We joke about it now, but what would I have said if I had overheard the man outside the station? We were kissing on Kingsland High Street, in the afternoon on a cold December day. It’s easy for me, well easier for me - nobody who matters enough, knows me here.
Those who do, turn and give us a look as if to say: 'Are they, what?
Are they?' I feel like saying YES WE ARE. Maybe we should get ourselves a badge. Perhaps surrounding ourselves where it’s comfortable isn't the solution.
My love and I were discussing the lack of politically black lesbian women on the 'scene'. Friends invite us out to the gayest, no I mean the quintessentially gayest places in Soho - its fun; dancing (OK - standing, looking slightly uncomfortable) to 80s Madonna, sipping on what appears to be red wine...
Where are the Iola's at? Where are the Sangeeta's at? Where are the Xianran's? Have I covered all bases? Maybe I should include a north African/Arab sounding name to make sure we have all the popular Diaspora in London covered? Where are all the Zara's at?
Is it time to start discussion groups with titles such as 'Orgasm: for a woman of colour' or cake baking, flower arranging courses for the politically black lesbians of London? Or does this mean if we want it enough, we're just going to have to go to Vauxhall?
To get deeper into this, as advised by a fellow cake lover – why do we refrain from branching out into the sphere of lesbianism? Whether the reasons are social or economic, it warrants investigation. I’m listening to Bonobo and am reminded that musical tastes are like jumbled socks in the drawer: eclectic mixes of genres. Does that play a pivotal part of the segregation we see when we’re on the scene?
80s Madonna isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Neither is head banging hip hop. When I think about myself and my varied taste in music, I would honestly jump at the chance to go to a soulful, indie, hiphop, jazz night. Any event where there is live music and gay women. would get an eyebrow raised and a glint in the eye from me. Instead of realising that Rihanna’s we found love lyrics ring true and could be used as a wedding song for most lesbian couples of 2011/2012.
Unless one of you fellow Oppenheim’s cup and saucer admirers has any suggestions I have not come across such a night. A simple Google search, key words: lesbian, London, colour, Black, Asian bears little or no fruit. Being gay/lesbian means something different to us all, but moving away from the cyber world – it’s about interacting, sharing stories, laughing and crying together and not sitting in rocking chairs – moving backwards and forwards, getting no where.
It’s about finding the similarity to offer comfort and the differences that become entertainment and lead to growth.
As women of colour, the pressures of coming out mean crawling over eons of cobwebs. The stigma within our own families is mirrored by the politically black masses. For the Caucasian gay man I meet when out, I am usually asked, ‘So coming out must have been hard, are you really a lesbian? You don’t look like one’. My personal favourite is being the token/statistic: ‘Wow, I’ve never met an Asian lesbian before’!? I want to show him that there is another corridor, another passage of plight. One that is happening simultaneously within the patriarchal white society we call our home.
Instead I offer an awkward reply and smile, laughing a little.
My love reads this article and gives me some positive criticisms. Namely I have not offered an alternative; we had a discussion last night she said, ‘there is this one place, in Vauxhall…’ to which we laughed. But here is a little list I compiled:
www.planet-london.com/featuredandrecommended.html (features) & www.planet-london.com/calendar.html (events calendar) - a comprehensive up to date guide, little mention of the types of people to expect, but it’s the most up to date calendar on the web)!
www.planet-london.com/listings/meetingsandgroups.html - Discussion/support groups.
http://www.jglg.org.uk/ Jewish Lesbian Events.
(because everyone loves N16).
http://www.clubkali.com/ A night for Bhangra, Hindi music, R&B, mainly full of men but there are usually groups of Asian girls of the muff diving persuasion.
The Most Cake and Planet London are the actors and mediums to offer an alternative to bumping into the usual suspects in Candy Bar.
I am resisting the urge to get revolutionary - but I think there is a real need for us to explore why it’s difficult to get those beautifully brown skinned women out on a Friday night.
We have got a long way to go before we tackle the homophobia that resides within us, let alone society at large. Whether this means we meet up in coffee shops or bars, libraries or basements – there is a movement that is about to go down and we have to start getting creative.
Feel free to get in touch!
Peace & Love