I knew I was gay in junior high school. Many people who have that certainty so young usually experience the anxiety of being different and the dread of rejection from family and friends. What aren’t discussed are the positive things that come with growing up gay. In the case of lesbians in particular, self-reliance is something we use far more often than straight women do.
I was picking up my son from his grandmother the other day, and she had a long-sealed box lying on the floor near a table. When I asked about it, she said it was a coat rack, but that she was waiting on her adult son to come visit and he’d put it together for her.
I offered my assistance, and she immediately expressed doubt that I could achieve this kind of thing. I assured her I had put together plenty of furniture, but she said she didn’t want to cause me any trouble. She later tried the task herself. Impatient to follow directions, she broke a piece, then sent it back.
Another straight friend purchased a cat tower for her fur baby, and let it sit in the box for weeks. I again offered my assistance, but her response was that she didn’t want to cause me any trouble. Tempted to hire someone to complete the project, she eventually opened the box and became overwhelmed by all the parts. I am happy to report that she did eventually assemble the tower successfully.
I’m not sure if I embarrassed these women by offering to help, motivated them, or a combination of both. But the truth is, neither had the confidence to immediately do it for themselves. However, each had no problem with the thought of a man coming to do it for them. I have seen these same scenarios play out time and again.
As a lesbian, I knew I would never marry a man. With that understanding, I also knew I wouldn’t have someone to rely on to do everything that required “strength” or “tools.” Thus, I learned through trial and error how to fix things in my life, gaining experience with furniture, electronics, mechanical items, and simple problem-solving. And I enjoy it.
Can straight women do these things? Of course. Have they been trained to defer to men without giving themselves the opportunity to learn? Absolutely.
Pride has often been associated with our community banding together to show strength against adversity. But this year Pride month should also allow us to see what great role models we can be for other communities.
Lesbians offer straight women the example that they can do for themselves without apology. They are capable of big tasks around the house and yard, but not having practiced most of their lives, they just need a little patience and belief in themselves. We can also prove — to the more than one straight woman I know like this — that they don’t need a man in the house to be able to sleep alone at night. No intruder will get them while their boyfriends or husbands are out of town.
I am very proud of who I am and how far I’ve come in my life. I’m also proud of the contributions all our LGBTQ community members have to offer, making the world a better — and more functional — place because of them.