Category Archives: Sexuality

That Awkward Moment When…

I was reading this post and was reminded of my own recent special moment. That awkward moment when the bank manager suggests you have a baby so that you can borrow some money.

No seriously, he did. And helpfully added “…but even that would take nine months…” Ah, buddy, if only it were that simple.

“Well then, could you lend me eight bucks for a turkey baster?”

Ok maybe that last bit didn’t happen.

A couple of days after the end of exams I zipped off to our mortgage lender to see if we could leverage some of our essential renovations into enough of a buffer to keep paying the bills until I graduate. Sadly for us, government study allowances are not considered a secure form of income. Whereas if we were receiving a family allowance, we would apparently be a much safer bet.

It was a good-natured encounter, and I walked away feeling that I had put my argument well. Plan A, not to be. Luckily we had Plans B through D up our sleeves.

I guess we could develop Plan E, in which E stands for Embryo… It just seems a little extreme.

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Filed under Family, Med School, Sexuality

We Officially Own A Phone Line Together

A few days ago I had cause to call the telephone company, and when we were finished with the business of changing phone plans, the customer service rep asked if there was anything else she could do for me. Yes, I said, I’d like to enquire about having my partner named on the account. “Sure,” she said, “what’s his name?”

Here we go, I thought. “Her name…” Immediate profuse apologies followed, and my partner’s name was duly added to the account.

So what?

Well. For as long as I’ve been in same-sex de facto relationships, I’ve been told by utility companies that you can only have two names on the bill if we are blood relations or married or in a heterosexual de facto relationship.

Every relocation or change of provider, we try again. The closest we got was with a gas company who listed my partner as Mr., much to her annoyance.

Two years ago, with both our names on the mortgage? Still not good enough.

So strike me down, After ten years living together, we have a phone account in both our names.

I don’t know exactly what just changed in the world, but apparently 2010 will go down in history as the year we gained the right to adopt as a couple, and the year the phone company decided we exist.

I’m being somewhat facetious, but honestly, it feels good to be acknowledged as a couple even in such a tiny tiny way.

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Uh, My Reputation Precedes Me?

It was a clinical skills class with some particularly patient and generous patient volunteers, and we were practicing skills we had previously been taught on plastic models. Using a speculum and such. See I’m being sketchy with my explanation because I’m a little wary of search terms on the internet. The Lady Bits Exam.

We were to work in pairs. For a few minutes during the briefing I was uncomfortably aware of a sensation kind of like being picked last for the netball team. I guess working in pairs with the resident queer chick for this particular session could be some people’s idea of awkward. My old buddy Yoohoo rose to the challenge (if there was one).

In the spirit of great maturity, Yoohoo and I rock-paper-scissored for the first examination. I lost.

The volunteer and her chaperone were friendly, and we chatted away as I went about my tasks. My patient was elderly, and the mother of four children, and this was her fourth year of volunteering for this session. I did not find the examination particularly complex or daunting, and we were done with no fuss at about the speed I’d like my GP to get it over with.

As a pair, we were finished fairly quickly. The GP instructor appeared through the privacy screen as we were thanking the patient and saying our goodbyes.

GP INSTRUCTOR: How did they go, ladies?
PATIENT: Ooh they did very well. Yoohoo had a couple of goes, she just needs a bit more confidence. But she was very good.
CHAPERONE: Yes, they did very well. Very professional.
PATIENT: Confidence! Toast was so confident, and fast! Very very good. She may be the best student I’ve seen so far.
GP INSTRUCTOR: Yes, well, she does have a lot of experience.

One of those moments I had to just move on from so that I could roll on the floor hysterically later.

I should note that GP Instructor is not especially known to me, and I’m not sure where she gets her information… I can only assume she knew she was being hilarious.

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I am not a vegetarian

Sometimes it’s best just to dive on in.  I don’t like to say I’m a lesbian, because that is a noun and I don’t feel like I’m a noun.  My sexuality is not my entire being, it is a small but significant part of me.  Significant because other people make it so.

When labels are called for, I tend to opt for gay, maybe queer chick.  Not that I feel particularly queer, it’s just a slightly funkier word.

People try to tell me that it’s easier to come out now than it used to be.  Well, for me it is, because for the last (cough) years I’ve been coming out nearly every day, so yeah, it’s not that much of an effort.  It’s going to be different for everyone, but for me, the biggest step was shedding my own assumption of heterosexuality and all its attendant expectations.

