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by Shelly Roberts

Lesbian Sex? Unheard Of!

David, who is now 70, spending these days on a Carolina island, sipping coconut milk drinks, checked in after a few years of absence. And he reminded me of something I meant to share. I worked for David in the New York ad trade, when he was a mere 62.

David was heading toward me one morning, when I realized something was different. Not wanting to make that stupid mistake when confronted with this physiognomous anomaly (which should cover your word-a-day exercises for this afternoon, Girls and Boys) of saying, "New haircut?" when someone just had a nose job, I studied his face.

Mustache! You shaved your mustache!" Yep. When I was eighteen, I looked in the mirror at my baby face, and said, `A mustache would make me look older.' This morning, as I was looking in the mirror again, and I realized it was working too well!"

Now this is related to lesbian sex, kiddies. Be patient. I did a radio show last week, and amongst the incoming questions was one I now expect. No, not the "abomination-unto-God" one, the two-lesbians one. From a middle-voiced middle-aged, middle-mannered, middle woman -- though I've heard it from all manner.

"I saw two lesbians the other day." She started, about to answer my silent query about how she could tell. "And they couldn't keep their hands off each other. Why is it that lesbians have to be so sexual in public?"

This time I didn't duck the subject. I just dodged. "Oh, wouldn't you love to have a relationship just like that again with your husband? (sigh)" It deflected her into misty reveries of her courtship, and the bullet missed my ear by inches.

Attention! Attention!

See, I'm not unschooled about these things. I got the memo. You know, the one from Lesbian and Gay Central, with the flashing neon "Politically Correct Alert!" bannered across the top.

Lesbian sexuality is very scary to non-gays. It smacks of Barbara Stanwick-after-your-wife. They only know us by our sexuality. They only know us by their pornography, usually written by their men. And faked pictures in -- boy magazines with wild tongues going at each other.

From this time forward, let everyone committing acts of speaking in public refrain from this vile, stereotypical subject matter. It is the official policy of this body, and theretofore binding and irrevocable, that the image of lesbian America shall be of wholesome, whole hearted, asexual girl-next-door. Genitalia-deleted flesh Barbies. Dyke Doris days. Little sisters. Daughters. For acceptance, it is paramount, repeat urgent, repeat critical, repeat absolutely necessary, that all sexual references be eliminated from our speaker's bureau vocabulary.

We trust you will follow this dictum to the precise letter to accomplish our world wide agenda, or else the entire community will trash you with in an inch of your stomach lining, excommunicate you from the cooler social occasions, and generally make your life heck on wheels.


Because we said so.

Your Ever-vigilant Homosexual Oversight Committee.

So like a good doo-be, in those days I bobbed and weaved and changed the subject whenever it came up. I wasn't the only one who got the memo, apparently. So did hundreds of thousands of middle lesbians who never get on the radio. And thus our front cover mainstream magazine portraits showed us, not as sexual predators, but mild mannered girl-scouts in whose mouth butter, among other things, wouldn't melt.

For years, in order to accommodate the necessary acceptable world wide imagery for lesbians, we all, okay, many of us, had internalized, not the homophobic message, but the asexual one. With profound unison cries of "We're not just about our sexuality!" we went forth and befriended.

So the only time that we even dared its whisper in public is in those extraordinary moments when, even on subways or in cafes, it was physically impossible not to touch. Which tells me why so many straights only saw us when we were touching each other.

I'd read the memo, and as David said earlier, looked in the mirror, and discovered it worked.

Being asexual friends was just fine. Many lesbians chose it. But that is a choice. Not a default. And nearly as I can tell, the textbook definition of lesbian, at core, has a great deal to do with sex. Putting it back into our lives and vocabulary is overdue. Being a lesbian, as we all know is hard work, and comes with high price tags. Paying those prices over time has now moved lesbiansism into the public arena.

Ellen DeGeneres paid a high price for coming out publically in 1997. If you recall, she initially came out on an Oprah Winfrey Show. Shortly afterwards, on Ellen's own sitcom her character, Ellen Morgan, also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey. Ellen's show was soon cancelled. She paid a very high price for being true to herself. But she also taught the world a lesson that isn't finished being taught.

Soon thereafter, Ellen began her rise to unprecedented lesbian exposure and popularity. The dirty little secret had been let out! Lesbiansim might just be ok!

By 2008, Ellen not only beat Oprah Winfrey in the female talk-show host popularity contest, after publicly marrying Porche de Rossi in Caifornia, but also was chosen to be American's next "Cover Girl" cosmetics spokesmodel. Ellen DeGeneres neither denys nor flaunts her sexuality.

The same is true of Melissa Etheridge, a opely lesbian Academy Award-winning and two-time Grammy Award-winning American rock singer-songwriter and musician. Etheridge is famous as a gay rights activist, having come out publicly as a lesbian even before Ellen DeGeneres in January 1993 at the Triangle Ball, a gay/lesbian celebration of President Bill Clinton's inauguration.

Melissa made headlines with her long-term partnership to Julie Cypher, with whom she had two children. Their children were fathered by sperm doner David Crosby in born in 1997 and 1998. Her public break-up of this relationship was followed by a widely-accepted autobiographical book. Melissa then went on to exchange vows in 2003 with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, who gave birth to a son and daughter via an anonymous sperm donor in 2006.

Melissa Etheridge's highly publicized relationship struggles and victories have been accepted by people worldwide as they embrace her work. She has released 10 albums in her career, and three of them have gone multi-platinum, two others went platinum and two more gold. Her life and work are so widely accepted that she performed at the U.S. 2008 Democratic National Convention on 27 August 2008.

The "Roberts' Rules of Lebian Sex" Memo, decreed by Hollywood and it's world-wide fan base, is:

She who dares to talk about her lesbian relationship can win!

Ellen and Melissa and dozens of other publicly out lesbians have opened the doors for coversations about lesbians, and lesbian sex, forever forward. As true leaders, they have set the example for millions of other lesbians to  have the bravery to claim their rights, to live fully as people with love and sex in their own lives.

These lesbian leaders have shown the world that lesbians can have healthy lives, be loved, be married, have families with their own children, and most importantly, be the fully expressive people they need and have a civil right to be - with lesbian sex and all. They have re-written the rule book!

Shelly Roberts is an internationally syndicated columnist, and the author of the newest best-selling Roberts' Rules of Lesbian Living. (Spinsters Ink.)


Shelly Roberts is an internationally syndicated columnist, and the author of the "Roberts' Rules of Lesbian Living", published by Spinsters Ink.

Originally Published 5/28/98

Revised 9/19/08 by Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.

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