First World Lesbian Problems

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1. Sharing a closet
I filled a closet before settling down with my fiancee. She filled a closet before I moved in. We were both forced to downsize. It’s still a full closet even with closet organizers. Trying to sort it out was painful.

2. Sharing bathrooms
We try to use separate bathrooms but with three kids, things get mixed up. Hair products and toothpastes go missing often. That’s just something we live with. Communication is key here. This is also why we buy toothpaste and toothbrushes from the dollar store.

3. I get mistaken for Cee’s daughter
This has happened more than once or twice. Sometimes when we go out, people ask if I am Cee’s daughter. This could be due to the fact that I am half a foot shorter than Cee or our age differences. Never the less I cannot seem to win on this one. Maybe when I’m older and more wrinkly this problem will solve itself. Hm.

4. You get asked, “Who’s the man?”
There is no man in the relationship, that’s the point… if I wanted a man, I’d be with a man. I think the point people try to get in this question is, “Who is top or bottom?”, which if asked to a heterosexual couple would likely be met with raised eyebrows or some swear words.

5. Trolling for books
You have to decide whether or not you will troll for Sarah Water’s books and be labelled a lesbian, or troll for books in the other sections and asked why you’re there.

6. PMS
It happens. Sometimes there is shark week in the house for two weeks, sometimes you sync up to your partner and it lands on the same day.

7. Discussing crushes
When your friends, who may happen to be heterosexual, discuss their manly crushes, you zone out and begin dreaming of Robert Downey Jr, Colin FarrellEllen Page. Emma Watson. Cute. But it can make you feel a little left out at times.

8. When your car breaks down
Agh. Your car’s light went on, so you go consult the manual, then you remember that despite the stereotype you are not the lesbian who knows how to fix a car. Facepalm.

9. Tactfully discussing your private life at work
This is something I go by with my gut. I am starting to share my life now, because anti bullying rules were recently put in place where I work to show how serious managers are about staff feeling safe and welcome. I could have used this new rule at my old places of work where I did not feel welcome by the snotty 40+ aged women who spoke as if they were fresh out of high school. But now that my new places of work are welcoming, I am finding it easier to speak about my life, even with a few of my older clients.

10. Straight men..
Who want to bang you. I am not a piece of meat. And I am gay. Please respect that just like you. It’s likely you don’t want to be shagged by a gay man.

11. Shopping
For some of us, the mall is a vortex of pain and shame. We don’t fully fit mens or androgynous clothes yet we try to wear them because that’s what we feel comfortable wearing. Then you sometimes get odd looks from the teenager who folds clothes at the store, but you have to look past them. Grab that shirt you love and get out of there. I always tell Cee, she’ll find me in the camera, tea, or book store.

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Going to my second prom

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Many of us get to go to prom in high school. Some of us get to go to two, Maybe even three for a select few people (at least some in my high school who were invited one or two years in addition to their graduation year.) But not many people get to re-live their prom when they are older, wiser and maybe more out of the closet about who they are. Although, I admit I could be wrong about that, because now it seems more people are coming to the realization about their sexual orientation at earlier ages. As a result of being more open at younger ages, they are more open about being true to themselves and are therefore on their way to a more positive and healthy life before the generations before them.

I fit into the generation that came after the generation that is now open to who they are, and where they fit on the gender and sexual orientation spectrums from early ages. So when I see the LGBTQ youth being completely honest and open, it makes tears of happiness form.

I’ve been volunteering biweekly with LGBTQ youth the past few months. I was recently invited to the LGBTQ youth prom for teens aged 15-18. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of these teens having a safe place to be free to be themselves, free from discrimination and bigotry. I remember knowing of a couple gay teens in high school but sexual orientation was something that was never openly talked about or discussed in high school as a whole. Therefore, it was never really necessary that a diverse and LGBT friendly prom was required or thought of.

ss prom(PhotoCredit: Cdnet; Note, not my girlfriend and I, but these two look pretty happy.)

