Just over two decades ago, I was fortunate to work with Stephanie, an outspoken lesbian who decided to coach me out of my foolhardy bisexuality. One day she declared, “You need to pick a side.” For about thirty minutes, she
chewed me out gently educated me, concluding with “You’re really a lesbian who’s too afraid to admit it.”
This was a revelation to me. I had no idea I’d been living a life of such hypocrisy. She also pointed out that my boyfriend was just cover for my lie and that I needed to dump him.
He’s my husband now — regular readers will recognize him as the long-suffering St. Paul — and we’ve been hanging out since 1995. Most days I like him a lot, so I’ve decided to stick around and live the lie.
My mother’s also a lesbian. She gamely tried wearing dresses, high heels, and bouffant hairdos in the 1960s, but she always seemed more comfortable in men’s clothes. She could drive a big-rig truck, fix the garbage disposal, and run an offset printer at our family’s business. She was part-mother, part-handyman, which was cool because my father was usually asleep or having affairs or something. He was a busy guy, and we respected that.
A long time ago I had to let my mother know that I needed to say a fond farewell to her and my father so that I could reluctantly give up the thrilling suicidal ideations I was experiencing because of their
violent exciting marriage.
Mom always had great empathy and insight, and I appreciated that. When I told her what I needed to do, she sensibly asked, “I’m too butch for you, aren’t I?” I mean, she could get right to the heart of something every time, and she had a knack for seeing another person’s point of view.
When I reminded her that I’m bisexual, and butch/femme concepts don’t matter to me, she was spot on with her understanding words: “Yep. I thought so. I’m too butch for you.”
These two women taught me a valuable lesson about labels. Probably.