copyright © 2002 Clinton A. Johnston

Cool Lesbians


Clinton A. Johnston

[Maud sits in a chair facing the audience. She’s a feminist in her late 30s.]

I have finally come to a decision.

You know what I am really sick of?

Cool lesbians.

Not just lesbians, mind you. In and of themselves, lesbians are fine. Some of my best friends are lesbians. Hell, all of my best friends are lesbians, and I have absolutely no problem with what they do to themselves and to each other. No, what really sucks is what they do to me.

What really sucks is that some time during the 90s, it suddenly became cool to be lesbian. They went from being reviled to being hip. Hell, they were positively au courrant. Now, usually I would not begrudge a group their coolness, but a strange thing happened. It seemed like when it was decided that they were cool, it sucked all the coolness from the rest of us.

For instance, at the Women’s Center, there’s this attitude that says you can only be a real feminist if you keep your sexual appetites "in house", as if to know a man somehow taints your purity. Why is it that every revolutionary movement starts acting like Catholicism once you scratch its surface?

And the killer thing is, it’s all still because of the Patriarchy. Men get turned on when two women feel each other up and get scared when two guys do. So suddenly, whomp! Lesbians are in movies, in television shows, on MTV, everywhere. But try floating that little piece of analysis past people at the Women’s Center. Try floating that little tidbit past Grace.

Grace is my partner at the Women’s Center. No, not that kind of partner ... and not even that anymore. She’s not my partner. Grace is my boss.


Three years ago, we co-founded the Center, took it from a room in the basement of the public library into its own building where we raised our own money, patched our own roof, organized our own volunteers and set ourselves up as a testament to woman’s power and self-determination. Last year, for all my hard work, for all I have sweated and bled into that place, our board — made up mostly of Grace’s friends and ex-lovers (the same people) — turned around and thanked me by naming Grace the Center’s first executive director. I was made Senior Program Manager or Volunteer Coordinator or whatever consolation post one gives Trotsky-esque rejects like me. When I asked one of our board members why, she said, Grace had more of the leadership character they were looking for. Read: Of the two of us, she's the only one to have given birth to something without having known a penis. And now, due in no small part to my continued hard work over the last year, everyone's calling Grace, our savior. So, I think, great. Now she's the Virgin Mary and the Messiah. Bet that beefs up her resume.

I even get it at home. My fifteen year-old daughter, Carly, has cut her hair, cut her tee shirts, cut her classes, and is hanging out with the neo-dyke crowd at school. When I ask her if she's got anything she wants to tell me, she just says, nothing that I would understand. Nothing I would understand? I was flirting with alternative lifestyles before she was even born. In fact, it’s because I was flirting with alternative lifestyles that she was born.

Cool lesbians.

I mean, I just feel like I’m getting it from all sides. At home, I have my daughter who, I swear to you, only last year wanted to marry every member of N'Sync. Now she’s acting like she’s Melissa Etheridge. And at work, I have my partner … sorry, my boss telling me that my personal, professional, and spiritual life would greatly improve if I would just accept that the only worthwhile thing a strong man can give me, I can also get from a strong set of batteries … especially when they both run out eventually.

[Building to a high point]

Understand, this is the woman who categorizes her lovers by using types of Girl Scout Cookies. This one’s her brown "Peanut Butter Patty", and that one’s her chocolate-covered "Thin Mint". And that’s degrading, disgusting, and racist, and yet she gets the jobs, and she presumes to tell me how to run my life. And I’m trying to ignore her, and she just keeps talking. And I try to just get my work done, but she’s undoing my blouse and talking about Carly and whispering in my ear and touching my breasts and telling me how much I’ll like it and stop! Stop! It’s just too much! It’s all too much!


So much that it’s not until that night when I hear myself screaming at Carly for wanting $100 to get matching tattoos with her little friend that I realize what’s just happened.


So, I’ve finally come to a decision. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with a lawyer. Try running that past Grace. She’ll probably say that I’m a reactionary heterosexist. The board will say I’m a vindictive traitor for brining suit against my own organization. And Carly … this is going to kill her. Grace is her new hero …

And it’s not fair! Because it’s not about politics, and it’s not about titillation, and it’s not about expanding sexual identities. It’s about someone being selfish and cruel and taking what she wants regardless of the feelings and rights of others. But even though I’m in the right, I lose my job, my friends, my family, and she … she gets to be cool.


"Cool Lesbians" debuted March 15, 2002, performed by Annaliese Moyer.

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