She Said What? is a weekly online lesbian entertainment
EPISODE 6 (February 8, 2006) Valentine’s Day, Coming Out, Black History Month, and Editor/Writer Linda Villarosa.
Chagmion: Hello, and welcome to She Said What?, the online lesbian talk show. It’s right around the corner, so we have to talk about it, Valentine’s Day is coming up.
Chagmion: I’m sure, I’m sure we’re all so excited, right?
Staceyann: I’m excited that it’s a, you know, a moment to kind of, you know, commemorate your love blah blah blah.
Chagmion: Commemorate… oh blech.
Sarah: My girlfriend thinks it’s a big commercialized holiday. And she does know enough to at least bring me something. But we, we pretty much keep it low key.
Chagmion: What do you get for Valentine’s Day, usually?
Sarah: Eh flowers, candy, something little.
Lauren: But if you get flowers and you’re like “oh I didn’t know we were doing that.” It’s like a gesture.
Staceyann: But why can’t it be like the Valentine ____. Why can’t like both of you buy flowers?
Lauren: Of course you can.
Sarah: I think they do. I think we do.
Lauren: But there’s such a role in a straight relationship there’s more of a role “the man sends the woman flowers.” As much as you might not agree with that it kind of is set. So with two women you’re like “so do you…do i…?”
Chagmion: Who climbs the Troilus?
Staceyann: I don’t like flowers because flowers are dying. The minute you cut them they’re dying. Don’t bring me flowers bring me a watch.
Lauren: So what if you’re single on Valentine’s Day? What do you think would be a good idea to do then? I have my own idea, I was just gonna say. Here’s the thing, um…
Chagmion: Yeah I was just gonna say, you wrote the book!
Staceyann: We’re all lesbians, have you ever been single on Valentine’s Day?
Lauren: Right, I, what?
Staceyann: Have any of you been single on Valentine’s Day?
Lauren: Yes I’ve been single on Valentine’s Day.
Sarah: She is single on Valentine’s Day, right?
Staceyann: I didn’t say that now.
Lauren: Anyway, enough about me. So if you’re single on Valentine’s day a good idea would be to have a dinner party with your friends and invite somebody that either, not maybe that you’ve dated, but you know that, another lesbian that you know that other people might not know, and bring them to the party so it’s like a kind of chance to mingle and meet other people.
Chagmion: So if you’re single on Valentine’s Day, set a trap.
Lauren: No! It’s not like that.
Sarah: That’s what she’s saying.
Chagmion: Put down your main, preferably some good literature,
Lauren: Get a girl that you don’t know wasted…
Sarah: Yeah get her drunk.
Chagmion: and wait for something to fall in.
Lauren: and pounce.
Staceyann: So you’re out on Valentine’s Day and you’re looking around the room but you’re kind of scope out who’s gay and who’s not gay, how do you decide who to approach and who not to approach?
Sarah: You know that’s a really good question. On the AfterEllen.com forum our users have actually started a message board thread which is really funny called “So Gay, So Not Gay” where folks basically write how the reasons that they’re gay and reasons that they’re not gay. It’s very funny, it’s sort of playing with stereotypes, so I wrote a couple down that I thought were particularly funny. One user said: “I’m so gay cause I even wear pants to bed. But I’m so not gay cause they’re pink and have ladybugs on them.”
Sarah: Then another one said “I’m so gay because I’m, I drink beer without a glass, and I’m a mad sports nut, and I’m so not gay because I have long hair and makeup and ooo technically I’m still married.”
Chagmion: That one was, I like that last one.
Sarah: Yeah, which I thought was pretty funny.
Chagmion: We’re gonna have to check back into that one.
Lauren: That could be a really funny book. Like all those compiled together.
Chagmion: That’s a coffee table book for sure.
Sarah: It could, so, so what about you guys? How… let’s go around the room, I wanna hear how are you gay…
Staceyann: Because I fix the faucet in the bathroom. You know I change the washer of the faucet but I’m so not gay because I wear a push-up bra?
Sarah: Alright. That’s good.
Lauren: This is, this is weird to me.
Sarah: Fascinating. Is it?
Lauren: I like women, that’s why I’m gay…
Lauren: And I’m not gay because I look like this. And on.
Staceyann: You look, I would’ve tagged you for gay on the street.
Sarah: This is just about stereotypes though too. So it’s not…
Chagmion: Sittin’ like that Lauren?
Lauren: Aaand because I sit like this.
