Recently the issue of "flaunting it" came up during a discussion with a friend about her new g.f. (Keep in mind that to me, a "new" g.f. is within five years, while to another lesbian, a "new" girlfriend might be from last week.)
There was a BIG OCCASION coming up for my friend. One of those life events involving relatives flown in from out of town, dressing up and the opportunity to dance and celebrate someone you love. During the many planning sessions for this event, my friend said she was looking forward to dancing with her sweetheart.
Then the sweetheart stiffened. Said she wasn't sure she'd feel comfortable with that. It might make people uncomfortable. They didn't have to flaunt it.
She used the F-word.
My friend, an old school dyke from way back who likes to sign e-mails as Mr., gritted her teeth and left the conversation, and relayed it to me.
I gritted my teeth too. But I don't have to live with the sweetheart, and her internalized homophobia.
Not that most of us haven't had some, at some time, or even have a little lingering in our big toe, but when we're over forty, we seem to get over the idea that we have anything to apologize for by behaving like adults, and enjoying all the rituals that heterosexuals enjoy without a second thought.
The expression "flaunting it" is so loaded for many of us who were told it time and again during our early years out of the closet. To be told not to "flaunt it" means there is something wrong with being gay. It means no one else needs to know you're a pervert. It implies you aren't fit for mixed company. And it implies you don't know how to behave in public.
As if heterosexuals don't flaunt it every day.
The most difficult part for me, hearing my old friend describe this conversation, is that her sweetheart didn't trust her judgment. No one, at a fancy, special, fly in the relatives from out of town event, is planning on wearing a "Kiss me I'm a lesbian" T-shirt, or going topless to show off the nipple rings. But adults who love one another dance at special events, to share the celebration and take part fully. For my friend to be asked to sit on the side, or dance with a beard in order to make other people comfortable (and who may not care a fig who is dancing with whom) is such a statement of how her sweetheart feels about being a lesbian, it makes me sad.
Again, not that most of us haven't gone through a stage of discomfort with being who we are. We're just usually over it by this age.
Last week I had an opportunity to experience how "over it" I am. It was a rare date with my wife of nearly twenty years. A spur of the moment "take advantage of the in-house babysitters" date. We went to see A Prairie Home Companion (not my favorite movie) at a local theatre that sports elderly love seats and sofas for seating. My wife and I found a loveseat at the front, flopped down, and watched in peace.
I realized, as I leaned against her, my hand on her thigh in the darkness, that I felt absolutely at peace. Partly it's the drugs, my anti-anxiety meds are making relaxation a possibility for the first time in my life, but partly it was where we were as a couple, and me as a lesbian. I didn't care what the straight couple next to us felt or thought. I wasn't thinking about anyone's reaction. I was just enjoying the movie with my spouse, like anyone else at the theatre. It was a wonderful feeling, and one I'd want any sweethearts/spouses to feel.
I hope my friend and her sweetheart will dance at the celebration. They are relatively new together, and could have years of enjoyable events. It is always the moment to enjoy your time together. You never know how much time you've got.