The Slayer’s Hanger On, The Pool Shark, Miss Hollibaugh, The Man About Town and Me

Recently, due perhaps to some kind of deep, personal flaw, I have been watching a lot of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.” I didn’t catch it the first time around, but I am certainly enjoying it now. I’m a little more than halfway through the second season, and if you haven’t seen it and think you might, then stop reading now because I’m going to be talking plot.


I read somewhere that Willow discovers she’s a lesbian, and it’s just so exciting waiting to see how that’s going to go down. Right now, she just caught Xander kissing Cordelia and she’s super upset. She’s also been flirting with that Oz guy. It got me thinking about how complicated the coming out process is, how long it can take, how confusing it is. In her book, My Dangerous Desires; A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home, Amber Hollibaugh discusses a propensity she had before she knew she was queer:


After high school and still straight, I nurtured my addiction to jealous dramas. I was bored with heterosexuality; heartbreak and jealous betrayal made it a hell of a lot more impressive [and Willow has the extra added impressiveness of getting to watch her good friend make it with a vampire! ttf]. It also kept alive my hope that there was still a chance for me; I wasn’t quite the freak I thought myself to be. My explosive emotional life covered the genuine drama I was avoiding.


This propensity, I also had. In college, (still straight), I was also nurturing my addiction to jealous dramas with a long, drawn out saga involving 2 of my best friends who eventually got together, leaving me to play the role of mascot, unable to face my own genuine drama. I suppose any queer girl could get caught up in this crazy stuff, but I think femmes in particular are susceptible because with guys, I mean, there’s something there that’s interesting. The masculinity part is good, it’s just not the right packaging.


I don’t know if Willow is really a lesbian and she’s probably not going to be a femme (although she would make a totally adorable geeky one, for sure), but I’m rooting for her. I also don’t know if the main character of Haven Kimmel’s novel, Something Rising (Light and Swift) is queer because she’s pretty secretive about herself (a clue, perhaps), but she sure acts like a butch. (Stop now if you don’t want to hear about the story!) From the time she’s ten and working hard to improve a shack out by the river to right now in the book (I’m a little over halfway through) when she’s consumed with anger, not hooked up with anyone, taking care of her agoraphobic and anorexic older sister after having had to be the breadwinner and caretaker of all the rest of her family as well, she acts like a butch who has to shore up the world because no one else is stepping up. She’s also a carpenter and most of all, an extremely gifted pool player. She appears to have no sexuality at all, and when someone asks her if she’s gay, she says, “Are you trying to piss me off?” Mm hm.


In “Innocence” (Season 2, Episode 14), Cordelia asks Xander if looking at guns really makes people think about sex,  and do they make Xander think about sex? Xander says, “Cordelia, I’m 17 – looking at linoleum makes me think about sex!” Good one! And so true. But what about those of us who, also 17 or however old we were, also with hormones in overdrive, didn’t get turned on by thinking about sex with the proscribed gender and were, for whatever reason, unable to realize what gender or what gender flavor, would turn us on? All our thoughts about sex got turned elsewhere, often in incredibly destructive directions. The other day, I was just remembering when I lived in Tokyo in my early 20s and the object of my delusional affection came to visit, still not in love with me, still only in love with my friend, but I hung out with him anyway, gave him my all. I wrote a song about being his dogsbody, I would ride back to my lonely apartment at rush hour after having seen him, tears running down my face, anguish personified, for all the tired salary men and office ladies going home to admire and wonder over.


Joel, the main character in Mark Merlis’s novel Man About Town realizes at midlife that “[b]eing gay had taken up his whole life. He had devoted the whole of his youth to it, had studied it year after year as intensively as if he had been training to be a neurosurgeon. There hadn’t been time for anything else.” Part of his being gay (and mine) was first not to know or to deny that he was gay – that took a long time. Then it took a long time and a lot of devotion to being gay, and then – for me, for many femmes – a long time figuring out that I wasn’t a regulah lesbian. And here we are, me and Joel, heading rapidly towards fifty and just coming into ourselves – who we really are, with a sexuality integrated into our whole selves.


No wonder I’ve been sitting around watching Buffy!

Published in: on November 12, 2009 at 4:33 AM  Leave a Comment  

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