Hi crush monsters, this is Straddler On The Street, a feature where I celebrate all of you incredible Autostraddle readers by hunting you down, demanding you chat with me, and then writing about you on the Internet so we can all crush on you. Get excited, because butterflies in your stomach 24/7 is a fantastic way to live.
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Straddler On The Street: Lynare, 42
Lynare Robbins is a 42 year old self-described dapper lesbian living in Miami, Florida. She is currently the Festival Manager for the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, but she was previously in the United States Navy and has traveled around the world extensively, citing travel as a passion and one of the reasons she joined the Navy in the first place.
A screenwriter, poet, and blogger, she loves films (especially those with strong female characters!), her girlfriend, and her dog, Audrey. When I let her know that the Straddler interviews tend to run in a way wherein the interviewee is really the one running the show, she responded quickly and confidently: “Sounds great… I love being in charge!” And with that, I knew we would get along swimmingly (spoiler: obviously I was right!) Read on to learn more about Lynare’s fascinating life!
Have you always lived in Florida?
No. I was born in Miami but lived all over the United States. My mother [moved a lot] and I followed in her path and joined the Navy so I could travel.
What did your mom do?
My mother was self employed with a cleaning service. She wasn’t traveling for work. She basically would just get bored living somewhere for too long and then would decide to move somewhere else. I developed a wanderlust spirit because of that. I could never get too comfortable in one place. It taught me how to embrace change.
That’s wonderful. Do you have some favorite places that you’ve lived and traveled?
Internationally my favorite place is Edinburgh, Scotland because of the scenery and its charm. Walking down the street in Edinburgh it’s beautiful to see the castle in the background and so many pubs where poets had met to craft their masterpieces. Domestically I love the city of Savannah, Georgia. I love the Southern charm, the cuisine, the architecture and numerous parks throughout the city. I love the romanticism of walking at night in Savannah and thinking about all of the people from the past that have walked those same streets. I love San Francisco for its edginess and how politically and socially conscious people are. I haven’t lived in either place, only visited. Out of the places I’ve lived I appreciate Miami because of the strong sense of community that I feel here.
What was it like being in the Navy?
To tell you about being in the Navy could actually take all day, but even though I’m long winded, I’ll try to summarize it.
I joined the Navy at a time when it was illegal to be gay, even before ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ I knew how I felt regarding my sexual orientation before joining the Navy but the question upon enlisting was: “Have you ever had sexual contact with a member of the same sex?” And because I had not at that point, I answered no. I actually didn’t even think about having sexual contact with the same sex because I didn’t know anyone else who was gay and this was before there were out celebrities. I pretty much had no gay role models and no one that I personally knew. Therefore it was just a feeling but not something that I really attached a name to.
All of that changed when I met my first Navy roommate when I was stationed in San Diego. I seduced her and we ended up in a relationship that lasted two years. The irony of the Navy was that although homosexuality was illegal, there were so many people that were gay, they just weren’t out about it. But we all knew who was who. We would run in to each other in the gayborhood – Hillcrest – so we couldn’t hide it from each other. But it kind of created a secret society for us. And being young at the time it was fun to be doing something that was considered “wrong” undercover. Now I wouldn’t go back in to a closet if you paid me a million dollars to do it. Freedom is priceless.
Oh my gosh you seduced your roommate! What a story! What was your trajectory from finishing up in the Navy and ending up where you are now, as the festival manager?
One of the many benefits from my military career is the fact that my college tuition was paid for. I earned a B.A. in Sociology while in the Navy and when I left the Navy I went to graduate school and earned my M.A. in Behavioral Psychology. I worked for local, state and federal agencies as a social worker but the job was hard on me because I would take a lot of the stress from hearing traumatic stories home with me. It was hard to separate myself because I am a natural caretaker. So I decided to do something fun and became a Flight Attendant for Continental Airlines and worked most of the international routes. During that time my mother was diagnosed with cancer and I moved back to Florida to take care of her.
After [my mother’s] death I decided to stay in Florida to be closer to the family that I had left. I didn’t know anyone so I started volunteering. Once of the places I volunteered for was the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. I met so many people through the organization and I started to feel like I was building a family and it helped me with the pain and loss of losing my mother. After volunteering with the film festival for a year I was offered a job as the Events and Volunteer Coordinator. Since then I’ve worked my way up to becoming the Festival Manager. I’ve worked seven festivals so far and right before every festival there is a sense of nervousness and excitement that probably almost feels like a person getting married because the relationship that the festival creates with the community is so important.
I’m so sorry about your mom. That is such a full life path though… it sounds like you got to exactly where you are supposed to be.
Thank you, I feel like I am in the right place at the right time. I’m also ecstatic about the future too.
As someone who has traveled extensively, can you offer our readers any travel tips?
