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Lesbians In Bed: Reading Haikus

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Throughout the trip, Matie and Jamie would have a number of tearful conversations about trans inclusion with some older passengers who refused to accept trans women as their fellow sisters. But they also got many women to reconsider their more middle-of-the-road views on trans inclusion. “Those are the people who matter,” Jamie would later tell me, recalling her latest conversions over coffee in the cafeteria.

No doubt partially due to lesbians’ excellent communication skills and lengthy lap-nap sessions, lesbians have more orgasms than straight and bi women. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine polled 1,497 men and 1,353 women who'd been sexually active within the past year. Participants were asked to state their gender, sexual orientation and the percentage of time they orgasmed "with a familiar partner."Before meeting Lynette, she of the multiple grooming products, I’d gotten used to dating people whose own beauty routines consisted of, if anything, 3-in-1 body wash. They tended to gently poke fun at me for all my feminine trappings: the 20 minutes I’d spend each day on my serums. I’m a little ashamed of how, over the years, living beside various permutations of my partners’ easy masculinity, I’d defend my own femme rituals with I’m-not-like-other-girls insistence: Hey, at least I don’t shave! At least I barely wear any makeup! My frivolity was never out of hand. And I prided myself for that, for the ways in which I deliberately limited myself.

Tilly: I never met her. She was pretty much advising Gina. And the thing is, Gina's character is a lot more hardcore lesbian than Violet. These choices are homophobic,” I tell my new friend Dana. She’s technically my press handler, tasked with making sure I see the best that the tour operator, Olivia Travel, has to offer. So far, she’s more than delivered, but the weak karaoke selection — not Dana’s fault! — is a rare low point on a trip that, four days in, has already slowly but surely begun to change my life. The first time I thought that Olivia might actually stand a chance at survival was Sunday, the first full day of the cruise, when I attended the welcome mixer for “Generation O,” which is how Olivia refers to its precious few millennial and Generation X clientele. As I walked around the ship, which holds over 2,000 passengers, it was already clear that the average woman here was a couple decades older than me. But it turned out that there were a few other twenty- and thirtysomethings who’d managed to find their way to Olivia. Be present with your partner and take your time.’ She adds, ‘Make sure you are clear on consent. And then explore and have fun!’ Communicating with your partnerGershon: I knew I had to curl [my toes] on cue. I think it could have been a little bit more connected to an orgasm or to a sexual feeling. I felt it was more a mechanical thing. [But] it was very fluid. No pun intended. Eventually, once we’d reboarded the boat after our snorkeling, I did start talking with a few of the women I met at the Gen O mixer earlier that week, and it only took a couple of drinks for us to become the best of friends. So I’m surprised to say I might actually travel with Olivia again, skeptical as I remain of cruise ethics in general. And that’s because of all the things that happened in the eight days I spent aboard the Summit — things I wasn’t remotely expecting. But! While it’s true that lesbians have less frequent sex than their straight counterparts, lesbian sex lasts far longer: She’s a true Pisces — romantic and dreamy and always processing. (My Capricorn groundedness makes us a good match, allegedly.) She’s known she was gay since she was 5 years old. Her mom still prays that, someday, she’ll find herself a good man.

I would sob in a car to uptown Manhattan, where my friend Alia would take me in her arms and tell me it was all going to be OK.

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In the spirit of lesbian camp bonding, I told my new crew about my situation — nonmonogamous, not sure how to feel about it — which seemed to pique the interest of beer bathing suit girl, because she would soon afterward follow me into the impossibly tiny bathroom, bursting in on me mid-pee. What I didn’t expect was everything else that would happen to me — and is still happening to me — thanks to this one little week in my otherwise pleasantly uneventful life. We both like Justin Bieber, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, babies, spicy foods, and romantic comedies, as well as traveling, swimming, dressing up, having sex, being tall, biking (“cycling,” she’d say), and making detailed plans well ahead of time. We also appear, at this admittedly early stage, to be each other’s scarily perfect sexual complement; lesbian sex can look like a million and one different things, and we like so many of the same ones that it is, honestly, a miracle we ever got out of bed and did anything normal, like eat dinner or generally interact with other people. (Turns out, there was nothing wrong with me during my sad stretch of a dry spell after all — I just hadn’t been having the sex I actually wanted to have.) I would move out of an apartment that I adored, that I’d almost single-handedly furnished, that I thought I’d live in for years to come. I would hug my landlady, crying again because she was crying for me. There are many harmful myths surrounding vulva-to-vulva sex that are steeped in ignorance, homophobia and stereotypes that it is important to unlearn.

I was scared of so many things, and worried about, as usual, lesbian stereotypes — moving too fast, feeling too much. And I said so. It was one of our talents that week: saying absolutely everything that was on our minds, and processing until we felt we couldn’t possibly process anymore — at least, of course, until the next night. It's been four years since Alaina was raped and she still has no plans to pursue formal charges against her rapist. She says, unflinchingly, that she has moved on in other ways: She's chosen to change her name, and has moved to a new city where she has pursued a successful freelance writing career, often writing about sexual assault within the LGBTQ community. I’d never considered before that being a femme with a butch partner needn’t be some inequitable hetero horror show, but instead could be something imbued with incredible queer comfort and power. It could be fun. It could be hot. It was thrilling, and cathartic, to have such a deep, generous conversation with three smart women about a question that’s been at the center of my personal and professional life for nearly five years now: Can lesbians, and women in general, survive the gender revolution?I took care of boys — like my partner, like the person I’d dated before them, even like my cis college boyfriend — because I loved them, and that’s what you do for the people you love. I think there was also a part of me that liked tempering my fastidious long-term planning, my conventionalism, my seriousness with their wild spirits, their rejection of every social expectation. Queer bois, with their embrace of pleasure above most all else, in their refusal to adhere to the rules of heteropatriarchal capitalism — why grow up if it means becoming a cog in the machine? — seemed to embody a radical queer ethos I admired, and maybe felt the slightest bit jealous of. Gershon: I just thought I'd be inspired. I certainly was inspired with tattoos and stuff. I ended up choosing my own tattoos and where I wanted them and all that stuff. In the meantime, Langenderfer-Magruder asserts that language can be a powerful place to start correcting this oversight. Omitting the standard "he" as perpetrator and "she" for victim in laws, educational materials, and even just general discussion encourages awareness. "Research has clearly demonstrated that intimate partner violence does not happen in a solely heterosexual context—and the way we discuss it should reflect that," she says.

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