The ‘War of Words’
I spent this morning reading articles on a very popular lesbian/queer website. It was addicting. One article led to another, and then another, and I suddenly realized that it was very nearly noon, and I had spent nearly three hours drinking coffee and reading, putting off the chores that I needed to do yesterday. More significantly, I had taken a large portion of that time reading the reader comments associated with those articles.
And this is where we will begin.
What I had wandered into, on that last essay, the one that had eaten up so much of my time, was a ‘War of Words’ from one very small group of readers towards, well, frankly, nearly everyone else. There were over two hundred comments on this essay that had been written by a staff member of this lesbian/queer website, an essay in which she told of her ‘coming out’ as a ‘lesbian’ only after she’d been married for a number of years and had had two children. There were quite a number of comments praising the essayist for the telling of her ‘coming out,’ for the bravery she’d displayed for having the strength to divorce her husband and live her ‘true’ life, with similar shared stories from a number of women who’d found themselves in that very same ‘closet,’ and had acknowledged, late, that they were, indeed, attracted to women.
Too late, apparently, for some (okay, a very small number- like, maybe, three) readers. And the following is what had started the ‘war.’
One reader was incensed that the essayist had the audacity to proclaim herself a ‘lesbian,’ especially after having been married and having children. The reader, presenting as a self-proclaimed ‘gold star’ lesbian, a woman who’d never slept with a man, had never been attracted to men, and most certainly, would absolutely never have children, took offense with the author’s use of the word ‘lesbian.’ The rift was based on the reader’s contention that the author absolutely could not be a ‘lesbian,’ that she was, frankly, anything but, though, more specifically, she was, in the least, ‘bisexual.’
That was the first shot fired. The argument lit up the thread as other readers got involved, and the original poster of the contentious remarks took offense to their defense of the writer, responding by becoming a typical internet troll, with comments spinning down, rather quickly, into inflaming remarks intended to wound those defenders, the readers, the website itself.
I read through them all, the ‘fors’ (those readers siding with the author’s use of the word) and the scant (though verbose) ‘againsts,’ with a feeling of deja’ vu. I have heard this argument before, in all its rage and glory over (too) many years (ahh, but with age comes wisdom, Grasshopper), and I have found myself leaning towards the ‘fors.’ That’s not why we’re here, though.
What struck me today, in thinking about what I’d read as I tended to my chores, is that I have heard this argument with regards to not being ‘ideal,’ or ‘gold-star,’ in a far different context and with far different words. The intent to ‘make less than,’ to diminish, though, was the same.
Okay, say what you will, but think about it. All right, yes, here is yet another lesbian making a Harry Potter reference, but in their individual contexts, the two words invoke the same visceral meaning. The ‘gold star’ lesbian used the word ‘bisexual’ as a slur towards a woman who was, for whatever reason(s), late in declaring her love of/for women, her lesbianism. The ‘gold star’ lesbian seemingly believed that including women who have had sex with men, have married men, have had children with men, would somehow dilute her own lesbianism in some (undefined) way. That belief in dilution is the same as the Slytherin House residents believing that ‘mudbloods’ dilute their wizard gene pool, and thus, their ‘power.’ In any case, the ‘bisexuals,’ the ‘mudbloods,’ must be dealt with, declared persona-non-grata, before they diminish the respective groups’ ‘powers.’
I call ‘bullshit.’
First, and foremost, the bigger we are, the stronger we are, the louder we are. The war on queers is heating up heading into the 2016 elections, and we need all the help we can get. Divisiveness amongst ourselves is not going to help further our causes. Remember, the Battle at Hogwarts was won because those loyal to all that was ‘right and good’ fought together, they didn’t splinter into self-satisfying exclusive groups that only defended themselves and no one else. It was ‘all for one and one for all,’ and dammit, that’s how we should be.
I am a full-blooded, warm-blooded, ‘gold star’ lesbian. I have known, all along, that I liked girls, that I love women, and I never faltered from that path. My journey has not been easy, but I also do not believe that ‘Life’ has been any easier for the women who did not, or could not, for whatever reason, or reasons, acknowledge their love for women, their true ‘essence,’ until later in their lives. I have shared my path with several of these women, and I can assure you that their struggle is real, that it can be painful to the point of anguish, and that it should never be discounted as less than it is just because it involves the opposite sex.
I will gladly welcome into this Life any woman who loves women. I will not fault you or penalize you for being late. It is your strength and resilience in getting here that I admire and respect, purely because you survived the trip.
You have the unencumbered right to live your truth. After all, you might well be the ‘brightest’ lesbian of your generation…