Every queer girl knows that when you come out, you’re instantly handed two things: a plaid shirt and the keys to your very own U-Haul. I’m kidding…but only slightly (you actually have to pay for the U-Haul).
But in all seriousness, why do queer women seem to fall in love with other women so quickly? Are we just enamored by the mere possibility of feline co-ownership? Do our hormones fire without discretion at the first sight of an undercut? Or is there a real biological phenomenon behind this?
According to Dr. Lauren Costine, author of Lesbian Love Addiction, when two women fall in love they emit massive amounts of oxytocin and dopamine. Due to innate differences in biology, men do not release these chemicals in the same way. So, when two women connect with each other romantically, there is an enormous influx of “feel-good” chemicals flowing freely from both parties. This results in something Costine coins as an “oxyfest,” aka the real life version of Amortentia, and it’s literally addictive.
Your entire body is submerged in water. Ice cold waves are crashing over your head, forcing your torso downwards. The strength of the tide is causing your muscles to ache with exhaustion. You’re barely able to swallow a breath before the next waves comes. You’re absolutely certain you’re minutes from death.
Then someone manages to throw you a rope.
You look up. Your family is waving frantically from the shore, your friends desperately pleading with you to take the rope into your hands. Relief begins to flood your veins. If you just grab it, then you can pull yourself to warm, safe land. You extend your arm, realizing that this is your one chance to escape the torment. But then…
“What if the rope snaps and I end up worse than I am now?” “Can I even make it all the way to shore?” “Are those really my loved ones or are they trying to trick me?” You recoil and drop your outstretched hand. The rope sinks. And you continue to thrash desperately in the water.
For me, living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can feel a lot like choosing to drown. I can see that there is a way to escape the endless onslaught of thoughts, but sometimes I just can’t seem to grab the rope.
Since I wasn’t diagnosed with OCD until I was 24, I really struggle to determine whether my behavior is genuine or the result of an obsession. As a child, I experienced your stereotypical OCD symptoms (repeated actions, methodical behavior, counting) but, as I’ve gotten older, the vast majority of my symptoms have shifted internally. Now, I present as a perfectly well adjusted person who can laugh, smile and work a room all while secretly engaging in my compulsions.
While some of my OCD does present in a visible manner (like having to walk in a specific way or laying out my clothes at night in the order that I put them on in the morning), I predominately deal with something called “Pure O.” It’s essentially OCD without the noticeable behavioral modifications. For instance, in high school I had a phobia of throwing up and all of my compulsions were centered around abating this fear.
“What is lesbian sex?” “How do two women have sex?” “What does lesbian sex look like?”
While these questions may sound like a horny teenager’s search history, minus the spelling errors, it’s actually something most queer women are forced to awkwardly google during their coming out process.
Because no one ever talks about lesbian sex. And that’s a massive problem. [Skip to the bottom if you want actual instruction on how to have lesbian sex]
By the time I was twelve years old, I was way too well versed in precisely how a woman and man made love. Thanks to extensive Fertility Awareness classes (or the clever name my Catholic grammar school used for sex education), I could recite exactly how two opposite gendered people came together, in the glory of God, to be fruitful and multiply.
I even had a general idea of how two men engaged in sexual intercourse due to the critique of sodomy from church officials. However, there never even seemed to be any discussion about women wanting to be intimate with other women. Even now, whenever the topic of lesbian sex comes up, the general public’s response is typically, “mmm…what?”
October 11 is National Coming Out Day and newsfeeds everywhere are filled with artistically themed rainbows, photos of same-sex couples kissing and heartwarming coming out videos. It’s a beautiful expression of pride and it’s enough to make any queer person want to announce their sexual orientation.
But you don’t have to come out today.
If revealing your sexuality will put you at risk for violence, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
If the thought of announcing your gender identity makes you want to hurt yourself, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
If you’d lose your home or financial security due to your queerness, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
If you just aren’t ready yet, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
Only come out when you feel comfortable. It’s a highly personal and extremely delicate process that can never be rushed. Not all people are privileged enough to reveal their sexuality or gender identity but that doesn’t make them any less queer. You are not defined by the number of people who know you’re a member of the LGBTQ community. You are defined only by how you view yourself.
It took me 21 years to come out to myself, 23 years to come out to my family and 27 years to come out to the world. In fact, this is actually my first time publicly celebrating National Coming Out Day. I know how isolating today can be for those who desperately want to claim their queer identity but lack the ability to do so safely.
From oversexualization and being the neutered best friends to complete invisibility, people of color are often denied the multidimensional agency of their white queer counterparts.
