Lesbians in the Midst…

I figured what better way to start getting a readership base than to write about Lesbians. People LOVE to read about lesbians!

That and I have found some of my own lived experiences to be particularly anthropologically fascinating in nature. Yes, it’s true. I have a wife and I am a female. That makes me a definitive lesbian. 🙂

I should say that being a lesbian is not as inherently interesting as one might think, but thus far my suburban experience as a lesbian has been utterly fascinating.

I moved from “the city” to an up-and-coming rural-turning-suburban area just about 30 minutes outside “the city” two or so years ago. A year before my wife and I got married…and about 8 months after we met.

She had bought this home with her former partner and uses it for her business: she is a private voice instructor / vocal coach and the base of her business is sourced from “The Burbs”. That and property out in these parts is dirt cheap.

Once I had decided I was “in it to win it”, I gave up my glass condo in the sky for something a little more roomy and peaceful. I was also relieved that her home was actually quite comfortable and the neighborhood quite eclectic…not the McMansion subdivision I was expecting from what I know from doing a good amount of in-home and ethnographic work in this region, but also from what you see on the TV. 😉

The interesting part about the change of scenery is how the role of the “gays” changes as well. In the city, gays and lesbians are part of the scenery. The gay and lesbian tribes mix and mingle with the rest of the community…some stay separate, others mingle and migrate freely. But all in all, the gay men and lesbians are part of what defines urban culture. It’s part of the rainbow of subcultures that drives the vibe.

Out here in the burbs, however…it is different.

As the 4th of July approaches in about another month or so I am reminded of the neighborhood block party we attended…hosted by the guy down the street who has the spray-painted gold lions in his front yard (that’s another blog…I PROMISE). My wife had been here for a few years but hadn’t gotten to know the neighbors too well yet. And this was our first time attending a neighborhood “function” together. I had kind of figured everyone must be fascinated by the two ladies with no kids living in a house together in this family neighborhood(not to mention the constant stream of tweenagers and teenagers that come to our house for voice lessons daily throwing them for a loop).

At one point about an hour after we arrived with our trays of home-made mac n cheese and started mingling, one of the neighbors friends from out of town came up and asked me: “sweetie, what was your name again? And THE OTHER ONE”?. Ah….the “other one”.

My friend Tom told me he took the liberty of telling everyone at the party that both of our husbands were off fighting the war and we were living together to help pay the bills. I am pretty sure he was joking.

My point being, lesbians are a bit of a novelty out in “these parts”. Here are some of the roles of the Suburban Lesbian that I have identified so far:

The RELIC: something interesting to ponder, look at and otherwise compare yourself too using yourself as the litmus for “normal”

The PROPERTY VALUE INFLUENCER: Given we don’t have kids (which isn’t always the case) and have a bit of extra disposable income, we have been doing a lot to modify our property: putting up a fence, new back deck, new landscaping, new front steps, etc. This neighborhood is still very much working class / blue collar as well as having a lot of retirees with motor homes. We have noticed a distinct uptick in the amount of renovations in our vicinity since we started.

The CONVERSATION STARTER: Every now and then I find myself hanging out at a local watering hole (to get out of the house during early evening voice lessons without getting on the highway). The clientele is mostly middle-aged locals who come from rural southern stock. I am a good conversationalist and pretty open about who I am, and the inevitable second or third question at the bar is usually: “so what does your husband do”? I was a bit nervous at first about how these conversations would go. But I have found that people are deeply interested in having conversations about the whole “gay” thing…and not to ask me about my experience per se, but to let me know that they know other gay people / lesbians and speak to me about their point of view on a topic that, i guess, doesn’t get discussed ’round these parts much.

The PROOF THAT YOU ARE “COOL”: We have found that, especially with many of my wife’s student’s parents, even though we (for the most part) have never come out and proclaimed our relationship (I work from home often and have developed a rapport with many of them), my wife was surprised when they decided to “come out” for us. When we were getting married and wedding registry gifts started arriving, we would find that some of the more observant parents started sending us gifts…even though they weren’t invited to / told about the wedding. We also found a lot of them wanting to start conversations about “us”. I think what it came down to was the wanting to show that, even thought they live in the burbs, they are still “cool”. They are not close minded and don’t want us to worry about being judged. I like this role a lot. 🙂

The COLLECTORS ITEM: another interesting role that I have found particularly entertaining is the one based purely on objectification. It seems it’s all the rage these days to have a gay or lesbian couple (or both) in your social circle out here in the burbs…especially among the middle to upper middle class. We have actually had people say to us “we don’t have any lesbian couples in our group” or “we need some lesbian friends”. The gays and lesbians round out the chess set, apparently. 🙂

I am sure there are some more, but this exhausts my purview for the moment, as well as my cup of coffee. Time to help the wife start chopping ingredients for the “wild rice salad” and prepping for this evening’s Memorial Weekend get-together. We are having some of our more “eclectic” friends over. They are mostly straight. We find it’s important to have some of those in our social circle to round things out. 😉

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