So the 30 something me would love to write that she doesn’t like D*sney. That it is a capitalist, brainwashing, evil co-operate, money making machine on a par with St*rb*cks.
However. Anyone who actually knows me knows that I was a musical loving child of the 90s and was brought up on a stable diet of Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and my favourite, Beauty and the Beast. I learnt all the songs, practiced the twee American intonation of the dialogue and dreamt daily of my Eric/Aladdin or – the muchly debated over best one of them all – Beast at the end when he turns into a human (Who even knows his name?!).
But now I am a gay. Now, according to Disney, I don’t exist. How can the fairytale ever come true if I don’t even start with the right ingredients? I can’t actually believe how much this has upset me. Of course it’s not just Disney (honest) it’s everything. Stories, advertising, media, it’s all so straight. I’ve never noticed in this depth before. Of course I’ve known and ‘oh deared’ at Actually Gay Friend’s grumbles, but, it never used to affect me and so, ashamedly, I forgot about it. Mortgage adverts don’t have same-sex couples in them; mainstream films and books don’t have same-sex couples in. I don’t exist. And the relationship I am currently devoting so much of myself to is invalid.
I decided to talk this through with Actually Gay Best Friend, but he is unhelpful:
“Of course it’s like that, you know that” he points out. And I start to see a stark difference between being 100% gay and being a 30 something—newly-discovered-bit-of-a-percentage-of-gay. For my actually gay friends realising they were gay goes along with falling out with Disney. That is part of the journey, so that by admitting to oneself that you are gay you are inadvertedly signing the bit of paper that says: I realise that I will not find myself or any of my romantic/sexual relationships represented in the mainstream artistic or media world around me.
But I’m not ready for that. I can’t yet believe or accept that that is the case. I have always been represented artistically (Belle from Beauty and the Beast, naturally) so why does this have to change?
Because now I am in love with a woman.
Unfortunately Best Friend and other Straighties are unable to help either. They sympathise, like I used to, but they don’t understand.
So how do I remedy this experience in my own mind? The same way I remedy any new experience –I read and research. I throw myself into the LGBT section of the library and I read. I sign up for a subscription to Diva (which, as an award winning magazine for Lesbian and Bisexual women I totally recommend). And I read. I read to find women like me. I research articles, radio features and documentaries that arise through searching under keywords ‘Lesbian’ ‘Bisexual.’ I research to learn who my role models are now. To find a sign somewhere that tells me that I am still allowed, that although I’ve discovered a new side of myself that I still have permission to love and be happy and normal. To exist.
Does it work? To an extent. It does help. A lot. But there is a side effect to this summed up by a question that Excitable Housemate’s boyfriend asked me:
“Why do you need a special magazine for lesbian and bi women?”
I didn’t get angry, I calmly explained, and he did understand that blow job articles aren’t at the top of my reading list right now, and which mainstream women’s magazine publishes articles about how to deal with being the ‘non-bio’ mum’?
But it makes me sad. It makes me sad that there needs to be a section, an LGBT department. That I can no longer just read ‘normal’ books. A few crossovers help. There are some fantastic authors who flow successfully between writing fiction based on female relationships and writing mainstream fiction (Donoghue, Waters) and that really helps. I have to realise that this will be a slow acceptance both ways. Even in Liberal Town it will take a while for the card shops and the mug manufacturers to catch up with me (and all other LGBTs). I have to accept that things will just be a bit different now, again.
Another discovery which has been helping me a lot is finding The L Word, but that’s another post…