A group of Australian lesbians have opened up in an episode of the ABC series You Can’t Ask That.
The eye-opening show allows people from a marginalised or misunderstood group or community to answer anonymous questions – some ignorant, some well-meaning, some both – from the public.
You Can’t Ask That’s new season starts this week and in one episode nine lesbians answer curly questions like, “To be a lesbian, is it a prerequisite to be an angry feminist?” and “Did you try dick?”
The women also discuss stereotypes, discrimination, religion, the fetishisation of their sex lives, and the evolution of labels like “lesbian” and “queer”.
LGBTIQ activist Sally Rugg appears in the episode and reflected on growing up as a young gay person.
“We live in a world where every single story you are told, every image of a couple, every myth, every tradition, every milestone in your life is centered around heterosexuality,” she says.
“And so, for me, I didn’t know what it was to be gay.”
Sally also recalls the moment her sexuality dawned on her.
“It felt like discovering that I had cancer because all of a sudden, I had this thing inside of me that I did not want, and I didn’t choose to be there,” she said.
“I suddenly felt like the rest of my life was going to be different.”
Meanwhile, Sam “Kingy” King identifies herself as an “old school butch dyke”. Asked about stereotypes, she explains why she thinks the “angry lesbian” stereotype exists.
“For a long time, people were only presented with images of rallies and political events where they saw lesbians being angry,” she says.
“We were fighting for our rights; we were fighting for our existence. People forget that being gay in this country was illegal.”
Nine lesbian women share stories on You Can’t Ask That
Others in the episode include transgender lesbian Rosie and lesbian woman Margherita who was raised by nuns in an orphanage in the 1950s.
Margherita recalls going to a gay bar at age 18 and “just knowing I was home.”
Meanwhile, Dina, a 24-year-old Lebanese Muslim woman, tears up when reading the question, “Do you ever wish you weren’t gay?”
“If I wasn’t gay, I would probably still have a relationship with my family,” she says.
Uniting Church minister Dorothy McRae-Mahon, 86, realised she was a lesbian in her 50s while married with kids.
Dorothy came out to her church after getting together with the “love of her life”.
“I wanted to respect her and own my relationship with her. I wanted to own who I was,” she explains.
After she did so, Dorothy explained being honest and open about her sexuality “has just given me true life.”
“The contrast between what I felt about myself when I was trying to be heterosexual [and now], it’s huge,” she said.
“When I decided who I really was for the first time in my whole life, I was really alive.
“I’ve come out in all sorts of contexts now. And I’m determined to keep doing it because it is who I am.”
The new series of You Can’t Ask That starts on ABC TV this Wednesday (April 28). The entire series, including the lesbians episode, is also streaming on ABC iView from Wednesday.
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