My Lesbian Voice

When I started this blog, I wondered if I have a lesbian voice and if so, if it is any different from my voice as a woman, as a person, as a sister, as a writer, all the various aspects of me, the different roles that I assume.

What I’ve discovered is that when I think about the things that I think about, I do so with all of the parts of me: head-to-toe, baby-to-adult, woman, pragmatic optimist, lesbian, a wannabe skateboarder, a secret mountaintop hermit/contemplative of no particular affiliation, and a human bean in a city of nearly 3 million other beans, wondering about my own issues of not tolerating others’ intolerance. Like with like might work in homeopathy: not so sure it works for social change.

Interestingly, I did not find — as HARD as I looked inside — a part of me that holds the voice of a crystal-packing mama free-spirit dancer, or a queer, feminist theorist voice or a lesbian comedian or a lesbian parent.

Place and space matters to voice. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A Canadian voice is not an American voice. As a lesbian living in Canada, I can boast to American lesbians that we have same-sex marriage, legal and pension rights and companies marketing their stuff to us on national TV.

Toronto is a gay friendly city. We have a huge, fun Pride Week, with the flag raised at city hall, and all the right people, political and not, show up. We have a week-long series of events and parties, including the Dyke March that happens the day before the Pride Parade.

The Pride Parade is larger with better music and many floats. Lots of groups walk in it, in fact, some of our military — all 10 of them who were brave enough — walked in the parade. I applauded. All of us did. And gay teachers.  We always get those naked guys from Texas who like to show us what they got. Now, I am not sure if it’s my woman self or my lesbian self but please, do we NEED boy parts on display? EVER? Specially, beer-bellied boy parts? I think not. I wanted to tell them PUT some clothes on! Quite frankly I wanted to say the same to some women. Pride Day has an ethic and policy of inclusiveness so ALL of the fringe groups and outsiders get visibility where they otherwise cannot.

I don’t know about the continued relevance of the Dyke March or the Pride Parade for that matter. The entire week has become huge business. But it’s fun to go down in the evening and dance in the street. We’re all about the dancing. This year the Parade is being pushed to — GASP! — July 4th on account of the G20 meeting being held the time that Pride Week is usually held. Oh, what fun is that?

There used to be the ghetto in Toronto, a place of a couple of blocks where you could find all things for the happening homosexual person. Today in Toronto, gay businesses, and establishments that are owned by gay people, and cater to the gay community are dispersed across the city.

Even our business world is changing. The Women’s Bookstore, long a place for books of interest to women and lesbians, closed.  I wasn’t sure if I should read into that something about niche bookstores, or niche bookstores owned by women, or the fact that most bookstores now carry gay + lesbian themed books. The cost of inclusion might just be for the vast majority of us, re-absorption and invisibility, our own section in a big bookstore or the online book + DVD suppliers.

I have lived in Toronto since immigrating here as a kid. I remember it not being safe to be outside the ghetto.  It’s still early days of all of this inclusion, but who’d a thunk it 15 years ago?

But back to ‘a lesbian voice’.  Two months and several posts later, I can say with certainty I remain uncertain about my lesbian voice, or even how lesbian it really since who I am as a lesbian is hardly distinct from all the other parts of me.

Still, there are times I need to use my lesbian periscope to look out over the water of everyday living to consider the world around me, what’s on the horizon and what matters to me as a lesbian.

If I have a lesbian voice, it’s yet to show itself. What I have is a life, a part of which is all about being a lesbian, and that is about a constellation (my new favourite word!) of experiences that ONLY a lesbian will have. The voice I use to tell those stories is a voice that holds ALL of me, as I struggle to conjure the words that will do lesbian justice to that lesbian experience.

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I’d be very interested in people’s thoughts about notions of lesbian voice, lesbian experience and lesbian place.  And promise to answer all the people who are nice.

