Bringing Down DOMA, Putting Prop 8 in its Rightful Place

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-same-sex-marriage-image29055416As the token gay lady at Sexy Feminist, I am especially ecstatic to share my thoughts on the Supreme Court’s rulings today.

To fully illustrate my glee on today’s decisions, I direct you to this little meme from Buzzfeed.

Seriously, my first thought is: finally. (As well as a huge sigh of relief.)

Not only was the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) deemed unconstitutional, but the court also dismissed California’s Proposition 8 case. The latter truly surprised me. My initial prediction was that the justices would strike down DOMA, but leave the notorious proposition alone. While long-term effects of the Prop 8 decision are a bit vague, it is clear to me that the court declared that the petitioners do not legal standing. In essence, the Supreme Court has validated the lower courts that have rejected Prop 8.

Now, I’m hopeful that with both positive outcomes, our country’s justice system will pave the way for future progress. That is to say it will be much harder (if not impossible) to defend discriminatory laws still on the books in individual states.

And for the states that have already legalized same-sex marriages, the defeat of DOMA carries an extra significance: your marriage is now federally recognized. (I think this calls for a second wedding and/or honeymoon, right?)

And speaking of the Feds, the President did not disappoint me. Obama released a statement on the landmark decision. The money quote: “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

To paraphrase my latest Facebook status, I knew I would live to see this moment, I just didn’t know it would come so soon. The snowball that began rolling at the beginning of my formative years is now a bona fide avalanche. In the decade plus since I’ve come out, I’ve witnessed the airings of “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word,” Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage, Ellen DeGeneres becoming a household name, the defeat of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; my home state of New Jersey legalizing civil unions, my residence of New York legalizing same-sex marriage, and today, the highest court in the land validating it all.

Now, as MC Hammer once rapped, we’re too legit to quit—in every sense of the phrase.


The (Gay) Marriage Choice

I have a question: Does anyone really care why total strangers choose to get married? I feel like I know the answer to this one—it’s a big resounding no.

Recently I read a statement about commitment posted on Facebook that really resonated with me. It said, “Commitment is doing the thing you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”

In light of the recent arguments heard by the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA and Proposition 8, it seemed fitting to remind people that at the end of the day, marriage is a choice. The idea of partnering with another human being and sharing your life with theirs is not an involuntary action. While I deeply believe that love is not a choice, the decision to commit to that love is.

I have a second question: Even if  (and please note the emphasis on “if”) being gay was a choice, how would it seriously impact marriage? I think we all know the answer to this one, too.

[Read more...]


A Skeptical Lesbian Goes to a Strip Club

On the Upper East Side, at the edge of the Triborough Bridge, there is a place called Sapphire where girls are gems and dollars translate to lap dances, or very expensive bottles of Dom Perignon.

Last Friday was my first foray into the stereotypical straight man’s playground otherwise known as the Strip Club. My friend, M. planned this evening in honor of her birthday. She had never been to one and I decided I’d use this gathering as my excuse to see what all the fuss was about.

About ten of us, mostly lesbians, took the nervous/excited walk from a nearby bar to the club. As we walked farther east—almost no-man’s land by this West Sider’s standards—some of us made dirty jokes to keep our minds occupied while others smoked hurriedly in the thirty-degree cold.

Soon, we found ourselves at the foot of our own Troy. With topless girls. We were going in.

Full disclosure: I made the initial notes for this article on a scrap piece of paper while still at the club.

[Read more...]


Wound Up Over the Hook-Up: Is It All That Revolutionary?

Urban Dictionary defines the term “hook-up” in two main ways: 1) verb – to engage in any type of sexual activity or 2) noun: a) purposely ambiguous, equivocal word to describe almost any sexual action, usually used to exaggerate or minimize what exactly happened. A hook-up can range from a make-out session to full out sex. b) person you hook up with.

As a member of Generation Y or the Millennials or whatever the hell those of us between the ages of 18 to 32 are supposed to be called these days, it seems that “hooking up” has always existed—we’ve just put a name on the activity (or activities, as the case may be). Both women and men have used sex in all its iterations for pure pleasure, business, and everything in between.

With the recent publication of Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men, talk of “hook-up culture” has resurfaced with a vengeance. (Although one can argue it has never truly disappeared since its emergence in last 10 to 15 years.) And as always, we have polarized this topic: on one hand, there are those who feel the hook-up culture has “liberated” women and has few or no negative consequences and on the other, we hear the voices of those proclaiming its immorality and inevitable danger. (As if hooking up were analogous to tightrope-walking without a net.)

