For a woman with internalized homophobia

The Independent published a “Dear Mary” column in which a woman in love with her female friend asked for advice. Mary gave her very poor advice, which is why I am stepping in.

The reader asked the following:

“I think that I am in love with my best friend who is also a girl. I do not know if the term is really in love at all, because up until now I’ve never ever had a romantic relationship. My status is NBSB – no boyfriend since birth. I just really believe that true love waits, so am not in a rush. I’m a 24-year-old professional whose career is going strong, I have a wonderful family, I serve the Lord every Sunday and I only have very selected friends.

My friend and I went to the same university and took the same degree course. During our college years, I developed this likeness of her being around me because I was attracted to her simplicity and humour. She was a very good friend to me during college.

After we graduated my interest and our friendship got deeper. I used to visit her most of the time since we live in the same village. I slept over at her house many times, I did favours for her and I honestly admit that I care for her a lot. I also think that she’s trying her best to return any favour that I’ve asked for. We feel at home with each other’s presence.

Of course, my mind is battling against my feelings. My intellect says the reason why I am like this is because she’s the only person I can cling to after my family. But my feelings tell me differently.

We have a lot in common. We share the same NBSB status, we are both religious, conservative, and also share other life ideologies.

I did not have this sort of confusion before but I am now wondering if I have a lesbian orientation. I even introduced her as my “girlfriend” which she just laughed at, and I understand. If I were a boy I would marry her. If I will be with one person for the rest of my life, I want it to be a male version of her.

So am I in love with my best friend considering these things? Or is it that just because she is available to me that I am into her?

Or could it be that I can’t find a man who is up to my own standards and so I settle for her companionship? Do I have to consider myself as a lesbian?

As of now, my plan is to distance myself from her because the more time that I am with her the more I want to be with her. I don’t hate those who are lesbian but I do not like this orientation either.

Sorry to say, but I even thought of having a “boyfriend” just to alleviate my attention from her and to see if it feels good to have one.

I grew up in a God-fearing environment so I know what is supposed to be done. Yes, the Church never condemns the LGBT community but I do not want to be one in any case.”

This is how Mary answered her reader:

“I really don’t think that you have had enough life experience to honestly be able to answer yourself as to what your sexual orientation is.

You haven’t ever had a boyfriend, you have a small selection of friends who share your values, and one girl in particular means an awful lot to you.

Women have best friends all through their lives. They may not see each other regularly, or they may meet up a couple of times a week, but they are always there for each other and can be counted on through the best and worst of times.

So far this is what you have with this girl, and as a result you have become very comfortable when you are with her. The big question is would you like to wake up next to her every morning?

We love lots of people in our lives. Our family, our friends, our hairdresser, our doctor, and each one is a different sort of love, but love nonetheless.

But with a partner there is a sexual component as well, and although I realise that you have zero sexual experience, would you like to be sexual with her? Only you can answer that question. What matters is that you stop worrying and get things sorted out in your head.

Your idea of having a boyfriend is a very good one, because until you try it you don’t know if it is for you.

Naturally you will adhere to whatever teachings your Church lays down, and I’m not advocating that you do anything that is forbidden, but dating, kissing and all the fun stuff that is part of the dating process should be experienced by you with a guy before you can in any way definitively say that you are lesbian.”

This is terrible advice, for the following reasons: she didn’t address her internalized homophobia, she minimized the importance of this relationship, and she suggested that a woman must try dating a man in order to find out if she’s a lesbian. That last point is particularly offensive. Here’s some real advice:

Dear writer,

I am delighted to hear about this wonderful friendship you have. It is truly a blessing to find people who you can connect with on such a level and who make you feel good just by being themselves. You seem to know already that you love your friend, and I know you haven’t decided yet what kind of love it is, but it is definitely love, and that is something to cherish.

