Queer Women Need Squads, Too

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Queer lady friendships are a staple of all lesbian films, comics, and assorted media. Sometimes these friendships only exist as the foil to the romantic ups-and-downs of the narrativeusually exes—and exist to spout a few bon mots about the nature of dating women (usually inside a dark bar, and everyone is friends with the bartender, who is a wise, slightly cranky butch always wiping down the bar with a towel and wearing a black T-shirt. Often the bartender in question is Julie Goldman).

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Having a gang of queer lady friends is a persistent fantasy that people dream of almost as much as they wish they had a sweet, sweet honey to adopt kitty cats and join a CSA with. Those relationships are framed as the place we go to work up our confidence, and run our mouths about our exes, and generally circulate information about who’s dating who, and who did what to each other when they thought nobody else was looking.

While dating and romance often occupies our central focus in TV and life, these networks and friendships are the emotional heart of our lives, especially in our 20s. Depending on how things shake out in terms of partnering and having kids, they may continue to be the heart of our relationships. In the absence of more traditional family structures, many of us continue to knit together intimate networks of chosen family.

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The L Word may be the most enduring narrative of queer lady gangs, but most films and novels (that aren’t entirely predicated upon a coming-out narrative, which anticipates youth or a certain degree of isolation) weave in the narrative of the connections between the queer community. Those connections offer a wider scope of possibility than just one girl that catches your eye. The story about queer lady gangs is also predicated upon the notion the assumption that all women in the queer community are connected are some degree of connected on the spit web/OurChart.

Some of our community is inevitably women that we have loved and others that we have loved up—and there remains some question if those people who we once dated are concretely different in the quality of friendship than the ones we haven’t. There is often a presupposition toward jealousy and unfinished business.

It’s unclear whether many queer women are friends with their exes because it’s convenient because the foundation of intimacy allowed them to re-establish trust and re-negotiate their relationships, or if it has just become a pervasive social norm that serves to disrupt closure and diminish boundaries in an enmeshed community.   

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But we so deeply want to be connected to a queer community! We want a network of like-minded babes to help us with our resumes and set us up with smart babes from their workplace, and empathize when we go on our 30th bad date, or we have sex with somebody who lied about being broken up with their girlfriend, or we bring pizza and sleep over when they are too sad to come out, or we have them over for Thanksgiving because stuff with their family is too hard and unresolved. We have a dream of chosen family that was passed down from the previous generations of queers—and we believe we will find safety and solace among one another.

There is some tension, however, between the dream and the reality. For every wee dyke that finds her people, there are three left milling around staring at their phones intermittently, and wondering how to connect: in meetup groups, at open-invite brunch dates, at sex parties and crafternoons and coven meet-ups and hikes. The delightful interplay between established friend networks on screen do not show the awkward montage of following people on social media, gaps in texting, and uncertainty whether or not we are on a date.

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But we continue to earnestly seek each other out in spite of geographical isolation, and impossible logistics. Your people are out there, at crafternoons and sex parties and brunch, and they want to find you! You don’t get to fastforward through your own montage, but if you reach out to find your people, eventually you will retelling the origin story of your girl gang to envious onlookers. There is something much more organic and joyful about retelling the story of how you met your best friends, in a way that is different than smug couples retelling the story of their first few dates. So go out there, and meet your people, and maybe somebody get matching jackets like all good girl gangs from the 1950s.

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