Welcome welcome, to the fourth round of Y’All Need Help Spring Cleaning! Imagine me covered in cobwebs and figuring out how to use the vacuum attachments, listening to The Moody Blues, burning some incense with the windows open. Spring cleaning.
Let us begin.
Q 1: Queer wedding planning resources?
Hey Autostraddle! My nb-partner and I are super excited to have a big ol’ lesbian wedding at some point in coming years and are pretty sure we’ve picked out some rings we want to propose with! It’s a REALLY cool thing to contemplate doing – they’re my best friend and a kickass partner. We’re doing the international long distance thing (I’m the Canadian girlfriend and they’re American) which is part of why we’ve got loads of time to plan for marriage because of logistics and money… but in the meantime we could use some help. We’re mostly looking for any book / website / general recommendations for planning the actual ceremony, but in like…. a customized gay way? Or a forum / community in which to discuss gay weddings in a chill way? We both miss the days of livejournal and are wondering if something like that still exists somewhere that we don’t know about. Thanks in advance for any suggestions and much love for your website and this column!
Congratulations! By far the most useful resource that I found when planning my wedding in 2015 was A Practical Wedding, specifically their Getting Started section. They have everything you need for planning and logistics and numbers and protocol (obvs it’s up to you whether you want stick to that protocol, but it’s useful to know) without dragging you down with heteronormativity. My favorite places for inspiration were H&H Weddings (we’ve also worked with the founder, Kate Shaefer, in the past and she’s SO GREAT), Offbeat Bride, and Catalyst Wedding Co. — all of which have Instagram accounts so you can be obsessing over weddings from sunrise to sunset with just a flick of the thumb. After the wedding I immediately found about a million other queer-specific wedding sites/Instagrams, including Dancing With Her and F Yeah Gay Weddings.
Now let’s see what the readers have up their sleeves!
Q 2: Communication and stress
If my girlfriend (of 6 months) were more relaxed I’m almost certain she’d forget to breathe. I, however, have Olympic medals in stress and anxiety. I absolutely adore her but we are both in the midst of a very busy patch with work/university/general life stuff, and we have both noticed a distance growing between us. We are going weeks without seeing each other and while that is not an huge issue, our communication is really breaking down. I don’t need to know every detail of her day, but not knowing when she has plans makes me feel a bit unimportant and sends my anxiety into a tailspin, especially when those plans override plans we have made together. Her relaxed ass, however, does not really see this as a problem. Is there any way I can communicate this with her (and explain why I need her to communicate better) without sounding like super-needy-needer?
When I’m feeling needy, I like to get that truth right out on the table immediately, plop it down like 50lb steak in The Flinstones. HERE’S WHAT I NEED. And listen it’s not always pretty, usually I’ve waited until I can’t stand it anymore and it’s very nearly a need-emergency. But if you’re trying to play it slightly cool, I think instead of explaining to her why you need her to communicate more/better, it would be less super-needy to succinctly express that you’d like to carve out some time without distractions when the two of you can just relax into each other again like you used to.
Busy patches like the one you’re going through are part of life, and it’s important that you prioritize your relationship (and your own downtime) somewhere on your list, otherwise you’re both going to burn out and feel like garbage AND you won’t have anyone to talk to about it! Make personal obligations as important and unbreakable as professional obligations. That’s what the life coaches say.
Q 3: The universe is a cold, cold place
Hi. So I’m a shy demisexual with walls higher than Troy. However, I know this awesome girl and managed to ask her out. She was all up for going out and we have been talking most days since. Never actually managed to go out due to work (both of ours) and an accident (hers). A few days ago she let me know that on scans they have found a tumour (unknown prognosis as yet). She won’t put me through what’s coming and has gone for radio silence. I understand this/that the last thing she needs is someone else to worry about/bad time for distractions/needs to be with family etc but man it hurts. I am so angry with the universe – I’m scared stiff for her, helpless, and angry that bad things happen to good people. And almost grieving what could have been if that makes sense. Does that make me bad? I stick a toe outside my walls and the universe drop kicks my heart off a cliff, but she’s going through hell so who am I to be upset?
