Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Guest post

This is a belated thank you note to all the lesbian feminists – older women in particular – who welcomed me with open arms when I decided to become a lesbian.

You helped me discard almost three decades of pretty successful heterosexual training, and released me from the resignation that men or isolation (most likely both, since they go together) were my future.

There were things you could have warned me about the pain the intensity the pain the intensity fucking hell the pain and no they weren’t BDSM relationships but as men don’t compare and therefore provide no reference, you wouldn’t have prepared me anyway.

I haven’t looked back, and now it’s a revelation watching other women as they leave their husbands and boyfriends, and come out as lesbians with the same mixture of excitement, shell-shock and sense of coming home that I had. This wasn’t supposed to be an option for us ‘born-this-way’ ‘heterosexuals’, but we chose it anyway and here we are.

Thank you for letting us know it was possible, and for being patient with our questions and (occasional) resistance while we processed and let the shift take place.

So, in the spirit of paying-it-forward, I will say this to those women who also want to choose lesbianism, or are on the verge of coming out:

It will be the most life-affirming thing you ever do. 

Waiting patiently for you sisters, whenever you’re ready.

4 thoughts on “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

  1. Ten days and no comments yet?

    Lately, I’ve been closely reading and thinking about these recent blog posts about political lesbianism–its definition and articulation, as well as the parsing, the debate, the arguments, and the anger and hurt feelings which followed. And I have to wonder how many women/feminists sat silent on the edge of these conversations, just lurking, because they felt unable, or unqualified, to add their voices. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course; silence can be a good thing, because there is a necessary time to just listen and to absorb. But some of these women, I’m sure, are listening and absorbing while in limbo, turmoil, crisis. To be more direct: I can’t be the only one. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t know, yet, if Lesbian–the noun, the adjective, the desire, the practice, the politics, the word (with or without modifiers)–belongs to me.

    So, since you wrote, “Waiting patiently for you sisters, whenever you’re ready” …

    Perhaps it’s stating the obvious to say that these political conversations have a highly personal dimension. That, in fact, we’re also talking about individual psyches in the process of seeking resolution, about women who are in dialogue with themselves. It doesn’t seem to matter much that this dialogue about (political) lesbianism, as it happened between feminists, became very public more than forty years ago! Because, for some, it continues to present itself as still fresh and difficult, and still painful.

    And speaking of forty-year-old conversations, last night I took Adrienne Rich’s collection, Diving into the Wreck, off my bookshelf. It was one of the texts we had to read for a “Women in Literature” course that I took back in the early 90s. It’s funny that, while her poetry didn’t move me much, I dog-eared one poem in particular called “Dialogue.” At the time, I must’ve related to its themes of loneliness, uncertainty and identity in a broad and generic way. But now it has a more specific significance. The last half of the poem goes like this:

    –she says: I do not know
    if sex is an illusion

    I do not know
    who I was when I did those things
    or who I said I was
    or whether I willed to feel
    what I had read about
    or who in fact was there with me
    or whether I knew, even then
    that there was doubt about these things

    • Thank you for commenting and for sharing the lovely and apt extract from Adrienne Rich’s poem. You are definitely not the only one and the limbo you talk about is very familiar. This post was written with that vivid memory for those women who are listening and observing, tempted by or on the edge of choosing lesbianism, but not sure if they have the right to. When is what they’re feeling real? When does it count?

      Heterosexuality was never real. Realising that and finally, feeling that, is a profound shift to experience. For some women it changes things almost immediately. For others it can take a long time to process and talk about. Just knowing that there is a community of lesbians who will welcome and understand has been a huge factor for many of us in coming out.

      The dialogue will continue, and as long as we know we can, women will keep choosing women.

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