Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day
THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE
No one was more surprised than I was when years later, in my early thirties, I fell for a man. I had been a lesbian my entire adult life, and women, specifically non-femme women, had been the objects of my desire since high school. I’d been all over boys in my early teens, and I’d had enough sex with them to know that I liked it. Yet after falling in love with my best girlfriend in high school, and feeling the fire between my legs with that first kiss, there’d been no looking back. I was a dyke.
“There’s really not that much difference,” I explained when the sisters asked me how I could love a man after loving women. “Love is love. There are more similarities than differences.” People focus on anatomy, but it’s the energy from the chemistry that’s the true measure of a relationship. In my case both men and women had been equally exciting. I was turned on by a masculine-feminine exchange of sexual energy, and the women that were my lovers were as authentic as my future boyfriends in acting out those classic roles.
When I became involved with my husband, Jon, I experienced the hardwired differences between the two sexes. I discovered that it wasn’t the sex or love stuff that was so different with men, but the Venus and Mars stuff. Men were self-contained and kept their emotional distance, whereas women were inclusive and got right up in your face.
Being with a woman is incomparably intimate. Women’s capacity for sharing in a female same-sex union is deeper because women simply get one another: and because most women are gluttons for symbiotic entanglement. The intensity can be breathtaking, and that was the hook that led me to believe I would never be able to love a man. At the same time, the dynamic of two women together can often be exhausting. Women are high maintenance, and expectations can feel relentless. A year after my affair with Toni, I became involved in a monogamous lesbian partnership with a woman named Beth. We stayed together for close to ten years, and with a mortgage and three dogs, we considered our relationship equal to a marriage. Ours was domestic love, born from passion, and we felt we were on track to forever. She and I worked hard at addressing the complexity of being a couple, and it was heartbreaking when we couldn’t overcome the common circumstances that led to our breakup. We had our own reasons, but ultimately we were just another couple that had slowly grown apart. In my next relationship, with a man, I discovered I was free from the endless cycle of managing another woman’s feelings, and that relief meant my life had more capacity for peace.
Truth had become stranger than fiction in my unexpected twist of identity. I was a feminist, a lesbian, and a virtual soldier against the patriarchy, and I found that I could be more independent when coupled with a man. I had space. There was simply more room to breathe. My husband Jon and I were an odd couple, with little in common short of intense attraction and mutual admiration. He was a client of mine, and we had an immediate chemistry similar to the energy I had first experienced with Toni Rey. I wanted to have sex with him, but I was also scared. I felt like a thirty-three year old virgin. He was a man—with a penis! It had been a long time. What if I didn’t like it?
Well, I did like it—a lot. Jon was a generous lover, and we began having a passionate affair. Because I was breaking up with Beth, and because he was a client, we were undercover. I was only interested in having sex with him, and had no desire for a straight relationship. In the beginning, it was very sexy and very naughty for me to be with a man. Sex with men was taboo in Lesbian America, where bisexuals were not tolerated. By 1991, I had been a lesbian for fifteen years, and I’d never even met a bisexual woman. The stigma was absolute.
When I unexpectedly fell in love with Jon, I had to bear the guilt for abandoning my tribe. It was like coming out all over again, facing prejudice and ostracism. My switch was judged as desertion and betrayal, and I bore the shame of heterosexual privilege. Immediately, I could walk down the street holding my lover’s hand and not be stared at or harassed. I was building a business career by then, and I no longer had to avoid pronouns when conversations veered to personal lives. And ultimately I could marry the person I loved and benefit from the unequivocal social acceptance that I could never have with a girlfriend. It wasn’t fair, and I knew it, because I’d lived it my entire adult life.
Overnight, I was no longer welcome as gay, but I didn’t feel straight. I had come out in 1976, when I was seventeen years old, and had been part of the generation that created gay culture in America. Culturally, I was a lesbian and an activist. Sure, I was in love with a man. But did that make me straight?
TOMORROW: Chapter 3
Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.