“Oh don’t worry, you just need to find the right guy,” my ex-friend, whom I shall refer to as R, said with a smile as he sat across from me. I sat patiently and waited for him to laugh, thinking surely he must be joking, but it never came. He simply kept smiling at me as if his words weren’t as bad as a slap to the face.
This may have been one of my first personal experiences of homophobia when I told my friend that I’m gay, and it was not a pleasant experience. I don’t even remember how I responded, because I felt rage fill every bit of my body. I couldn’t even see clearly for a few moments.
When I confided this information to another friend of mine, I shall call her C, she had revealed to me that behind my back a close coworker had said the same thing. Considering this coworker had been supportive of who I am to my face, I found this to be incredibly hurtful. C had also told me her own mother also thought that I wasn’t really gay, and also needed to find a new boyfriend to get over this “phase”. I tried to play it off as if these words didn’t sting, and kept my rage internalized. However, clearly, eventually I would be too overwhelmed with anger and feel the need to speak out.
As I entered college, I faced a few more instances with specifically boys whom after trying to pursue me, I would have to reject them and explain it wasn’t anything negative about them, but that I’m gay. Somehow, these boys would try to argue with me as if they could change my mind on who I’m attracted to. It infuriated me more and more every time, but I kept quiet again and simply moved on.
The trend I noticed so far was that if a boy was found out to be gay, he’d be treated harshly and harassed. If a girl is found out to be gay however, everyone thinks she just needs to find the right guy to change her mind. This is even worse if the lesbian in question is feminine, like I am. I could write another entire article about how being feminine doesn’t make me any less gay and that I shouldn’t have to cut off my hair and wear flannel to make anyone believe that I’m gay.
I had even been accused by a gay man of not actually being a lesbian, because at the time I hadn’t yet had a solid relationship with a woman. It was as if, even after I explained, he didn’t care that I came from a small area with a very small group of LGBTQ+ people and almost all of whom I had no romantic interest in or who had no romantic interest in me. I had also later found out that a man I had befriended, who knew well that I was gay, was very homophobic. Well, he was homophobic against gay men.
Now, while I believe any homophobia is wrong, I was very confused about why me being a girl made it any different. Then, my now ex-friend R’s words echoed in my head. “Oh don’t worry, you just need to find the right guy.” Once again, I’ve been completely discredited as a gay person, just because I happen to be a gay woman.
But what specifically has finally made me lose my patience was a day in downtown Saint Louis with my then-partner. We ended up taking a wrong bus and ending up on the opposite end of town from our destination, where then I had two men approach me. I don’t like to sound conceited, but my partner had pointed out later that it was clear these men were speaking to me since I was the one with long blonde curly hair and a pretty dress on, whereas my partner was a bit more masculine in presentation.
When the first man approached me, he tried to offer me a ride. When I told him that I wasn’t interested, he again tried to persuade me he could change that, and insisted on giving me a ride. My beloved made a point of taking my hand tight and leading me away from the man quickly, and to this day I am so grateful for that. When we found another bus stop to wait at, another man walked up right to me, despite the fact I was holding my partner’s hand, and asked for my name. I froze, still rather shaken from the man who’d tried to convince me to leave in his car.
“This is my girlfriend.” My partner said, making clear that they weren’t going to back down. Then, to both our shock and disgust, he asked for us both to go back to his apartment with him and called us both beautiful. After assertively denying such a rude request, we asked to be left alone. Then, he still asked for my phone number. I could see beside me that my beloved’s fist was starting to ball up and I had a strong gut feeling that another wrong move, and this gentleman might be leaving with a black eye. So, I made clear one more time that I was not interested and wanted to be left alone. By some miracle, he had finally gotten the hint and started to walk away.
I couldn’t make up the next part of what happened if I’d wanted to. The previous man took no more than about 4 steps away from us when my partner and I heard a car skid and watched as a car braked hard in Saint Louis traffic. I had been sure that I was about to witness a car accident, and that maybe someone ran into the road, but to my shock nobody had gotten hurt. Instead, a man rolled down his window, and looked right at us.
“All (insert horrible gay slur here) are going to Hell! You need to both repent and obey God!” He screamed hatefully at us before then speeding away.
I had seen and heard of such things on television and movies, but this was different. The feeling I had in my stomach was different, and it somehow hurt more. The man who asked for my number, who saw what happened, then came back and told us to not pay him any mind and just be who we are. I resisted snapping at this man, since what he’d done hadn’t been any better than what the man in the car had done. Both of them had invalidated us, they’d just done so in different ways. Instead I kept my mouth shut, checked on if my beloved was alright, and then we finally caught our bus.
I pretended to be okay with it, and that I didn’t need comforting, and patiently waited until I was alone to really think about what happened. First, I felt pain at all the hatred and ignorance. Then, I got angry. Not like I had before, though. I’d finally found myself completely fed up, and decided the first chance I got, I was going to publicly talk about this.
I know there will probably be more than one person thinking I’m some triggered SJW looking for attention and trying to be a faithful cause to left-wing politics, but that honestly isn’t true. I’m proud to be in the center on the political spectrum, and I didn’t get “triggered” after one instance. I kept quiet and did my best over the course of more than a year tolerating hateful words that I shouldn’t have been tolerating in the first place.
This isn’t one instance, it’s many that have finally built up enough for me to speak out because I’ve had enough. The reason these words sting, the reason they hurt, and the reason I will not let it go is because you’re not only saying “You just need to find the right guy.” You’re also saying, “You don’t have a clue who you are, but I do.” You are showing a complete lack of respect and common decency towards me.
Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you’re suggesting that you know me better than I know myself. You’re suggesting you know my desires better than I do. You’re suggesting you know how I’m able to love and feel, even though I am the one feeling those feelings.
So no, lesbians don’t need to find the right guy. They need to find the right girl, and you honestly need to check yourself. Gay women are gay, and for the love of all that is good left in this world, at least have the decency to accept that and keep your homophobic opinions to yourselves. If someone tells you, “Actually, I’m a lesbian.” Respond by saying, “Oh, cool. So, did you catch the Cardinals’ game on TV?” It is literally that easy, folks.