There are some clues in what you’ve written here that tell me that what you feel for her is romantic love. You say that if you were a boy you’d marry her, and that you’d like to spend your life with a male version of her. What I’m hearing from you is that you already know that you’d like to marry her. This sounds different from the platonic love we feel for our friends. For example, you have surely had other friends before, but didn’t want to marry them: what is the difference? Try to name how your feelings for your current friend are different from your feelings from other friends who you haven’t wanted to marry. That will give you a clue as to what “kind” of love you are feeling.

You are reluctant to believe that you could be a lesbian and that is because you don’t think that having a lesbian orientation is okay. I hope you will take some time to ask yourself why loving another woman would be wrong. I understand you have a religious faith and this is informing your beliefs. Why do you think your church opposes homosexuality?

Here are some questions to consider regarding religion and sexuality. If God made you the way you are, and if you are naturally inclined to love women, then doesn’t it follow that God made you that way? Do you believe it is necessary or possible to change the way God created you? Do you think the teachings of the church are absolute and always correct? Has the church ever changed the way it functions or the message it teaches before? Do you think that people’s interpretation of the Bible is absolutely correct and cannot be open to any other interpretations? Some religious people suggest that the reason homosexuality is wrong is because it’s based on lust or fornication or because it doesn’t produce children. Do you think the love you feel for your friend is based on lust? Do you think that all relationships need to produce children to be valid?

To me, it doesn’t sound like the way you feel for your friend is based on a sinful desire to satisfy your flesh. It sounds like a deep respect and appreciation for her as a person and a feeling of warmth and happiness when you are with her. Do you think that a deep love and appreciation for another woman can be considered sinful? Does that sound like something that comes from evil? It sure doesn’t sound like it to me!

I think what you have here is a blessing in disguise. You are apprehensive about accepting something that you never thought you would accept before, and that’s totally understandable. But you are in love with a woman who shares your values and beliefs and that could turn out to be a really good thing. There is a perception that gays and lesbians are all urban liberals who live a lifestyle full of partying and dancing, and although there certainly are people like that, there are all sorts of other types too. There are even gay conservatives! You are in the lucky position of already having found someone who is your “type,” and if you find out that she loves you back, you have an excellent foundation for a long-term relationship.

I know you haven’t decided to tell her how you feel yet, but that is an option for you that I hope you will consider. If you just “stop being friends” with her, she may feel hurt and confused, wondering why you suddenly stopped being her friend. That might cause you both a lot of pain. You could decide to go on as you are, not declaring your feelings and continuing as friends. That could potentially be enjoyable, but I’m sensing that something is pushing you to make a change. Because you have written this letter asking for advice, it sounds like this situation is no longer working for you. What you decide to do is ultimately up to you, but consider this: telling her how you feel doesn’t automatically mean that the two of you will be in a romantic relationship, or that you are already a sinner, or that you will lose your faith or her friendship. You may just discuss with her how you are feeling but also that you aren’t sure yet what to do about it. It’s okay not to be sure. It’s good to go one step at a time when you are dealing with something that feels like such a big deal.

There is really no need to try having a boyfriend just to see what it’s like. It’s not fair to you or to the man you might date to just try it for the sake of experiment. If you ever meet a man you are attracted to, then the two of you will naturally begin seeing each other when the sparks start flying. Of course there is nothing wrong with going out and meeting people, but don’t pressure yourself to date a man just for the sake of dating a man if he’s not the one who makes you happy. If you needed a man in your life, you’d probably have found yourself naturally attracted to one by now. If you haven’t, it could be that they aren’t what you need. You wouldn’t be the first woman to feel that way.

I hope that whatever you decide to do, you can come to appreciate the beautiful gift your friend is in your life, and consider what you have with her a treasure, whether you choose to define it as homosexual or not. It’s not the label that’s important, it’s the joy you experience with her that matters.

School won’t let lesbian student change identities again

From the New York Post:

“School to student: Enough with the gender flip-flopping”

“Administrators at a Long Island high school forced a student to sign a contract barring her from changing her gender identity because she had switched it twice already, sources told The Post.”

