Lesbians do not have many role models in the public eye, but things have changed drastically, for the better, over the past two decades.
We owe a huge amount of gratitude to Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Martina Navratilova, and Rosie O'Donnell for having the courage to be out in the open about who they are. We know some of the details of the personal lives of these famous lesbians, but we don't get much useful information from the mainstream media about positive gay relationships.
Gay couples face greater challenges, I believe, than heterosexuals do. For starters, it's harder to meet eligible people to date, especially in a town like Kansas City, where many gay people are quite discreet about their sexual orientation.
Once you do find someone and you start to establish a relationship, there's a chance that your new sweetie's family members are not accepting of homosexuality. No matter how wonderful you are as a couple, it may not be recognized. Some parents of gays hold on to the hope that homosexuality is just a phase, and that any day, a marriage will be announced, followed by grandchildren being produced, the old fashioned way.
Two weeks ago, I went out to dinner with a group of gay people, male and female. After a few beers, the topic of discussion turned to the plight of gay marriage. I do not believe that we will see it happen in our lifetime, since so many straight people who vote are clueless about homosexuality. I don't think that they really understand that gay couples can love each other deeply, and that this love is not really all that different from the one that straight couples share.
Honestly, I think that people who do not understand homosexuality have never really felt a strong attraction to anyone. They may have married another heterosexual, but they don't feel passion for their partners. Gay people understand attraction and passion. Most of us tried to be straight in high school, but it just felt terribly wrong. No spark. No interest. Nothing pulling you to that nice teenager of the opposite gender who is standing on your front porch, wondering why you are refusing a goodnight kiss.
Sometimes, people ask me if I wish I was straight. Well, it does not matter, really, because I cannot change my sexual orientation. I just try to make the best of it, and work within the system to enjoy my life in a world dominated by heteros, and appreciate what diversity my life here in Kansas City brings me. Hopefully, my life will bring me someplace like Bar Natasha or N V very soon. I am ready for a late night out on the town with a group of friends.
Single straight people. My world is full of them.
I went out the other night with a group of heterosexuals to a nice establishment on the Plaza. Our party included two co-workers that I know fairly well, but they do not know each other at all. I was reminded during our time together just how different the genders are, that the communication skills may very well have been developed on different planets.
The cute straight male co-worker is comfortable with long episodes of silence, and short answers to questions are just fine to him. He was just being himself, not trying to impress anyone. The cute female co-worker was disappointed that he did not contribute to the conversation more, and she came to some wrong conclusions about the scenario.
The straight man seated next to me just did not seem to know what to think of me. He appeared reluctant to talk to me at first. When socializing with straight people, I don't feel a need to broadcast that I am not one of them, especially when some of the people in the group know me well enough that it is possible that fact has already been disclosed. So I made small talk with this guy, eventually we became more at ease and had each other laughing. I was only there to have fun. Scoping out a potential candidate for dating was not on my agenda that night.
When one of the heteros said to another one, who was of the opposite gender, "You seem to be a little bit hostile," I had two reactions. I felt a strong desire to laugh, and to crawl under the table and hide. I was embarrassed for both of them. It served as a reminder to me just how treacherous things can be in the dating world. Straight or gay, as you are just getting to know each other, the awkwardness will be there. If you are able to have a sense of humor about it all, you just may get through it. But leave your pride at home, as a safety measure.
Recently, I learned that an old friend of mine briefly dated one of my newer lesbian friends. So when the old friend told me she was having a party at her house Saturday night, I took the opportunity to re-unite them. One was more nervous about it than the other, but when they saw each other, they were all smiles and hugs. I left them alone to say their hellos, and I greeted the familiar faces around me.
This group of friends, mostly women, became acquainted with me during the year or so that I dated a good friend of theirs. She and I often find ourselves invited to the same parties. Usually, I show up and she does not, and nobody really talks about it. Her friends have been more than gracious toward me, and I am very appreciative of that. Oh, and some of them are rather cute, guess I should 'fess up about that added bonus.