Sarah: Yeah, I always sit like that.
Staceyann: And those boots.
Lauren: Wo. Barney’s.
Chagmion: Come down off that high horse missy.
Sarah: And so what about you, what makes you gay?
Chagmion: I am so gay because we were, and this is a true story. We had, we were celebrating um, in my office, having finished one of our projects, so we got the beer, pulled it out, but we didn’t have a beer opener, so I am so gay because I popped the bottles open with like a paperclip remover.
Lauren: I thought you were gonna say with your teeth, but…
Chagmion: [makes biting sound] Argh… you know.
Staceyann: Or with a lighter, or…
Chagmion: With a paperclip remover
Lauren: You’re like MacGyver.
Chagmion: But I’m so not gay because, then I giggled.
Lauren:And then you said “I don’t actually like beer. “
Sarah: Well, uh, I’m so gay because I don’t wear dresses very often because the shoes aren’t comfortable enough. But I’m so not gay that I wore dresses to 18 proms in high school.
Chagmion: Eighteen proms??
Sarah: Yes I went to 18 proms in high school. It’s a little known secret.
Chagmion: Eighteen prom dresses… uh… I fold, ok? But that game is on the website and I think it’s great that you have a forum where people can come and give their input and since we’ve posted the show on the website we’ve gotten really great feedback from the fans. And I mean we’ve gotta take a look at this fan art that Yuen, Yuen from and where is she sending this from?
Sarah: You know she didn’t say.
Chagmion: She didn’t say, but Yuen somewhere sent us a really fantastic cartoon of all the ladies here at “She Said What?” Have a look at this photo. This is amazing.
Lauren: I think it’s amazing that somebody actually put the time and effort into drawing us. Very cool.
Sarah: Very cool. Although did you notice that you can hardly tell the difference between the two of us.
Lauren: Two hundred dollars to who can tell the difference between Sarah and I.
Sarah: I have slightly shorter hair in the picture.
Lauren: This is, that’s what threw me. I was like “that’s it!”
Chagmion: Well if you can’t find me, in that picture, then adjust…
Lauren: She’s the one with the short hair…
Chagmion: With the short hair.
Lauren: With the really short hair.
Chagmion: And the purple jacket.
Lauren: Yes. Yes.
Chagmion: If you can’t find me in that picture adjust your screen or something. But uh so that was great and we just want to let the fans know that we appreciate you watching the show. Speaking of fan mail Linda Villarosa, she’s the ex-editor of Essence magazine, she wrote a beautiful piece on black female actresses playing lesbians on Afterllen. And I responded to her so enthusiastically she never wrote me back. And now she’s on the show. Let’s welcome Linda Villarosa, she’s written for the New York Time, ex-editor of Essence magazine, bring her out here.
Chagmion: Now February is also Black History Month. And again I loved your article on black female actresses playing lesbians that whole phenomenon
Staceyann: Having written you know mostly books about lesbian parenting, done articles and essays, that kind of work, we hear there is a new novel in the horizon. There’s a made up story about made up people, which is, different.
Lauren: Ooo. Fictiony.
Linda: Fictiony. Very fictiony. It’s not me, that main character.
Staceyann: Does it have black people _________
Chagmion: They always say that.
Linda: It’s my imagination.
Chagmion: An imaginary character with hornrim glasses, dreadlocks…
Lauren: with that turtleneck…
Chagmion: black turtleneck, whatever.
Sarah: So what is the book about?
Linda: The book’s called Passing for Black, it’s being published in about I guess a year, I’m not sure about the pub date yet. It’s my first novel, it’s being published by Kensinton. It’s about a woman, you know, the short version, it’s about a woman who find herself. She leaves her fiancé for her fiance’s colleague, who is the hot Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender professor on campus. So, it’s kind of like that’s the love story but then it’s about, it’s kind of like, has a lot of themes. It’s about religion, it’s about family, it’s about coming out, it’s about um…
Staceyann: You’ve also done a lot of work about relationships of mothers and daughters, particularly lesbian and their mothers.
Staceyann: Does that actually address that at all?
Linda: Well it’s so funny because the main character in the book, Mother is a bit like my mother, and so I let my mother read the book. And so I’m thinking “oh my gosh, you know, beyond the sex in the book, what’s my mother going to think of this main character that’s a little bit like her?” Did not notice, at all.
Lauren: She wouldn’t. You would, she wouldn’t.
Linda: I was sweating, and she’s, I’m thinking “you don’t think the mother’s too over the top.” “Oh no no no.”
Lauren: You should put a mirror in front of her face.
Sarah: Now you got a lot of attention at Essence because you and your mom co-wrote an article for Essence about you coming out right? What was that experience like, and what is it like now looking back on that?
Linda: Well it’s really great because at the time I was really scared, I actually thought it was a mistake to have written this article. My mother wrote about my coming out from her point of view and I wrote about me coming out and how my mother took it. My mother took it quite badly at the beginning. And then after 5 years we really worked through a wonderful relationship. But we were shocked at the amount of mail that came after we, you know, out story came out. It got really thousands of letters. It was the most…
Staceyann: At that time it was the greatest response Essence ever got.
Linda: Yeah, had ever gotten.
Sarah: What year was that?
Linda: 1990… something, 1991, 1992? And it was just really overwhelming, more for me because I’m a journalist so I kept thinking “oh you know, should I even be talking about myself like this?” My mother was like “aren’t I fabulous? I’m the best mother! Loot at me!” So it was really, you know, scary for me at first, and then I realized, “why didn’t I come out sooner? That was ridiculous.” And I had such a high profile job that it was, you know.
Chagmion: Okay, so let’s talk about that. There are so few high profile, you know, gays from the black community out there. Why do you think that is? Why do you think there’s people who are at your level just seem to be unable to show their face.
Linda: I think that it’s really hard a black person to get to a high level. And so when you have clawed your way up
Sarah: There’s not that many in the first place.
Linda: You know, in the first place. So then you’ve clawed your way up, you’re not going to take the chance, that you lose what you got because now you’re adding another thing onto yourself. You know, not only am I, when I fir… I was an editor at the New York Times and I remember I thought “I’m so out, but these people seem to not know that?! What do I do?” Because I, it took me, it was so hard to get that high profile job, and then to, then say “oh you know I’m the black person here at the Times, this high level editor," and then it’s sort of like “now am I the lesbian?” So I just did it, cause it’s like well, hello I can’t be the loser at work who’s just all closeted.
Chagmion: You were out, but you wanted to be OUT.
Staceyann: Most of my, like work first invitations of the year, they come from the GLBT community, where people look for you, find you, seek you out because you’re a lesbian. I mean, as many people who kind of shy away from you because you’re gay, I think as many people move towards you because you’re gay. And then you can do work that’s honest.
Chagmion: Ok so they finally got around to putting a black character on The L Word.
Lauren: Pam Grier?
Sarah: A black lesbian.
Chagmion: A black lesbian.
Sarah: But I predict that Tasha’s gonna be this sort of breakout new character that all viewers are going to fall in love with because she’s got the silent mysterious thing going for her, she’s attractive, uh, you know, she’s got great teeth.
Staceyann: Now I can’t wait.
Linda: I think that the way the L word had done Bette’s background has been very good too. When she had Oz, when Ozzie Davis was on that show, and you know, we were
Chagmion: I remember that.
Linda: You felt like you’re getting a full picture of these two sisters. They’re half sisters, here’s their father, it’s, you’ve got daddy drama, and then you’ve got a dying father and how, I mean I thought that was really full. I was glad it was Pam Grier
Chagmion: The dialogue with Pam Grier, it was very rich, and uh… I think it was very courageous to introduce that because I think people had accepted to a certain degree “ok it’s entertainment, we don’t wanna… and then bam!”
Sarah: But going back to Kit for a minute, there’s an interesting article in the LA Times recently where they interviewed Cybill Shepherd, and Marlee Matlin, and Ilene Chaiken and Kristanna Loken. And Cybill Shephard made an interesting comment in there that I had never heard before in that she apparently was sort of interviewed for, or in discussions about playing the role of Kit, originally, several years ago. But then they came back to her and said “actually we’ve decided to go in a different direction” and she made this funny comment that usually when she’s told that it means they want someone who’s younger or thinner, whatever. This case she saw it was Pam Grier and she said “ok they really did want to go in a different direction.”
Chagmion: Different direction, yeah. We can talk about The L Word all day long. And I’m sure we will next episode. In the meantime thank you so much for joining us Linda Villarosa.
Linda (whispers): So sorry.
Chagmion: So maybe next time you’ll write back to me. In the meantime everybody keep your eyes out for Linda Villarosa’s book called Passing for Black that’s coming out next year. We’ll keep you posted right here on She Said What?