Every lesbian has a story. Not just the very few of us like Ellen and Wanda who have risen to actual stardom, but every one of us regular lesbos who has come out, bucked the patriarchy by being herself and continued to thrive in this male-dominated, misogynist world. We are so totally AWESOME!
In case anyone ever starts inducting us everyday dykes into some future Lesbian Hall of Fame, I want to get my application in.
When I first started calling myself a dyke in the early 1970s, I was in college and women were rising. Feminism lifted us up, encouraged our autonomy and urged us to love our bodies, ourselves and, as I understood it, each other. I cut my hair — with my own Swiss Army knife scissors — dumped my birth control, joined a softball team and fell in love with our coach.
As a campus lezzie, I did what I could to spread the good news. I spoke on countless gay panels, talked to other students about liberation from gender stereotypes and the importance of loving our bodies, ourselves and, naturally, each other. I took assertiveness training, studied martial arts and fell in love with our kung fu teacher.
In the 1980s I subscribed to Lesbian Connection, ventured off to women’s music and comedy festivals, celebrated solstices on womyn’s land, took my car to a lesbian mechanic, surrendered my backaches to a lesbian chiropractor and shopped at a feminist bookstore. I bought Meg Christian, Alix Dobkin and Ferron albums, tuned in to the local Women’s Music radio show and fell in love with the DJ.
When the plague hit I took a job with the local AIDS Project, visited boyfriends in hospice and made panels for the Names Project Quilt. I learned all about condoms and dental dams, took — and led — safe-sex workshops, explored the S&M scene and saw my one attempt at writing porn published in On Our Backs. I wrote and performed The Sound of Lesbians, a musical comedy parody (eventually banned by Rogers and Hammerstein’s copyright attorneys) about the VonTramp Family and their lesbian sex therapist. I contributed a monthly advice column to Eugene’s Lavender Network newsmagazine called “Ask Big Sister,” promoting the myriad ways to love our bodies, ourselves and each other.
During the 1990s, three other dykes, including aforementioned DJ, and I started an improv troupe we dubbed WYMPROV!, and we continue performing and raising both lesbian visibility and money for good works to this day. I canvassed, phone-banked and fundraised to fight the homophobes and the anti-abortion terrorists. I went to work for the Feminist Women’s Health Center, gave presentations on women’s health options, reproductive rights and self-exams, and promoted the freedom to love our bodies, ourselves and each other.
In 1998 I married the Women’s Music DJ in a nice Jewish wedding. We built a life based on loving our bodies, ourselves and each other.
The next year I wrote my first Living Out column and was hired to teach in the women’s studies department at Portland State University, helping at least some of the next generation learn about women’s and queer people’s struggles for the freedom to love our bodies, ourselves and each other. I’m still teaching women’s and queer studies courses at PSU and still writing this column.
And I’m still married to the DJ.