[Read more...]


Gay Marriage: A Personal Reconciling

Two years ago, I convinced my girlfriend at the time to read Dan Savage’s The Commitment.

I figured what was basically a treatise about passionately fighting for one’s right to wed, by a guy who was so formerly blasé about the idea of marrying his boyfriend of a decade, could convince her that gay marriage was the way of the future. A choice many queers were making, in just about every conceivable fashion (much like our straight counterparts). Besides, we lived in the most exciting city in the world, New York. We shared a love of all things artistic and we knew how to entertain ourselves (and each other) on a shoestring budget. How could our marriage be boring? It would be an adventure, just by the very nature of who we were and where we lived.

Or so I thought.

After she read the book, a switch was flipped. I don’t know if it was the book itself, per se, or if it was our relationship changing to the point where she could envision us sharing a life together. We were already sharing the same apartment, families, vacations, and money.

[Read more...]


Navigating Gay/Straight Female Friendship

In 2011, there is little doubt that a gay woman and a straight woman can be friends, but does that core difference in sexuality make theirs a friendship tougher to navigate? I decided to find out by conducting a Q&A session with my good friend, Lisa Marie Basile.

Queer girls: We all know that sometimes it’s not easy for us to relate to the rest of the world, but what about our friends? Depending on when we come out in life, our sexuality can factor greatly or hardly at all when it comes to making and keeping friends, particularly straight girl friends. Of course, the best of friends usually don’t bat an eyelash (or they’re even offering to be your maid of honor at your wedding before you’re even engaged, as my best friend has). But there can be a sense of otherness when you’re the gay half in a female friendship.

Gay Lady: Do you find it difficult to talk about relationship issues (mine or yours) with me?

Straight Lady: I don’t find it difficult to talk about relationship issues with a gay woman at all; though there might be some differences to a homosexual or heterosexual relationship—mainly, gender roles in play that are a whole different discussion (to which I am very sensitive). I don’t know if the human heart is so different when in love or lust. I believe that the struggles of any relationship: fear, trust, longevity, health, etc, are at the core of all relationships. Gender and sexuality can create new dimensions to existing problems (or positive elements) but I believe that my questions and issues can be understood by anyone that speaks my language, if they’re willing to listen. If there is no empathy, I believe there is sympathy, and I am not necessarily an idealist! I think you and I have uniquely experienced heartache and we’re able to talk about it—sexuality aside.

Gay Lady: Is it safe to openly talk about my sex life?

[Read more...]


Introduction to Queer Girl Fashion Part I: Androgny: Behold, Ambiguity

Getting my tomboy on in one of my favorite shirts ever.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. True, everyone’s got their ideal definition of what constitutes beautiful. (Not to mention, hot, sexy, and plain drop-dead gorgeous.) In the queer world, I’ve found variations spanning a wide spectrum, not unlike my straight counterparts. We girls who like girls just have a different set of categories: butch to soft-butch

to femme to lipstick to androgynous to hipster dyke to granola to tomboy and everything in between. (Supplementary glossary, anyone?) It’s partly what makes queer women so fascinating—there’s no one way to express yourself, including how you choose to dress.

As I sit here in my New York apartment—a city that is arguably an epicenter of fashion—I’m wearing plain blue jeans and a fitted black sweater. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve also got pierced ears and I’m wearing rings and a silver watch. To the casual observer, I’m just another chick with not terribly interesting fashion sense. But allow me to open my closet (and by extension, all queer women’s) to you. (And yes please go ahead and laugh at that ridiculously obvious pun—it’s too easy.)
Recently, a male friend and I have been sharing debates concerning the physical attributes of women—in other words, what makes a woman sexy. While we may argue over low-cut blouses versus button-down shirts (the latter being a favorite of mine), we can agree is that each woman’s style is as unique as the woman herself—which leads me to the fashion sense that gets my eyes wandering and my heart racing.I’ve got everything from a pinstripe suit to a very revealing little black dress in there—almost as many pieces of clothing as I have moods. On one day, I’ll wear Doc Martens and an army jacket I’ve had since I was fourteen. The next, purple tights and a crazy patchwork skirt. I see many shades of gray in the black and white of what constitutes so-called female beauty, partially because I’m gay. The point is it’s all awesome.

Androgyny: Behold, Ambiguity

I know some straight women out there are a bit puzzled by the term, “androgynous”—not only what constitutes androgynous-looking but what exactly the appeal is. Allow me to be your guide. These are some of the most beautiful women on the planet. It’s taken me years to articulate my gravitation toward the ambiguous, but now I know it’s the blending of genders, appearances, and even ideas that make androgyny, and therefore the clothing associated with it, sexy.

