Comment: The complexities of lesbian life in rural Texas

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Suzanne Magee

Sometimes I find it difficult to even relate to lesbians who live in well populated metropolitan areas.

I live in a very rural area of east Texas, where there is no lesbian or gay public presence to speak of. If you want to go to a pride parade, you can drive 130 miles to Dallas and catch one.

If you want to go to a lesbian bar – same drive. There is one gay bar only 60 miles away, but it’s predominantly for gay men.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that it’s there.

I love the drag show, and watching the never-ending stream of straight cowboys coming in to “see what’s going on behind the big red doors” is pretty funny sometimes.

Still, there aren’t many women there, and the ones that ARE there, are there ALL THE TIME. Know what I mean?

If there was one benefit to being a lesbian in such an out of the way, ultra-conservative, right-wing place, it’s the closeness you develop with other lesbians living in your area.

We develop very tight-knit, almost family-like, groups of friends.

We have these incredible gatherings where we all get the chance to share our lives, loves, and happenings with each other.

There’s a problem with these tight little groups though. I call it the “fox in the hen house” problem.

When you’re entire lesbian community can fit into one living room, and you’re in a committed relationship, having a couple break up or having a new “single” lesbian enter the mix can be disturbing.

It can be especially disturbing if the group consists mainly of coupled lesbians.

I mean, think about it for a minute. If everyone is coupled up, and suddenly you find yourself “single” again, who the hell do you flirt with?

Every lesbian you know is in this room, or around the same camp fire. Each one is your friend, and is holding ANOTHER one of your friends hands.

Or worse, you’ve already dated everyone in the room at least once, maybe twice.

It’s not like you can run across town to the bar, or the local GLBT outreach center, and hook up with someone new and interesting.

If you do make the drive to some metro area and hit the bar, and you do meet someone you’re interested in, then you’re still going to have to drive 130 miles one way every time you want to see them.

What happens if you do hit it off? How do you maintain a relationship where you have to drive 260 miles just to see a movie?

Who moves? Who quits their job and relocates? The “friends” around that campfire start looking real good to you. And you start looking a LOT like a fox to anyone in the group who has any insecurities about the hand they are holding!

What’s really bad about the entire situation, is that you may have absolutely no intention whatsoever of homing in on one of your friend’s partners.

But you don’t have to. Now that once-a-week phone call that you make to someone just to say “Hi” becomes suspect.

Believe me, I know it’s true because I am guilty of pointing my finger and raising the alarm about a fox being in the hen house myself.

My partner and I have been together for five years, Five great years I might add. We’ve built a home together, and have had only one real argument in all this time.

Still, when one of our friends who just happens to be extrememly attractive, was suddenly single again, I lost my perspective completely.

She and my partner were very good friends, and called each other frequently. It never bothered me when the “fox” was dating someone.

But all of sudden, through no fault of her own, I was feeling threatened. Then I made the biggest mistake of all.

I shared my fears with another person in our little group of lesbians. I was looking for someone to tell me how much my partner loved me, and that I had nothing to worry about.

Well, needless to say that wasn’t what I got. What I got instead was a not-so-subtle reinforcement of my own insecurities. Yep, what I got was “You better be careful, she’s a homewrecker.” Which of course she wasn’t.

The problem is, this other friend was in the middle of a little insecurity crisis of her own. So my problem hit home with her, and PRESTO!

The fox became a vicious animal who would surely ravage my happiness if not stopped. So I then made my next biggest mistake, I told my partner that I thought the fox was after her and that I had it on “good authority” that she was a homewrecker and couldn’t be trusted.

It made perfect sense to me. I was trying to protect our relationship, our home, the five years of building we had done to get where we were.

What I forgot was that by accusing her, I was also disrespecting my own partner and our relationship. She told me in no uncertain terms that our friend was not hitting on her, and that she resented my even thinking that it would matter if she were.

It meant I didn’t trust her, and she was very angry at me. She was even more angry at the person who had reinforced my fears. Suddenly our little group wasn’t so comfortable together anymore.

Small circles of friends can be a wonderful blessing. For lesbians who live in the country, away from any community support, even more so.

They are our life lines, our only source for a feeling of belonging and acceptance. But they are fragile things. You can be “cast out” for creating any friction, and then you are truly alone.

You see, the dating pool is more like a little bird bath here.

Bottom line is that there is always going to be a “fox in the henhouse”. But you better wait until it kills a chicken to shoot it.

© Suzanne Magee, All Rights Reserved

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