Remember Thursdays on the Mickey Mouse Club? That was the day when
new episodes of Spin and Marty would be shown. Spin was sort of a butch
character, while Marty played the more feminine male role. We all knew they were going to grow up gay...it was inevitable.
Then there was that super sleuth, Nancy Drew, admired by all of us aspiring lesbians. She was quick-witted, capable, cute, and very very smart. There was no case she couldn't solve, no mystery too tough.
Put them all together and you have a combination that seems to play itself out time and time again in our experiences: lesbians and gay men-living and working together side-by-side in very happy and productive relationships-we just don't sleep together.
Having given this dynamic much thought, I have decided that the key to the success of these associations is the key to success in most happy marriages: equality, mutual respect, and genuine "like" for one another. Consider the formula.
You have a lesbian who is independent and capable of caring for herself (and several others simultaneously as she has been socialized to do since childhood). You have a gay man, generally more self-sufficient than most straight men in our society who is also more sensitive to shades of difference and ways of being in the world. Now there are exceptions to both of the above; however, for the sake of illustration, let's assume we are working somewhere within the parameters of these definitions.
The unique quality in these gay/lesbian relationships is the absence of the sexual mandate; in other words, these two members of the opposite sex DO NOT ATTRACT. In the absence of this hormonal drive toward each other, the affections of each for the other can exist freely and unencumbered between them. They can work together quite effectively, each laughing at the romantic exploits of the other in their separate realms. They can "talk" in other words, without the underlying sexual tension which develops in straight mixed gender relationships. Affection is genuine and comfortable.
Of course, all bets are off if one or the other is bisexual.
As a lesbian, I truly love my gay male friends. In many ways, they are loved like my eccentric old uncle who carved toys for me as a child: safe and loads of fun. My vigilance as a woman in today's world can also be relaxed in the company of gay male friends. They are my confidants, my sounding boards, my confessors. They are also loving advisors.
All goes well in our friendships until one of the friends falls in love: SHHHEEEE-BOOM! Then the feathers fly. Little jealousies emerge; feelings are hurt because time isn't spent together; communication fades. But let the end come and WHAM-a lesbian and her gay male friend are as thick as thieves once again.
This affectional phenomenon is based upon the absence of sexual attraction for one another that allows us to love in the best of platonic senses. We can be honest with each other...no hidden agendas. We can seek the support and comfort we need without having to stir in a big helping of sexual desire. And the results are very close friendships that last through the years.
Ever watch two lesbians try to be best friends? They start out as running-buddies...Peck's bad girls...tomboys or femmes on the run. But something inevitably happens and they begin to see one another as potential sexual partners. The hormonal pull kicks in and soon they have crossed the line into "something else." This "something else" might also account for some of the political tension that exists in most women's groups. It is a tough, tough job to keep all your feelings above the waist! Gravity will prevail and the first twinge in the nether regions marks the beginning of the end of a lesbian friendship and entry into a lesbian relationship.
I suspect a similar thing happens with gay men-it just doesn't take as long to reach the final frontier as it does with lesbians. Lesbians take circuitous paths to reach their goals; gay men get right to the point.
Friendships between lesbians and gay men have even greater importance as our community stands on the brink of a new millennium. I'm all for these associations. I think we can accomplish more. Lesbians working in groups develop dynamics that would rival any Peyton Place or Melrose Place script. I call it "Dyke Drama" and it is very volatile. Dyke Drama...ah, Dyke Drama. Watch it any Saturday Night. There's always some woman who touched some other woman's ex-girlfriend and an announcer might as well have called out "Let the Games Begin!" But throw in a couple of gay men to dilute the mixture and you have much smoother waters. Give me a nice solid nellie queen any day when the going gets rough...like Allstate, you're in good hands.
So what can we learn about ourselves from our lesbian/gay relationships? For one thing we are good for each other. We feed each others' strengths and shore up each others' weaknesses. We offer love and affection that is without tension. We form strong alliances to fight the oppressions that face us everyday.
If you don't have a gay male friend and you're a lesbian-get one. And if you're a gay man and you lack the benefits of a lesbian friend, seek one out. We must build internal bridges as well as bridges across political and social lines. Lesbians and gay men are a force to be reckoned with, so consider the possibilities of a collaboration between Nancy Drew and Spin and Marty. For once, Nancy doesn't have to stay home and make supper while the boys go out adventuring. Instead, Marty bakes great quiche while Spin and Nancy round up the cattle.
Sounds like a match made in heaven.