There are characters here and there, but very few series are designed or centered around non-white queer folk. Additionally, people of color are rarely afforded the opportunity to head an entire program. Who wants to see that, right? Here, we’re going to acknowledge series germane not only to Queer people of color but, by proxy, to people in the LGBTQ community more broadly.
Noah’s Arc was the first scripted television show for the newly cemented, queer-focused network, Logos. It premiered in 2005, right after George W. Bush used his opposition to gay marriage to win the 2004 presidential election. Noah’s Arc redefined the way we tell stories of non-normative queer people.
Created by Patrik-Ian Polk, an openly gay black film director and writer, Noah’s Arc followed the lives of four queer men of color: Noah, a sensitive writerly type working in Los Angeles as a screenwriter; Ricky, a promiscuous Latinx man who owned a clothing boutique on Melrose; Alex, a femme, married HIV/AIDS educator who served as the comedic center; And Chance, a stiff, elitist by-the-books economics professor with a blended family.
The series showed how they navigated love, career and friendship through the prism of their sexuality and the experiences it both afforded and kept from them. It touched on gay marriage, othering, being denied employment, the rigid world of Hollywood, straight-identified men who sleep with men, toxic masculinity, the Continue reading “How Queer POC are Represented in Media”→
Bisexual people are often confronted with discrimination from both members of the LGBTQ community and the heterosexual community.
We have to embrace our bisexual sisters, brothers and non-binary relatives in order to build a genuinely inclusive community. So, here are 7 of my favorite bisexual characters on TV!
1) Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
This bad ass detective came out as bisexual in 2017 and all the queer girls swooned. While Rosa’s sexuality was immediately accepted by her coworkers, her family wasn’t as understanding. Both Rosa’s mother and father insisted that her bisexuality wasn’t real and that she’d end up married to a man in the end. Despite loving their child deeply, Rosa’s parents couldn’t understand the concept of choosing to be with a woman if you could be with a man.
2) Rich Dotcom, Blindspot
The TV show Blindspot is quickly becoming one of my favorites (and it’s not just because I find Jaimie Lauren Alexander stunningly beautiful.) The plot is riveting, the characters are diverse and sexual orientation isn’t seen as a big deal. This is most noticeable in the portrayal of Rich Dotcom, a notorious criminal, who is openly attracted to both men and women. When he’s not hitting on Jane Doe, Alexander’s character, he’s flirting with FBI agent Kurt Weller. Rich makes no attempt to obscure his sexual orientation and openly discusses his escapades regardless of who’s around. He’s unapologetically bisexual and I’m here for it.
Not only did this movie deftly navigate the fine line between comedy and suspense, it actually delivers on queer representation. Unlike other movies that hinge their promotions on queerbaiting (*cough* pitch perfect *cough*), A Simple Favor doesn’t shy away from depicting the sexual tension between Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and Emily (Blake Lively).
Their chemistry is evident from the second the pair meet. Emily, sporting a three piece suit, walks in slow motion toward Stephanie, whose reaction is literally the definition of gay panic.
It doesn’t take long for Stephanie and Emily to develop a close relationship that is laden with heavy flirtation and intense eye contact. (To be honest, if Blake Lively called me baby that many times in a 15 minute period while sipping a martini, then I would have literally burst into flames.)
As one America magazine writer explains, “using an abuse and accountability scandal to scapegoat Catholic queerness is not okay.” In fact, blaming homosexuality for sex abuse just enables the church to avoid addressing the actual problem. Attributing this issue to those evil, inherently disordered gays, is a far easier pill for certain religious people to swallow than confronting the fact that their institution has been complicit in truly horrific crimes and requires systemic change.
I personally witnessed the effectiveness of this destructive narrative last week. I have to be vague for the sake of privacy, but I will say that I was in a professional setting when
In the 1960s, this prejudice was predominately associated with the civil rights movement. The plight of the X-Men, who were discriminated against simply because of their genetics, underscored the importance of racial equality. However, as time passed, other groups began to identify with the baseless disdain mutants were forced to endure, including the queer community.
When I watched X-Men: First Class, the fifth installment of the film series, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mystique saying the phrase: “mutant and proud.” [And it wasn’t because I’m in love with Jennifer Lawrence…although that definitely didn’t hurt]. I found myself writing it on sheets of paper, whispering it at random and replaying it over and over in my head. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this phrase offered me the ability to safely contemplate my sexuality. I could look in the mirror and say that I was a mutant without fear of accidentally outing myself. To me, it was synonymous with lesbian but, unlike the latter, I could say mutant as loudly as I wanted. In fact, repeating it so often was the precursor to finally being able to write that I was gay and proud at the end of a 13 page coming out letter to my parents. [Can’t ever claim I’m not thorough…]
Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the X-Men. So, when I heard about The Gifted I binged all 13 episodes in a single weekend. (Judge me)
As expected, it was absolutely drenched in queer metaphors.