Okay, it’s slightly odd to make a student sign a contract not to change her gender identity. Adolescents normally go through many stages of identity formation, you can’t really stop that process nor do you need to. And this student only changed her identity twice, which is not that much. However, adolescents these days don’t just get a strange piercing or dye their hair, or go around being goth for a while, now they force everyone around them to acknowledge their identities for them by changing the way they speak to them. The one thing I will agree with here is that the school should not be forced to change their school records and retrain all staff on new pronouns every time an adolescent discovers new feelings about her- or him-self. That would be an administrative nightmare and a waste of time. People are allowed to have a gender identity and change it whenever they want, but as has always been customary among humans, we refer to each other by our sex, which does not change, rather than our subjective internal feelings, which are subject to change any time, possibly several times a day.

Although trans activists claim that trans people were born inherently trans, and can’t be any other way, and will die of either murder or suicide if not allowed to transition, this adolescent girl identified as a boy for a while and then all of a sudden desisted just so that grandma and grandpa wouldn’t find out. Did she go back into the closet so that her grandparents wouldn’t find out, and continue to think of herself as male, while planning to come out again later on when it was safer? No, she just stopped thinking of herself as male.

“Now a gay female again with her original name, the student said she is likely to remain a woman for the foreseeable future.”

“I just came to the realization that gender is not a big deal either way,” she said. “People can think of me however they want. It’s not important.”

I agree with that last statement of hers. Your “gender” isn’t that important. It basically amounts to your taste in fashion, your choice of hairstyle, and your feelings about yourself. These can change any time and it’s no big deal and it doesn’t change who you are.

The fact that this student now identifies as gay was tucked away in there casually near the bottom like no big thing. This happens so often with articles about women who identify as men. The fact that they are lesbian is mentioned in passing like it’s no big deal, and no journalist, (aside from TERF bloggers) ever reports that this phenomenon is something largely affecting lesbians.

Lesbians are not born inherently male, folks. We’re born female and we remain female. We often feel different from other girls, which is normal. This doesn’t mean we’re male, it means we’re lesbian.

I hope this young woman finds happiness in the lesbian community.

A homophobic tennis player

Apparently there’s a kerfuffle happening in Australia over some comments by former tennis star Margaret Court.

From the Guardian:

“The former tennis champion Margaret Court has claimed “tennis is full of lesbians” following a row over remarks she made previously about gay marriage. She added that transgender children were the work of “the devil”.

Court’s earlier comments opposing same-sex marriage sparked furious debate about whether the show court named in her honour at Melbourne Park should be changed. However, she said that attempts to remove her name from it were “bullying”.”

I have mixed feelings about whether a building should be renamed because the honoree made offensive comments. I think a few years ago I would have agreed that the court should change its name to show its opposition to Court’s bigotry, but now I’m inclined to think that such a reaction would be overkill. After witnessing the increasing inability of anyone on the Left to tolerate discussion, questions or nuance, and to repress any speech that doesn’t meet current standards of ideological purity, I’m just totally fed up with trying to get people to stop saying certain things. There’s nothing like being a member of a group that’s been silenced to make you appreciate free speech.

It’s an odd feeling to have reached “peak left” when I still am actually on the left. I’m just on an imaginary left, one that is pro-woman and seeks to eliminate sex-based oppression as well as class-based oppression, and one that lives in reality and does the best it can to make practical, positive improvements for oppressed people. Sadly, that left doesn’t exist in the real world anymore, but a girl can dream, y’know?

I’m not entirely sure what the solution is to changing people with bigoted beliefs. Is making it impossible for them to speak and bullying them into silence really the way to do it? That often makes them shut up for a while, but all that hatred comes out of the woodwork eventually when they’re given a reason or an opportunity to express it. And sometimes, trying to bully someone just makes them more firm in their beliefs.

It would be nice if education, reasonable explanation, and rational debate could work on more people, but sadly, it works on very few. Especially those whose beliefs aren’t based on any substantial evidence or logic in the first place.