I was asked to photograph and chaperon the event. I have loved photography since I first held a camera when I was 11 years old. That hobby developed into something more serious over the years which has transitioned to thoughts of pursuing a career on the side of my day job as a photographer and designer. When friends or events are going on, I do my best to capture them.  When I was asked to photograph the prom, I jumped on the idea. More photographs to use in my portfolio and more images to use to practice my techniques and editing are always welcome in my eyes.

I thought my first prom was going to be my only prom. This prom happened eight years ago. I remember having no one to go with as a prom date. All of my friends had their boyfriends, girlfriends or some beautiful friend that wanted to go with them. I didn’t. I had made a bit of a friendship with the Czech Republic exchange student so I ended up asking him. I wasn’t interested in him sexually, but I knew that I didn’t want to be the only one in my friend group without a date. Not that my friends would have cared if I had shown up single or taken. Later on in the night he had tried to get in my pants but I politely but firmly shut him down. Never did I think that I would get a second chance to take someone I really wanted to, to a prom.

This prom was almost a decade after my first. I watched the teens dance with their dates, and friends and smiled. They had shy smiles, while they held hands swaying during the slow dances, and wide eyed magic glittering their eyes during the fast dances. They had their first prom be the magical dream that everyone probably hopes a prom will be.

Even though I was an adult chaperone and was not fully one of the attendees dancing with their date, I still felt that it was like I had a second chance at a prom, in a way. It was perfect. I dressed as I wanted to-not in an overpriced dress I had intentions of wearing more than once-but a suit and tie. I was taking the love of my life. I had a smile plastered on my face the whole night. Sometimes life is funny, in that it brings you back to memory lane, just in time to help you form new, more positive ones.

Family woes

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In the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to catch up on bills that I have wracked up in my absence of the trip to Mexico with my girlfriend. I apologize for my lack of attention to this blog. I have also been facing some family woes. I’m not sure if this is because my family still feels ashamed of me for being gay, and they’re trying to be ok with it or they’re just very flawed and not able to open up to how others feel.

Image(PhotoCredit: Everyday feminism)

 

As soon as we touched down from Mexico, my mom decided to publicly out my girlfriend on Facebook. My girlfriend was out to her close friends and a few family members, but by my mother publicly stating, “Hope you had fun in Mexico with YOUR girlfriend” (yes the ‘your’ was capitalized in the post), it was blatantly stated that my girlfriend had a girlfriend she was dating. My girlfriend had wanted to save the news for conversations in person where it was her news to tell, not for someone to tell it for her on a public platform like Facebook.

Outing is the way that some people feel it is their news to tell if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer etc. Of course it does not only apply to sexual orientations, it can apply to any number of things such as announcing big news, or conflicts with others. For this topic I will refer to Outing as the Outing of one’s sexual orientation or having a same sex partner. If you’ve ever been outed you will likely know how horrible it feels when you aren’t ready for the present people or person being told to hear the news. Being outed is a violation of trust, it’s a violation of boundaries, and it hurts. Now some people may say that they didn’t out someone they had cruel intentions; some people don’t have cruel intentions and it comes out in conversation. Those cases are when you approach the person relaying the news, tell them how you feel and ask that they respect your wish to remain silent about their news.

Then there are cases where the person attempting to out someone means to cruelly get to someone by relaying the news that the person discussed was not ready to discuss. That was the case for my mother publicly outing my girlfriend. And it hurt a lot. I knew right away that that was her intention. My girlfriend didn’t see it that way at first and so she wasn’t sure what had happened until one of her family members left her a voice mail who appeared hurt at having not been told in person. Having lived with my manipulative mother most of my life, I have known that’s what she intended to do-cause a ruckus and somehow hurt my girlfriend and I.

My girlfriend has done nothing wrong. In fact she has brought a gift for my parents each time she has visited. My mom snubs her, and tries to talk over her in an attempt to speak with me. When I call her on her rude behaviour (via Facebook), because I just cannot handle her childish behaviour in my face. I always get a sob story from her, told that I am ungrateful, or told that my girlfriend is going to ruin my life. I have tried explaining and sharing all the wonderful things that have happened in my life since being with my girlfriend but my mother eisn’t having any of it. And who knows what my mom tells my dad about us because he’s always on her side even when I am simply trying to stick up for myself and my girlfriend.

