My 4 year old nephew, Nathan, pointed to one of them and asked “Mummy- why does that woman have hair like a man?”
I smiled, and patted him on the head and said “That’s because she’s a lesbia-“
“VICTOR!!!!!!” my sister screamed.
“What?? He’s 4 years old! He’ll have to learn at some point!”
In truth, I knew it was completely inappropriate [but not altogether harmful], which is why I said it. My sister shouldn’t have been that surprised. I did tell him when he was 2 that his daycare teacher were bastards….
Later that night I was playing him some songs on my guitar. My sister poked her head through the door and asked “You’re not telling him about lesbians or anything, are you??!!??”
“No- just playing him some of my music…”
“Good!” She said. She turned away, and as she was walking, I heard her mutter “Bloody clueless…!!”
How is everyone?
I remember as a teenager being really scared of lesbians because I thought that all lesbians hated men. I’m really not sure where this belief came from. Part of it must have been my single sex education, and being a relative academic recluse, meaning that I didn’t know many girls at all, let alone girls who were gay. The weird thing is, with life and experience, and subsequently growing a brain, I actually found that, far from having anything to fear, if anything, I actually tend to get on better with gay women than straight ones. Particularly when you talk about relationships. They have an insight into aspects of life as a straight male that straight women don’t, and a very vocal minority refuse to even try to understand, or even acknowledge. They get it.
If you remember one of my entries from a few years ago, I was on a date with ‘Gillian’, when she told me that a man who was afraid to approach a woman was probably really weak, and a poor partner, and that she’d have no problem approaching a man she was interested in, despite never having done it. I asked her to approach a man at a nearby table. She nearly cried. I didn’t mean to crush her like that, but her ignorance and lack of insight were really getting to me. I’ve never had such crazy logic come from a lesbian. Lesbians know, from first hand experience, that if everyone sits around doing nothing, nothing happens. And that if you want to have relationships with women, you’ll generally have to do something.
They get it.
They know that the process of getting a woman to go out with you isn’t the social equivalent of taking a can of beans off the shelf at the supermarket. One of my capoeira teammates came into my ED one day having hurt her elbow. She’s a very attractive girl. I had previously asked her out, but she politely declined. One of the nurses said to me “She’s hot- why don’t you go out with her?” I looked at her and replied “Um…. because she has free will….?”.
Lesbians know that the process of taking a woman from being a complete stranger to someone willing to give up several hours of their free time to spend with you in a romantic context is horrendously complex and fraught with obstacles, because they have to do it.
They get it.
Remember my story and song ‘Beautiful Thing’? It’s about meeting ‘Freda’ in Melbourne, and finding that we both lived near each other in Sydney. As well as one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, she was also one of the smartest, and nicest, and most suited to me. If she didn’t have to leave the country for study, I’m pretty sure we’d be married by now. I got a phone call recently from a senior female doctor near me who found the story and proceeded to lecture me on how badly I treated that woman, and that my mother would be ashamed of me, and that this was exactly the kind of sexist behaviour that she wants to eradicate from the country, and that no woman in the world would employ me if they read it.
I saw a woman I admired. I said hello. We got on well. We formed a relationship. That makes me sexist.
It’s not the first time I’ve had a straight woman tell me that admiring a woman constitutes a form of disrespect, but it was the fiercest and most involved. I simply couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I’ve never had such craziness come from a lesbian. Lesbians know that admiration between individuals [whoever you happen to be attracted to] is normal. It’s natural. It’s part of who we are as human beings. Lesbians admire women- it’s not disrespectful. How you act towards that woman may be disrespectful if you choose it to be, but if you’re a socially balanced person, and treat people the way you would like to be treated, then it usually won’t be.
They get it.
I have 2 good lesbian friends. One come over with her girlfriend for dinner recently, and we shared stories about online dating, and had a raucous time- they loved my stories. Including the Tinder story that I won’t publish.
At the end of our story-sharing, she looked at me and said “Women are crazy”. As a blanket statement, I don’t think she meant it absolutely, – she and her girlfriend are very much in love, and we both have wonderful straight female friends who are far from crazy. However, experience shows that you never have to look for crazy women. They will find you. And with no undue delay. Lesbians get that.
On a complete tangent, I’m sad to say that friend of mine died recently. She is one of my salsa friends from Wellington in NZ, and it was so saddening to hear that she’s gone now. She had complications from surgery. It might surprise you to know that, as one of my regular dance partners, she’s actually in her late 70s. Rae was the first person I danced with in Wellington. I met her the same night that I met Rachel at Latinos when my rugby team went to play a 7s tournament in Wellington. It was February 4th 2005. My team mates went out drinking, and I went out to dance. Latinos Bar was pretty quiet early in the night. They had DJ music playing before the band came on later on. I noticed an older lady doing the basic step by herself, and thought ‘hang on- she looks like she can dance…’. I asked her to dance, and she gladly accepted, and despite being 45 years older than me, she moved really well, and I didn’t have to tone it down at all. We were the only people dancing at the time, so we had several dances. However, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a table of younger people [I assume just at the venue to drink] looking at me and laughing, presumably because I was dancing with a woman 3 times my age. I didn’t say anything to them, but I pitied them greatly for their ignorance and thought to myself “You sad, sad idiots. You clearly don’t get this.”
|Myself, Adrian, Sonia and Rae at NZ Salsa Congress 2015|
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to explain to people that salsa isn’t about getting your rocks off with the person you’re dancing with. Like all dances, it’s about musical interpretation and expression, and connecting socially through that. I dance with my sister and my mother the same way I would dance with any other woman. The current world champions are brother and sister. I’m pretty sure they’re not getting their rocks off together behind the scenes…
There’s a lot of physical contact involved in salsa, but it’s through that that you learn a lot of social skills that you cannot learn from solo dances. Or drinking. Firstly, touch need not, and usually is not sexual in its intention. As a male, you learn how and where to touch a woman in a respectful fashion that doesn’t overstep boundaries or creep her out. As a female, you learn how to set boundaries as to the kind of physical contact you are prepared to accept, and know that you always have the option to walk away from a situation that you are not comfortable with. Also, as a male, you learn how to lead an interaction with a woman without controlling her or being domineering. You propose a step, and it’s her choice as to whether or not she accepts. But if you’re nice about it, she usually will. I think these are very valuable life skills, and when I go out in non-salsa environments, I frequently see that a lot of people don’t have these.
In the 11 years since we met, I’ve seen Rae at every salsa congress in Australia and New Zealand that I’ve been to. We dance every single time, and she puts a lot of younger women to shame. Next year will be the first time I’ll be at a congress without her, and I’ll miss her terribly, as will the rest of our salsa family.
Salsa kept Rae smiling right to the end. There’s an energy and positivity about it, to the point where, in a salsa club, it’s often very difficult to tell how old people are because we’re all so joyful.
When I was working at the trauma hospital, about 3 weeks into my time there, one of the domestic staff came upto me and said “You’re not like the other doctors here.”
“What do you mean…?” I asked.
“You smile a lot” He replied.
I do. No matter what happens in medicine. I will always have this, and I will always do this. It’s just in my blood now. The title song on my new CD is a salsa track. The video tells the story.
Until the next time.