Margaret Court is quoted as saying the following:

 “We know that homosexuality is a lust of the flesh, so is adultery, fornication, all those things … they too know this, this is why they want marriage, because it’s self-satisfying. I think they know it comes against Christianity, the beliefs of God, but in some way it’s justifying.”

and…

“Everybody knows that it is wrong but they’re after our young ones, that’s what they are after”.

This is so baffling it’s actually sort of fascinating. I know those of you who were raised in any homophobic religious tradition have heard this sort of thing before, but I was not ever told that sinners were going to fry in hell during my childhood and I’ve long thought this religious stuff is very silly.

Her basic premise here is that homosexuality is “lust” and that makes it inherently wrong. I had to look up lust in the dictionary to make sure I wasn’t missing something, and indeed I wasn’t. It just means strong sexual desire. I actually have no idea what’s wrong with strong sexual desire…seems pretty normal to me? Many people of all sexual orientations experience sexual desire. In particular, heterosexual men are quite well-known for that quality. If sexual desire is a sin then isn’t heterosexuality a sin too? If God created us, then didn’t he create sexual desire on purpose to further the continuation of the species? This whole premise just makes no sense. I see no reason why lust would be considered a sin in the first place, so I see no reason why “it’s just lust” would be an argument against homosexuality.

I had to look up “fornication” too because this is not a commonly-used word outside of Bible-thumping communities. It means sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Once again, I have no idea what is wrong with that. If Court thinks that no one should have sex outside of marriage, then once again, she should be opposed to heterosexuality as well, since heterosexuals regularly have sex outside of marriage. And it’s a bit ironic that someone who thinks one should be married to have sex also opposes people getting married.

Then she says we want marriage because it’s “self-satisfying.” I don’t even know what she means by that. Marriage rights are important for many financial and legal reasons, like being able to access your partner’s health benefits and being able to visit them in a hospital room if they are ill. What is “self-satisfying” about it? Marriage is a commitment to another person, so it’s not about satisfying the self.

Then the bits about “everybody knows its wrong” and “they’re after our children,” like, whoa there. No, everybody doesn’t think love is wrong. When two people are in love and pledge their commitment to each other and care about each other and take care of each other every day and yes, also touch each other in intimate ways, that is beautiful and there is nothing wrong about it. I have no idea what could be wrong about any of that. And why do homophobic people always think we’re “after the children”? Like, “after them” for what reason? I’m guessing it’s either one of two things: they think we’re all child molesters, or they think that homosexuality is contagious and we’re trying to infect children with it. One group of people very highly likely to be child molesters is Catholic priests, and for some reason homophobic people ignore that and point the finger at us. Homosexuality is not the least bit contagious. Only around 5% of each generation is gay and we cannot increase that. (I know that about 1000% of young people today identify as “queer” but that is because queer is the new cool thing to call yourself, they’re not actually all gay.)

In some cases, if someone is promoting hatred against specific groups of people, and if there is a credible risk of real harm coming to them, then I think silencing them is appropriate, but here I do not. This woman is just an idiot whose views make no sense, and I know these views can be dangerous when held by people in positions of power, but as long as we have full equal rights under the law then people can say stupid shit and we can just roll our eyes.

I will continue to be the best person I can be and live my life as out lesbian so that I prove this sort of bullshit wrong every day.

