The best way to broach a rather awkward question is to just come out with it. As I find myself sliding ever closer to the cliff edge and as my wife is now of the view that she'd rather live with an ungainly girl than a depressed bloke, I've been thinking about it. Life, that is. After.
In my day-to-day life as I write this I am a bloke on the outside. I have always been that bloke on the outside. Like millions of other blokes I did what I was expected to. I fancy women, so as a heterosexual bloke I just fit right in. One doesn't define oneself as heterosexual, one just gets on with it.
But what if I am swept over that cliff edge? If my wife does not find living with the ungainly girl to be too much for her, suddenly we're a same-sex couple. From being invisible, suddenly we're defined by that word. Lesbians. Putting aside for a moment my being transgender, that is. I've come to terms with redefinition, but for my wife that's likely to be rather challenging.
Hence my asking a friend: what's it like to be lesbian? Now that's an odd question, and one that could have many senses. In my case I was asking what it is like to be a same-sex couple, in public in the UK of 2012. Do people give you any grief, or are you part of the scenery?
Fortunately the nature of the relationship between us is such that I can ask such a question of my friend and she knows me well enough to understand why I am doing so. And her answer was reassuring, she and her partner just get on with their lives. She described once having a yob shout "Dyke!" at her, but otherwise had few worries to report. And I thought "Dyke" was a reappropriated word, most of the lesbians I have known have enthusiastically described themselves as such.
But there's a problem with self-definition here. On a simple level two women in
a same-sex relationship are lesbians. But on a personal level to be a lesbian you have to see yourself as such, and that's quite a leap for two people who have never been lesbians before.