My Queer Life: Endangered Species
|by Michael Thomas Ford|
I don't have any lesbian friends anymore. Well, they're still my friends, but they aren't lesbians. At least not technically. They're all dating men. Okay, not all of them, but a shocking number of them. So many that I barely have enough of the ones that are still dating women left to make even a mediocre softball team.
The first time this phenomenon occurred, I didn't worry too much. It was my friend Tracy. She'd just had a nasty breakup with her girlfriend, and she started spending time with this bass player whose band performed at the bar where she liked to play pool. The guy actually looked enough like Tracy's ex that it wasn't completely disconcerting, so I wrote it off as some kind of weird rebound thing that would be over in a month or two, a passing interest like the vegetarianism and yoga phases she went through last year.
But then Anna started doing it too, which was different. Anna's one of those professional lesbians. She was born with keys to a Subaru clutched in one fist, and she went right from Dick and Jane to Our Bodies, Ourselves. She's had an assortment of lovers, all of them equally earthy-crunchy, and that was that as far as we were all concerned.
But now she has a Bob. That's what she calls him, "my Bob." She met Bob at the co-op where she shops. Before we knew it, they were hanging out. That's what Anna calls it, "hanging out." What this means is that three times a week Bob comes over and they have sex. Heterosexual sex. The kind lesbians don't usually have because it involves other people who aren't lesbians.
I like to think that I am supportive of my friends, but I admit that I don't tolerate change well. After a few weeks of silence, I finally had to ask Anna why she'd suddenly decided to get a Bob after years of, well, not having a Bob.
"You don't know how hard it is dating girls," she said. "They're so much work. Men are a lot simpler."
I've dated men. Not many, but a few. I can assure you, they are not particularly easy things to have around. I suggested as much to Anna.
"Try dating girls," she said simply. "You'll change your mind."
That's the thing, though. I can't just start dating girls. I did that in college, and that was enough. Most queer boys don't, as far as I know, just decide one day that they're going to give up on men and go the other way for a while. Never once has one of my gay friends called up and said, "I don't know why, but I really want to go out with this chick from work."
But more and more, my lesbian friends seem to be doing just that. Some of them do it for a week, or a month, or even just once. "Don't tell anyone," my friend Diana said when she finally told me about a man she had been seeing secretly, "but I love the sex. It's so nice not to worry about the strap-on falling off."
Okay, so I told. At least I changed her name. And it doesn't matter, because they're all doing it. I fear that soon I'll start getting wedding invitations in the mail. "Do we know someone named Cheryl Marie?" I'll ask Dave after opening some pastel envelope stuffed with tissue paper.
"She used to be Spud," he'll remind me.
Only now Spud's parents will be announcing their joy at her forthcoming marriage to Charles Banks III, and we'll be one more dyke short at our next barbeque. I won't go to the wedding. I just can't. I'd be too tempted to perform an intervention, dragging Cheryl Marie off to the bathroom and forcing her to listen to Janis Ian records over and over until she came to her senses.
Maybe this is just a severe case of the grass always being greener in someone else's yard. I have a lot of straight friends who tell me they wish they were gay men. And now this. So far I have lost seven lesbian friends to heterosexuality this year alone. Even Tracy is still seeing the bass player, and it's been six months. That's a record for her, and not a good sign for those of us who wish she would go back to dating someone without a penis.
To correct this deficit, I think the only solution is to start recruiting players from the other team. Now, historically, it has never been all that hard to get supposedly straight men to try out other sexual possibilities. But we have enough of them now. I think it's time we started working on their female counterparts. Surely there are lots of currently straight women out there who can be brought over. It just takes some organized effort.
I suggest, therefore, that as a community we begin an all-out campaign to shore up the ranks. Maybe we could plant operatives in places frequented by straight women, like cosmetics counters and aerobics classes. There we would be able to launch a covert advertising campaign designed to promote the joys of dyke life. Or perhaps, like the Mormons, we can send freshly- scrubbed missionaries onto the streets, buses, and subways of America to spread the gospel of lesbianism to the unconverted.
Whatever we do, we have to do it soon. Sadly, it's probably too late for my friends. But there's still time to save the lesbians in your life. Help them now, before we wake up and find that they've joined the spotted owl and the three-toed skink on the list of creatures who might not make it through the next century. It can't be said often enough: a lesbian is a terrible thing to waste.
Michael Thomas Ford won a Lambda Literary Award for his book Alec Baldwin Doesnt Love Me. His new book, Thats Mr. Faggot to You, is in stores now. He welcomes e-mail at Shopiltee@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 13, Sept. 17, 1999