Can lesbians forge new friendships with attractive, straight women?Christine Allen’s lesbian pal doesn’t think so.
“You invited a straight girl for drinks?” My lesbian friend pronounced the word ‘straight’ like it’s an alien concept. I nodded, feeling suddenly sheepish.
“You like her?” This was more of a statement than a question. Upon hearing that I don’t have a secret desire to get freaky with the girl in question – who, I pointed out, has a long-term boyfriend – my friend aired her opinion that my decision to go for drinks with this woman was “a bit random”.
Later that evening, I was unable to shake off my friend’s disapproval. I began to question whether going for drinks with a straight girl was a good idea after all. What if I started to like her? What if she started to like me? Did I have some subconscious desire to ‘turn’ her? Would I have suggested going out for pints together if she wasn’t so good looking? Head altogether wrecked, I decided to call my disapproving friend to discuss the matter further.
“Lesbians are from Mars and straight girls are from Venus,” was her characteristically blunt take on the matter. She sounded like she’d had a few, so I reminded myself to take her comments with a pinch of salt. “The only straight girl mates I have are the ones I grew up with,” she continued. “Mind you, I haven’t seen them much since I came out. We’ve nothing in common now, to be honest, and there’s definitely some weird divide between us – I can’t explain it.”
Before hanging up she casually suggested that my new straight friend may in fact be bi-curious, which left me even more conflicted.
So, what about my friend’s view that straight girls and lesbians have nothing in common? Is there in fact a ‘divide’ between us? Are there ulterior motives when it comes to friendships forged beyond the school years? Can a lesbian begin a close friendship with an attractive straight woman? Or is such befriending spurred by sexual curiosity?
Outed At 16
When I was 16 I was outed by a ‘friend’. Upon hearing that I was attracted to women, my best mate began to question my motives in our friendship. Fearful of being labeled a lesbian herself, she began to distance herself from me. In essence, she allowed doubts which had been placed in her mind by others to fester, which inevitably suffocated our friendship. Wasn’t my lesbian pal’s reaction to my decision to go for drinks with my new straight friend the same as the paranoia-inducing whisperings that stole away my best mate, only the other way around? Wasn’t my lesbian pal being just a little heterophobic?
I’m neither homophobic or heterophobic, but I understand why gay and straight women can at times be wary of one another. After all straight girls are often the cause of much unrequited heartache in a lesbian’s teenage years and maybe the same patterns linger on in our Sapphic psyches. And given the way women are objectified by men all the time, isn’t it understandable that straight women might fear that a gay woman’s motivations may be less than pure?
In saying this, while it can’t be denied that lesbians will at times find a straight woman attractive, with the large number of attractive and available lesbians in the city, aren’t straight crushes now most likely to be short-lived? Don’t most gay women’s crushes on straight women occur during teenage years, when other lesbians are so invisible?
The bottom line is that just because people might have different sexual orientations, it doesn’t mean they have nothing in common. The type of closed-minded mentality that believes they have is what fuels any perceived ‘divide’ between the LGBT community and straight people.
However, my friend’s assertion that she and her straight friends have grown apart since she came out is worth taking note of. Maybe straight friends pull back, but at the same time aren’t many of us lesbians guilty of withdrawing from straight pals on foot of hitting the gay scene?
With the same-sex marriage referendum due to take place next year, we need to lead by example, and ensure that our personal relationships reflect the diversity we strongly believe should be embraced by society. How can we fight for equal rights if we are hell-bent on pointing out the differences between the straights and us?
Drinks with my new straight pal went swimmingly, by the way. We chatted for four hours straight (no pun intended) and I’m looking forward to getting to know her better.
The next day, when my lesbian friend called to asked how it went with the straight girl, I replied, “Great, thanks for asking. And for future reference, her name is Mary.”
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