferences too.

          Some lesbians wear men’s clothes because they are more comfortable. Sometimes they cost less. Sometimes we just like the look. I, for example, have worn men’s kicks for years; they fit my feet better and there are more styles to choose from.Not all lesbians like sports. Some wouldn’t know the difference between a football and a basketball. Really! (And some women who like sports are not lesbian!)

  • “Are you a butch or a femme?”

          This is another question that many lesbians find insulting, and I find humorous. Again, like the question about “which is the man,” it is based on the heterosexual norm. There are some lesbian couples where a “butch-femme” paradigm is important and there are some where it is not. Some women self-identify as butch and some identify as femme, some as both, some as neither. My question to people who ask this is, “What do you REALLY want to know?”

  • “Why do gays and lesbians have to flaunt their sexuality all the time? I don’t publicize what I do in the bedroom!”

          This is a bit circular, but the best way I can answer this. Within the 10 days of joining a new company, I know who just about all the straight people are, and no one has said one thing about their bedroom. I know because people have photos on their desks and talk about what they did the night before (“My wife and I went to Johnny’s last night, and the pizza was not as good as usual.”) or over the weekend. (“My husband and I spent all day getting three kids to three different soccer games.”)So, if I have pictures of my family on my desk or talk about my wife, what am I flaunting?

  • And, the “biggie” – “Don’t you know what the Bible says about homosexuality?”

          Yes, I do, and I did even before I spent 7.5 years in seminary getting my Masters of Divinity. Somehow, many straight people seem to think that a) gays and lesbians have no Biblical literacy or b) care what they think the Bible says about homosexuality.I have no intention in this post to get into what is a sin and what is not. Like many gays and lesbians, I’ve struggled with my faith and my sexuality. Like many, but not as many as I’d hope, I have reconciled what were once conflicting feelings.

          That’s all I’m going to say on this topic for now….

Heterosexual, Platonic Cross-Gender Friendships – Learning from Gay & Lesbian Christians

13 Feb

This post is part of the February Synchroblog “Cross Gender Friendships”. I will list the links to all the contributions at the end of this post as soon as they are available.

For those of you who may not know, there is controversy in the Christian (particularly Evangelical) community about the appropriateness of platonic cross-gender friendships. Many Christians believe such friendships are dangerous. There is a feeling that “men are so sex-crazed and women are so vulnerable” that a sexual relationship is almost guaranteed to occur. The way to prevent such “dangerous” relationships is to follow rules such as “a married man should never allow a woman other than his wife to ride in his car when it is just the two of them” or “a woman should never be friends with a married man who is not married to her.”

Because, you know, men just can’t HELP themselves from, well, “helping themselves” and women are so vulnerable  that they are unable to fend off inappropriate sexual contact (such as sex with a married man or with a man who is not her husband). (Perhaps even worse, this paradigm makes it appear women are not capable of high sex drives or needs for sexual satisfaction and that men are unable to be vulnerable.)

Many of my readers are no doubt laughing right now. I can almost see the collective shaking of heads and hear the comments about “those Christians” or “those silly heterosexuals.” It’s really not funny though, because these mindsets hurt everyone, not just those who attend churches where this mindset is deeply embedded. This belief system naturally extends into non-church environments; for example, the workplace. How can men and women work together as equals if men are afraid they cannot control themselves and women are afraid all men are only after “one thing”?

Perhaps the “straights” could learn something about platonic friendships from Gay and Lesbian Christians? Is the question really whether individuals are capable of simultaneous emotionally and spiritually intimate relationships with others while involved in a physical, emotional, and spiritually intimate relationship with one’s spouse? Does emotional intimacy have a limit? Does emotional intimacy with another automatically mean emotional adultery with one’s spouse?

Imagine if this same fear of heterosexual, cross-gender Christian friendships was found among Gay and Lesbian (not to mention Bisexual) Christians? Lesbians would not have any deep friendships with other Lesbians and Gays would not have any deep friendships with other Gays? Huh? That just does not make sense, does it?

Maybe it is not an issue in the GLB community for the very reasons it IS an issue for some heterosexuals. GLB people do not tend to conform to heterosexual gender roles. Gays, for example, tend to be able to show vulnerability and intimacies that are not physical more than straight men. Lesbians do not tend to minimize their need for sexual satisfaction the way that many straight women do (after all, “good” girls do not have those desires, right?).

The thought that a friendship of any sort is going to go somewhere that one party does not want it to go makes it seem like we are not individuals with freedom of choice and the ability to control our own lives. When presented with a path that is not one we personally are comfortable with, we have to trust we are each mature enough to recognize any danger signs and turn back. Our walk with the Holy is filled with bumps and detours and lessons.  All of our intimate relationships should contain well-defined and agreed to boundaries, as well as shared prayers for guidance. It is only in this way that initial feelings of discomfort will be aired and not left to fester or be acted upon in any inappropriate ways.

Here is the Link List for the February Synchroblog: Cross Gender Friendships.  

Chris Jefferies – Best of both

Jeremy Myers – Are Cross-Gender Friendships Possible

Lynne Tait – Little Boxes

Dan Brennan – Cross-Gender Friendship: Jesus and the Post-Romantic Age

Glenn Hager – Sluts and Horndogs

Jennifer Ellen – A Different Kind of Valentine

Alise Wright – What I get from my cross-gender friend

Liz Dyer – Cross-Gender Friendships and the Church

Paul Sims – Navigating the murky water of cross-gender friendships

Jonalyn Fincher – Why I Don’t Give out Sex like Gold Star Stickers

Amy Martin – Friendship: The most powerful force against patriarchy, sexism, and other misunderstands about people who happen to not be us, in this case, between men & women

Maria Kettleson Anderson – Myth and Reality: Cross-Gender Friendships

Bram Cools – Nothing More Natural Than Cross-Gender Friendships?

