By Ashley Parker
I’m 30 years old. And when I grow up I want a quaint house with a white picket fence. Kids toys and sports equipment strewn across the lawn. A practical electric car and a less efficient but more fun SUV parked next to it in the driveway. I want a career that is meaningful and allows me financial security, creative discretion and month-long international vacations. I want to watch my parents grow old and enjoy their retirement, my siblings to find their own version of happiness, and my childhood friends to remain my besties.
I also want a wife who is as intelligent as she is beautiful so we can be this ultra-successful, painfully adorable, powerhouse lesbian couple who will take the world by storm with our 2.5 immaculately dressed children that captain every sports team on their way to graduating Valedictorian while wowing college admissions with their musical, artistic and science-y nerd talents. Basically, I want it all–just like most 20/30-somethings. Does it matter that I’m a lesbian? (And for the record, I don’t even like that word.)
What I do not necessarily want, is to listen to another coming-out story, hear about another politician inserting their morally righteous personal beliefs into our legal system, watch another summer of Pride parades where the LGBTQ population goes out and makes asses of themselves while stealing rainbows from everyone else, or cringe as yet another 20-something Justin Bieber look-alike overtakes any and all lesbian content on the internet.
Anyone offended or pissed yet? Welcome to my world. For the past 10 years I have struggled to find my identity in the lesbian world (no, this is not my coming-out story). In the world of my childhood, lesbians didn’t exist. My aunt is gay and it took me well into my pre-teens to realize what a lesbian even was. Then, as a college student, I was inundated with every sporty, butch, cargo shorts-wearing, white v-neck sportin’, short-haired, emotionally unstable lesbian known to man. So what did I do? I bought cargo shorts, hacked off my hair, invested in v-necks in a multitude of colors and brought down the house with my lesbian-induced drama–because that’s what lesbians do! Then I grew up a little and realized, I look like shit in cargo shorts, I missed braiding my long locks of hair and that I had a serious problem with dating straight-ish girls.
I mean, what is it about those straight girls? It took me forever to figure it out, but I think I’ve finally got it sorted. They look normal to everyone else. And I want normal. I don’t want to walk into a room and have everyone immediately know my sexual orientation by the way I’m dressed or she’s dressed or how our hair is styled. I want to show pride in the fact that I’m a contributing member of the community, a damned hard worker and that yeah, I’m still good at sports. All those things that I hold to be true fall by the wayside as soon as someone makes a conclusion about the gender of the person I sleep with.
Being gay is not the most interesting thing about me. Not by a long shot. And I don’t need or want it to be. So, how does one find normalcy in a society and a peer group that is still formulating its beliefs about gender and sexual equality? For me, it begins with taking all of those preconceived notions and expectations of what being “gay” is or looks like, and throwing them in the trash along with the love letters from my ex-girlfriend.
My version of normal is and should be what I’m comfortable with. We need to stop projecting onto ourselves and onto others how someone should act or look based on one aspect of their life. Ironically, I even find myself thinking, but she doesn’t look gay enough to like women, and that shit needs to stop. We are in the middle of a massive cultural shift in the way people view homosexuality and yes, I understand and can appreciate that certain aspects of that shift are going to be sensationalized and for some members of the LGBTQ community, that is their truth. But someday, I would like to open a magazine and have the focus of the storytelling be who someone is and what they are doing and not the gender of who they are sleeping with.