Lesbians and Gay Men Write About Their Lives TogetherBook Review
Sister and Brother: Lesbians and Gay Men Write About Their Lives Together
In 1995, the gay literary magazine, Lambda Book Report, announced one of its 1994 Lambda Literary Awards for a book entitled Sister and Brother, which provides true stories of relationships between lesbians and gay men. (Lambda Book Report, J1/Aug. 1995, p.13).
John Preston, the co-author of this book, was once the editor of the gay news magazine The Advocate. Preston tells of discovering his attraction to women, as he roomed with a lesbian couple:
“There was also an air of sexuality in our apartment. At first I thought it simply the passion these two women openly expressed for one another. Then I realized the passion included me. Cindy and Sharon were both tall, athletic women. They would wander through our rooms nude after lovemaking or showering, and I, who had dreamed of creating an all-male gay world, found myself unexpectedly attracted to them and inquisitive about their bodies.
Sex finally came up in our conversation when Cindy and Sharon spoke of Sharon’s desire to have a baby. Would I provide sperm? How did I ever get from being a gay male activist to sperm donor? The sperm would be given naturally—no turkey basters for these women—and I found myself liking the idea of having sex with one or both of these women. We became more physical, we touched more, talked even more openly about our bodies. The baby didn’t happen, but the discussions about creating a child made our curiosity about our bodies all the more forceful.
We also quickly learned that such thoughts and activities were best kept to ourselves. The gay and lesbian community didn’t want its leaders to be indulging in any exploration of heterosexuality. It was best to put our attractions and our occasional explorations into a new closet.” (Sister and Brother: Lesbians and Gay Men Write About Their Lives Together, ed. By Joan Nestle and John Preston; New York: Harper Collins, 1994, pgs. 5-6)
You will notice below how gays openly and easily talk about the changeable nature of human sexuality:
Lambda Book Report--.
“In private, of course, the lives of many gay men and lesbians have always overlapped, as the stories collected in Sister and Brother attest…They have been allies at work, siblings in families, partners in community affairs, business, and parenting Sometimes, they have been husbands and wives, and occasionally lovers.” (Lambda Book Report, Nov/Dec 1994, pg. 17)
The Advocate is particularly
intrigued with another gay/lesbian sexual affair recorded in
the book --
“These tales are as unpredictable as the range of gay-lesbian relationships. Bernard Cooper’s story ‘Truth Serum” is a knockout. A selection from his forthcoming memoirs (and winner of 1995’s O. Henry Award), it portrays his long lasting heterosexual love affair, which began in the heat of sexual passion and thrives years later as a lifelong friendship. Although Cooper becomes a practicing homosexual, his place, as he tells us, remains forever with his friend Bia Lowe.” (The Advocate, 11-29-1994, pg. 75)
Excerpts from Bernard’s and
Bia’s essays from the book are included below. Bia,
Bernard’s lesbian lover, tells how their gay friendship grew
into a sexual affair:
We stayed together three years, during which time we did everything a real couple does—laughed, worked, argued, had sex, went on diets…” (Sister and Brother, pg. 131)
Eventually, they broke up to
return to same-sex relationships. But Bia was
forever changed by her relationship with Bernard:
“How can I explain to my mother…How can I tell her, without her thrilling to false hopes, that, having loved a man, having mated with a man, I know I could still? I still find men attractive, and I still recall, with sexual excitement, my escapades into heterosexual sex. I especially enjoyed the encyclopedic range of sexual imagery to draw from…” (Ibid., pg. 132)
Homosexual Bernard tells us about his relationship with Bia from his perspective: “I’d been living with a woman for three years, a woman whom I loved, and with whom I had a sex life both playful and pleasurable…"
Gay activists deny the reality and legitimacy of heterosexual feelings in “ex-gays.” But no one in the gay community questions the heterosexual desires of people that are still defined as being in the circle of the gay community. Hypocrisy at its best.