Some TERFy dating advice for a Reddit commenter

A Reddit user wrote the following comment:

“I’m a 23 year old female, lesbian identifying. So, I’ve been seeing this girl for a few months. We live in different cities so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, but it’s been going alright. We’ve kissed a few times, and she’s been flirting more lately. I’m definitely not a virgin but I’m a bit nervous. Because she has a penis. I’ve always considered myself super gay. Logically, I know I am dating a woman, even if she has junk I’m unfamiliar with. She’s been on HRT for about three months and still isn’t completely female passing, which I don’t care about. But I don’t know how to process the thought of sex. We’ve talked about it, and she let me know she would be fine with not doing PIV at all, and has let me know of other, non penetrative things we could do that I didn’t even know existed. My last relationship (with a cis woman) consisted pretty much entirely of her penetrating me with a strap on. And I feel like such a hypocrite, for being okay with that but possibly not with her organic penis. And then what if I do want it? Does that make me less gay? I’ve never even had an orgasm, by anyone (including myself) and if it happens during PIV was I really straight all this time? I had sex with a trans man once who was pre everything, and I was completely comfortable because he still had all the parts I was familiar with. So am I being transphobic because of her penis? Would really appreciate some advice.”

Now, since this commenter posted in trans-friendly subreddits, all the responses were about how she should go ahead and have heterosex even though she doesn’t seem to be comfortable with it. The material in the comments is an absolute train wreck.

Just FYI, this same comment was posted in two subreddits, here and here.

I’m going to post individual sentences taken from the responses, and then add my own commentary.

“It definitely will take some time and it will probably get easier as she gets further along in her transition.”

When you say that “it will get easier,” that implies that it’s not easy now. The reason why it’s “not easy” right now is because this woman is attracted to women but dating a man. This does not feel comfortable for her, obviously. This situation will never get easier, and it doesn’t need to. The idea of having sex with your partner should not feel uneasy or difficult. If you don’t actively enjoy sex with someone, then don’t have sex.

“Being with a transwoman and even enjoying sex with her doesn’t make you any less gay.”

Nah, when you are a woman and you enjoy having sex with a man, that does make you “less gay” because enjoying sex with a man means you’re not gay. If it turns out that this woman does enjoy sex with a man, that’s fine, and that means she’s bisexual. No need to worry about that—it’s okay to be bisexual.

“Oh, sweetheart. Everyone internalizes the weird shit our heteronormative society tells us, and there are few organs as loaded with symbolism as the human penis. You’ve just realized that you’ve internalized a lot of weird, transphobic shit that’s creating a hesitancy or blockage, so I totally understand feeling confused.”

Oh gawd, the irony! You are telling a woman who is likely a lesbian that she should be having sex with a man and enjoying it, but you’re saying that her reluctance to have sex with a man is “heteronormative.” Welcome to backwards land!

“Is ‘lesbian’ a label that you use to describe who you are, or do you find it occasionally is a box that shapes you into some preconceived notion of who you’re supposed to be?…Maybe experiment with letting go to your attachment to your labels and see where that takes you? You being you is far more important than you being faithful to your labels.”

So, basically, the solution to being a woman who isn’t interested in men is not to stop dating men, but to stop calling yourself a lesbian!

“Don’t start by jumping into the deep end with both feet. Work your way into it more easily – start things off with touching (through clothes at first) and GO SLOW. You’re entering what is new territory for you, and it’s only natural that you should be nervous.”

There’s nothing wrong with going slow, but what is really obvious here is that you are telling this woman that she should not listen to her feelings of discomfort and should go ahead with something she isn’t into anyway, despite the nervous feeling. Although it’s subtle, you are gaslighting her and you are working to break down her boundaries. This is abuse.

A few words on “feeling nervous.” Sure, it’s normal to feel nervous with a new partner, but pay attention to what kind of nervous you are feeling. Being nervous because you’re really excited and happy about someone and the relationship is important to you is a good thing. But if it feels wrong or uncomfortable and you’re not sure if you should go ahead because you’re not feeling right about it, then that’s a bad nervous. That’s a sign not to go any further.

“All humans start off as physically female in the beginning of their development, gaining male or female physical sex traits later on….So for trans women, our penises are basically (really) big clitorises.”

Nope. Just because a fetus starts off with undifferentiated genitalia, doesn’t mean that fully-formed adult males can claim their penis is a female organ. This is a bullshit argument.

“It’s not unusual at all for women to not be able to bring themselves to orgasm — hell, I can’t anymore.”