 

Putting on a sexy little black dress is easy--it's the shoes that kill.

To clarify, androgynous fashion, at least to me, is not simply a pretty girl wearing a man’s suit. She’s got to own the clothes. They’ve got to fit her perfectly—and not just in terms of size, but in terms of expression.

Take, for example, Jenny Shimizu. You may not recognize her name, but you’ll surely remember her from the infamous Calvin Klein CK One ads back in the mid-90s. I would venture that Shimizu was one of the first mainstream models to make androgyny, well, fashionable. Just think back to the cyclical nature of the ad, “we’re all one” and “a fragrance for a man or a woman.” The blurring of gender and sexual lines was what got everyone to sit up and take notice. Since then, it’s become more commonplace to see women in clothing that is not traditionally thought of as “feminine”—and not just on the runway or on a magazine cover.

I see it nearly every day on the streets of this colorful city. There’s a swagger to androgynous fashion. A boldness. A confidence, bordering on near-cockiness. (Most times, stepping quietly back over that edge.) A “I can carry my bag, drink a coffee, and still have the best upturned collar and sweep of hair across the face you’ve ever freaking seen” smile. A shimmering bow-tie paired with lace-up leather boots. It’s a dare. It’s a risk. It’s a cleverness to combine elements that most people would never imagine combining.

To be sure, not every woman can pull this look off. Like I’ve said, it’s not just about the clothes, it’s about the attitude. And after all, whether you’re gay or straight, isn’t that the ultimate turn-on?


Girl Kisses (and More) In TV and Film: A 20-Year Retrospective

It’s been twenty years since two women first kissed on a prime time television series. (To find out which show, read on.)

So to celebrate, here’s a brief chronology of girls-who-like-girls characters in TV and film. While many such story lines are produced to merely titillate audiences (see Virginia Heffernan’s 2005 New York Times article on television series using lesbian subplots during sweeps week), I can’t deny that these shows also opened up a larger dialogue in our culture. Here are some of the most positive examples of girl love from the past two decades:

1991: L.A. Law delivers the first on-screen girl-on-girl kiss in the episode, “He’s a Crowd.” Here’s how it goes down: Abby and C.J. (played by Michele Greene and Amanda Donohue, respectively) share a meal together after Abby is turned down for a partnership at the firm. Afterward, they kiss outside in a parking lot. C.J. identifies herself as “flexible” (possibly the first character to ever use that term on television) while Abby considers herself completely heterosexual. Although this subplot doesn’t go very far (and was mostly used as a ratings ploy), I have no doubt that without it the list that follows probably wouldn’t exist.

1996: While the ten-year run of Friends did not primarily feature a lesbian relationship, the episode known as “The One With the Lesbian Wedding” is quite a milestone. Long before the legalization of gay marriage and civil unions, Carol and Susan walked down the aisle and declared their love in a relatively traditional ceremony. On a particularly sweet note, Ross, Carol’s ex, offers to give her away in lieu of her father who disapproved of the marriage.

1997: Ellen DeGeneres as Ellen Morgan comes out on Ellen in the now-infamous “Puppy Episode.” While the show’s ratings suffered and DeGeneres’s own personal revelation that she is gay set off a major backlash, it wasn’t long before she was back on top—hosting the Emmys in 2001, performing a new stand-up comedy routine on HBO, and of course, launching her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Oh and need I mention marrying one of the most gorgeous women alive, Portia De Rossi? She’s also a Cover Girl—which is both a milestone and an awesome slap in the face to her critics.

[Read more...]


Who Says a Girl Can’t Be King?

Homecoming: a time of parades, pep rallies, and the crowning of the school’s king and queen. This year, Patrick Henry High School in San Diego put a new twist on an old tradition. The student body elected Rebecca Arellano as the first female homecoming king and her girlfriend, Haileigh Adams as their queen.

It’s a small wave in the sea of change for gay teenagers—and girls in general—but it’s one worth noting.

I have been out of high school for exactly ten years and out of the closet for almost the same amount of time. While my suburban New Jersey high school was no Mississippi, it certainly wasn’t as progressive as Patrick Henry. We didn’t even have a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), an after-school activity that has become a staple at American high schools in the last decade. There were three or four openly gay students, one of whom was a close friend. As far as I’m aware none of these students (or myself) encountered major harassment or bullying. Interestingly, my close friend experienced far worse at home than he ever did in the halls or cafeteria of our high school.

[Read more...]


Switch to our mobile site