I knew several of the partygoers well enough that I could act like a fool, joining them in dysfunctional Karaoke for a couple of hours. My new friend played DJ for awhile, digging up bad songs from the 80s and the soundtrack from "Grease." I suggested we find some hairbrushes to use as microphones while we sang badly, but someone went to the kitchen to find utensils that worked just as well.
So in the midst of showcasing our abysmal Karaoke skills, my new friend asked me if I would be interested in heading over to Tootsie's when we were done humiliating ourselves. A couple of her friends were there, and they kept calling her, asking her to stop by and have a beer with them. We did. They were fun, just like my new friend.
I was happy how things progressed Saturday night. Although we did not stay at Tootsie's for long, I had a chance to mingle with some new people, and we had a good time. They invited me to join them for happy hour a couple of evenings ago, at an establishment in Midtown that just opened. They were there to play darts. I was there because I am interested in getting to know my new friend better.
The last person I officially dated, the young lady I met over the summer, has been calling me. We may go out, as friends, to Missie B's next weekend. I think I will invite some of my guy friends along, make it a group outing instead of a one-on-one experience. If we run into some cute lesbians, I don't want them to get the idea that she is my girlfriend. That could stop someone from flirting with me, and that would be a shame !
"Soul mate" and "my ex" are expressions that currently are not part of my vocabulary, but I often hear these words while listening to single people talk about their dating experiences. I am not romantic enough, I guess, to believe that we are destined to be with one particular person.
When I hear single people say, "I am looking for my soul mate," it makes me think that they take this whole dating thing much more seriously than I do. It also makes me wonder if they are ruling out potential candidates for dating, because they do not immediately feel some profound connection with the eligible singles that they meet.
To me, dating involves spending time with someone, going places and having fun while you learn about each other. Sometimes, you can begin to get to know each other as friends, and it grows into something more. Other times, the relationship never does take a romantic turn, and you either go your separate ways, or you can remain friends.
My adventures in the world of dating could best be described as friendship development. Could any of these women be a candidate for girlfriend status in the future? No, I don't think so. But I cannot imagine using the term "my ex" to describe our status either. The women I have dated are still part of my life, and that feels right to me. And although I may share a special bond with some of them, the words "soul mate" just don't fit.
Maybe I just don't get the whole "soul mate" concept because I have not experienced it yet. Maybe she is out there looking for me, and I just haven't been paying enough attention to notice her. Maybe someday, my whole perspective on dating will change . I just don't know. But I do know that Kansas City is home to a number of nice, attractive, single lesbians, and I need to work on getting to know more of them.
Entry 4 Last weekend, I attended a bonfire party that two of my fun lesbian friends had in their backyard. The young lady I dated this summer was looking for something to do that night, so I told her she was welcome to join the party. She did. I invited someone else, a friend that I have known for a long time. We met through someone I dated several years ago. When that dating relationship ended, we both managed to stay friends with people we had met through each other. I am extremely grateful for that.
I think that the gay community in Kansas City is small enough that you really need to put effort into staying on good terms with your former love interests. After the break-up, you will need to get out and be social again, and avoiding the dreaded "drama" is beneficial to all of the persons involved. This includes the mutual friends, who are in the awkward position of trying to stay neutral while being supportive of both of you. And unless everyone who ever breaks up with you moves out of town immediately afterwards, you are bound to run into an ex if you go out to gay nightclubs, parties, or various Gay Pride events.
The social ramifications of being gay in Kansas City are kind of like being straight and living in a small town, I suppose, the way people seem to know plenty about other people's business. You can earn a bad reputation by sleeping around too much, or by engaging in other various behaviors.
Good reputations can also be earned, and having a strong network of friends who will give you a positive reference can come in handy. You never know who might be checking you out, and asking about you as you get your groove on at Tootsie's or NV.
Maybe next weekend I will get out there and dance......
For gay people, finding someone to date is a different game from the one that heteros play. We can't exactly be forthcoming about our social intentions while conducting our daily business out in the predominately straight world.
Although I am blessed with the gift of "gaydar," it is not foolproof. Some lesbians don't give off many cues. To further complicate things, some straight women have short hair, wear sensible shoes, and refuse to carry a purse.