Dude…your inability to orgasm now that your penis has shrunk from estrogen has absolutely no relation to lack of orgasm in human females.

So this was some super terrible advice. Basically, lie about human biology, stop calling yourself a lesbian, and have sex with a man even though you don’t like it! This is really abusive and homophobic.

Here’s my advice!

It is not at all logical that a human who is male would be called a “woman,” since a woman is a human female. What is actually “logically” happening here is that you are dating a man. You say this man has been on hormones for only three months and doesn’t pass as female. Guess what? You are dating a fully-intact typical male. There is nothing female about him whatsoever. The feelings of discomfort you are experiencing are there because you are not attracted to men. That is okay. It is not at all bigoted or phobic to decline to have sex with men. Women do not owe men anything, not sex, not love, not our time or energy, not our validation, not anything.

You don’t have to feel like a hypocrite for enjoying penetrative sex with a woman but not wanting sex with a man. That is entirely normal and okay. A dildo is absolutely not a penis and neither is a penis a dildo. There is no reason why liking one means you have to like the other.

The trans/queer community is gaslighting you—that means they are forcing you to disregard your own feelings and your own knowledge of reality and instead accept someone else’s idea of reality instead. Somewhere in your brain you do understand that your partner is a man and that you are not happy. You are allowed to pay attention to what you can see with your own eyes. You are allowed to trust your own instincts. This is good and healthy for you. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. The best thing you can do for yourself at this point is stop dating anyone who is male, stay away from the queer/trans cult because they are extremely misogynist, and only date women who you are attracted to and who treat you well.

Best of luck to you, sister.

Book Review: ‘Bishop’s Run’ by B.D. Gates

I didn’t realize how hungry I was for a good lesbian novel until I read Bishop’s Run by B.D. Gates. Reading this novel made me realize how unsatisfying other novels I’ve read have been. I have to admit I haven’t spent much time looking for lesbian novels, and there may be good novels out there already that I just haven’t read yet. (Don’t worry, I will get to reading them eventually!) Mostly what I’ve read before is works of literature with “queer” themes by professional fiction writers. Although they are technically great pieces of writing, they aren’t as satisfying to my lesbian heart as a novel written by an ordinary lesbian for the entertainment of a purely lesbian audience.

Bishop’s Run is the story of Bishop, a woman who wakes up after a near-death experience and finds herself being nursed back to health and taken care of by the Witness Protection Program. She has to take on a new identity as a woman named “Lisa Baxter” and start her life all over in a new place. The novel takes us through her journey to recovery, starting a new job, meeting new people, and trying to hide and forget the life she left behind. Her new identity is provided by Witness Protection, and it’s quite different from her real life story, so it’s a process for her to learn to live convincingly as “Lisa Baxter” when her real self keeps threatening to reveal itself.

Bishop, now renamed Baxter, lands in a small town called Tenley in the southern United States. Although she is living in the Bible Belt, the story doesn’t focus on homophobia or intolerance—instead it paints a charming picture of rural life and friendly neighbors. The people of Tenley are very kind to her and make sure she gets everything she needs. The first part of the book is very positive—it’s all about her finding a job she enjoys, making friends, joining a softball team, and finding the other members of her local lesbian “tribe.” There is a long history of novels with lesbian characters who either die, go crazy, end up with a man, or lead a miserable life, and this novel does the opposite. It’s a refreshing story of lesbian success, health and happiness.

That’s not to say that it’s overly or unrealistically positive. It does contain the normal frustrations of lesbian life—like when you get your heart broken, or when you go through rough patches with your friends, or when your softball team isn’t playing well because of the dyke drama occurring among the players! And there is an occasional mention of homophobia, but it’s not the focus of the book.