Hmmm, travel tips. First of all, in order to not fall in to the pit known as “the tourist trap” research where you are going before you get there. Have an idea of the kind of trip you want to take. I would ask a person who has lived in the particular place where you are visiting what is noteworthy to do and see. If you’ve never been to a place then you probably do want to see some of what everyone else sees, but knock the beaten path out on day one and then get down to the uniqueness and the charm and appeal that makes each place special.
When I travel I love to take public transportation and I also like to walk. Walking through neighborhoods will give you a feel for how a community of people lives. I also read the local papers since you can tell a lot about a particular place by how they report their news. I also try the local cuisine of every place that I visit… Oh and one more thing, check out the lesbian bar in every place that you visit because it’s fascinating to see lesbian culture within every culture.
Thank you, those are great tips. Let’s talk about your writing. What sort of stuff do you write?
I wrote a script that was made in to a comedy short called Sex in the Cuntry. No, it’s not a porn. I’m a third wave feminist [and] I wanted to desensitize people by spelling country that way. The comedy is actually inspired by Sex and the City, but instead of four friends dining in Manhattan and spending $600 on lunch and talking about Manolo Blahniks you have four friends dining at the Burger Barn somewhere in Mississippi and talking about “life.” There’s Carrie-Jo, the advice columnist at the Penny Saver Magazine; Sammy-Jo, the provocative wannabe actress; Charletta, who is in love with a man on lockdown named Jackson Ray; and Miranda, who is batting for the same team and all her gal pals know it except for her. It screened at the Miami Beach Cinematheque in 2011 to a sold out audience. This is the trailer. I am currently working on a new script about the Miami LBT scene. I also write poetry and I have a food blog.
What are some of your favorite films?
I knew that question was coming. Don’t laugh about this one, but Weird Science is one of my favorites because ever since I saw it as a teenager back in the 80s I was inspired by Kelly LeBrock. I loved the edgy rock and roll look with the teased out hair and how she strutted through the mall making people drop their corn dogs on a stick and ignore the person next to them. I love the scene where she threatened Michael Anthony Hall’s father. It was my teenage excitement.
Now for my “mature” self, I love Anne Bancroft in The Graduate, Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, Linda Blair in The Exorcist, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and Queen Latifah in Set It Off. I guess I like all of the female villains. But I have a different take on villains in cinema anyway. I think the villains are easier to demonize because all of their faults are out there to see. Usually the heroes are one dimensional and we don’t see what their dark sides are. I don’t believe in heroes, only heroic acts.
Do you have any celeb crushes?
Yes, my crush is Dita Von Teese. I also love Emily Blunt. I just ordered a vintage copy of Playboy magazine from 2002 with Dita Von Teese on the cover for my coffee table.
Oh my god that’s incredible. So you describe your style as “dapper.” Can you describe what that means to you?
My style has gone through a metamorphosis throughout the years. I used to be really femme when I was in the Navy and first coming out. That was because I felt I had to look a certain way and I would get in trouble when I was a kid dressing like a boy. So femininity was impressed upon me. My style started changing the more comfortable I got with outwardly expressing myself because the inside never matched the outside. Today I embrace a “dapper” look. That to me means that I enjoy looking renaissance in my clothing choices. I love bow ties, vests, ties, penny loafers, cuff links, and suspenders. It’s a look from the Great Gatsby era. I have the thickest, [most] unruly hair so [it] actually looks better short. Along with the clothing comes my attitude… I am a gentlewoman [and] I like holding doors open for women, carrying heavy item[s] for them, taking charge of a situation and being [a woman’s] rock.
You mentioned your style has changed over the years – have you noticed any big changes in the lesbian community over that period of time?
What I’ve noticed is that there is so much more variety in the lesbian community than there was before. What I mean by that is that you have people who identify in so many ways with the word “lesbian” so it does not mean just one thing as there are so many types of lesbians in existence. Because so many more people are out than ever before it has proven the fact that people are people and that stereotypes are not fact.
I think that LBT women are standing together more in unison than ever before as well… I think people are celebrating diversity within the LBT community more. I know that is true in Miami where we have the Aqua Foundation for Women that really does a lot with LBT issues. Having organizations like this creates a sense of unity. I’m happy to see how things have progressed in the past 20 years.
That’s really encouraging to hear. How did you find Autostraddle?
I like to keep abreast of news and issues related to my community so I found Autostraddle through researching articles and I love the edginess and the humor of many of the editorials.
Aw, thank you. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Autostraddle community?
Yes, if anyone is planning on visiting or moving to Miami, we have events with the film festival throughout the year, so it’s a good resource to find something fun to do and meet people.
Awesome! Thanks so much, and Miami-bound Straddlers, keep that advice in mind!
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