About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween. On hiatus from writing anywhere else but here ... at least for now.
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4 Responses to My Lesbian Voice

  1. Jen says:

    It has only been four years since I began to question my sexuality, only months since I internally accepted that I am a lesbian and only days since I first publicly admitted and explained my sexuality to my friends. Part of me is not sure I am qualified to speak to the question of lesbian voice and part of me is sure that I am. Since I am writing, the part that was sure I am qualified won the debate. I have two choices: my voice is defined by 29 years of life experience plus the last 4 years of searching for answers about my sexuality, or my voice is simply 33 years of life experience. I believe my voice is the latter. The things that bother me about the former are; it divides my life into two pieces and it seems to add more importance to the last 4 years. My voice is the combination of everything I’ve experience and in equal parts. That said I also believe my voice is “a” lesbian voice. I am sure that all of my choices for the remainder of my life will be colored by this choice to a greater degree than any other. And, like it or not, others will, consciously or not, color the way they see me by this choice. Lastly, I need to speak about using my voice. I think it is not just a right but a responsibility to answer any inequality that I experience. The experiences I have lived and the choices I have made will color the way I speak to every issue. I am wondering how loud and powerful an ant’s voice is 🙂

    • me says:

      Ms. E; Thank you for your comment. Ants are quite powerful, adaptable and everywhere. Some of them are quite dangerous. A queen ant? Can’t beat that! And perhaps it isn’t that there’s more importance to the last four year so much as different focus, a clearer lens. There is always a demarcation: before being out, and after. Your conversations are new as is your voice; you are opening to accommodate the last four years and where you’ve landed, and what direction that points you in with respect to your life from this moment on. Welcome to the rainbow tribe. 🙂

  2. Katy Blagg says:

    Heya there,

    I like the idea of having separate voices. I’ve never really considered the difference in them but in thinking a bit deeper on the subject I guess I do have an opinion on it.

    My lesbian voice is that which can express certain things that the norm cannot. Hetrosexual/ etc.. We have experiences that are not experienced by the everyday norma.

    (I say norm, not to point out that Lesbian isn’t norm, as my thoughts are not that at all, quite the contrary but for the purpose of my reply here, i’ll call it that)

    We also have the added benefit of understanding an entirely different perspective on relationships, often given the common lesbian a more varied and diverse outlook on life, humans, and who we are.

    The voice of a lesbian can be used in so many ways, expressed not only for ourselves but to be used in conjunction with almost anything. Thoughts, opinions, the way we look at life… The way we view our interactions through life.

    Sorry if this seems a little complexed.. I do have a point.

    I also have induldged in the BDSM scene, fetish and Sadism. So That again is another voice, that can be used just like the lesbian voice. To reach another society… to help encourage what we believe because of the experiences we have.

    I believe that the lesbian voice is the same as the hetrosexual voice, the trans voice, the Kinky voice… They are all powerful and allow us to see things differently.

    If there’s one thing for sure, every one of the voices have their own bonus to each… but each is as important as the other. Reaching who we can and helping who we can.

    Isn’t that what any voice is for?

    I love that you live in Toronto. That’s your Canadian voice, most different to the American but the freedom that comes with LGBT over there helps the voices emerge. I believe that diversity is what makes the planet spin.

    Hope this sort of made sense, I’m not too good at putting things into words. Great blog, I truly enjoy reading it.

    One love, always. x

    • me says:

      Kathy; Thank you. Thank you for reading and commenting. I think you put your things into words quite nicely. You’re right, all of the voices you mention are powerful, necessary and in a world of one love, welcomed. You ask an amazingly difficult question when you ask what a voice is for. To speak? To sing? About what? And to whom and for what purpose? (Okay, I won’t riff philosophical or you’ll never talk to me again.) It is my hope that anyone’s voice is used to the better and higher side of good: to support, to be considerate, to express the golden rule as the opportunity arises; and that includes the voice we use for all of our internal self-talk that we listen to, and the voices we use with family, friends, lover, and the broader world. That is not always the case, not in people’s homes, on the street, in cars, online, in the world.

      Big dramatic sigh.

      My lesbian, woman, citizen self struggles with how to respond to voices of hate and self-righteousness and dumb-blind anger and voices for the sake of voicing. I want to take the higher road. But sometimes getting out there at a demonstration and chanting…. works wonders. Was it was Confucius who said, “closed mouth gathers no feet.”? But with grievous wrong-doing that denies another’s humanity, silence does not protect — it colludes.

      Speaking of Confucius, it’s the Year of the Tiger as of February 13: Many happy roars to you 🙂

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