Diary of a crap lesbian: phase?

Let me take you to Bradford, February 2001. There is a pub, a rainbow flag hanging over the door. Inside, on this Thursday night, sits a group of seven girls. Among them is a spiky haired, plastic bejewelled, seventeen-year-old dyke. Wave, you know her. Beside her is a spiky haired, plastic bejewelled sixteen-year-old dyke. All of them the same; sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. The hair the plastic, the love for the ladies. They’re all laughing now, but in a few minutes all that will change. Why? Well, one of them has an announcement to make.

One of the girls sitting around this table is about to tell us that she has a boyfriend. It is not going to go down well. Some one is going to say, they always new it – they knew she’d end up straight. Someone is going to say, she wanted to be gay to be cool. Someone is going to say, bloody tourist. Someone is going to roll her eyes and say, another one bites the dust.

That last one? That was me.

Fast-forward a few years to early 2005. The same pub, largely the same girls, and someone else has an announcement to make. This girl is going to tell her friends that she slept with a boy and she liked it. She liked it, and she’ll probably do it again. Someone says, people like you give people like us a bad name. Someone says, I thought as much. Someone says, another one bites the dust.

It’s not very pleasant, you know, having to question your sexuality, and by that your identity. It’s even less pleasant when the people you call your friends do it for you.

I carry a lot of guilt. Guilt because I said the same hurtful and hateful things that were said to me a few years later. Guilt because I once condemned someone whose only sin was her honesty. Whether I really meant what I said that night I don’t suppose I’ll ever really know, but I suspect there was an element of peer pressure in that vicious outburst. Desire to conform to the group, to tow the party line, or otherwise, what I said was unforgivable. Having now done what I once condemned, I cannot stress that enough. The worst thing? I never really saw that girl again. She popped up every now and again for a while, but where she is now, I have no idea. I will never see her again – I will never be able to tell her I’m sorry.

I came out, went back in and chose a different exit and half my friends stopped calling. Suddenly I wasn’t guaranteed to be out on a Saturday night. My social life collapsed and I got very, very lonely. It may be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason – only in the midst of crisis and upheaval does one discover who ones true friends really are. The girls that counselled me, the girls that listened to me, the girls that told me to stop being so bloody silly; they are my friends. Funnily enough, two out of the three of them are straight.

It’s funny, you know. They’re painted as a liberal group, those young lesbians, an antidote to the ‘fascist heterosexual orthodoxy’, but when it came for them to accept in me a sexuality outside the accepted binary, they couldn’t do it. So that was it. Us versus Them, or, as it felt at the time, Me versus Them. Now, I’m back in the position where most of my friends are queer, though this time they’re not all gay women. This time they’re mostly be, the party line this time: we don’t care which way you swing.

What if, though, what if I was to change my mind again? What if I suddenly go off men, or women, entirely? Will I be marked as a tourist again? Will I be judged as a social climber, determined to hang with the cool kids no matter what the cost? I sincerely hope not, but the truth is, no matter how much I think of my friends, I just can’t rule it out.

Libby