These are normal feelings you’re going through! You are perfectly and bitterly normal. You took a chance with your heart and its feelings, and due to circumstances — terrible, truly fucked up ones — beyond your control, this hasn’t gone the way you’d hoped. Not the way anyone would’ve hoped. It makes sense that you’d be sad and angry and scared and grieving. Those are all very normal reactions to what’s happening. Are they pretty reactions? No, and the realest ones rarely are.
What would make you a self-centered asshole is if you pestered her for answers, or went to her or any of her friends or family with these feelings, expecting comfort or even an understanding nod, but you already know that. Send her a note or something that lets her know you hope nothing but the absolute best for her.
Her health has nothing to do with you at all (except that you care about her) and you’ll get no sympathy from the world at large because of it. I know that’s not what you’re even looking for, but just to be super clear. Don’t try to make her health scare into the reason you never take a chance on someone else again. Let this be a reason to be radically tender and loud about it, to everyone you care about.
Q 4: Relationships and bi identity
Hey, I could use some help. I’m a bi girl in a five-year (and temporarily long-distance) relationship with a straight man whom I met in college overseas. He’s super awesome, I really love him, want to marry him, whole nine yards. Thing is, sometimes I idly wonder what it would be like to date a lady (or just someone else in general, he’s only the second person I’ve dated). Kind of a vague, “oh, I’ve never done that, wonder what that might be like.”
However part of me is also wondering if it’s less that I actually want to leave this guy and more that I want to be seen more as bi in general and not just as filling out the perfect straight dream life that pleases my family. I’m out to my bf and about three close friends (who are all supportive) and that’s about it.
See I’m back in my super religious and conservative home country for a bit (yay immigration issues) and it’s really not safe to be out and queer because it’s seen as having a mental illness/just having something wrong with you in general/being seen as terribly forward and in your face/spitting in the face of God/not wanting to be a functioning member of society/a fair target for violence. All of these statements I’ve heard from my family members and coworkers. Needless to say, I am not out to anyone here.
A lot of this, “I want to date a lady” has only come up in the last year, when I moved back to my home country, almost three thousand miles away from my bf who I’m missing a ton and in a really unpleasant situation that makes me feel invisible and stifled. So…I don’t know. Can you give me some advice with how to deal?
It’s normal to idly wonder what X would be like while you’re doing something else, so don’t let that panic you or make you feel like a bad person (not that you are panicked or thinking you’re a bad person now, I just want to make that clear). I think you hit the nail on the head in your second paragraph — your whole self is being stifled while you’re living at home and those parts of you that can’t see the light of day right now are understandably really pissed about it, and wanting to get out. I’m so sorry you’re in a situation that makes it impossible for you to be fully yourself! Is there an underground queer scene in your area, or maybe an adjacent area? Are you active in queer spaces online? I feel like it sound like I’m trivializing the severity of the anti-gay sentiments of your country and I don’t think my actionable advice is especially helpful here.
I’m hoping our readers with similar experiences will have some more solid advice for you!
Q 5: Help ignoring internalised homophobia
So, I recently met a really awesome girl who I have a lot in common with and is definitely queer, single and looking to meet people. Great! But I’m so super scared of asking her out/letting her know I’m interested, and while talking it through with a friend I realised that I’m dealing with some internalised homophobia – I can’t let go of assuming that if anyone finds out I like them their response will be ‘ew that’s gross!’ I’ve been out for years and I’m generally pretty ok with my sexuality, but I’m really struggling to move past this.. any ideas??
You just have to do it! You have to do the thing that scares the hell out of you in order to prove to yourself that it won’t kill you! It might hurt or something, but it won’t kill you. Like ripping off a bandaid and then slamming that injured body part against the wall a couple of times and LOOK it didn’t fall off, you are safe.
