by Sarah Veatch
"You are being so stereotypical." He is yelling from the living room. I am in the kitchen cooking dinner. In the background, Tracy Chapman is playing her acoustic guitar. It must be that he is just sick of the CD. So what should I do? Put on the Indigo Girls album? Maybe Suzanne Vega? I pause from chopping the vegetables for dinner. With any luck, dinner will turn into this broccoli and pasta thing that I snagged out of the vegetarian cookbook my mother gave me for Christmas. The organic broccoli was even on sale at the local cooperative supermarket. I trudge over to the stereo in my wool socks and worn-in Birkenstocks to change the CD. Chop, chop, chop. Upstairs, in my room, I have the complete collection of Virginia Woolf novels. Next to the bookshelf is my guitar. I have been teaching myself the basics of acoustic folk music for the past few years; mainly I am just trying to emulate the greats in the hope that someday I will be able to write my own stuff. On the walls are remnants from several marches on Washington. My wardrobe consists of jeans and T-shirts and flannels. I think of myself as being fairly outspoken, strong willed, and independent. I am even interested in a male dominated field at a male dominated university. I don't believe I ever even questioned my sexuality... What about me isn't gay? Around me is this looming stereotype which we are taught to avoid at all costs. We don't ever want to conform to the "norm." We are supposed to be individuals, but how can I consider myself an individual if so many aspects of myself are shared with this conception of a typical white lesbian. How did I let myself fall into this well of conformity? When I think about it, I dislike that I am such a stunning example of what is thought of as the typical lesbian. It is unfortunate that because of my choice to be out and active in the gay community, people are going to see me and re-inforce their conception of the typical lesbian. What they don't see is the vast diversity amongst the people that they cannot recognize as gay. In many ways, lesbians are put in a catch-22, because in order to fight for our rights we must be strong and outspoken. Part of the appeal of being gay for me is that I knew that there was a community out there which was filled with people like me. (Mind you that I definitely mean only in part... My decision to be out was mostly influenced by my attraction to women.) I never thought of myself as trying to fit into the crowd, and I still don't think that I am attempting to fit in, in any sense. I am who I am because I have found a lifestyle that I am comfortable with, even if it means that I am a crunchy lesbian to the T. I am very comfortable with my identity, independent of where I fit into society, and coming out was a big part of that process for me. I will continue listening to my crunchy "lesbian" music, eating my vegetables, wearing my jeans and Birkenstocks, and conducting my politics the way I do, because they are as much a part of me as they are a part of sections of the lesbian community. You are welcome to point me out in a crowd sometime. I am comfortable enough with who I am... are you?