Tuesday, 04 September 2012

Pregnant, Dead Or Not Really A Lesbian? Featured

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I’m writing this after watching the latest episode of The Real L Word. If you haven’t seen it (you haven’t), it’s a reality show that follows the drama-filled lives of lesbians in New York or Los Angeles. If you have seen it, why aren’t we best friends!!?

As you might have guessed, the show is based on the popular (not really) drama The L Word, which followed the lives of Los Angeles lesbians who look like models. The shows are similar in that they are both largely terrible and that I will absolutely watch every single episode from now until eternity. You can’t see me right now, but I’m surrounded by cats and Tegan and Sara albums. Yep, I’m an ‘L Word’.

My journey began when I was about twelve and started coming to the realisation that something was a bit different about me, besides my incredible sense of humour and debilitating fear of spiders. I had no interest in boys, but I just ADORED the pretty girl who was school captain at my tiny school. I wanted us to be BFFs who spent all their time together staring at each other’s faces and holding hands and listening to Without You by Mariah Carey. Also, that Christmas my uncle gave my brothers water pistol eyeglasses and me a pink dress. Let’s just say everyone had water coming from their faces that night in one way or another.

What I’m trying to get at is that I realised pretty early on that I was attracted to ladies. One of the cool things about being a lesbian, besides your natural ability in women’s rugby, is how you hardly ever get to see yourself represented on screen. Did I say cool? I meant worst. It was an issue when I was thirteen and is unbelievably still an issue today, even though we are like five years from cars that fly?

The first time I remember seeing a lesbian character was when Ellen DeGeneres came out on her sitcom. “Sitcomeoutofthecloset!” is what someone should have used for a headline, but I guess it’s too late now and history has judged them. We heard about Ellen because it ruined her career for a decade — not exactly the encouragement a 14-year-old girl figuring out her sexuality is looking for. Having nobody in television or movies that you can identify with is tough, especially when you are looking for assurances that you are normal.

It’s not something that heterosexual people (or straighties as I like to affectionately call them) have to think about. If you watch any television show or movie, you’ll see a heterosexual couple. At some point that couple may be romantic or engage in hanky-panky, which is the worst thing to call it but also the first thing that came into my head so I’m going with it.

During our formative years, my brothers and I loved watching the 90s masterpiece Beverly Hills 90210. My brothers could identify with watching Dylan ‘macking on’ Brenda. I was left to identify with Andrea, because she was a nerd and edited the school paper. I couldn’t identify with why she seemed to be 45 years old, but that’s another story.

I was partying like it was 1999 in 1999 when there was a major development for me. Season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced Amber Benson playing Tara. Yes she was a witch, but a witch with a very sexy secret. Tara and another witch named Willow fell in love, and thus began my tradition of taping (on this thing called a VHS — don’t worry about it I’m really young) any episode that had ‘Amber Benson’ in the initial credits. I taped these because I knew it meant there was a chance that I would see two ladies hold hands or look at each other lovingly or even KISS and then my week/life would be complete.

This is how desperate I was to see myself represented on screen. I was trying to identify with a couple of lesbian witches on a show about vampires... hardly anything like my real life.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some TV shows and a few movies solely about lesbians, but they’re usually independent and awful. If you don’t believe me, rent Better Than Chocolate, which is so bad I’ve seen it at least three times BECAUSE I HAVE NO CHOICE. When a lesbian does appear onscreen in a mainstream production, it’s usually not satisfying because they fall into one of these categories.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 04 September 2012
Rebecca Shaw

Rebecca is primary caregiver and confidant to Tippi, the best cat in the world. She also likes writing bad jokes on twitter @brocklesnitch