Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hippity Hoppity Let's Stop Having Sex

That's the first item of business. I've got a post up on the Beacon Press web site. It's a story that ran here and at But check it out if you'd like and always pass it on.

Next, I've been invited to write a six-word memoir. It's such a great idea but "I don't know where to begin." There they are, the six words that sum up my life. "I don't know where to begin."

My life in three words: "That was quick."

Thanks to Robin Reagler of for the tag. She has an awesome blog on which I found the most fabulous photo of buttons.

And so I tag the following:
1. The incredible Polly Pagenhart, who is creating new language as she redefines family at
2. The brilliant Sara Whitman who is representing at
3. Our lesbian mom font of information Dana Rudolph who keeps us all informed at
4. The poetic and inspirational Ms. Moon who blogs in my cyber neighborhood at
5. Millie Garfield who apparently is the oldest blogger on the internet. I don't know her but she's a nice Jewish bubbe and this lesbo mom hereby tags her and her blog

Now on to lesbian divorce.

It's a huge, monstrous, unwieldy topic that I might need to address in installments. Today's installment, in honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, is called The Bunny Syndrome.

Faith and I definitely fell victim to the Bunny Syndrome. It wasn't our only struggle, but it's an insidious one and eats away at a lesbian (or gay) couple in a most damaging way. The Bunny Syndrome is when, to keep the peace and be accepted within family and the outer world - a couple allows themselves to be thought of as special friends, friends who cuddle and share a home, or well, bunnies, rather than as two people who are in love and have sex. This seems to happen when the outside world is "kind of okay" with the couple, they are not disowning of the couple, not outraged. But they also are not entirely comfortable with thinking of the couple as a couple in a man/woman, penis-in-vagina kind of way.

So the couple, because the blessing of family and work places and friends is critical in life, allows themselves to become bunnies in the eyes of the outside world and does not demand to be treated as a couple. And then I think it gets hard to remember in the privacy of your own life to turn back on the sacredness of your partnership. Not to mention the internalized homophobia of it all, the denouncing of your intimate self.

Here's an example. Every summer my mother rented the same one room cottage in Provincetown. The cottage had a sofa bed and a queen-size mattress in the loft that sat above and opened into the mainroom, i.e. there was not a lick of privacy. Faith and I stayed in the loft for a week every summer for seven years. We were young and didn't have much money so on the one hand the situation afforded us a free vacation. But looking back I ask myself why was it okay to spend our summer vacation without a shred of privacy? Whenever my sister and her husband came to town it was assumed they would stay at an inn. My mother once even expressed her discomfort about sharing the cottage with them or any other heterosexual couple.

She shared it with her brother and a male friend, so it wasn't about there being a man there. It was, I presume, about there being a sexual couple there.

And I can't count the times I've not kissed a partner in public, or held her hand, or expressed any one of a number of affections men and women do. In all honesty, only on rare occasions is this to avoid being killed. Most of the time it's so others won't feel uncomfortable.

So if you let yourself become a bunny in public, what happens to you in private? And if your community sees you and your partner as bunnies, then how can they support you when your relationship falters?

It's just a thought and begs the infamous question: Are lesbians couples having less sex than straight couples? In the past couple years I have learned that hardly any long-term couple I know is having sex - gay or straight.

So there. Next installment, The Fully Competent Spouse.


Ms. Moon said...

But wait! Don't bunnies f*** like bunnies?
Okay, just being funny.
Sex is so weird whether you're straight or gay. Sometimes I think that being "sanctified" by society the way a straight couple is in marriage can blow a little of the glow off the fire. Like, if you're living in sin instead of being married, it's more fun to have sex. Or something.
And dammit, once the kids start coming and life becomes the serious business that it inevitably does (especially after kids), it's hard to be the sexual and passionate being you want to be. I think.
BUT, having said all of that, I believe that it's much harder to be a couple in our society if you're gay because of what you said about public displays of affection. It's just so WRONG not to be able to hold hands, kiss your sweetie, whatever, in public. I have often thought this.
IT'S NOT FAIR AND IT'S NOT RIGHT AND IT'S NOT HEALTHY FOR A RELATIONSHIP to have to act like you're NOT in a relationship when you're out in public.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you that we, as lesbians, too often cater to others' supposed reactions, play act the "best friends" dynamic in public. But I don't link that -- at least not too much -- to our not having a lot of sex years into a relationship. I think it's a true enough stereotype that women want less sex than men; most studies confirm that gay men, at whatever stage in their relationships, have the most sex. In most relationships, straight or gay, I think the sex drive and even romantic love drive are replaced by deep fondness and attachment. At this point, the society does tell straight people to stay married, nurture that attachment, whereas the society doesn't really care what happens to gay relationships. A lesbian may be invisible in society's eyes whether she's in a committed relationship or not. I also think that gay people often embrace the chance to go against heterosexual norms, for instance to celebrate serial monogamy as a healthier choice than having one, lifelong partner.

