Making Your Move
Photo: Maggie Parker
Dear Lipstick and Dipstick: I’ve been in a relationship going on two years. In the beginning, it was nice. She did things for me, like give me money whenever I needed it, and bought me things. We used to go out. Now, it’s totally different. Last summer, my mother kicked me out and my disabled son and I had to go to a shelter. My friends came through for me but my girlfriend never helped me or did anything for me while I was there. She knows I need help, especially with my son. I feel like I’m just there for show, like a “trophy girlfriend,” but she says she loves me, that we’re never going to break up and that she wants us to get married. I don’t get it. She gets so mad if my friends give me money, buy me things or offer to help, but she doesn’t do it, so I’m kind of trapped. — Sucker in South Carolina
Lipstick: The first thing you need, Sucker, is some self-respect. If not for you then for your child. If I ended up in a shelter and my girlfriend didn’t do a thing to help me get out, not only would there be no more nooky for her, but there would also be no more roof over her head—because I would have burned it down. Mom’s house would have to go, too. Dump the deadbeat girlfriend now and start rebuilding your life.
Dipstick: I don’t know, Lipstick. I think maybe this one is not simply a sucker—she sounds like a leech. In what world would a homeless lesbian mom with a disabled son and no money be considered a trophy girlfriend? What’s the backstory here? Why were you mooching off Mom in the first place? Why do you need to be bailed out so much? A little help now and then is fine, but friends giving you cash and buying you things? Look at yourself and see if it’s really your girlfriend who needs to change.
Dear Lipstick and Dipstick: I’m a 27-year-old professional with a couple of graduate degrees and a lot of spunk, but I’m having a really hard time meeting interesting, single lesbians in my fairly metropolitan area. I’m having crazed thoughts about packing it all up, leaving my current career path and relocating to Portland, Ore., or some other lesbian mecca, out of sheer frustration and demoralization. Is that crazy talk? — Make a Move on Me
Dipstick: I was just your age when I packed my bags and moved to Portland. I think it’s a great idea. What do you have to lose?
Lipstick: I did the same thing, too, but learned the hard way that your troubles somehow get into your moving boxes, no matter how vigilant you are at keeping them out. I’m not saying you shouldn’t move—I like the idea, actually—but these issues you’re having will be with you in Portland, too, only with more rain, organic food and trendy coffeehouses. Let’s face it: It’s hard to meet a good woman, one who not only blows your skirt up, but also keeps that other important organ stimulated—your brain. If a great relationship were easy, it wouldn’t be so coveted. Stop obsessing over meeting someone special, Mover and Shaker, and live your life with intention. That may mean a big move to Portland, one of the greatest cities on Earth, but it also might mean sitting down and thinking about what you want in life. So, focus on yourself and creating what you imagine, and one day the woman of your dreams will come sauntering in—whether you’re in Portland or Peoria.
Dipstick: There you go again, guru Lipstick, with that New Age jargon—“intention,” “organic food.” Mover and Shaker, Lipstick is wrong. I think you’re being called to Portland because your soul mate awaits you there. Follow your instincts. You’re young and, remember, you only live once. Throw your dog in the back of the Subaru and head to the Northwest. If things don’t work out in Puddletown, you can always try the Peace Corps.
Dear Lipstick and Dipstick: I came out about six years ago. My family is very accepting—my dad is even comfortable talking with me about women. I am well-liked by my co-workers and I’m continuing my education by taking college classes. The odd part of all this is that I work as the after-school program coordinator at my church. I am not out at work, for obvious reasons. My boss is a minister, my dad is a minister and most of the people I go to meetings and conferences with are all ministers! My dad has a position of authority in the church, so everyone in this area knows me. I really cannot be out and work here. I do love my job, though. The kids are great, and the parents love me. In that respect, it is awesome. In my heart I feel sad that I cannot have a full life here. It is a rural-ish small town, and if I had a social life everyone would know. I would never do anything to hurt a child. I am not a danger to them, but I know that not all the parents would feel that way. I love my life but I just don’t feel like it’s finished yet. I want a wife and the option to at least attempt to adopt or foster some kids. But I don’t see that happening in this town. Am I doomed? Am I mentally unstable for being happy here? — Church Lady
Dipstick: No, you’re not insane or doomed. There’s nothing wrong with you and you know it. Your dad knows it and God knows it, too. The problem is not with you but with bigotry and close-minded people. We would all love to be out at our jobs, but the truth is, some of us don’t have that luxury. Think of the military. You’re out to the people who are important to you in your life. That is good.
Lipstick: What? Dipstick, are you taking those herbal sedatives again? Church Lady, get out of that closet! You can have the life you’re dreaming about, but you’re going to have to pay the price for it. You have something that other people from religious families don’t have: a father who supports you. Consider yourself lucky. There may be consequences when you come out—ignorant people judging you or treating you differently—but that is their baggage, not yours. Think of it this way: What’s the worst they can do to you? Gossip? Treat you differently? Cast stones? We are on the front line of this fight and it’s never been more important for queers to live their lives out and proud. The time is now to stop living in fear.
Dipstick: Yeah, sorry. I just threw the sedatives away. You never know—perhaps you’ll be surprised if you come out. With your dad leading the flock, maybe you’ll be just fine where you are. Times are changing. Just go on and keep living your life in a way that makes you happy. If you meet someone you want to settle down with, then do it. You don’t have to make a big announcement. Just live. Give your community the opportunity to support you. Maybe they will. But if they don’t, fight it sword and plowshare! Make a stink. Call the press, orga- nize protests, blog about it, get the ACLU involved. Either you’ll find a new career path as an activist, or childcare centers across the country will be lining up to offer you a job.
Dear Lipstick and Dipstick: My girlfriend is really sensitive. I say a lot of stupid things, and do things that I think are meaningless but that hurt her. How can I be more sensitive? — Barbed-Tongued Barbie
Dipstick: I, like you, often let things fly out of my mouth that I wish I could retrieve—especially if I’ve had a drink or two. For some reason, tequila is the worst. Just ask Lip. She’ll never have margaritas with me again. But when I’m sober and sensitive, I try to take a few breaths before I spout whatever is on the tip of my tongue. You’ve taken the first step by realizing this is a problem for you. Now follow Dipstick’s four-step process to avoid insulting those you love. Step 1: Count to 10. Step 2: Take a deep breath. Step 3: Ask yourself if the statement you’re about to make will get you closer to or farther away from her jewelry box? Step 4: Keep your mouth shut anyway. Works every time.
Lipstick: Dipstick, did you have to bring up the margaritas in Manhattan incident? I was trying to put that behind us. I have the opposite problem, Barbie, believe it or not—I tend to be too nice. I wouldn’t say I’m a patsy, but when it comes to someone I love, I can be quite a softie. Well, until I become a pushed-over-the-edge, I’m-out-of-here Barbie, that is—which is what I suspect your girlfriend will eventually morph into. Maybe you two just aren’t right for each other.