Back home. Now, I’m going to need a strategy in order to keep at least the memory of the feeling. I can’t expect to keep the feeling from the European Lesbian* Conference, the feeling of being in a majority, of being the norm. But I can hope to remember what it felt like. When the October rain starts pouring down my neck while pedaling through the city, dropping of the kids at school and going to work, I can try to remember that some of the pressure I feel on an average day is the struggle to stay alive and real despite the hetero norm. That the hetero norm is not life itself, but a social construction and a power structure that is not present everywhere. The conference was a big sip of air, and I will need to find that kind of air again, before I forget the taste of it.
So how do I re-establish lesbian space in my everyday life? I am incredibly priviledged when compared to many of the women I met at the conference, indeed so. I am legally married to my wife, I am legally and socially recognized as parent of my two children, I am out at work and I have quite a few lesbian friends. But still, I avoid talking about lesbian stuff at work and I meet lesbian friends only occasionally. Among straight friends I censure myself in order to avoid having to explain my basic presumptions in detail. All this silences me, not only on issues regarding how I see the straights and the world, but also on my private life and intimate emotions.
As Lepa Mladjenović and Ulrike Janz said at the seminar “Overcoming patriarchal power control in our lesbian relationships”, a lesbian relationship has to carry the weight of the world, and we need to recognize this in order not to bury the shit the world throws upon us inside our intimate relationships. An ever so loving relationship can turn into a dustbin of mutual accusations, originating from patriarchy and homophobia and slowly killing us.
This is the point where the privileges gained through years of parliamentary struggle hits us back. The legal institution of marriage is an important and economically protective structure, but the social institution of monogamy can be very suffocating. At least if the lesbian space is restricted to your home, or few places and occasions such as conferences, Pride days and parties.
Lesbian space is a life saver for me. But it might not forcibly need to be physical. Online space? Writing to survive? Maybe, we will see…
(Photo credit is Johanna Rauch, see her site here)