My parents have not liked my girlfriend from the start. I don’t know if it’s because she has kids, or if it’s because I’m so serious about this relationship that I moved in with her and the kids. I shouldn’t pretend to know the reasoning. Some of it might be because I hardly visit her and dad anymore-but to be honest my visits with my parents were getting fewer and farther between visits. My girlfriend is cut off in conversation in front of others. My mother is incredibly rude to her face. And I can’t deal with having my self esteem hacked at with a blunt machete that leaves rusted wounds that only time away from them will scar and heal slightly before the next visit and then do it all over again. My life has been like this even before I met my girlfriend. It’s only now that I realize what I have to do.

I have been working myself up in an attempt to write a letter about my feelings, how violated, and hurt I’ve felt. The letter will include how I hope to be treated from now on. It will also include how I hope we can learn how to communicate without abuse, go to counseling together etc. And it will give an ultimatum. Thoughts about writing an ultimatum has left me a mess the past few weeks. I go from feeling fine, to crying and leaving the room, wanting to be alone and sometimes lashing out at my girlfriend for something she doesn’t deserve. I don’t know how else to do this but try to salvage some sort of a healthy relationship, healthier boundaries and if they aren’t up for it, sever the ties. It hurts. I know what I have to do. But doing it is the hardest part. I love my parents, but I need to love myself and those in my life more in order to be toxic free. I need to love myself and my girlfriend more in order to be happy and more at peace.

Buenos Dias!

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I haven’t posted a lot lately because I’ve been getting ready to vacation in Mexico with my girlfriend.  And now we’re here. I just finished day three in Mexico. We booked an all inclusive vacation in the beautiful city of Puerto Vallarta. I’ve never been on a tropical vacation before so this has been a treat. To do so with the love of my life has been nothing short of amazing.

Puerto Vallarta is beautiful.  Our plane landed and we descended onto the tarmac to board a bus to the airport. From there we bused to our hotel. Culture shock hit when we really hit the highway. Buses sped past us on either side with a mere inch. Mopeds,  ATVs and pick up trucks full of the locals sped past and changed lanes at a dizzying pace like rapid fire. I wouldn’t want to have to get a drivers license here as I’m afraid that would be putting my life into the hands of others. I’m surprised there doesn’t appear to be more road rage here. Back home people would have been honking,  flipping the bird etc. I suppose if one were to grow up here you’d become accustomed to the pace.

We were welcomed into our hotel which has a beautiful atrium where plants and vines dangle from the upper levels in the main plaza. A waiter greated us. My girlfriend gave the man a tip and cervezas (beer), were brought to us immediately.  I have never been in an all inclusive resort but the service is amazing here. It is great how tipping brings such swift, and smiling service.  It saddened me a bit realizing that tipping a small $2 in Canadian but 20 pesos to them was a quarter of what they make a day. We are so fortunate to live well off compared to most of the world.

My girlfriend,  who is much more outgoing than I has made it easy to speak with the locals. We met a couple young people who work at the resort. We bought a night out to a nightclub called Senor Frogs for $40 Canadian each. This included our cab ride to downtown Puerto Vallarta, our way in, free drinks and a party that should have lasted till 5am. We were tired by 3am but we enjoyed a night of body paint,  glitter,  the company of some Mexican gay boys, lively Spanish club music and watching a bikini contest. The friends we met were very accepting of my girlfriend and I as a couple.

My girlfriend tells me this often but I am starting to learn that stereotypes do not always apply. Case in point: we befriended a fellow Canadian who worked in an oil rig the first evening. He looked like the typical douce bag with a lot of money to blow and an attitude to go with it. But he showed us he wasn’t a bad guy. He was friendly,  respectful and fun. I’m learning first impressions based on biases aren’t always accurate.

I have to say my more disappointing moments was last night when I became black out drunk.  Having 30+ drinks will likely do that to anyone. I made a fool of myself but the people I spoke with they next day said it was ok because “This is Mexico”. I regret not remembering when I apparently asked my girlfriend to marry me in our hotel room. *Facepalm* One of the most memorable times in someone’s life and the person asking should at least remember saying something that significant,  no? That was not how I pictured asking her to marry me. I have played with the idea in my mind before but doing more romantic things than be black out drunk. *sigh* I will work on this. My girlfriend is amazing and I know she deserves a better proposal.

