gay vs. lesbian

A female couple holding hands from the back.

HEY LADIES! CAN I CATCH A RIDE TO THE INDIGO GIRLS CONCERT? I’LL PAY YOU IN CULTURED SOY PRODUCTS! [photo (as of july 2012) accompanying the wikipedia entry for "lesbian." i rest my case.]

this may be a totally politically incorrect thing to say but (shocker) i’m gonna say it anyway:

i can’t stand the word “lesbian.”

one time i heard someone say, “jessica’s a lesbian.” this was in reference to me.

i looked around and was like, “which jessica’s a lesbian? is she hot??” 

surely they couldn’t have been talking about me. because lesbians wear pleated chinos. belted pleated chinos. with plaid flannels, tucked in. (i have plaid flannels but it’s not the same thing; i wear them out over jeggings in an ironic nod to my 90s heritage) and boat shoes. (not these.) (p.s. buy them for me?)

not only does “lesbian” conjure up stereotypical images of “lesbianness” (ok i actually just threw up a little in my mouth as i wrote that.) it’s just a bad-sounding word. it’s like hearing your mom say “penis.” it’s just wrong.

(i see by your horrified faces that a few of you out there are starting to get it now.)

here’s my beef–and holly (my longtime partner, for any of my new readers) is with me on all of this, btw:

i’m not an expert on grammar or anything, but the word “lesbian” is a noun. why do women get stuck with this all-encompassing, barf-inducing noun when men get an adjective that essentially means “happy”?

you see, a noun defines you.

i.e. you are a lesbian.

that is to say: you are all the things that one might associate with lesbians including but not limited to: mullets and other unsavory haircuts, yes pleated chinos, yes bad shoes, yes bad belts over said bad pleated chinos, multiple domestic animals, namely cats (sorry, AWC! you knew that one was coming!) and golden retrievers, the indigo girls (ok i actually like them, very lesbionic of me, i know), motorcycles and/or motorcycle helmets (see photo above), tempeh and other cultured soy products and/or homes that smell strongly of spices even when nothing’s cooking, all purchased from the local food co-op. there’s more but i’ll stop there.

and then there’s the word “gay.” it is an adjective. that is, it serves to describe only one facet of an individual.

i.e. he’s a great guy! kind, handsome, athletic, creative–and gay!

(ok: i think i really like this gay guy i just made up! what a catch!)

but anyway: do you see what i mean? gay is just one facet of this fabulous fictitious guy. he is so many things besides gay. he is kind, handsome, athletic, creative and probably a good grandson, too. (a good grandson! swoon.)

look, i don’t mean to offend all the wonderful women who paved the way for holly and i and others like us. if it weren’t for all the pioneering, yes, lesbians, that took to the streets and fought for gay rights back in the day, we wouldn’t have had a BFGW–or a multi-state wedding blitz. we really wouldn’t have much of anything.

you all are beyond amazing. i’m just saying that, personally, i think that some of us need a new word. while it does have that whole poetic-connection-to-ancient-greece thing going on, it also has the mom-saying-penis thing going on, too.

so i’m going to go for “gay.” that would be as an adjective, not a noun, as my former chinese acupuncturist managed to use it exclaiming, “OH! YOU-A GAY!” when i told her–with multiple needles in my back–that my wedding ring signified that, yes, i was married to a woman.

“yes, i’m a-gay,” i told her, thinking, lady, you can call me whatever the hell you want just don’t hurt me.

i also like the term kathy-friend-of-the-gays-griffin uses on her fab talk show, which is “lady gay.” it has a nice ring to it.

in conclusion: do not call me a lesbian. call me gay. (if there is some kind of language barrier, as i experienced with my acupuncturist, you are welcome to call me “a gay.”)

if you do call me a lesbian, prepare for me to swivel my head and look for the nearest pair of belted chinos. when you find one, let me know because i need someone to paint our deck. KIDDING. i kid i kid.

sincerely,
jessica “lady gay” leshnoff

10 responses to “gay vs. lesbian

  1. It almost has the same discomforting ring as “the jews.”

  2. yes. also “vagina.” we really need some new words around here.

  3. Haha I love your honesty! And your right… Lady gay is sounds prettier than lesbian.

  4. i know, right?! it really does have a nice ring to it!

  5. I can’t even tell you how much I agree w/you. Also… don’t even get me started on the ‘D’ word…

  6. girl please. i know.

  7. LOL, you think “lesbian” is bad? How bout when my “lady gay” friends refer to me as a heterosexual! I don’t know what’s worse. :)

  8. I like, “Glesbian” it sounds funny. It was fun to type! Also, it has kind of a geographical connotation to it. “Are you Glaswegian?” “No. I’m Glesbian.”

  9. “Like hearing your mom say ‘penis’.” Which reminds me of last night, when my mother told me an awkward story that involved my little niece seeing her dog’s “you know — boy stick —” and getting freaked out. Hearing my mother describe a dog’s wanker as a boy stick did not, in any way, make the converstaion any less awkward.

  10. reading that actually made my chest hurt. goodness.

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