Volume 74, Number 8 | June 23 - 29, 2004

A special Villager supplement,


A day with the lesbians and a night with k.d. lang

By Tim Gay

Villager file photo
The problem with writer’s block is that one’s editor gets to come up with an idea.

“Write something about lesbians,” Lincoln Anderson, my editor at The Villager, suggested. “You can do it, Tim. After all, you were married to one.”

Certainly, some heterosexuals still entertain fantasies of lesbians as boot-wearing dykes on motorcycles roaring off to womyn-only Wicca rituals under a full moon in the Poconos.

The only way to find out is to use surplus cell phone minutes and call. Here’s what an unscientific sampling of lesbians approaching and over 40 were doing on Sat., June 19, 2004.

“We’re going to dinner at a friend’s. Out here in the country, we go to dinner at each other’s houses a lot,” Susanne reported from Bucks County. She mentioned a diaspora of lesbian friends from Washington, D.C., to Greene County, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and Suffolk County where she and her lover, Roxy, have been dinner guests. “Boring? We think of it as relaxing.”

My ex-wife Susan was a cross-country bicyclist and a black belt in judo before we were married. After our nuptials she became a skydiver. Would she and her lover, Jennifer, be up to thrills and derring-do at their home in Long Beach, California?

“Actually, I’m going to cook on the grill and Jennifer and I will go to Blockbuster for a video,” she told me. “We like going to L.A. Sparks games, which I think is to lesbians what a disco is to gay men. Otherwise, I think you’ll find most lesbians are pretty boring.”

So I called Kathy, also a Women’s National Basketball Association fan, to see what she and Chris were up to on Saturday. Alas, there wasn’t a New York Liberty game on Saturday.

“We’re here at Clement Clark Moore Park playing with our friends’ 5-year old, just hanging out and swinging,” Kathy said. “Then Chris and I are going to k.d. lang’s concert at Carnegie Hall tonight. That’s the major lesbian circuit party of the month!”

I recalled that several gay friends were also going. I bought a last-minute ticket in the balcony and joined them.

From Row “0” next to the ceiling, I could not see a single pair of Timberland boots, let alone a flannel shirt. However, at least half the audience appeared to be lesbians, with the other half heterosexuals and gay men.

Most of the women wore neat, no-nonsense haircuts like suburbanites who are into tennis or golf. Black was the preferred color, whether young or mature, in skirts, dresses, pants or jeans. There were some younger women with nose rings, piercings and post-punk coifs, but the audience displayed the casual yet confident look of a Saturday-night music festival in the Berkshires.

After a brief program of the Brooklyn Philharmonic performing some of Scott Hiltzik’s music, k.d. lang came onstage to thunderous hoots and hollers.

The lesbian legend herself was wearing a shimmering navy-blue suit featuring an ankle-length skirt, three-quarter-length riding jacket and white silk blouse, all reminiscent of a 1918 “Buy War Bonds” poster-girl. (Later in the show, k.d. thanked Donna Karan for sewing the outfit.)

And best of all, k.d., performed barefoot.

k.d. sang her classics, such as “Ms. Chatelaine” “Still Somehow,” “Don’t Smoke in Bed” and her cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying Over You.” And she introduced songs from her new CD, “North of the 49th Parallel,” featuring works by fellow Canadians including Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.

k.d. sang Tony Bennett’s “Give Me a Kiss…” and danced a hula hula, which made the women swoon. She followed that by singing, as she called it, “a medley of my one hit, ‘Constant Craving.’ ”

For her encore, k.d. sang an obscure Patsy Cline song, “Two Cigarettes in an Ashtray,” which made the crowd go wild. Even I yelled “More! More!”

Were all the women at Carnegie on Saturday night?

Ilene and Allison weren’t there. The two Connecticut lesbians came to town, checked in to the Salisbury Hotel with Ilene’s 80-plus father, and spent the night on the town seeing “Kathy & Mo” and having Mojitos at Bar 89 on Mercer St. They looked like they came directly from a Talbot’s ad.

I asked what they did Saturday morning. “We shaved each other’s legs,” Allison stated proudly.

“We came in for my cousin Neal’s 50th birthday party,” Ilene said. “Allison and I have been together, what, five years? We just bought a house and moved in together, and I was having difficulty telling my 14-year-old daughter. But Holly said, ‘Don’t worry Mom, it’s cool. Love is love.’ My daughter said she had known Allison and I were in love for a long time.

“It is so wonderful! My daughter accepts me. I’m in a relationship that’s good, right and natural. My heart is at peace,” Ilene said. “Look, I’m not buying steel-toe boots. I’m still wearing lipstick. I’m not an activist, I’m an optimist.”

“But thank God for the activists,” Allison added. Allison has been out as long as my ex-wife and I have been. In fact, Allison used to camp in the very woods in the Ozarks where I used to go. As Allison noted, “The women’s movement work of the past 30 or 40 years and the gay and lesbian movement made it possible for us to be us today.”

One constant theme came up among the lesbians I interviewed. All are political, especially this year. “I know several Republican Log Cabin types, but I don’t know of a single lesbian who is voting for Bush,” my ex-wife Susan said. Come to think of it, there was one woman at Carnegie Hall who wore a tank top proclaiming, “My Bush Would Make a Better President.”

So that’s what some lesbians were doing on Saturday. Eating and being entertained, and living happily ever after, whether with k.d., Kathy & Mo or dinner and a video.

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