Hugo Schwyzer – Feelings Aren’t Facts: Living Out Friendship Between Men and Women

Marta Layton – True Friendship: Two Bodies, One Soul

Kathy Escobar – The Road To Equality Is Paved With Friendship

Karl Wheeler – Friends at First Sight

Jim Henderson – Jesus Had A Thing for Women and So Do I

Elizabeth Chapin – 50 Shades of Friendship

D. L. Webster – Expressing Love Outside of Romance

Dark Night of the Soul – Almost

8 Feb
In the happy night, 
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught, 
Without light or guide,
save that which burned in my heart.

–3rd stanza, Dark Night of the Soul, Saint John of the Cross

A couple of days ago I fell into the abyss. I’d say in the measurement of my depressive episodes, it was in the top 5.

I have been affected by depression since I was a child, although I was not properly diagnosed until I was in my early 30s. Until almost that age, I just thought how I felt was how life was. In my pre- and early teen years, before acts like cutting became widely known, I used to do things like stick myself with safety pins and jump off things to try and break something. I think much of my depression at this age was due to the fact I was physically and verbally abused in junior high school. It got so bad with one group of girls that they actually had a high school sister (biological, not a sistah) come and join the beating after she found out I split her sister’s lip open. (My tormentors had convinced our PE substitute that we were in a unit on boxing and it was time for the bout between us. Really.)

It took me over 30 years to completely heal from that abuse. Thirty years. It was not until I attended a high school graduation reunion for that school district (not the one I graduated from) after reconnecting with some junior high friends and asked them why they didn’t help me that I finally healed. I was terrified that any of those “girls” would be at the reunion because I fantasized how I would deal with them, and frankly, those fantasies scared me. I was so relieved none of them attended. Since my healing, I seldom think about it and if I see them at a future reunion, it won’t bother me one bit. (My friends said they had no idea what I was going through. This inability to tell anyone is typical of this type of bullying because if you tell anyone, you know it will only get worse.)

My worst depressive episode came in 1988. I had left my husband the year before after finally accepting the fact I was gay. (I had known all my life I was different but didn’t start getting a clue what it was until in college.) I was in grad school and working full-time, living in a new area where I did not know anyone. I had started drinking when I was 12 (see above), stopped when I was almost 14, and started again at 17 when I went to college.

On this particular night in 1988 (July 2 into July 3), I was driving very drunk back to Philly from a lesbian bar in NJ after yet another night of hardly talking to anyone, not being asked to dance, etc. As I approached one of the Dead Philadelphian Bridges, all I could think about was driving off the bridge into the cold water below. While still married, I had tried to OD on pills, but my dog woke me up and saved me.

When I got home, the fact I had wanted to do this scared me, and I called information asking for the location of the nearest hospital. I was fortunate to get an astute operator who called 911 and sent an ambulance to my apartment to take me to the nearest mental health ward. I agreed to a minimum 10-day stay. I called my parents to come get my dog and put him in a kennel. In retrospect, I still cannot imagine how difficult this call was for them.

I was misdiagnosed in the hospital as manic-depressive, but there are no accidents. The meds for this required I stop drinking. I was willing to do this to get better. In the first few days, I balked at “stupid” activities like art and music therapy. By the time I left, I felt so very much better. My employer was very understanding and sessions with my therapist became much more helpful.

———————————————-

I was properly diagnosed in 1990 with major depressive disorder and put on more appropriate meds. I am still on a maintenance dose of those type of meds, and still see a therapist on occasion. I have not had a drink since that July night in 1988. Two days ago I thought that might change but knew the pain would still be there when I sobered up.

———————————————-

Before I considered myself a Christian but believed in the Holy Spirit and a Higher Power that I called God, I received a call to ministry. During a sermon on using your gifts, in a flash, I realized the reason I was sick of my profession was because all I was doing was helping middle-aged white men buy bigger boats, and I knew there must be a more valuable contribution I could make to the world. I went to seminary; it took 7.5 years to get my degree because I continued working full-time. A couple of years ago I quit a job because of that “you should be doing something more beneficial” call, but then changed my mind. The job and my morals collided not soon after, and I finally did leave.

Tuesday I received approval for a loan to buy a retirement home in Delaware because my spouse can retire in a few years and I believe the area is ripe for a church plant. That night I went into the abyss. “You are not doing what you are called to do!” “But I have to have SOME kind of income.” “Have faith.” “I am afraid.” All I could do is weep, weep, weep.

Wednesday things at work came to the point of no return – 2 weeks ago I received a bad review (meaning no raise) from the worst boss I’ve ever had. I refused to falsify corporate records. I was told I must. I called my spouse in a panic. I told her if I didn’t quit my job I might seriously put a gun to my head. (This was metaphorical; I don’t own a gun and I was not actively suicidal.) She said quit. So, I did. I immediately felt the lightness return. My boss called and said “good thing you did because I was going to put you on a performance improvement plan.” (What a jerk; it reminds me of junior high – “You can’t break up with me because I’m breaking up with you.”)

I have no idea what is intended for me, but the secular world is NOT it. As you can tell, I was a VERY slow learner on this.

I would say I took a leap of faith, but I was pushed.

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