Why is coming out so hard?  Internalised homophobia is a powerful force.  It is the dark little voice in our heads telling us we are somehow flawed, imperfect, deviant, queer.  Other.  Ugly.  Weak.  The social constructs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, are wrapped up in stereotypes and assumptions.  Is this me?  Do I sign up for this?  Am I really like that?  Can I change my mind?

It’s little things, like how do you know you’re a lesbian if you don’t have a girlfriend but I didn’t raise you to be like that and what about children.  Not being able to get a phone account in both our names.

It’s big things, like getting heckled, harassed, beaten up.  Not getting that job. Being kicked out of home.  Not being able to get married or adopt a child.  People counting us as less, trying to prove us wrong.

I was in the army reserves for a while, and I kept my mouth shut.  I segregated that part of my life from all the rest.  I never spoke about my partner, my work, I ducked through the personal pronouns.  I avoided the girls and I let the boys down gently.  I lied.  That’s no basis for friendship.  When I finally came clean, my friends were hurt that I hadn’t trusted them.

Of course, it’s not my friends who are the problem.  Most people catch on after a while that I’m no different.  It’s the jerks who think I’m there for their sexual titillation, that it’s a phase, that I need converting, or that I should be kept away from their kids. They are the problem.

I can understand not coming out.  It’s not easy and it’s not always safe.  And I know in this big boy’s world of medicine it’s not going to always win me fans.

I just think not taking the risk, not trusting that someone will be there to catch you, not believing that people can love you for who you are… I just think it’s sad. That’s all.

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Happy Birthday, Now Please Fuck Off

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday, so I called, and we had a virtually normal conversation for thirty-one minutes.  Followed by three minutes and forty-seven seconds of infuriating weirdness and a fairly uncomfortable silence.

Until I was seventeen, I thought my mother was this open-minded, accepting, non-judgmental person.  Then she decided I was a lesbian, and subjected me to an overnight train trip from Melbourne to Sydney in which she explained at length, no doubt to the delight of the entire carriage, all the reasons why she had not brought me up that way.  According to her, her gay male friends were fine, but narcissistic.  In her steel-trap mind, lesbianism was not about loving women, but about hating men.

At this point, though she had made her mind up, I had not.  Sure, I liked girls.  But at seventeen I did not feel the need to rule anything in or out.  And I certainly didn’t hate anybody.

Cut to now.  I’ve been out’n’proud for nearly eighteen years.  It hasn’t all been easy, and at times I’m sure I was a caricature of myself.  I did some damage.  I got better.

My mother lives with her father and takes in strays.  At the moment her project is the daughter of a family friend, who is now working with my grandfather and helping around the house.  Or something like that.  The three minutes of weirdness started with my mother telling me how this woman had come out to my granddad and how terrible it is that the girl’s mother is uncomfortable with her being a lesbian.  Hello?  Fuck that.  My mother has never been able to look my girlfriend in the eye.  She uses me for street cred: my daughter is a lesbian and I’m ever-so-together about that.  She needles and she picks and she judges.  She wonders why I can’t just find a nice Jewish lawyer and give her some grandkids.

“Tell her about the Glum,” says my granddad in the background.  “You tell her,” says my mother, who is trying to bridge the monster gap that has grown between me and the old man these last few years.  My skin prickles and I sense that this conversation is not going to build any bridges.  The phone is thrust into his hand.

“Oh Hi.  Carmen* and I were talking the other day and she said, they shouldn’t call it Gay and Lesbian, they should call it Gay and Glum.  Even at the wedding the other day, the lesbians there were all Glum.  Aha ha.”

Right.  Where am I supposed to go with that exactly?  Hate yourself, much?

Silence.

“I’ll give you back to your mother.”  Ok, bye.  Whatever.

“So, what do you think GLUM stands for?” she says.

“I have no idea.”  All I can think is fuck you.  Fuck you.  Fuck you.

Silence.

“Your dinner must be nearly ready.”

“It is, and I’m starving.”

Silence.  Fuck you.  The end.

So, Carmen*, whoever you are, I’m sorry that you and your friends are so goddamn glum.  I’m not.   And that’s probably because I don’t spend a lot of time with people who feed off conflict, negativity, and self-loathing.

This morning there will be a text message on my phone.  It will say “Pinch, punch, first of the month.  Happy November.  Love you xR”.  I will delete it as I do every month, and go back to my cordial detente in which I don’t call, don’t reply to emails, and don’t answer the phone when I know it is you.  Happy Birthday.  Leave me alone.  I’m happiest when I forget you exist.

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