There is a subtle butch/femme flavor among the characters, and I love the way it’s presented. Gates doesn’t try to categorize anyone using superficial markers or stereotypes. She rarely calls anyone by any label, and only uses the word “butch” once in the whole novel. She just describes their personalities and it comes through. The narrator, Bishop, is a “full-on dyke” and “not the frilly type,” who loves to crack jokes, play cards with the guys, and flirt with women. She is given the name of “Lisa” for her new life, but she finds it too feminine, and prefers to be called by her new last name, “Baxter.” Her butch personality is visible in a whole lot of subtle behaviors, like the way she flirts and carries herself. The women Bishop finds interesting are pretty women who are also strong people who can stand up for themselves, drive fast and shoot a gun. They come across as authentic and endearing lesbian personalities.

This is the first time I’ve read a novel with a happy butch narrator. The only other novel I’ve read starring a butch lesbian is Stone Butch Blues, which, although it’s an excellent book for many reasons, is characterized by almost never-ending misery. Bishop’s Run is the story of a happy butch, who lives her life the way she wants to as an out lesbian, who overcomes her obstacles and thrives in life no matter where she is planted. Although she has experienced some violence, it’s not related to her being a masculine lesbian. Despite having masculine mannerisms and being an obvious dyke, she feels no discomfort with her female body. She is the butch hero that the lesbian community has always needed.

One of the first things I want to know when I pick up a lesbian novel, after “Does anyone die or go crazy?” is whether there is a sex scene and whether it’s good (because sometimes they aren’t!) Let me tell you, there are several, and they are stunning. Gates describes sex between women in full detail in a way that is realistic and exquisitely satisfying both physically and emotionally. They are beautiful to behold and you may have to go back and read them twice.

This novel was refreshing both for its positive portrayal of lesbians and also its exclusive focus on lesbians. It’s not about “queer” people or any kind of special snowflake – it’s about a real lesbian community rather than an alphabet soup that includes the whole world. The way the lesbians in Tenley take care of each other is touching and beautiful. They don’t allow any dykes to go homeless, to be left out or alone, they befriend each other and watch out for each other. Older lesbians serve as role models for the younger ones to look up to. It’s a beautiful portrayal of the community we are longing for.

Here are a few words about the author. She is a butch lesbian living in a small Southern U.S. town. She’s old enough to remember what the lesbian community used to be like but “doesn’t feel any older than 28.” She started writing this novel just for fun but became more determined to publish it as it came along. Here are some words of hers from a short interview:

“When I started writing this around June 2015, I was writing out of boredom, and creating an alternate reality was a great escape. I “went to Tenley” every day and visited with the lesbian characters I’d imagined, I thought about them when I wasn’t writing and, quite suddenly, they were real and they were driving the story, telling me what was happening, what they were thinking, I just had to type fast enough to keep up with them. Then came the “Purge of 2016,” when all the lesbian and bisexual women were killed off on multiple TV shows in a matter of months and it broke my heart. All across my social media platforms, women were just shattered. I didn’t grow up seeing myself reflected on any screen that didn’t end with tragedy or death for any character remotely like me, so you’d think I’d be used to it, but I wasn’t. It hurt like hell. I hadn’t intended to publish “Bishop’s Run,” but when I looked at what I had been writing for myself and realized that damned few people, if any, were writing for real, honest-to-god butches, and that butches deserved our lives represented as much as anyone, I decided that my story wasn’t just for me anymore. So, “Bishop’s Run” is for the butches, and the women who love them.”

I was surprised to hear that she didn’t originally intend to publish it, because I think it’s the Lesbian Novel of the Year. It’s my all-time favorite one. Great things happen when we create our own materials and represent ourselves. This is a fantastic contribution to the lesbian community.

You can purchase the book on Amazon at this link.

Hannah Hart is the loveliest person

I read Hannah Hart’s memoir called Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded and the main thing I learned about her was that she is the loveliest person ever! I was skeptical at first about the idea of a 30-year-old writing a memoir, because what does someone so young have to reminisce about? Well in Hannah Hart’s case, it turns out, a lot!