Sara said...

"I don't know where to begin" is... technically seven words...

and as far as PDA goes... I'm a WASP and I was raised that hugging, kissing, hand holding in public for anyone was inappropriate.

"groping" (as my mother would refer to straight people handholding) in public doesn't make me any more or any less sexual.

I agree with Ms. Moon, no matter what, you have to work at it.

and anon? speak for yourself about wanting less sex than men! I sooo disagree with that.

Sara said...

I did my tag... and I'm thinking of who else to torture and you already sent it to ms. moon...

Are You My Mothers said...

oh dear the tag thing is no better than a chain letter it seems so to torture you all, though at first we were in a special drumming circle, dear me i might have freaked out grandma millie

Jen said...

I find that even when my partner and I are affectionate in public, people choose not to read us that way. Example: We attend a seminar at a fertility clinic b/c we're starting to think about having kids. We spend the entire seminar holding hands, arms around the other's shoulders, etc--obvious couple-y stuff. At the end, a staff person comes around with evaluation forms. She hands one to me, then doesn't give one to my partner saying, "it's one form per...(long pause while she scrambles to find a word to describe us)". Group??? what are we??? What's the matter with "couple"?
Needless to say, we've looked elsewhere for fertility services...

Anonymous said...

I remember when I first started bringing Klove around my parents. I'd been out for years, but had never brought anyone to meet them. We would sit next to each other on the couch and I would put my hand on her thigh. Not high, now wriggling around or anything, but just there. That was the only demonstration of affection we indulged in.

A few months later, during our first fight as a live-in couple, I was home and talking about it with my dad and he mentioned how clear it was that I loved her more than anyone else because I "couldn't keep my hands off her." Now, he didn't mean it in a negative way, but it definitely informed me that not only had my thigh touching been noted, but that it was considered excessive, even if my (trying really hard to be supportive) parents didn't feel like they could say anything.

Yes, I would say that we are guilty of the bunny syndrome.

And while I don't think that affects the sexual expression of our affection, I do think that you are right that the sacredness of our union does take a hit for it though I hadn't really pulled it out like this...

Karrie42 said...

It boggles my mind how so many people have such a hard time recognizing that same-sex couples are no different from straight couples in regards to the role sex plays in the relationship (putting aside for the moment aspects such as gender roles, expectations, etc.) It feels like its too threatening to see the similarities, so our relationships are seen as either 'only' about sex (i.e. 'kids shouldn't be exposed to those deviant lifestyles'), or seen as asexual 'bunny' roommates.

Daddy Cool said...

Interesting points and for men it's even more difficult to show affection in public. Women, luckily are given more leeway to show feelings and emotions.

Ms. Moon said...

You know, it just makes my heart happy to see two people in love showing it in public. I don't care who they are or what the genders are. Love is love. The more the better. I'm not talking about sloppy stupid stuff, I'm talking about that real and genuine spark which translates into a loving physicality.

Anonymous said...

Reading this post made me feel incredibly sad- you're right about the toll the fluffy bunny syndrome can take on a relationship. And I also got pissed off- where the eff do people get off thinking it's ok to expect a couple to NOT act like a couple simply to make family/friends/random people on the street more comfortable?

It sucks. And the expectation (for me anyways) was tolerated because I wanted to be, "nice" and give them "time to understand." For years my sister categorized my girlfriend (now wife) and I in the fluffy bunny role, and I didn't want to rock the boat. The problem is that trying to be, "discrete" (oh wait, is that an invisible lesbian I see?:) is rooted in an assumption that it's your responsibility to tiptoe around someone else's feelings of homophobia- like it's YOUR problem, not theirs. I felt better when I realized that it was my sister's/the staring individual on the T/etc's responsibility to deal with their own feelings, that I was just the current example of an issue they needed to sort out. All I could do was be who I am and let them go through their own process. But it is hard to do.

Looking forward to reading more. Sorry for the uber long comment- your writing is quite thought-provoking!

Polly said...

I feel the drumming circle thing, sister, I feel it. I think you might have even inspired an occasional series. This way I can get around the dilemma of limiting myself to six words. I just have to bring myself to choose the first installment.

I want to also say thank you for your warm praise. You the (wo)man.

I also want to say No Comment on the whole lesbian sex thing, most especially post-kids.

Jess said...

Incredibly thought-provoking post, yup. Thanks.

I did also thinking of the phrase f*** like bunnies before I even got past the title of the post. Oh well.

denver john said...

The article is common sense. Reading all of your comments has also made it very clear that if you want to have a lousy sexual encounter, have sex with an guy! Ladies, come to America and find a man who will love and cherish every part of you.