Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And Another Thing: Fairies in the Woods

By Carole Taylor
(originally published May 2001)

My mother had a stroke last month and I have come home to the wilds of Tennessee to take care of her, to the extent that she’ll let me do that. This means that I’ve had to move work and home 500 miles from my lover and my house, but I planned my life so I could do this if necessary, and one day at a time, as they say, my lover and I will get through this. It’s not how I would have designed it, but it’s a promise I made my mother a decade ago, that I’d take care of her.

The point is that I am not getting to come home the way I had hoped I would, when I retire to build a home on the bluff with my lover, both of us way too old for who we love to matter. Or so I thought. At any rate, the plan was to build the house, invite everybody I ever knew to an open house, and whoever showed up would find out about me with some sort of prominent display of my book. If any of them came back on their own, it would pretty much tell us who was an idiot and who was sane. Now the timetable is all off.

This weekend I will have lunch with some old high school friends, and without fail there will be discussions of the faeries out in the woods. The high pitched keening you may hear off to the east and south come Saturday will be me trying to drag two women my age kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Now I’m not possitive, but I have a feeling that true to Southern womanhood, they won’t just come right out and ask me impolite questions. But this is a really interesting situation to find myself in, after all these years, having written for so long about coming out. Because as we all know, there’s coming out and then there’s coming out in the woods. We’re talking serious woods here, children, far into the madding crowd.

Just as an example, last week out in front of Mama’s hospital sat a mostly and previously white muscle car, with various colors of fenders applied thither and yon, and Bondo yon and thither with occasional paint applied not with an air brush but with a wallpaper brush, it appeared. In the back window was a dog that nodded whenever the driver might hit the ubiquitous chuck hole and an Elvis license plate with little lights that chased one another around the tag border. And just in case anyone missed the point of all this, in the back window in four-inch high letters was a sticker that said REDNECK. Oh, really?

So coming out here is not like coming out in the city. Which I already knew, but now all this theory will be put to the test. And I can’t decide exactly how I’m going to do this. It’s one thing to just refrain from lying to people my mother’s age and talk about my partner this and my partner that and Bridget and the woman I live with. (That would be one and the same person, in case you just got confused.) These women would just go on with their lives and think what they wanted or not think at all. If my being a lesbian crossed their minds, they’d immediately have some kind of snowplow 18-wheeler thought whose job it is to runs it down errant ideas if one crosses the yellow line.

But I’m having lunch with two girls-now-women from high school, and somehow I’m not sure either of them has ever met a real live lesbian, much less one they slept with years ago. No, not that way. Slumber parties. Innocent stuff. I didn’t even come out till I was out of graduate school, so everyone in the county was safe. But you know they’ll be thinking about even the innocent stuff.

Coming out is brand new every single time you do it. It gets a little easier only because you have an idea what the questions are going to be, and with luck, you might know an answer or two.

But more dangerous than coming out to my old high school friends, there is the fact that I’m out here in the middle of the woods with all these people who think Dubyuh is actually a smart guy, a guy who is somehow the savior of the known universe simply because his grammar and rampant non-sequiturs and runon sentences are consumately understandable to them.

I’ll have to report back to you on all this next time, but somehow I think my coming out is going to be a lot kinder and gentler than their flushing me out of the woods as a flaming Democrat.

Booga booga . . .

Carole Taylor holds a masters degree and most of a doctorate, which she used as a university administrator for much too long by all accounts. She has been a commercial artist, a journalist, a grants writer, a house cleaner and a Renaissance woman. She also wrote a fantastic must-read novel, called
"A Third Story".
You can email her here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Butch Talk

By Lee Lynch

One day, the Femme In Charge (FIC) was at a professional gathering when I happened to visit the Handy Dyke. Coincidentally, the Librarian stopped by. That left us three soft butches alone together in the living room with the FIC’s colorful chair conspicuously empty. We may all have experienced a flash of panic: what could three lone butches say to one another?

Butches are all about deferring to femmes. That makes femmes infinitely curious: what do butches talk about when alone together? It makes me feel like a member of an exclusive club when the FIC says she’s going to get the Handy Dyke to tell her everything we discussed.

What do we talk about? No, we don’t make plans to open lesbian strip joints or discuss horsepower or football. That afternoon we got going on our dogs: how smart, or dumb, how funny or infirm they were, and recipes for dog treats. Then it was the dog stories, boasting how this one did an incredibly cute thing and that one topped it by misbehaving in an even worse way.

But we couldn’t keep it up forever. Without a femme to entertain us and lead the conversation, we were, briefly, at sea. What fun is it to talk about butch toys like computers without someone to exaggerate her boredom with pained looks? We soldiered on, the Librarian and the Handy Dyke deciding which equipment to use to cut open a rock with agate inside. For a while we dwelled on what was flowering in the Handy Dyke’s gardens and which birds were visiting our neighborhoods, especially the eagles. We tackled the problem of how to get a rust-proof marine lock open after it rusted and the Handy Dyke threatened a scary-sounding saw if the penetrating oil from NAPA didn’t work (it did and was a great excuse to visit an auto parts store).

