I am a lesbian trapped in a man’s body. I am not a mumsy, round, cardiganed lesbian, I am a muscled, lithe dominatrix, dressed in black leather, I carry nipple-clamps and lube in my handbag, and I never smile. I am supremely self-determined. I am not even 100% lesbian, I just shag whoever I want, whenever I want, and because my stern commanding gaze will not be brooked, women and men, straight gay or indeterminate, all fall into my consummate erotic control.
They beg me not to stop, and I take nothing from their requests.
I was buying wine in Old Compton Street, Soho, which is the gay street of the West End. Old Compton has Patisserie Valerie selling the best coffee and cream cakes in town, and the street often feels like it might really be from somewhere else, like Brazil, or Prague, the atmosphere is so louche and extravagant. I was looking at some red rioja, some white rioja, wondering whether I should buy them both – one for now, one for later – when my inner lesbian walked in.
She was soft-spoken, wore a short leather skirt and long boots, and the classic double Venus earring. She had a simple request – Czech absinthe. Now, this is the stuff that has wormwood in it, the stuff that used to be illegal, before Tony Blair’s son demanded and got the law changed after the gutter-snogging episode. This stuff will cause middle-class propriety to vanish like the stains on your stainless steel kitchen unit, the one that put those funny red stripes on your upper thighs that time. This absinthe, drunk in Spain on a works outing, caused 55 year-old Bernadette to jump onto the table and dance lewdly with the waiter, pulling his dark head into her flouncy dress and corkscrewing his nose into her fragrant inner folds. Before passing out she screamed that the mice on the table were ruining her tango. Remembering this, I looked across discretely.
She had a calm, polite demeanour, and completely ignored me, and so I took full advantage of my weighing up procedure, hiding my fascination for her behind an apparent obsession with Spanish wine. My chirpy male sales assistant was happy to desert me temporarily in order to attend her. A light shone in his eyes as he retrieved not one but two examples of the high-class psychoactive liquor, and he took pains to explain in detail the differences between them. But the way she looked at his enthusiasm was cool, like the spider who need not rush. She observed, said practically nothing, while he did the work. She was two inches shorter than me but her heels lifted her to my height exactly. She was atop a watchtower, allowing the minions to scamper around her, impregnable.
It’s a cliché that heterosexual men fancy lesbians. The threat of other men is absent, and male fantasies are all about penile gratification – “and now here’s what you REALLY want, girls”. This is an adolescent concept best left at that age. I felt nothing like sexual attraction for my inner lesbian, no interest in her playing a role in some future orgiastic event, just admiration, pride in her chic, subtle, sexy appearance, and in the way she used such a small amount of energy to achieve her ends, and a sense of affinity. Seeing her, I had instant knowledge that the degree of separation between us was slight. She was my anima, yet in the form of animus. I wanted to be her – I was her.
My gender was being thoroughly bent, and the borders of myself shifted, but it felt delicious. What better place for me to exist, a straight man with degrees in oral sex and funk, in the body of the coolest lesbian on the planet? “My mother made me lesbian! – if I gave her the wool, would she make me one?” went the old joke. I didn’t have any wool. I didn’t need any wool. In folklore, when you meet your doppelganger, you die. What happens when you meet your inner lesbian in Soho? You live all the more.