September 14, 2004
Being a dyke in the Chicago ‘burbs can be a lonely prospect. It is for me, especially since my good gay-gal buddy Jill moved from the building next door in favor of the queerer pastures of Andersonville. I venture into the city as often as I can to get my lesbian batteries recharged, but I languish between trips, and I sometimes find myself craving gayness, which is very hard to come by in the land of SUVs and soccer moms.
Sometimes the Great Gay God sends me little homo signs, telling me that I am not alone. Two mulleted ladies pushing a stroller in front of my building. The spiky-haired cutie behind the meat counter at Jewel. The rail-thin boy browsing the fabrics department at Hobby Lobby, humming “Holiday.” These encounters with my fellow homoinvaders of suburbia are usually nothing more than a brief exchange of words, maybe a glance and a knowing smile of recognition, but the small dose of queerosity is enough to hearten me and get me through another lesboriffic day.
Every once in a while, though, the signs He sends are more of the giant, flashing neon variety. A few weeks ago, I was exiting my local discount retail establishment (not sure I should give the name in this column, but let’s just say it’s the one with the logo that looks like a big red nipple) on a bright Saturday afternoon. As I walked out the green doors with my purchases (soap, tampons, and sugarfree gum, in case you were wondering), I passed two tanned, skinny girls, both hovering somewhere about fifth-grade age. The pair were clad in standard-issue summer-suburban gear: beat-up jean shorts, spaghetti-strap tops, and flip flops. They weren’t up to much—just skipping and holding hands, the sort of pursuit you’d expect two silly little suburban girls to be pursuing. Then, they skipped up to me and spoke.
"Excuse me," the taller one said, "are you a lesbian?" Knocked me for a loop. I've been asked that question before, but never by 'tweens in a parking lot. Normally I would have kept walking, not very keen on my sexuality being scrutinized by 10-year-olds, but I guess that day I had a wild hair.
"Yeah, I am," I told them, “why do you ask?” For a second my brain flashed back to my school days, in which the words you could have thrown at you were "faggot" and "dyke," and I braced myself for the two to hit me with name calling and mean-spirited giggling straight off the playground.
Instead: "Oh, cool!" Tall Girl exclaimed. "We’re lesbians, too!" Then the lanky young lass wrapped her arms around her friend's neck, and they started kissing—not in soft-porn, horndog-y makeout mode, but rather in a sort of a sweet, goofy imitation of a 50s Hollywood screen kiss, with much smooshing together of lips. Slack-jawed, my mind literally a blank, I stood there, speechless and transfixed, even after they stopped, yelled, "Bye!" and, again hand in hand, ran away giggling.
My first thought, which came several moments later, was, “What the Hell?” I still don’t quite know what to make of the scene. Were these two little play actors putting on a show for me? Or were the two ladies actual Lesbos in Training, coming out in their own unique way? All I do know is that two little girls in suburbia paid a sweet (albeit odd) tribute to gayness that made this big gay girl feel a little less lonely.