Today we had the experience of taking a bus to Bucerias. Bucerias was a beautiful fishing village. The main strip, roads and buildings appeared war torn and broken. Mexico seems to be a mosiac of the richer more tourust places and the real third world sections. We wandered down to the beach at a liesurely pace. My girlfriend was patient with me being a shutter bug and snapping photos of everything. We ate a spicy mango which involved the peddler chopping slivers off the pit with a machete which made the mango look like a flower. He then squeezed lime and sprinkled chili flakes on it.  We drank a fresh coconut on the beach as well. We are both nursing sunburns (even though we wore sunscreen). We met Mark Jacobs (not the designer), and his dog Lou who loved it when we threw a coconut into the surf for him to fetch. We capped off the day with a bucket of cervezas (beer), seafood, nachos and real guacamole!

We took a cab back and had a quiet evening.  Tomorrow we’re heading out on a bus tour of Puerto Vallarta. Maybe we’ll find Old Town,  a tattoo parlour, the Blue Chairs (the gay district) or some new adventures. I look forward to it.

My 5 Year anniversary

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… of being out of the closet has rolled around.  I remember it well. How could I forget a significant period of upheaval,  emotion and life changes?

I remember speaking with one of my friends whom at the time was very close with me. My mom overheard our conversation,  tempers flared and the news was out. Rather than blatantly tell everyone I let my mom tell my sister and dad. I wasn’t able to face other horrible reactions.  But they came nonetheless. My mom and sister who used to hug me while saying goodnight suddenly stopped hugging me. Because of ignorance,  they worried I was suddenly attracted to them. I fought daily. Mean insults were hurled. Our relationships became more toxic. I took up smoking cigarettes regularly at work.

Fast forward to now. My family knows and I believe accepts me for being gay. At times I wonder what life would have been like if I had waited to tell my family till I was out of the house for good. When I came out years ago, I did so on Easter. I had been attending college and I went to live with my family every summer in between each school year.

The first year was definitely the hardest. I chopped my beautiful wavy hair off a few weeks after I broke the news to a shaggy pixie cut. I loved it. I felt so liberated.

I started dressing more comfortably.  This involved experimenting with different clothing styles. I tried out dressing like a butch and found it wasn’t quite my thing. But I realized that I enjoy cross dressing and rocking a tie some days.

I loved my short hair. I played with my hair and started doing more funky styles. When my hair was longer I kept it in a ponytail most of the time because I didn’t want to bother with styling it. With short hair I felt free, fun and spunky and I enjoyed styling it.

I stopped trying to be uber feminine and fit the circular mould that I as a square would never fit in. This caused conflict with my parents but I was an adult now and as time progressed, they realized I was my own person and they couldn’t make me do anything.

I learned that what I looked like on the outside by not conforming to the standard of feminine beauty most women do makes one an outcast. People look at you differently when you have short hair,  don’t wear much makeup (or any) and you wear comfortable/slightly masculine clothing.

It was a wakeup call. I don’t think I’d been terrible to people before coming out, but I definitely began becoming more empathic to others afterwards. I now knew what it was like to be an obvious minority. I knew what it was like to be judged for something many knew nothing about or didn’t understand. I knew what it was like to feel hurt and have friends and strangers alike be disgusted with me because I made a choice to follow my heart.

As the years passed, my family has come around. I have made new friends. Many of my old ones have stuck by me, and funnily enough they ended up being gay too! A couple friends who appeared to temporarily leave have also returned and apologized.

I have had a few jobs since.  I have settled into a long term career that may last awhile till I can think of something I may wish to pursue after furthering my education.

I have had several same sex relationships in the five years I’ve been out. I have had long and short ones. I learned how to be a better partner. I continue to learn how to communicate more effectively instead of shutting down or running away as those are my default settings it seems. My girlfriend seems to be an expert at communication even though she assures me it’s taken her a long time to get where she is now. I believe she is my soulmate and I want to marry her some day.