10 ways The Gifted is super gay:
The Gifted centers around the Struckers, your typical family living in a sleepy, nondescript American suburb. Reed, the father, works for a governmental organization that prosecutes mutants while Caitlin, the mother, works in the medical field. However, their perfect life is completely uprooted after discovering their son (Andy) and daughter (Lauren) are mutants.
The Gifted expertly evokes the confusion, sadness, elation and terror queer people oscillate between during the coming out process.
Just imagine these scenes a little differently.
1) When a loved one says something homophobic for the first time
It doesn’t even have to be malicious. Just an offensive joke, an offhanded comment or an ignorant observation, stings deeply when you’re not out. The night before I came out I had to endure arguments about how homosexuals are “just unnatural,” caveated by insistence that the argument wasn’t anti-gay. In this scene, I can literally feel Lauren’s fear of being rejected by her family.
2) The terror you experience around religious extremists
In The Gifted, purifiers believe that mutants are a threat to society and must be stringently monitored or eliminated entirely. Sound familiar to those religious arguments about how gay people are destroying the fabric of society? It’s no accident the purifiers are wearing massive crosses on their chest. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard people claim, in the name of God, that queer people are worthy of death.
3) Realizing your sexuality or gender identity during puberty
Not in the conventional sense. My tormentor wasn’t fond of physical restraints. Her fits of rage never left me with cuts, bruises or broken bones. In fact, there wasn’t a single visible sign of the pain she inflicted…and that’s the way she preferred it.
To an observer, I was completely free and yet I lived in utter captivity.
And yet, after enduring two years of torment, I couldn’t help but wonder: how did I miss it? If it’s so common, then why wasn’t I able to recognize the signs?
They had been drilled into me since I was a child. “Don’t date a man who tells you what to wear, where to go or who to hang out with.” “Don’t let a man pressure you into sex when you want to say no.” “Find a nice guy, someone who respects you and treats you well.”
And that’s when I realized it.
I was only prepared to recognize the hallmarks of heterosexual abuse. As a lesbian woman, who was raised by two heterosexual parents in an exceedingly heterosexual community, I had no reference for a healthy lesbian relationship. My knowledge of queer romances stemmed solely from fleeting displays of affection on TV. [Hands up if you remember Alex and Marissa on the OC].
While these teen dramas were on the forefront of pushing LGBTQ representation in media, many inadvertently normalized toxic behavior. They depicted women as innately more emotional than men, so two women together was just a powder keg of uncontrollable emotion. As a result, intensity and obsession was considered to be romantic or desirable in lesbian relationships. The lack of positive, realistic and healthy queer romances left me with no idea of what abusive behavior actually looked like between two women.
I didn’t discuss it myself. Not even when I was a crumpled mess, sobbing on the kitchen floor unable to trust my own thoughts. I didn’t tell anyone. I even made up lies about how well she was treating me.
Why it’s not discussed:
Growing up in a conservative Catholic environment, I was taught to believe that homosexuality was inherently sinful. Gay people, when acting upon their disordered nature, were “tearing their souls” from God. I even had a woman tell me that, “gay relationships only result in depression, drug addiction and suicide.”
When I came out, I vowed to prove them wrong. I wanted everyone to see how much happier I was being open and confident in my sexuality. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than perfect.
So, when my first serious relationship with a woman turned toxic, I refused to admit it. Despite desperately needing help and slowly drowning in a situation I couldn’t control, the thought of admitting the abused I experienced seemed so much worse. To me, it meant that I had failed. I was nothing more than another disordered, suicidal lesbian who got what she deserved.
Many months later, I discovered that this is actually one of the reasons LGBTQ people don’t report abuse. We’re afraid to show a “lack of solidarity” with other LGBTQ people. We view discussing this topic as a betrayal of our community because we think it’ll confirm society’s assumption that same-sex relationships are inherently dysfunctional.
But that isn’t true.
I wish I could scream it from the mountaintops. If you are being abused, then please seek help. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, queer, trans, cis, asexual, etc. You do not deserve to endure abuse. You are not betraying your community by coming forward and ending abuse. Being controlled by an abuser is just another closet that you don’t deserve to be in. There is bravery in admitting that you need help.
I met my abuser shortly after graduating from college. I had a job I loved, lived in a gorgeous place and was finally comfortable with my sexuality.