There may be a thousand reasons why lesbians love the thrill of a straight girl. Maybe women who chase women possess the same rabid ego we despise in straight men, the same ego that makes a person go giddy at the thought of being "the first" for the straight girl in question. The heterosexual terrain of her flesh, untouched by other dyke hands, smacks of the virgin narrative. Who wouldn't want to be "the first"? Who doesn't like what feels like a conquest? A win?
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.
So, invariably, at the average lesbian gathering, the conversation makes its way round to the trauma the dyke heart endures, the collective agony of desiring the almost gay. Most lesbians have a coming of age story about how they survived such a woman. Occasionally, a couple in the room will confess that their 10-year-long, committed, exclusive relationship was born of such a pairing, but too many stories end with the same sad summary. Yes, she went back to her boyfriend. Or, she is married now, to a lovely feminist man, with a baby, or two, on the way.
My story is no different. And while I am the first to ask for the gory details from other women, I am the last to fess up to the rapturous, but futile years I spent chasing women who identified as straight. My excuse is that I was in my 20s in college, in Jamaica (arguably one of the most homophobic places in the world) and just coming out. Frustrated with the cloak and dagger reality of LGBT life in Jamaica, in a moment of madness, or a rare stroke of genius, I walked into the middle of the courtyard and made a public announcement, "Yes. I would just like to say, out loud, the thing I know everybody has been talking about. Yes. I am a lesbian. Yes. I like girls. Now it's out there. So now, nobody has to be all strange about it."
After that grandstanding, no one about whom there was an ounce of homosexual suspicion wanted to be seen with me, much less date me. I like to tell people I had no choice, that to forge new ground I had to go into the thick and frightening forest of the straight girls. I spent about two months studying the lay of the land. I noticed the girls who glanced at me when they thought I wasn't looking. I also took note of how many of them blushed when they caught me looking. I was particularly interested in the ones who seemed to thrive on making me look, but would turn away if it seemed as if I might approach them. Something about the push and pull created a sexual tension I enjoyed.