I’ve become involved in the gay community. I attend local events, and Pride every year. I feel so great every pride being able to live freely from discrimination or the thought of it for a day/week/weekend.

Life has definitely changed in 5 years. Some of it was an uphill battle. But I didn’t stop working at it.  I’m grateful to those people who stuck by me through the years. But now I can say it does get better. It did get better.  Life is better now.

LGBT movies on my to watch list

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This year I’ve made up my  mind to try to catch up on more LGBT movies. This isn’t to say I will ignore any films that do not have LGBT characters or story lines, I am simply going to watch more of them. As someone who is part of a minority of the world, it is sometimes comforting to watch story lines and films that depict similar lives to your own while you are consistently surrounded by films that don’t necessarily speak to you and how you love.

Alright. For the list…

1. Blue Is the Warmest Color
I have read mixed reviews of this film. It’s the story of two young women who fall in love.
Trailer here.

2. Reaching For the Moon
A writer goes to Brazil in order to escape and try to find inspiration. She finds more than she bargained for. Let’s hope there’s a happy ending?
Trailer here.

3. The Dallas Buyers Club
This one had several nominations for the Academy Awards the other night. It is set in the 1980’s when the AIDS scare was rampant and an electrician sees the need for AIDS medication after being diagnosed himself.
Trailer here.

4. Boys Don’t Cry.
Born as a woman, Teena Brandon adopts a life as a male and attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska. I haven’t seen this one even though it came out in the late 90’s because I was just a kid back then.
Trailer here.

5. Concussion
Abby, a lesbian who is hit with a baseball thrown by her son, receives a concussion. After her concussion, she becomes a prostitute for other women.
Trailer here.

Lesbros and the friend zone

Sounds sort of like a toy company doesn’t it? Hasbro, lesbro…

Lesbro is the term that is given to the best guy friend of a lesbian. Gay men have the depending on how you look at it, offensive sounding “fag hag” label for the best woman friend and lesbians have the “lesbro”.

I won’t give away real names in this blog to protect the identity of the innocent. Jay is my lesbro.

I met Jay at work. I was sketching in my sketch book on one of my breaks and he asked if he could sit at the same table. I’m always up for meeting new friends. He complimented my work which was nice. We got to talking about work, and life. We exchanged numbers and kept in touch. A few nights later he asked me out for dinner and I was hesitant. Did he think this was a possible date? Or was this just as friends?

When we went out for dinner, I could tell he was being funny and attempting to flirt. It’s flattering to be flirted with from anyone of any gender, but I began realizing that I had to tell him that I was attracted to women. I kept putting it off for a few more times of hanging out with him. My friends told him to tell him sooner because this guy had feelings too.

I dropped the news when I told him I was going to attend Pride. He didn’t quite understand what the big deal about Pride was but when I explained to him how I felt and that Pride was like a big celebration of being true to yourself surrounded by people who understood you, with similar stories about hardship, love and courage. He told me in guy fashion to have fun and go get laid. At the time I was single.

When I returned Jay asked many questions like most people when I tell them the news. He realized that I was indeed attracted to women and that he had been friend zoned because I only saw him as a friend in my eyes. Jay and I grew closer together as buds, and he accepted the perks of our connection. I am like one of the guys, except slightly different. We can go out, check out women, comment on how great women are, watch action/comedy movies, go long boarding and just hang out. Once a guy realizes you’re not interested, and he’s ok with that and still wants to be your friend, it can be smooth sailing. It’s like having a best bud without the drama that sometimes follows having a female friend. Not all women carry drama, but some do and do nothing to get rid of it. Guys seem to have less drama (for the most part) so it’s more relaxing just to kick back and enjoy time with your friend.

This reminds me, I have to spend more time with Jay, I’ve been a bad friend being so busy with work, my hobbies and my girlfriend. He’s been spending time at work and with his new lady friend. I tease him that he’s doing the “lesbian thing” by meeting her parents 3 weeks into a relationship because it seems to be moving so fast. I’m not sure if he’s aware of lesbian stereotypes but it’s fun to educate him on some of them even if they are stereotypes and can’t always be applied. With more education, this world will have less ignorance when it comes to things that exist outside the norm.