So, how does a woman meet real lesbians? Kansas City has a number of establishments where gays can relax and mingle. For many of us, talking to new people is less intimidating in venues where cocktails are available. And although lesbians have been known to visit the Westport Sun Fresh and the local library, the odds are still better in a bona fide gay bar.
Recently, I shared an evening with a lady friend at a low- key gay bar in Overland Park. We enjoyed beer, funny conversation, and a few games of pool. Years ago, when she used to go out more, we would see each other at Tootsie's (lesbian bar.) We chose this meeting place, well I chose it, because the atmosphere is much more conducive to good conversation.
She confided in me that she is searching for love via the Internet. Currently, she belongs to five different matchmaking services. Five ! ! ! I am intrigued by this approach to dating, but not bold enough to try it. I have met friends online, people with interests similar to mine, and we stay in touch with e-mail and instant messaging. But for meeting potential love interests, I think that kickin' it, old school, is more my style. So, on to the next real world adventure. A party next weekend that should be well attended by lesbians.
Single people who complain that "there's nothing to do in Kansas City" concern me.
Downtown Kansas City is alive and well, with a vibe that you just can't find out in the 'burbs. Just take in the next First Fridays event, and you will find people of all ages and backgrounds experiencing cultural and social opportunities.
A straight friend from work went with me to the most recent First Fridays event. The plan initially was for me to attend with Catherine, a lesbian I dated this summer. Catherine was running late, so I headed downtown with the co-worker. We enjoyed walking through the galleries and boutiques, just hanging out in the big city. We ended the evening at Bar Natasha, a drinking establishment and makeshift art gallery that is frequented, and run, by my gay peers.
Shortly after we arrived, I ran into a former crush, someone I had not seen for a couple of years. I think about her sometimes, wonder if she is still single and living in Kansas City. She looked great, just like I remember. Talking to her did make my heart go pitter patter, guess maybe that crush has not completely vanished.
Moving on, we found a table, and my friend Catherine arrived. Yes, it is possible to be friends with someone you dated. So far, it has not been too weird, I think we can do it. We do have a good time together. She is funny, and a great conversationalist.
My two companions had barely been introduced, when three more of my friends showed up, unexpectedly. I invited them to join us. One was celebrating a birthday, and all three were ready for a drink and lots of laughs. The night just kept getting better. Bar Natasha is so upbeat, and everyone is welcome there. Kansas City is a great place to live if you are single, regardless of your sexual orientation. I look forward to my next outing to a nightclub. It will involve a lady I recently met, her name is Lauren. We have been talking about going out for a drink, and are planning on doing that next week.
"They got some crazy little women there, and I'm a-gonna get me one."
Or so the Kansas City anthem goes.
I have been searching for several years, not really for a crazy little Kansas City woman, but instead, for Ms. Right. Admittedly, I have not looked very diligently. My attitude has mostly been, "If it happens, it happens, and it often happens when you least expect it."
Sometimes, I think about what keeps a person single. I observe couples, and singles, and think about their lives, their personalities. Are some of us single people perhaps just being too particular? Maybe. Are some of those who are in relationships only involved with their significant others because they are just too terrified of being alone? Sure they are.
So what is my deal? People do ask, on occasion, "Why are you single?" So I look back, reflect on the good, the bad, and the mediocre. Most of my dating relationships have fallen into the latter category, and I am just too content with my life to settle for someone who just does not make my heart skip.
I have felt that spark, that attraction, that feeling of love for a woman before. A couple of times. It is difficult to settle for mediocre, when you have had a taste of bliss.
Sure, there are several women currently in my life who have potential. We keep in touch, go out on the town sometimes. My many gay male friends also keep me company. Their dating status can determine just how much we go out, since I usually do not care to be the third wheel.
Friday evening, I have tentative plans to head downtown with a lady friend. No, I do not consider her a candidate for girlfriend status, but I enjoy her company. We have fun, and that is important for a single person. Don't get too caught with questions about where the relationship might lead. Just let loose and have a good time.