I used to hate the word “lesbian”.
When I came out 18 years ago, I would cringe every time I heard it used to describe me.
I was “gay.” That was a word I could say without shame.
That word felt safer, not as harsh or biting.
However, over the years, I have come to love the word lesbian.
I have embraced it and given it an important role in my life and a safe haven in my mouth.
“So, are you still a... LESBIAN? I mean, you are now married to a... man,” I’ve had a number of people recently ask with a defensive posture and unfriendly tone.
Every time I’m asked, the word once again feels unfriendly, foreign and aggressive.
Sometimes, I feel they are implying it doesn’t fit me anymore, that I no longer have ownership over the word, or that they are trying to strip me of an identity I fought so hard to accept.
Then I think, why MUST I answer at all? Why MUST I have a label?
I guess in order to answer the question I would have to first define what I think it means to be a lesbian.
Then, what if my definition of what it means to be lesbian is different than the person asking? Does that mean although I say I’m a lesbian, I’m really not?
*Insert contemplative music*
And MORE importantly, why do we find it so essential to label people at all?
Why is it that our society places so much importance on having clearly defined sexual orientation and gender identity boxes?
So, without evading the question any longer, here’s my answer, for what it’s worth, even though I’m not sure it should be worth anything....
When I was 19 I had butterflies for the first time.
A girl walked into my chemistry class and my body had an overwhelming visceral response.
To say that the Indigo Girls started immediately playing in my head would be a slight exaggeration, but it didn’t take much for me to put two and two together.
I had the feels for this girl!
As I watched her walk down the long aisle in the huge auditorium, I noticed her muscled thighs, her pale, perfect skin and her jet black hair.
For the remainder of that class and every one after, focusing on anything other than her was nearly impossible. Somehow though, I pulled out an A.
Months later, I got up the nerve to come out.
Luckily, I had the most amazing friends ever, who effortlessly accepted me and began accompanying me to the local gay bar.
From that moment on, I have identified as a lesbian.
I had always strictly been sexually and physically attracted to women, until now.
Here I am now married to a man.
When I married that man, I knew him as a woman. I fell in love with him as a woman.
Eleven months ago, he transitioned from female to male.
Does that mean I am no longer a lesbian because I’m now sexually attracted to him?
For me, the only label that has ever made sense is lesbian.
Many in my community would insist I am now “queer”, that I no longer can call myself a lesbian.
However, coming out was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Having natural childbirth in my living room with our midwife miles away on speaker phone is another, but I’ll save that story for a separate post.
When I first realized I was a lesbian, I battled thoughts of suicide. I also contemplated just living my life as an “actor,” pretending to be attracted to men and just trying to find a man that I could handle living with for the rest my life.
It was an intense internal struggle that was extremely difficult to navigate my way through.
So, the word lesbian and I have had our moments.
We weren’t always cool and lately, I feel it being taken from me.
For me, it best tells my story ― my story of struggle, my story of triumph and it fits me.
So, I guess I would say: “Yeah, I’m a lesbian AND I’m married to a man,” not BUT I’m married to man ― AND I’m married to a man.
The coolest part about calling myself a lesbian is that I get to tell people I’m a liberal, left-handed lesbian and I can’t find two other words that start with Q that would sound so cool.
Believe me I’ve tried.
If it’s important for other people to have a grasp of who I am and they need words to help them understand me, cool.
Rather than choose to get offended, I’ll give them “liberal, left-handed lesbian who is married to a man, has three boys and a male dog, thus I am now a lesbian who will live out my days surrounded by penises and more testosterone than should ever be allowed under one roof, or lesbian for short.”
If that doesn’t satisfy their curiosity, I’m not sure anything will.
Most importantly, I am STILL married to the most amazing, gorgeous, hilarious, intelligent, kind and loving person I’ve ever met and I am damn proud to be his wife.