Sunday, April 02, 2006

Big Fat Scary Lesbian

It was bound to happen at some point: a blog entry about homosexuality and my journey into the Sapphic Sisterhood (more of that later).

In fairness this entry was really inspired by seeing Brokeback Mountain recently and the comments that I have received from a couple of friends - one positive, one not so positive.

One friend found the film to be depressing because despite the leaps and bounds the gay community have made in society, they are still being murdered, beaten and generally oppressed because of their sexuality. As a result of her poignant words, I realised that perhaps I was living in a lovely rainbow tinted bubble in which men can love men and women can love women and everyone is ok with it. At least, that was, until a pin was unceremoniously applied to abovementioned bubble.

I checked this with Kate and she agreed that perhaps I am a little too open and her concern for me was that at some point, someone was going to get nasty with me because I refuse to deny, when prompted, who I am.

She does have a point. My friend, too, has a point, so I have removed the lavender tinted spectacles for a bit. And I got thinking. (NEVER a good thing.)

This is what I have come up with: In spite of living in an 'enlightened' society, hate crime is still rife. I live in a country in which honour killing occurs. People are provoked to violence because of differences in race, religion, sexuality, politics, dress, gender... you name it. I am sure that this is what happens to a greater or lesser degree in countries all over the world.

Regardless of the acceptance of other religions, people are murdered because of their faith. Same with race. Same with sexuality. Ultimately this violence stems from fear, which stems from ignorance. The only cure for ignorance is education. So many people are raised with a system of beliefs that states if someone isn't like you and doesn't believe the same things as you, you have to either convert them to your way of thinking or kill them - kill them all!

I have long held a concept that I call 'The Daily Activist'. It's how I live my life and it's the reason I challenge people's attitudes. My faith has taught me that I cannot change other people, but if I want to change my environment (and ultimately society) I have to change myself. So I will say, "Actually, my partner is a she" or "I am not a Christian" or, "So why do you hate French people so much?"

Daisaku Ikeda, President of the Soka Gakkai, the lay arm of Nichiren Buddhism, has said (to paraphrase) if one man stands up, soon another will stand up with him. Then another, and another. So I choose to stand up. Whether that's to educate people about my sexuality or the effects of racial discrimination, I will stand up.

Gandhi was alone on a train when he was asked by a South African conductor to move off because he wasn't white. Gandhi refused. He stood up. Others later stood up with him. Same with Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela. Daisaku Ikeda. And now, YOU.

And it's not as if people understand when you stand up. There are religions that state that they are based on love for their neighbours and tolerance, when in fact many of their belivers behave in the opposite manner. There are people I have thought would be enlightened, but have been downright ignorant. It's not personal. What they show me is their true character.

A friend once said to me that being gay is not about who you have sex with, but rather with who you love. More often than not, when you tell someone you are gay, they don't see the person, they imagine what you get up to behind closed doors.

Here are some examples of the things I have had said to me:

* (Upon revealing that my partner is a woman to someone who I thought was an enlightened person) "So is it just about the sex?" My response was to ask this person if she was only with her husband because of the sex. Her response was no, that she loves him. Bingo.

* (From my ex-brother-in-law) "Tanya, mark my words, you will go back to men and you'll find another husband." Of course I will, Greg. I am only using Kate for this 3 and a half year long lesbian experiment and this is why we had a commitment ceremony nearly 3 years ago. Kate knows this, by the way, but it doesn't bother her that I am toying with her feelings or that we've set up home together and are the proud mothers of four cats and a hamster. You Twat.

* "Exactly what do lesbians do in bed together?" I could show you, but that would mean you would have to be introduced to the secret lesbian society and we make you sacrifice kittens during the initiation ceremony. I can tell you, however, that it's nothing close to what you get to see in the porn flicks you like to watch so much. There's love involved for a start.

* "Oh my god! Did I turn you gay?" (comment from an ex-boyfriend). My reply: you can't turn people gay just like you can't make a white person black. If being gay or bisexual isn't part of your make up, it ain't going to happen. So, Fabian, no, you didn't turn me gay. I made a stupid mistake born out of guilt and a longing for Rachel who had dissed me. What you did do, however, is seal the idea that you are an abusive psycho bastard. I would still have come to that conclusion if you were a woman.

* (Upon coming out at the late age of 28) "Oh... are you sure? I mean, you've never mentioned this before." Just because I hid how I felt about women from all but a few, doesn't mean that it wasn't there. People do pretty strange things out of religious guilt and fear of judgement and rejection.

