There is a truth to the conceit we develop in college that the “real world” somehow exists outside our current circumstances. The confined, secluded space of higher learning enables us, ever so briefly, to embark on flights of fancy without the very real repercussions that await out there, in the real world. In the faux universe of the ivory tower, idealism grows unchallenged by reality, and experimentation is encouraged and protected.
One manifestation of this temporary cessation of consequences is what is commonly referred to as “lesbian until graduation”—a LUG. The brash, bright hetero girl plunges into the netherworld of girl-girl romance, only to emerge years later, diploma in hand, straight as a ruler for the remainder of her days.
I wasn’t a LUG in the strictest sense of the word; I never gave up men entirely. Call me a BUG (bisexual until graduation). I’d had small crushes on women before, but nothing beyond the realm of my imagination had happened—until I met her.
Tall, pale, with long locks of dark blond hair that stretched down her back, I was certain she’d been plucked from Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and placed on earth for my enjoyment. She was the editor of the university newspaper, and I was her star columnist. Our attraction was, at first, that of two best friends destined to keep in touch for life. But by the end of one listless summer, when we were both unemployed and mostly single, an undeniable sexual heat had developed between us. One night, we got drunk on cheap swill and did the deed. Embarrassed, we giggled over our small feat for weeks. It was the first and last time we’d make love. But hot damn, if it wasn’t amazing!
I had other encounters with women, but none quite matched the heady rush of the first. I quickly became disenchanted with the notion of, well, going down. How could men manage this for minutes on end? I wondered. Breasts? They couldn’t compare with firm shoulders. And the soft, sweet feminine touch was no match for the firm, male thrust. Emotionally and intellectually, I found more to like in the complicated process of two people attempting to merge from opposite ends of the gender pool than I did in the simpler equation of lady meets lady, hence the toilet seat stays down.
Worse still, after mentioning my lesbian exploits to friends, I found myself pressured to turn these seemingly innocent trifles into something far more serious. “You must tell everyone you’re bisexual. It’s a political statement,” a friend demanded. I wanted to support my gay and bisexual sisters. I really, really did. The problem was, every time I affixed the word “bisexual” to my long list of identity markers—white, female, liberal Democrat, carnivore, etc.—it didn’t seem to fit. “Couldn’t I just be sexual?” I asked my politically active friend.
No. Apparently, I could not.
There was no getting around it. I was straight. At the time, it felt very unfashionable, uncool, politically incorrect.
Lesbian friends of mine say there’s nothing they hate more than LUGs. Unlike these Lesbians For Life (LFLs), we collegiate experimenters never had to endure coming out to our families, confronting a lifetime of discrimination, being refused the rights to get married, adopt children, walk down the street holding hands with our significant others. We have our fun, often at the expense of a true lesbian’s feelings—oops! thought I was gay; sorry!–and move along.
LUGs have the luxury of trying out something different and walking away without any serious aftereffects. Try explaining that to someone whose parents have disowned them or who’s been turned down for a job because of sexual preference.
While I understand the LFL’s frustration, I wish they felt differently. We former lesbians may have only been messing around with societal constructs, but it’s unquestionable that the experience makes us more attuned to gay issues, more likely to speak out against discrimination after graduation.
Imagine, if you will, that being Gay Until Graduation was as acceptable in our society as being a LUG. (The unlikelihood of such a hypothesis makes it clear that the real world, however watered down, still exists even within the ivory tower.) Imagine if fraternity boys could do more than fraternize in the showers. If male college athletes, geeks, and hipsters could enjoy each other sexually, if only once or twice. If straight boys trying each other on for size was dismissed as playful experimentation.
Would this not go a long way toward stamping out homophobia and sexism? Wouldn’t a congressman, preacher, or manager who’s had a penis up his ass and liked it be more likely to accept someone for whom it’s a regular practice?
There are no real answers to these questions, but in the confined, secluded space of my imagination I like to picture the possibilities.
More sex education: