It is a Friday night and I am sat in a pool club with my friends, and some of E’s friends who I have never met before. We are playing tag team pool. I am shit at pool.
And M takes it upon herself to mention how I sometimes write for “gay magazines”, and suddenly G, who I have never met before, stares at me like I am about to strip off and start humping every girl in the immediate vicinity for his own personal gratification. He smiles like the shark from Finding Nemo.
“You’re a lesbian? That’s so cool!”
He clearly hasn’t noticed how I’ve spent the last 20 minutes talking about the boy I’m seeing, vacillating between trying to explain his views on solipsism and whinging about his awful texting habits. I curse M under my breath.
“Actually, I’m bisexual,” I say, which is a lie because I identify as pansexual, but I don’t think I can explain how the gender binary is a social construct. Right now I can barely stand up without falling over, let alone string together a coherent sentence to challenge commonly held notions on identity and biological essentialism, so I keep it simple. “So I like girls and boys.”
After that, things go downhill very quickly.
“So are you more into girls or guys?”
“She has two ex-girlfriends!” M interjects merrily, which is also not quite true. They were girlfriends in name only, long-distance friends with whom I exchanged flirtatious messages and eventually broke up with through extended periods of radio silence. To call them relationships seems generous.
“Are you more into girls then?”
I want to explain how I’m more into specific individuals than anything as general and arbitrary as a whole gender. Just because I love The Avengers doesn’t mean I instantly prefer all superhero movies to all Shakespearean dramas, you know? Because duh, Macbeth beats The Incredible Hulk any day of the week, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong.
“It depends,” I say eventually. M takes a shot, and misses. “I like people… And that person’s personality matters more to me than what’s in their pants. Personally.”
“Do you like boobs?”
“Who doesn’t like boobs?”
“So if you’re into boobs, do you just play with yours the whole time? Because if I was gay, I’d probably spend the whole time being like, holy shit! Awesome! A dick!”
G is met by a wall of silence. Conversation turns to other things — Sweeney Todd, universities, MMA wrestling — but it inevitably seems to come back to what G really wanted to know, the reason he was so fascinated by my same-sex attraction in the first place.
“Actually, what I really want to know is — how do two girls actually have sex?” he asked, and for a split second I imagine bludgeoning him over the head with the pool cue in my hand. Has he never heard of Google? Is it really such a big stretch of the imagination that sex can occur without the sweaty, frantic inclusion of a penis?
E is laughing at the fact I’ve gone red. M is laughing at the fact I’m lost for words, which is pretty rare. I’m laughing in disbelief, because I’m not sure how it’s socially acceptable to ask about the bedroom antics of someone you’ve only known for two hours. And then I sigh, and remind myself that I have been asked this question many times in the past, and no doubt I will get asked in the future, and nobody seems to understand why it pisses me off. I feel like I’m providing a public service.
“Basically,” he continues, “if you think of a girl as a bucket of sand, so you’ve got two buckets of sand, and you can’t really do much with two buckets and no spade. At least with two dudes, you’ve got, like… a different bucket for the spade?”
It’s not that hard, I think. I’ve never slept with a girl, but the premise is pretty simple. Imagine you’re with a girl, and your sole aim is to make her come. And as the majority of girls don’t tend to orgasm from penetration, maybe you should try something else. Think about all the other things you have — fingers and lips and tongue. Think about all the things she has other than just a hole between her legs. Think about all the items out there you can buy which have the specific purpose of trying to pleasure girls. Think about how you could use your fingers and lips and tongue and toys to make her moan and writhe in pleasure, never having to involve whatever’s between your own legs.
And then think about how creepy it is to ask. You’re basically asking, “is lesbian sex really like porn?” to which the answer is no — unless you’re watching feminist queer porn, in which case, you wouldn’t need to ask me. But the run-of-the-mill variety catering to a straight dude will be tailored to the male gaze, perhaps featuring a pair of dead-eyed blonds tepidly licking each other’s nipples and moaning ostentatiously.
If you really want to find out what girl-on-girl lovin’ involves, you could phrase it a bit better, add some tact, maybe imply you’re genuinely interested in better understanding minority sexualities and not just after some fetish fuel for your nights alone? Because I get it — we’re all curious about stuff we don’t know, and we all have a sordid little desire to find out what other people get up to between the sheets. And if you treat me with respect, I can impart limited wisdom on you. But knowing I’m queer doesn’t grant you the immediate right to invade my privacy, no more than you’d ask any other random girl what she does in bed with her significant other.
“Who says you need a spade to go to the beach?” I reply, and play a shot. The red ball skitters, bounces off two cushions — and slips neatly into a pocket.
G doesn’t ask me anything else.