Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change, and Social Worlds

By Ken Plummer | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

The modernisation of gay and lesbian stories

My cousin loaned me THE COMING OUT STORIES a week ago, and it has been great. I have been struggling with my lesbian identity—am I gay? am I bisexual? is it that I love women or is it just that I hate men? etc. Reading this book has helped me to realize (1) that yes, I do love women and that (2) I don’t have to make excuses for it, that I do not have to take responsibility for other people’s homophobia, that being a lesbian is a positive life-affirming thing, not a sickness. And realizing the power and strength in that knowledge. By reading about these other women and what they have gone through it helped me to see that the choice of whether to act upon my being a lesbian or not comes down to me, and that, yes, I can choose to do so—here are people that have done so, they DO exist. I am just beginning to see that being gay does not necessarily mean something is wrong with me.

I don’t know how I would have fared if I had been born twenty years earlier. My coming out, which will be a life-long process for me, is so much easier because of the women’s movement, the gay movement, and most of all the literature and music that is available for lesbians. And your book is one of those experiences that someone like me, a 21-year-old who’s finally beginning to realize her gay identity, can grab onto like a rock in the ocean. 1

Stories of ‘homosexuality’ have recently changed. Once upon a time, in the western world, there were the Greeks and their loves. 2 Then came the ganymedes, ingles, buggers and catamites. 3 A little later found the mollies; and then the inverts, urnings, homosexuals and queers. 4 The male gay, the clone, the macho man appeared from the 1970s onwards. 5 During the 1980s, the post-Stonewall ‘Aids’ gay has appeared, and even now as I write in the early 1990s, the story of the new Postmodern/New Age queer is in the making. 6 Lesbians too have their own ‘mother tongue’: stories of Amazons, Sapphos, romantic friendships, boarding school loves, mythic mannish lesbians, women-identified women, radicalesbians and lipstick lesbians. 7 Throughout time and space the pleasures and displeasures of erotic experience between the same genders have certainly existed; but in every culture such experiences both create and respond to a wider set of cultural meanings. In Ancient Greece, it was partially the story of a noble camaraderie

-81-

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