The New Normal

When was the last time you went to the movies and felt like the picture validated lesbian existence? So rare, right?

I’ve learned not to expect any affirmation of my sexual orientation from the motion picture industry. When I venture beyond the comfort and homophobia-free haven of home to go to the cinema, I brace myself for the onslaught of sexist heterosexuality and male fantasy, which, let’s face it, is pretty much the imagination span of most films out there. 

But on a recent hot and sunny Saturday afternoon, Wifey and I sat in the cushy seats of a cool theater holding hands in the dark when the most amazing thing happened. I’ll avoid having to give a spoiler alert here by not telling you which movie we went to see. Suffice it to say it has a great cast with some of our favorite powerhouse women acting in it. We were sitting there watching this flick when one of the main characters starts making out with her neighbor who, this kiss reveals, is actually her girlfriend. The other characters in the scene register a brief moment of surprise that the two women are together, then they take this brazen revelation of Sapphic connection totally in stride. Everyone’s cool with it. How cool is that? 

What a treat to see a normalized portrayal of two women embracing and kissing in a realistic, not-for-the-male-gaze sort of way. Other than lesbian weddings and queer film festivals, when do we ever get to see that? Wifey and I squeezed hands. I couldn’t stop smiling in the dark at the natural, sensationally unsensational portrayal of two women in love. 

Times sure have changed. What a sign of progress when an unexpected twist in a mainstream movie’s subplot models the normalcy and family acceptance of lesbian love. There was hardly any noticeable reaction in the theater at all. Nobody walked out in a huff, anyway. The multi-plex didn’t spontaneously combust. The ghost of Westboro Baptist Church’s Fred Phelps certainly didn’t descend from on high (or arise from down below) and smite us. 

So a few people in the back of the theater giggled. Awkwardness at the unfamiliar is understandable. Showing two women lovingly smooch in a non-porn way is more than a little out of the ordinary. I cut the gigglers some slack — chalked it up to the “get used to it” part of our We’re here, We’re queer mantra, which does seem to be working. Nobody in the theater — or in the movie — freaked out. Seems like the big bugaboo about people like us is finally dying down.

I’m reminded of lesbian singer-songwriter Jamie Anderson’s lyric “The world will change when they know who we are.” That song was written some 20 years ago. How prophetic. Coming out and being open about being ourselves really is paying off. Even on the silver screen. 

 Not quite there yet yourself? With all the lesbian weddings going on these days — legal now here in Oregon and 19 other U.S. states (and pending in 12 more) — you should have plenty of opportunities to get used to it.

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