This month’s issue of Elle has Lea Michele on the cover, promising insight into “Life after Cory.” Glee fans will enjoy the interview but they will also find that the writer, Lizzy Goodman, has another piece in the issue called “Leaving it All Or Having it All? A Closer Look at Once Straight Women Who Are Leaving Their Husbands for Other Women.”
Lizzy, a self-professed straight girl who writes she had a “same-sex dalliance in college,” interviews women that she knows whose view of their own sexuality has shifted in their lives. Most of them were previously exclusive with men and have now moved on to long-term relationships with women. Interestingly it seems like they all tried to think of think practically about their feelings, one woman even planning to “stay married until I was in my sixties, and one day I’d meet some woman and she and I would adopt old dogs and, like, live on a ranch.” Luckily that woman had a friend/psychotherapist say to her, “Well, Nicole, that’s a really long time.”
Citing celebrities like Cynthia Nixon and J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons who have publicly left men for another woman, Goodman makes great pains to let readers know she’s straight (“I’m more turned on by men, drawn to their foreignness. There’s something about the juxtaposition of hard, cool maleness and my opposite impulses that makes me feel calm and settled in the world.”) but that she understands “the impulse” to want to be with a woman. Unfortunately, that is a poor choice of words, especially for someone who seems to have a lot of queer women in her life. This may feel like a trend to non-queer women, but fluid sexuality is a very real fact of life, not some fun whim we react to upon meeting a woman we just want to have sleepovers with.
Strangely the idea of lesbianism is portrayed more like an easy friendship than a romantic or sexual want. From the article:
I know I don’t speak for all lesbians, but I am not married to my wife because we have a great witty repartee when it comes to housework. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. (She thinks I’m a “straightener” while she does the “cleaning.”)
Lizzy writes about her friend Maria, who she says “is gay enough to be harassed on the street but not gay enough to feel totally comfortable in the lesbian community.” I’m very curious about what this means—”gay enough?” Nonetheless, here’s what she writes about late-in-life lesbian Maria:
Here’s the thing that ELLE doesn’t convey with this piece, which should be the overall point when it comes to any kind of factual story about women’s varying sexualities and lesbian relationships: There is no one way to be a lesbian. There is no one opinion on ANYTHING, even (especially?) The Kids Are All Right. Another friend of Lizzy’s that left her husband for a woman had an experience I have never even heard of happening with any queer women I know, though I do not doubt her experience or discount it:
Lizzy writes that her friends had mixed reactions to her writing an article about this topic:
And yet some (like Maria and Sachs above) contributed their ideas and experiences for a piece that has a few nice plusses but unfortunately just as many fails when it comes to discussing (or what really feels like explaining) why a woman would choose to be in a relationship with another woman. It appears the issue is not with the unbelievability the writer assumes the audience has but the lack of validity she gives it herself. Doth she protest too much?
ELLE has done a fantastic job of including out women in other pieces, with recent profiles of Kim Stolz, Brittney Griner and NYC Mayoral Hopeful Christine Quinn. In the same issue as this Goodman piece is a spread on eight women who are making big moves in the art world, which includes three queer-identified artists and the names of their partners or children’s mothers: Julie Mehretu, Dominique Levy and Mickalene Thomas. Again, speaking for myself but I can only say that as an out gay woman, I’m much more interested in being represented among the other woman included for what they do well than as a case study for a writer’s dissenting ideas of lesbian fascination.
Here’s the thing, straight gals: If you’re not interested in women, that doesn’t mean you will be later in life. That also doesn’t mean you won’t be later in life. And if you meet a woman who you fall in love with, it doesn’t mean anything other than you found something in another person that you connected with, and I doubt it has anything to do with housework.