RH: What do you think about the current mainstream fascination
with lesbianism and bisexuality?
HE: It's hard not to be skeptical about the publicizing of
lesbianism, especially when you have movies like I Shot Andy
Warhol, where the protagonist is identified as a lesbian, even
though she only has sex with men in the movie. But it's probably a
hopeful sign that people are acknowledging that human sexuality is
on a continuum. I can't help feeling that the more open discussions
there are, the better.
RH: You make a strong point about lesbianism being more than
simply sleeping with women -- that it's not enough to sleep with
women because you hate men, that you should be a lesbian because
it makes you happy.
HE: You don't often find men who become homosexual for
political reasons, and yet there are women who decide to become
lesbians even though they don't lust after women sexually.
There was a period where I felt that I was a failure as a lesbian,
because I was happy, because I would behave more whimsically,
more frivolously than other lesbians, which somehow made me
suspect. I really thought that I was doing something wrong because I
got along with silly, frivolous, playful gay men and not with gay
women. But I've finally found that there's a universe of frivolous
lesbians and that there is fun to be had.
RH: It's interesting that you felt judged for not being the right
kind of lesbian but you also have some sharp criticisms of lesbian
S/M culture and certain aspects of butch/femme.
HE: Certainly, everyone's entitled to explore and find out what
pleases them, but to elect to live your life in a very limited "drag" . . .
I just don't understand it, just as I don't entirely understand the
desire for same-sex marriage. As an artist, I'm very wary of having
to play by certain rules or conventions in order to feel good about
oneself. I remember seeing Word is Out years ago and feeling
very vanilla in comparison, because I was just an ordinary
loudmouthed homosexual girl. It's a shame that we haven't found
many more ways to blatantly advertise the delights of homosexual
living other than being encased in leather and pierced within an inch
of one's life.
RH: That's why you like referring to yourself as a "womanizer,"
HE: When I use that term in conversations or interviews,
everybody knows exactly what I mean by it. And it captures the
playfulness of my lust for women in a way that the word "lesbian"
RH: Behind your cynical humor, there's a really positive, upbeat
message about being a lesbian.
HE: When I was younger, my mother told me she would rather
that her children weren't part of a despised minority, because of her
past, in which it would have been much easier not to have been
Jewish. But being outside the mainstream is a blessing, because you
realize what's wrong with the inhumane rules that are pressed upon
everyone. And although I could fit in, I feel absolved from all those
things which are no fun for anyone -- male, female, straight, or gay.
I was worried that the various frustrations and foibles of daily
sapphic existence would make my writing bitter, and I didn't want to
do that, because I'm very optimistic about all our chances for
happiness. And I've found the response to be wonderful. There are a
lot of women out there responding to the book's message of being a
lesbian for positive rather than negative reasons, so I'm hoping that
it will begin to catch on.