What is a community? It’s what I’m searching for in the lesbian world but until yesterday evening I hadn’t properly understood exactly what that meant to me. I met 2 lesbian friends at Balans for some cocktails and I was lucky enough to experience what I’ve been seeking out.
On the table opposite us was a family – a mother, a son (about 10 yrs old) and 2 men. They could have both been gay, 1 gay & 1 straight, fathers, brothers, lovers, friends, I don’t know, the mummy could have been a lesbian or they might have all been straight, it could have been any of a million combinations, of which it doesn’t matter, the point was they were a family together. Next to them was a table of straight girls from out of town. To our right was a lovely gay couple and to our left a man and a woman whose sexual orientation I couldnt tell. We were all friendly to one another, we acknowledged each others existence, no one was any better or worse than anyone, everyone was welcome.
A little into our cosmopolitans across from me I saw the waiter deliver a massive glass filled with ice cream to the young boy, the adults surrounding him started quietly singing Happy Birthday to him, to which I and the rest of the room joined in. By half way through the song the whole restaurant was singing and clapping and cheering. It made the boys night. He stood up on his seat with the most gigantic toothy smile and gave us all a wave, it was wonderful. The adults with him were literally moved to tears.
That was it. That was a community moment. No one cared what gender, age or sexual orientation you were. The boy was surrounded by many different people from different places living different lifestyles. But to him and each other we were all just normal, straight, lesbian, gay, transgender – we are all normal.
That IS community and I think this attitude needs to be embraced by lesbians a little more. At the moment, from what I can tell, the way the lesbian world functions is, it’s exclusive and closed off. It’s almost like all the lesbian events in London have adopted the Mean Girls mantra “On Wednesdays we wear pink” – we all have to follow because there is no other option.
Where do we take our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends to experience how great it is to be a Lesbian? Nowhere, because there isn’t anywhere that is friendly to everyone no matter your sexual orientation but that has an underlying lesbian community. Just like Balans (or any cafe on Old Compton Street) it is all accepting but has an underlying male gay community.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there should be places for lesbians to meet, but lets make it a community space not an exclusive space. I understand the need to go to a place where you know you will meet other lesbians, it’s hard enough as it is. But there are 200,000 of us in London!
Maybe the reason it’s hard to meet each other is because not all of us want to “wear pink on Wednesdays”. We have Dattch and FindHrr, let’s use them and meet up in a space that we can make our own and not just settle for a space that’s been made for us like we’re a special breed that has special requirements. We’re not, we’re normal.
We can’t keep segregating ourselves whilst waving an accept us banner, it’s just backwards.
We need to work together, collaborate. Let’s use the success of the male gay community as a template. If they can build one so can we!