She wrote about her childhood, which was difficult on account of her mother being schizophrenic. She wrote about the way her career took shape—with both struggles and triumphs. She wrote about coming out as a lesbian, which involved a period of denial at first, which she told in a most adorable way.

I had mixed feelings about the book itself. Some of the content is very interesting and engaging, and some of it I found not interesting or important enough to include in a memoir. The parts I liked the most were the parts about growing up with a mother who is ill and the parts about coming out.

Hannah told poignant stories about growing up in a neglectful and dirty home. Her mother was still able to work when she was young but her illness grew worse and worse. Hannah ended up being the primary caretaker for her little sister when she was still a kid herself, because her mother was no longer able to care for her. As a teenager and finally old enough to fully understand her home situation, she made the difficult decision of telling the authorities about her mother’s illness so that her little sister would get taken away and adopted. I cried several times over the hard things she had to do while still very young. I’m not sure if I would have been strong enough to handle it. Even as a young adult, one of her first tasks was to financially support her mother, since she could not work anymore and would have been on the street otherwise. Hannah’s family very much illustrates the need for better mental health services. It’s a crime that there isn’t better help for people with mental illnesses.

What I liked learning the most about her career is about the charity work she did on her Hello Harto tour. When her YouTube channel My Drunk Kitchen became wildly successful, she went on a crowd-funded tour doing shows in cities all around North America, Europe and Australia. The tour involved filming episodes of My Drunk Kitchen and meeting up with fans at local food banks. Instead of just greeting her fans while standing around in a room, she had them volunteer their time to help the local community.

In Buffering, she says:

“Visiting food banks while on the road gave us a bird’s-eye view of the different food resources available in each of the twenty-two cities. For instance, Second Harvest Food Bank in Oregon makes its own almond butter for distribution. Whereas at the food bank in Detroit, volunteers spent the day chipping frozen meat out of giant blocks of ice. It was a fascinating (and sometimes devastating) view of America. Or rather, a view of the many different “Americas” that exist in our shared land. (p56)”

You can watch a short documentary about her tour here:

When she talked about coming out, the first thing to explain was that her father is a Jehovah’s Witness, and due to his religion he does not accept her being gay. Like any gay kid with homophobic parents, she had to work through the idea that her desires were sinful before she could accept them. Now that I’ve read a few lesbian memoirs I’ve noticed that periods of denial are very common for us. There is a time period where we sort of know we are gay but don’t know it know it yet. Hannah had a huge crush on one of her female friends in college, and the girl liked her back, and they dated for quite some time while still thinking of themselves as straight. They had lots of sex while still thinking of themselves as straight. Hannah wrote a hilarious comment about how she imagined the two of them getting married “as two straight women.” Finally, she was able to admit that she was a lesbian. Her coming out video part one has over a million views:

The first time I heard of Hannah Hart was years ago when she was an unknown funny girl who had made a few videos of herself getting drunk and cooking very badly in a hilarious way. That first video she ever made, Butter Yo Shit, just recorded to cheer up a friend who was in a different city, now has over 4 million views:

I have to admit I haven’t been following her career very closely, because I’m not much of a YouTuber, I much prefer reading and writing over videos. I adore her first ten videos when she is still relatively unknown and hasn’t become a YouTube star yet, and I’ve watched them many times, but I haven’t watched much beyond the first ten. However, I’m still going to recommend that everybody subscribe to her channel and get to know this wonderful woman. She is cheerful, friendly, funny and caring, and she is going to spend her life doing great things. I can see her having her own talk show like Ellen Degeneres because she is just as sunny and inspiring. So many millenials are obsessed with themselves and their appearance and their identities, but Hannah Hart knows what’s important: creating community, thinking about others, and helping people who are struggling. I am truly in awe over what a fantastic person she is. If she can accomplish so much by 30, despite such difficult beginnings, imagine what she will accomplish with the rest of her life!

Whether you read her book or watch her channel, definitely get to know Hannah Hart—you’ll be glad you did!