So when I lived in Florida for a few years, in my youth, one of the many ways I vaguely supported myself was painting and wallpapering for anyone who would pay me. Thus, I met my first Lipstick Lesbian, who hired me to paint a single wall in her bedroom. Up until that day, I had no idea there were lipstick lesbians. Being from Kentucky, the only lesbians I knew were big horsey girls in flannel shirts and blue jeans, which makes it hard to tell based on looks alone because Most women in Kentucky wear flannel shirts and blue jeans.
So I asked permission to use the Lipstick Lesbian’s bathroom, and she shocked me by saying “No, you may not. Go ask the guy across the hall if you can use his. He probably likes the smell of male urine in his home.”
And I squirm across the hall and knock on the door and this big, bald, moustached, muscular, fairly mean looking Leather God answers the door and I nearly pissed there in the hall. But, I managed to hold it together and explain the situation. He looked at his neighbor’s door and used the C-word, which also was a first for me, because this was the 80’s and I was fresh out of school and I thought “We Are Family” meant, in part, that once we’d identified ourselves to each other, we were somehow not Allowed to hate other queer folk, even if they were a horrible person.
I walk through Leather God’s fiercely neutral and Spartan living room to the bathroom, and I kid you not, I walk in and there’s flowered and latticed wallpaper and frilly lace curtains around the shower and a cute little toilet paper crocheted doily cover-thing on the back of the tank, and a pastel plaid rug, with matching pastel plaid towels, and enough product crammed on the sink counter to make the old bitch at the Chanel Counter at Macy’s go insane with jealously. My Leather God was actually a Leather Queen.
And I pissed loudly and left the door cracked open just a bit for his benefit, and flushed and thanked him and left and went back to my Lipstick Lesbian to finish the job I was hired to do, amazed at how we are so often, so very often, not what we seem, but are actually so very much more.