Have I ever mentioned how much I hate LGBTQIA groups? Know why? They’re all run by gay dudes. Gay men know shit about lesbian lives.
In college my lesbian rap group was asked to answer a survey for a gay man’s senior thesis. The man told us, “Lesbians aren’t as vain as heterosexual women.” I asked why he thought that. He said, “They don’t spend as much time or care on dressing and cosmetics.” He was suggesting, on the one hand, that lesbians have more substance and, on the other, that lesbians aren’t attractive.
I told him he was a fucking idiot.
I had a girlfriend who ironed her jeans — her jeans — and wore cologne every day. She spent 30 minutes sculpting her flat top with gel. She cared a whole lot about appearance, as did every lesbian I knew. Ignorant of his male privilege, this gay dude knew nothing about what femininity really represented; he thought if a woman wasn’t feminine as defined by mainstream culture, then she wasn’t attractive and didn’t care to be. He didn’t see that women could have ideas of what was attractive that had nothing to do with what he thought.
Yes, being lesbian is more about gender than sexuality.
As recently as last year, my girlfriend left an LGBTQIA organization because the cis, white, gay dude in charge didn’t understand intersectionality or believe in feminism. He didn’t accept that gender was an issue that mattered or that had complexity. His refusal to embrace that diversity meant he had no more organization because the rest of the organization was not comprised of cis, white, gay dudes. Good riddance.
Some of my favorite parts from Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence (link below):
Lesbians have historically been deprived of a political existence through “inclusion” as female versions of male homosexuality. To equate lesbian existence with male homosexuality because each is stigmatized is to deny and erase female reality once again. To separate those women stigmatized as “homosexual” or “gay” from the complex continuum of female resistance to enslavement, and attach them to a male pattern, is to falsify our history. Part of the history of lesbian existence is, obviously, to be found where lesbians, lacking a coherent female community, have shared a kind of social life and common cause with homosexual men. But this has to be seen against the differences women’s lack of economic and cultural privilege relative to men; qualitative differences in female and male relationships, for example, the prevalence of anonymous sex and the justification of pederasty among male homosexuals, the pronounced ageism in male homosexual standards of sexual attractiveness, and so forth. In defining and describing lesbian existence I would hope to move toward a dissociation of lesbian from male homosexual values and allegiances. I perceive the lesbian experience as being, like motherhood, a profoundly female experience, with particular oppressions, meanings, and potentialities we cannot comprehend as long as we simply bracket it with other sexually stigmatized existences. Just as the term parenting serves to conceal the particular and significant reality of being a parent who is actually a mother, the term gay serves the purpose of blurring the very outlines we need to discern, which are of crucial value for feminism and for the freedom of women as a group.
The extension of this assumption is the frequently heard assertion that in a world of genuine equality, where men were nonoppressive and nurturing, everyone would be bisexual. Such a notion blurs and sentimentalizes the actualities within which women have experienced sexuality; it is the old liberal leap across the tasks and struggles of here and now, the continuing process of sexual definition that will generate its own possibilities and choices. (It also assumes that women who have chosen women have done so simply because men are oppressive and emotionally unavailable: which still fails to account for women who continue to pursue relationships with oppressive and/or emotionally unsatisfying men.) I am suggesting that heterosexuality, like mother-hood, needs to be recognized and studied as a political institution–even, or especially, by those individuals who feel they are, in their personal experience, the precursors of a new social relation between the sexes.
The assumption that “most women are innately heterosexual” stands as a theoretical and political stumbling block for many women. It remains a tenable assumption, partly because lesbian existence has been written out of history or catalogued under disease; partly because it has been treated as exceptional rather than intrinsic; partly because to acknowledge that for women heterosexuality may not be a “preference” at all but something that has had to be imposed, managed, organized, propagandized and maintained by force is an immense step to take if you consider yourself freely and “innately” heterosexual. Yet the failure to examine heterosexuality as an institution is like failing to admit that the economic system called capitalism or the caste system of racism is maintained by a variety of forces, including both physical violence and false consciousness. To take the step of questioning heterosexuality as a ”preference” or “choice” for women–and to do the intellectual and emotional work that follows–will call for a special quality of courage in heterosexually identified feminists but I think the rewards will be great: a freeingup of thinking, the exploring of new paths, the shattering of another great silence, new clarity in personal relationships.