I really admire Staceyann Chin’s writing. She wrote a wonderfully poetic memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, about growing up and coming into her own as a lesbian in Jamaica before moving to New York. A quick glance at the comments on this story at the Guardian suggests that people in the UK and maybe in general mostly missed the nuance and sweetness in what she was going for with this piece that ran last week:
Maybe it is the thrill of conversion – and that is only if any such crossover can be deemed a conversion. Who is to say such conquests were not sleeper-lesbians, just waiting for the right moment to awaken? I suppose, though, through the right lens, the process could be described as evangelical, this business of meeting, and courting and having a woman decide to jump the heterosexual ship to be with you (even if it is temporary). More often than not, the crossover is accompanied by confessions of, “I’ve never done this with anyone before.” Or, “I’m not into women, there’s just something about you that makes me want to try this.” Either way, you are the chosen one, the messiah, the mandate that pulls her, magnetic, toward her most hidden desires.
Or maybe we are just like everyone else, desperately looking everywhere for love. Whatever it is, the phenomenon excites us; this lascivious dance between the narrow spaces occupied by the women the world wishes we were and the women who sometimes wish they were us keeps the tradition of lesbians chasing straight alive and flourishing. Yes, we crack mean jokes about it – who wants to invest in a relationship with a LUG? (Lesbian until graduation.) And, yes, we complain about the true cost of cavorting with the bi-curious – the eventual sexual frustration (often, our sexual favours are not returned during lovemaking). But we all do it, over and over and over again, until something happens that makes us say, no more. And this resolution can last for quite a while – years even – until the next dangerously intriguing straight woman struts by, flirting at us, daring us to make her cross the line.
Somehow, this struck some readers as predatory in a way that would absolutely not be praised were Staceyann Chin a man writing about courting women in the same way. I think that misses the point, but more than that, these are people who are not aware of the Pick Up Artists and Neil Strauss and The Game and maybe twenty billion other examples of ways men openly brag (and make a ton of money) off of targeting women to pick up and/or seduce. Anyway, the writing is good.