Our monthly columnist on all things sapphic, Helen Scott, will be coming to a bookshelf near you next year and she’s sharing a sneak peek with us
So, I’m writing a book. I know, casual! I’ve got a publisher, a title, ten of twelve chapters are written and I have to hand this bad boy over to my editor in just four weeks’ time. I’m shitting my pants, to say the least. It’s a guidebook for 21st-century lesbians; for women wanting to feel empowered around their sexuality; a love letter for our she/her/they/thems. It’s going to be sick! And I thought I’d offer up a snippet of what’s to come. This is Live Laugh Lesbian, the book.
When I was nine, I had a best friend who, for the purposes of this story, we’ll call Flower. Flower was bold and intelligent, with really shiny, straight, auburn hair. She laughed hard at my slapstick-style humour and stuck up for me when the boys teased us in the playground. We’d have sleepovers, eat sweets, play dress up, and watch cartoons like all the other kids in my school. But what we also did, which I didn’t do with my other school friends, was kiss each other. A lot.
We’d go to her house after school and act out these Disney-esque scenes, me saving her from dragons, her fighting off an army of trolls. We’d battle wizards, play fairy godmothers and always end by waking each other with a kiss. The kiss would turn into more kissing and it soon became our favourite part of the game, obvs.
Now you might instantly be transported back to your own childhood here. Maybe not to your own secret snogging story like mine, but a friend you really liked playing with or an obsession with your favourite female tv character (Missy from Bring It On, need I say more). If you’re a lesbian like me or you sit anywhere on the queer spectrum, this is often how it starts. Naive innocent kids, navigating childhood among the social norms thrown at us. Maybe 90% of us knew very young that something about how we felt was ‘off’. And yet, here you are, reading this book today. So a little gay hooray for even turning the first page.
Besides the fact that Flower was a girl, kissing in general seemed kind of naughty at that age. It was something adults did in movies, or that your parents did occasionally while you and your siblings made sick noises. Even at the age of nine, I knew physical contact in that way had a few different meanings, but it most certainly wasn’t ‘normal’ for me to be snogging Flower in matching Cinderella outfits in a fort made out of bed sheets after school. And so it all stayed inside my wee little heart, and we never acknowledged it outside of those games we played together.
For a lot of us, it might not be easy to remember the precise moment we realised fancying someone of the same sex was considered wrong. For me, it hearing boys calling girls lesbians in the playground, or the rush of heat to my face when holding a girl’s hand. It wasn’t a moment, I just knew, and isn’t that crazy to think that social conditioning can just infiltrate a little person’s brain so easily and unconsciously? I didn’t learn that being gay was wrong because my parents told me so – I knew it was considered wrong simply through everything I consumed from my environment. And when you’re that age and feeling those feelings, there’s not much else that could make a child feel so isolated. But now, of course, I know that I wasn’t alone.
Now this book is not an autobiography, but it is anecdotal. It’s important for me to share my stories with you first so that you can start to realise just how similar we all are. Even when our journeys are different, we are all connected by this beautiful uniqueness that we’ve been born with. But secondly, because I’ve been a right messy cow over the years and have some hilarious stories to share with you! No, but really, hearing my stories, I hope, is going to ease your soul and show you that we are all in the same boat. We might be the minority, yes, but we’re still a community. An LGBTQIA+ family. And I want you to know that no matter what, you are loved. You are so important, and your sexuality doesn’t have to be a bad thing, something that causes you continual pain, or defines your entire life and experiences. I can’t deny that it won’t impact your life, but it will be overwhelmingly positive.
I told you it would be a short snippet, a teaser. And god, even sharing that is making me feel quite emotional! The book is in its first stages and is due to launch at the end of Pride season 2023. I’m so bloody excited! If you want to be the first to know when pre-orders open, head to www.livelaughlesbian.com. In the meantime, pray for me – I’ve got just thirty days left to get this book finished. I can do it, right?