North Jersey Pride Week has been rocking the casbah, and I will bring you the all the highlights in a later post. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a piece I read at North Jersey Pride & Studio B‘s Story Slam last night. The theme was ‘Coming Out.’ If you are unfamiliar with Story Slam rules, the pieces can be no longer than 5 minutes, and you are to present something related to the theme, whatever that theme means to you.
Gabriella is my trusted videographer, and I am grateful that she is always willing and able to record such events. That said, she was unable to capture the first bit of the piece, so I’m also going to post all the words. What you miss in the video is background information about my first girlfriend who was more tutor than lover. Our relationship was more like a seminar in lesbianism than a torrid affair. Just for the record, we were the best of friends, we laughed constantly, and I am forever grateful for that first go round.
And now the words:
I met my first girlfriend in college. She had been an out gay since high school. Our relationship was more of an experiment for me than a passionate love affair. She was studying to be a teacher, and she took it upon herself to educate me in the art of lesbianism. She was my Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and I was a girl at an impressionable age.
She provided me with a comprehensive curriculum to open my eyes to feminism, political injustice and lady-loving. My syllabus included books like Ruby Fruit Jungle, The Well of Loneliness and whatever else contained the term, sweet nectar.
She taught me how to play guitar, all the chords I needed to know to sing every song from her Girl Scouts of America anthology…and a couple of Bruce Springsteen songs. She was complex.
Lesbian folk singer, Holly Near came to our campus and sang about the desaparecidas in Chile. We held each other’s hands and become one with Holly and all the other women in the room – womyn spelled with a Y – And I shoved the Jewish Princess in me into the dark recesses of my soul, disgusted by her privilege.
I wanted to be the best lesbian I could possibly be. I read it all, sang it all, and vowed to fight the socio-economic tyranny of our patriarchal society. I cut my hair short and grew my leg hair long. THE MAN would NOT pressure me into removing my thick, black Eastern European body hair.
And then that girlfriend transferred to another school because she wanted to get out of New York City to be closer to nature and the woods. She let her short, spiky hair grow out until she had one, long braid that ran along the length of her spine and ended at the top of her ass crack. She took all her books and her guitar and her Girl Scouts of America anthology and left me alone, angry and very, very hairy.
After that relationship ended, I dated an anarchist who had full, luscious lips and big boobs and looked like Molly Ringwald. She smoked Winstons and wrote for an anarchist zine. We listened to Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman as she stroked my thick leg hair and praised my defiance of societal definitions of femininity.
Truthfully, I didn’t find all that hair attractive or empowering. I was the walking definition of hirsute as in her suit is made out of hair, and it made me uncomfortable. But I hoped that my long leg hair would eventually, grow on me.
My next girlfriend was straight and curious, and I was happy to be her first. It turned her on that I had short hair on my head and long hair everywhere else because that made me a real lesbian. We were still together when I got my first job out of college. My boss was a divorced woman in her 50s named Harriet who came from the South. Her Southern twang only came out after martini lunches with clients. One day she turned to me after such a lunch and said, Do you EVER wear make up?
No, I answered, what for?
I’m going to take you shopping for lipstick. Let’s see what a little color could do for you, shall we?
Harriet took me to MAC make up on Bleecker Street, and asked the makeup artist to help us pick a lipstick. The matte lipstick was called Chili outlined by a lip liner named Brick and when I looked in the mirror at my painted maroon lips, I saw me… but way cuter. My blood red audacious lips shouted out, We are hot like fire. We’ve got chutzpah.
Harriet smiled with satisfaction and said, You know, anthropologists say that women started wearing lipstick to make their lips look like aroused and swollen labia. That did it. I wanted to spend the rest of my life wearing a vagina on my face.
That day in MAC I outed the princess buried deep within. She liked the lipstick, and she didn’t care whose idea of beauty she was opting into. The lipstick would stay on, and the body hair would come off. I walked out of MAC Makeup, with a new resolve to be who I am, a Jewish, feminist princess who liked vaginas.
I’ve now permanently lasered the hair off my legs, my armpits and my bikini area never to return again because I love the smooth, hairless me. I am also an aggressive groomer of the lady-bits, leaving not much more than a cropped soul patch. I’m all about clearing a path for easy access. And I’m all about doing what I want to do for me.
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Now, you can LIKE and view the Peaches & Coconuts Facebook Page for photos from that night, too!