*(From my ex-brother-in-law again. Isn't he a gem?) "You're just trying this gay thing out because you want to be different. I KNOW you." OK. First off, if you want to get my hackles rising, tell me you KNOW me. No, you don't know me. Not even my sister was aware that at the age of 14 I was checking the chicks out. And if I wanted to be different, I would have dyed my hair purple. (Which I may still do). I wouldn't have chosen to live a life in which I faced misunderstanding, discrimination and having to put up with comments like that one. You twat.

My Lesbian Story
At 12 I realised that I was a bit different, but couldn't put a finger on it. I checked out chicks when I was 14 onwards, but kept this to myself because I knew that this is not The Christian Thing To Do. I had sex with a guy at 16. I don't think it worked for either of us since we're both gay. I figured that my little teenage infatuation with girls at school and female teachers was a little more than a 'finding yourself' thing. I still dated boys because that's what girls are SUPPOSED to do. At 19, I began to wake up to the idea that perhaps I was gay. I liked the way that sounded, felt, lived inside me. At karate, I was considered to be the 'gay one' out of my sister and I. In fact, Tim, the man who was to become Mr Tanya, was surprised I asked him out because I was 'the gay one'. I told him I wasn't entirely straight. I married him because I needed to get out of the house and hopefully it would put paid to my feelings for women because I was doing the proper 'Christian' thing. And then I met Rachel. Rachel who seduced me and opened so many doors and I wanted to divorce Tim to be with her. I had to stop lying. But then she broke my heart and I embarked on an affair with the first man who showed an interest. I had stopped loving my husband a while before and I wanted to do anything I could to stop how I felt for Rachel and for women. So, Fabian, Brett and Donald, you were the finely tuned instruments I used to punish myself with for loving women. Finally I woke up and decided I was worth more than that and that instead of running from who I was (and hurting myself deeply in the process), it was perhaps best to come out. So I did.

There you have it. Chi-ching - my 10p worth.



  1. That was an incredible story, Tanya. I think, in a world like this one, where we are all being conditioned more each day to hide who we are and live in constant fear, we need people who are willing to live without fear in the open and challenge others to accept what they don't understand.

    Maybe if we can all stop being afraid of each other, we can learn to rely on each other for courage in the face of the Big Fears that those in charge keep trying to beat us down with.

    Damn, but this post was inspiring. You are so awesome. Kate is a very lucky woman. :)

  2. You are a darling, Tanya. Since 'meeting' you, I've admired your spirit and wit. I have no doubt that you will help educate and enlighten a number of people as you continue to stand up.

  3. Yeah, but all things considered, my dad still doesn't know about me and Kate. The weird thing is every time I have wanted to tell him, without prompting, he has said things like, "The doctors say I shouldn't hear any shocking news" OR "The doctors say I need to be come and not get distressed with things going on around me." Since I quit the desire to tell him, he has stopped saying those things.

  4. That was an awesome post Tanya. Living in the Southeast, U.S. I am surrounded by ignorant rednecks. (Some I'm afraid to say in my own family!) And yet I am still constantly amazed that they can still be so dumb! Aparently my mom just raised me better than most. She never specifically said, don't hate blacks, or lesbians, or gays. She just raised me that differences are good not bad. It's that simple.

  5. Hi Tanya,
    thanks for your interesting story.
    I came across your blog while doing some blog searching of Soka Gakkai. Your blog caught my eye, and I started reading.
    Congrats on your courage.
    I wanted to share with you that I am a donor father for two women who are together. We have two children. I live a couple of blocks from them, an am very involved in raising our two daughters.
    There's no official 'tag' for what I am, a hetero-man, single, father of two kids with two lesbian moms.
    I'm glad there's no tag for this yet. Hope there never will be, but realize one will be invented sooner or later.
    Anyway thanks for the encouragement and reminder.

  6. *Sigh* and yet again you make me so proud to be your friend of 20 years!

    As much as Brokeback Mt depressed me, your post has inspired me to keep fighting.

    I'm also inspired by Kat's comment - I have always thought the best gift I could give my future children is openness and tolerance.

  7. Hi, i just happen to chance upon ur blog... i love ur entry... would u mind if i put a link up on mine and also fwd it to a buncha frens?... btw, i take it you are a soka gakkai member?

  8. is there an email add i could contact you at? i wanna ask u some questions abt SGI-UK