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.
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.