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My Best Friend Is By Vera Jane Cook

Homosexuals are not just gay people though little is done in mainstream media to portray them as anything other than one dimensional sexually unusual men and women. Gay people go deep folks, they bleed and they love us back. They're much more interesting than the box we've put them in and they are full of surprises, not all of them centered on conquests and gay politics.
I have always been fascinated by the relationships between gay men and straight women. This is most likely because I'm a pushover for style, camp humor and men who like to shop. It is no wonder then that my high school boyfriend helped me pick out my prom dress and is presently a politically correct gay man in a long term relationship. Years later, I was enamored with another stylishly dressed, outrageously humorous man. When the layers behind his protective homophobic façade were pealed, I found that his appetite for men was voracious. But I am certainly not the only women to fall for a gay male.
The attraction between straight women and gay men is much deeper than the obvious. Sexual chemistry is not necessarily the initial attraction, though often, chemistry is present. I think the attraction is more about feeling that there is a like minded comfort level, one that is based on a need to bond with the opposite sex in a way that is devoid of all the nasty complications found in many heterosexual attractions. The friendships between straight women and gay men are still different than the bonds women make amongst themselves. I think that women need each other on some deep visceral level that isn't usually satisfied within male friendships. Yet gay male friends still offer male bonding, and an intimacy that is often missing for these women with heterosexual men.
I am very interested, perhaps in the next book I write, to explore the relationships between gay men and straight women during a time in our history when homosexuality was entirely underground. Conventional pressure and expectations drove many gay men into marriage, but I can assure you, most of these men did little to suppress their sexual preferences, and perhaps, not even their emotional ones.
I imagine people found each other during these suppressive decades based on attraction but also on some subliminal recognition of safety. I'm sure during the Civil War era perhaps, or the Revolution, or even during the middle of the twentieth century that there were many heterosexual women perfectly content in a marriage based on comfort and security rather than sexual passion. There are women today who seek out the same kind of life mate. I don't doubt that love is a common bond within these marriages of convenience, even when the convenience isn't stated as "I married a gay man." I think many gay men marry women and many straight women are often quite content nurturing that relationship.
On the other hand, not much attention has been paid to the friendships between straight women and gay women, a titillating curiosity for many. Interestingly enough, gay women are still an enigma, despite the media's attempt to portray them as the girl next door. Perhaps women's sexuality in general is still pretty much of a curiosity. But the truth is that the pleasure level of finding one's self the object of attraction by a member of one's own sex is really only based on an individual woman's comfort level with that attraction.
In the realm of homosexuality, there is a creative wealth of possibility far greater than the scope we give it. Television, for instance, has given lesbians some prime time here and there, but portraying lesbians for the sole purpose of portraying a lesbian character is one thing, portraying lesbians as women is another. There was a television drama in the early 1980s that lasted about a half a season. The show was quickly pulled off the air because of the backlash from viewers, and it was one of the best portrayals of women in relationship to each other that I've seen on television in quite some time. If memory serves me well, the drama took place in a hospital and centered around a group of women friends, two of whom just happened to be lesbians. The show was not about the "L word" but about women in relationship to each other, and men, despite their sexuality. One of the women was dying of cancer and in the episodes I can still remember, the drama focused on that impending death. The girlfriends who loved the dying woman had to deal with loss, as well as the challenges in their own individual lives.
We have a tendency to categorize homosexuals and therefore, gay characters become about being gay or they become characters who are accepted for being gay instead of complex characters in relationships nurtured by heterosexual people, as well as gay people, and facing challenges above and beyond typical gay dilemmas.
I wonder if this show, whatever it was, would work today  real lesbian characters that have nurturing friendships with straight women. We've become better at portraying gay men and putting them in situations in which they are more than one dimensional. But where are the women? Certainly, for me, the L Word doesn't cut it. Since we don't find any humor in lesbians, as we do with gay men, Ellen got the boot but Ellen, in her half hour comedy show might have come closest to showing us a regular, average, just living her life amongst heterosexuals  lesbian, at least after the initial "coming our" was over and done with.
Ellen has actually accomplished what she wanted to do in her half hour show with her variety show. She's real and she's funny and she just happens to be gay. But she's not fiction. Now, I'd like to see some real dramatic characters, who just happen to be lesbians portrayed in prime time, not in a cast of like minded women, but in a world of complexity, in relationship with gay and straight men and women, parents, bosses.....whatever. But that is not likely to happen quite yet, the normalcy of a world in which lesbians are in relationship with the rest of society might take the titillation out of the L Word.
Vera Jane Cook has com completed five novels and her latest is Dancing Backwards in Paradise. Vera is presently working on a non-fiction book about getting creative in corporate America. Vera also plans to give seminars on the subject. To learn more about her books you can visit her web site at verajanecook verajanecook
Vera_Jane_Cook Vera_Jane_Cook

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