"Thirty means stability," says my older friend, "and the most amazing sex of your life. Seriously, Zoe, my orgasms feel like they come from the centre of the earth." Well, I'm deep into the first few months of my Saturn Return and find myself attempting to relive my late teens in a drunken blur as I examine what it means to be almost 30.
For non-astrologers, I'm dealing with the three-year period that occurs every 28 years when Saturn returns to its original position in your natal chart and causes lots of upheaval.
My last few years have been comfortably domestic. I much preferred to stay in with my honey watching movies than to watch the slink and grind of the queer girl bar scene.
Newly non-monogamous with the aforementioned live-in girlfriend, I've been going out again, arm in arm with my fellow near-30-something friend Lisa. Though our friendship is mostly made of platonic idolatry, we frequently find ourselves in the hot glare of last call, lips locked in a friendly make-out game of femme on femme.
The first time this happened, we pulled apart to audible catcalls from Blake, our cutie trans guy friend sitting across the table from us. He'd clicked a Polaroid in mid-embrace, exclaiming that he'd be pasting that shot above his bed. We giggled, half-glared and kissed again, since his voyeurism added to our playful, gin-soaked affair.
But the fact that our fishnet legs were entwined was unusual in our scene, where regardless of biology, boy often meets girl and that's that.
Does femme-on-femme desire always have to be a performance? Intellectually, politically, I know this isn't the case. Plenty of femmes love the ladies and have no hangups. There are a ton of trans/fag (hot!) love affairs. There are plenty of people who identify all over the gender spectrum. But when I look at my own sexual past and present, my desire for another femme has always been casual, public and has mostly had others in mind. I'm a pretty straight femme in my little queer scene, preferring those on the masculine end of the gender spectrum.
Regardless of who's looking, what is my desire in this exchange? Even if Lisa and I are mimicking straight culture's obsession with two girls kissing, if we get off on it, does it matter?
Although the way Lisa and I make out is always somewhat public and never sober, this doesn't mean that my attraction is false or that it's only enacted for the masculine gaze. There is a genuine spark between us that's enhanced by but not purely for the presence of others.
I can't help wondering why Blake's reaction to our kiss provoked a complicated mix of annoyance and arousal in me. And his observation felt strangely familiar, expected, boring. The stage we stand on is reminiscent of hetero-normative porn. Both Lisa and I, as well as many femmes in our circles, have a history of profiting economically from men eyeing our curves.
But our play isn't for the pleasure of anyone but ourselves and our friends - unlike the current pop culture games.
You can't watch a music video without seeing the chicks grinding each other and looking at the guys enticingly. The Britney-Madonna kiss exemplifies the mainstreaming of straight girl kisses for the express purpose of male desire. The camera panned immediately to Justin's face for a reaction.
In a new beer commercial, hot model A compliments Model B's lip gloss, and B asks, "You wanna try some?" and proceeds to French kiss A. They then turn to showcase three drooling guy onlookers and pan to a shot of beer.
With Britney and Madonna, a poster child of chastity and the maven of mainstreaming sexual freedom come together in an explosion of clever marketing.
My girlfriend and I may have found it as hot as your average male viewer, but this was not a major coup for queer freedom. It was appropriation and titillation intended to turn men on and distract fans from mediocre music.
How does this kind of thing affect queers? I see it as just an extension of the lesbian chic craze of the mid-90s. Ultimately, it doesn't include us, and holds as much meaning as the latest Mary-Kate and Ashley movie. Perhaps what it does mean is that if Lisa and I made out at your local frat bar, we wouldn't get beat up but, rather, hit on. Eventually, will it be no big deal to see two red bras rubbing up against each other, at the queer bar or on the small screen?
Either way, I'm still spending my Fridays in the lap of my favourite gal pal, mixing up our lip gloss and causing a commotion. Until I turn 30, of course.