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Lesbians are the new gay men

M.E Bell took a trip to the US and found that queer women are diving head first – literally – into behaviours previously associated with gay guys. 

Every time I go down on another woman is like receiving a gift. So, you can only imagine my excitement at venturing the New York and San Francisco gay scenes earlier this year. 

As this fragile little thing trekking into the big wide world of American lesbians I found myself dancing with something a little taboo. Lesbians, apparently, are the new gay men.    

Such was the case in sunny San Francisco where I first discovered these lesbians making their way in a gay man’s world. 

I stepped onto the streets of The Mission neighborhood and into The Lexington Club where a struggling young artist named Daisy saw it was her civic duty to whisper sweet nothings into my ear. 

To my surprise, it was a place where women like Daisy didn’t hide their desires but behaved like stereotypical gay men: exploring their sexuality, loving sex and vindicating one another. 

My new friend Daisy offered real promise. She was willing to “show me things the devil couldn’t show me” and I was willing to jump a cab. For a young, chipper lesbian – in her other Sydney life, a little nerd – I just caught a fast plane to heaven. 

I was absolutely delighted, because I’d felt a sense of sexual honesty I’d been waiting for all my adult years and there were a lot of things about your typical lesbian that annoyed the hell out of me.  

The New York gay scene. It was an itch I had to scratch.  

Let me just say native New Yorkers make for ridiculously attractive lesbians. Everyone knows them as over-the-top, loud banshees living a hyperreality in the Big Apple but the truth is these women should come with a warning. One can be floored by their no-nonsense attitude. And evidently, they have learned a thing or two from their fellow gay man. 

At one of New York’s better-known ladies’ bars Henrietta Hudson, a bartender floods my brain with alcohol in a vibrant scene of 20-year-old-something lesbians. It is a mix bag of treats: butch, trans and femme lesbians in their varying degrees. Here, sexual freedom is the unifying thread tying us all together. 

My general lack of manners coupled with stingy tipping seems to go unnoticed. No one wants to stray into the nitty gritty of American politics or battle for the future of gay rights in the state of New York. You can march on the nation’s capital another day because in a space like this, talk is cheap. 

The bar staff realise I am a foreigner wandering aimlessly through New York’s gay club scene. My drinks turn free. 

By this time girls start disappearing into toilet cubicles in twos and threes and entering the cage next to the DJ box. Others show ‘straighter’ sensibilities. A femme posse reminiscent of Sex in the City hover at the end of the bar. 

The ice maidens sip expensive drinks with cool detachment. Already content with looking, they aren’t openly fucking each other but their intention is always the same. 

Beside me two African-American lesbians are getting to know each other better with hands disappearing under clothing and into zippers. To a stranger this open expression of female sexuality is almost handpicked male gay porn, and not something you would expect to find in a dyke bar. Needless to say, the American lesbian club circuit didn’t disappointment me. 

The good news is this camp of adventurous American lesbians don’t exist in isolation, rather they appear to be a little more widespread. Perhaps we have been conscious of them for a long time, and fished their sense of sexual experimentation out of the garbage and across Australian shores. 

What, if anything makes these new kinds of lesbians so special you ask? Well I find it interesting how gays and lesbians can unite for thirty or forty years of activism and still think so differently. 

Australia’s gay community continues to be a very masculinised culture and sometimes as lesbians we seem secondary. It’s unlikely, if you’re part of the lesbian community, you escaped the arguments about sex. 

The view from one camp is sex should be enjoyed in committed and monogamous relationships – not slutting it up on the dancefloor or in a toilet cubicle. (I missed this for some reason). Then there is another camp, the incidental enemy of monogamy, where sexual exploration with a stranger is simply more nasty, and more fun. 

Sex between women is certainly under-represented in the gay community as both gay and straight people make assumptions about our ‘role’ as lesbians and as women. 

For many, there is something very jarring about us wanting to do things seen as gay male acts, like going down on each other in a bar. 

As good lesbians we value particular things across the board. We bang on about the glories of monogamy so we must all want to play family with a cat and dog?  

Memo to the world. A lot of us feel very uncomfortable about this idea. It makes some of us run faster on the treadmill. 

I am pleased to report we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of lesbians diving face first into this brave new world. You can bet we are taking our real estate next to gay men. 

And it is not unfolding in our bedrooms where it is safe to be gay. It is happening in public spaces for the world to see – vindicating each other and the community with the very acts, which make us so gay.  

M.E Bell was born in Sydney and finds the Harbour City still evokes a warm, fuzzy feeling in her stomach. She was a quiet child who ruminated between Different Strokes and The Wonder Years and ate enough cupcakes to slip into a sugar-induced coma. Her formative years were spent in smoke-filled warehouses, wearing lots of glitter and searching for the perfect satchel. Life has been full of enthralling moments. Better in fact, than the AA batteries she received for her birthday. M.E Bell blogs here.





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