Somehow we veered to the topic of a part of town where a brook runs under the buildings and the Handy Dyke told us how you could walk into the cave/tunnel/hidden walkway from the beach. The Librarian decided there was a novel in that. Rainbow Run, we would call it, and it would be the story of a lesbian rum runner, Lucky the Dyke, during prohibition. Before we knew it, we had sketched out a series of three mysteries. We parted with grand butch adventures in our heads.

My next escapade was hardly the stuff of a butch tale. I found myself tagging along for a femme’s morning out. The other butches stayed home to erect a fountain in the yard. The FIC assured me that, after garage sales, she would take me home if the new fabric store in town proved interesting enough to need lengthy perusing, and I surprised her by admitting to enjoying fabric stores -- must be the clothes horse in me. The FIC and the Shopper loved the place, which was chock full of eclectic fabrics, patterns, gifts, jewelry and just about everything else in which a femme could delight. I, of course, darted from display to display, pointing out treasures and egging on the FIC and the Shopper to buy, buy, buy! My job was to transport the planned purchases to the counter while they tried on bits of frillery and made up reasons why they needed new stuff.

After a few minutes I was done. I left to walk the dogs while they did their best to both find all the goodies and not buy out the store. A lengthy walk later, I worked for a while in the car, feeling like the patient husband in a department store. A bigamist husband. At last the femmes burst out of the shop, hugging pink bags.

I know the ropes. When femmes are excited after shopping, you’re going to get a blow by blow anyway, so you might as well earn points by asking for an inventory of the bags. While it was the FIC who bought a pocketbook, it was the Shopper who gave me the back-story.

“That’s what you call a schlep bag,” she explained. “You’re always on the search for the perfect schlep bag, one with perfect balance and a strap that doesn’t dig into you no matter how much is in the bag. I’ve had bags so big I could hide my mother inside.” Three books, lunch and all the essentials for a day on an airplane seemed to be the criteria for a schlep bag’s size. This, apparently, is a femme canon.

Oh, I love femmes. They are so adorable with their shopping genes and rules. Fortunately, they think butches, with our dog stories and butch toys, are adorable too.

Monday, May 07, 2007

And Another Thing: Choices

By Carole Taylor

It's interesting to me how some people can leap from one side of a definition to another with such mental agility. Right wing Republicans (is there any other kind?) seem to me to be exceptionally agile when it comes to their ability to define a word like choice.

Now you'd think choice is a simple enough English word, one even the most narrow, most rigid mind could wrap itself around with little need for mental gymnastics. But it seems to mean different things to certain folks, depending on the issue to which it's applied.

According to the conservative element, you and I *have* a choice about whether or not to be gay or lesbian. Straight people, of course, don't have a choice about being straight, they just somehow are. It's one of the few areas of life where they will allow us a choice while refusing to have one themselves. I think they ought to ease up on their little pointed heads and grant themselves a choice in the matter, too. We mustn't be greedy.

In other areas of the World According to the Reich, women ought not to have a choice should it be choice regarding a zygote. As the bumper sticker says, "How can you think I'm capable of raising a child when you don't think I'm capable of raising an issue?"

Straights have a choice about whether or not to get married, but they don't want us to have a choice in this area at all. They have a choice whether or not to join the military and be open about their sexuality while serving; we can choose to join as long as we choose to lie.

Parents and doctors can choose *for* a child what gender to surgically assign to the child if the kid is born with an ambiguous set of genitals. But once the child becomes an adult, he or she can't then choose to do the same thing to their own bodies without twisting in and out of amazingly intricate legal and emotional Gordian knots. For one thing, to be approved for the surgery, transgendered people have to live for a year pre-op as the other gender, dress as the other gender, work as the other gender, in order to prove to some psychologist that they can take the pressure. In many states, it's illegal for a man to dress as a woman, so in order to pass the psychological requirement, one is required to violate the law and risk arrest. And if it isn't illegal, it's certainly extremely risky to dress and act as the other gender before surgery should one be found out. Witness Brandon Teena, and hundreds of other bashings each year. It's all right for adults to deny a child the right to wait and make his/her own choice about his/her own body when s/he's old enough to decide, but by that time, making a choice is presented as decidedly psychotic, and difficult in the extreme.

The point of all this is that choice is something "conservatives" want reserved for themselves. Which of course means it's not a choice at all. Getting to have a choice is the point of freedom, the point of having the Constitution: choosing whether or not to worship and how; whether or not to vote and how; whether or not to speak one's mind and how....all those rights given theoretically to all of us. Which means that what "conservatives" want is freedom for those to whom they chose to grant the favor. In this, they like the definition of choice.

I can't help it. I'm just a pro choice kinda gal. Not just as it relates to zygotes, but pro choice anything. Which means, I know, that I have to allow all those Log Cabin Republicans out there to exist, and worse, other lesbigats who for whatever reason vote Republican and support Shrub Bush. :::sigh::: I think it's a HUGE mistake, but go ahead if you must.

Just don't come crying to me if you make the choice to vote for the man and then find out it's the last time you get to have any kind of choice at all. Well, other than to be a big ole flaming queer. :) You did make that choice, right?

Carole Taylor holds a masters degree and most of a doctorate, which she used as a university administrator for much too long by all accounts. She has been a commercial artist, a journalist, a grants writer, a house cleaner and a Renaissance woman. She also wrote a fantastic must-read novel, called
"A Third Story".
You can email her here.