Try to imagine the worst case scenario — and I don’t mean let your imagination go wild and imagine literally the worst case scenario, involving armageddon or your eyelids being held open by little pins. I’m talking about just your regular, boring, run of the mill worst case scenario: you, looking very cute in that one outfit you love the most and having an impossibly good hair day, express your interest in this really awesome girl, right to her face. She, looking devastatingly gorgeous in that one shirt that changed the way you thought about shirts and having an impossibly good hair day of her own, sitting in the perfect shaft of sunlight or is it the soft glow of an exquisite lamp?, very gently (because she is truly as awesome as you claim she is and therefore isn’t mean or rude) turns you down.
Are you with me? Imagining? Ok great.
What happens next? Maybe an awkward half-sentence comes out of your mouth, maybe she changes the subject immediately. But there are no hellfires, no bloody screaming demons raining down from the sky, your face has not melted off, no one passed gas, the earth did not swallow you, you still have to do your laundry later, seasonal fruits and vegetables are still at your local grocery store, birds still chirp. YOU LIVED.
So that’s all you have to do! Just do the thing you want to do but are scared of doing. It’s as simple as lifting a large boulder that’s actually not nearly as heavy as you thought it was and then throwing it over a cliff. Poof!
Q 6: Discussing scars
So, I’ve had various mental health issues throughout my life, but I’ve been working through them and finally managed to access some therapy (I’m in the UK, so therapy is free but waiting times are looong). I’m now in a position where for the first time I can actually picture myself in a healthy relationship and it’s something I really want. However, I have quite a few self harm scars, which are fairly noticeable. I really don’t know how I would discuss them with a potential romantic partner without scaring them off. I’m fine at talking about mental health in general, but talking directly about my own issues is really hard and previous self harm even more so. I can’t hide it so I’d want to be honest in a relationship but I have no idea how I would even start that conversation! How can I bring it up without making it a super big deal that’s really scary??
So happy for your therapy and progress!! Aaaaaaaah I’m yelling for you right now I’m so THRILLED! Ok so these scars are both a very big deal and not a big deal at all, depending on how we’re looking at them. Big-deal-speaking, these fucking things represent a fucking time, one that you lived right through and fought your way out of. That fucking time was no joke, and one way or another, even if you didn’t have any physical scars to show to anyone, you’ll be carrying that time around inside you for the rest of your wild beautiful life. There’s a bookshelf of you on your insides, and that fucking time is on one of those shelves, next to the first rollercoaster you went on, the time the teacher embarrassed the hell out of you in music class, the time you fell and broke your thumb, the first time you saw the ocean, the night you really quietly cried yourself to sleep at summer camp and then the next morning when Natalie let you eat some of the cheeseballs her mom had packed and then she showed you how to shave your legs, the best quote you’ve ever read, the first framed art you hung on your wall, the first time you had to dress yourself to go to a funeral, the time you couldn’t remember how to ride a bike after all and E laughed at you because it really was hilarious and so dumb. All those things and a trillion other things, and that fucking time when the scars were created is right there with them! That’s a lot!
But also, those scars don’t mean shit. They had their time and now that’s over. You’re bigger than they are, and you do more important things and matter more to people than they do. YOU you you. The scars take up just that little bit of room on your bookshelf and there are so many more interesting things surrounding them. They’re there, yes, but tell me more about when you broke your thumb, and I wonder what Natalie is up to these days.
I have scars and I don’t even remember how I brought them up to Megan. I think I was just like “Oh, yeah. I have those.” and she must’ve been like, “Hm, ok.” and that was probably that. We’ve talked about them since then and I’ve always been in charge of how much of an explanation I gave and the tone of the conversation, and she’s never pushed me for more or made me feel like a broken beast. I was with another girl once who also had scars — we weren’t close and had no intention of dating seriously at all — and as she was taking off her shirt she said, casual as a motherfucker, “I have some scars right here because I used to [etc], and you really can’t miss them so I’m just telling you?” and I said, “Ok” and then we kept making out.
A potential romantic partner who’s worth your time will understand all of this and anyone with even a general acquaintance with the idea of politeness will take their cues from you. Bring it up when the time feels right to you, and don’t apologize for them — they’re you. Don’t apologize for you.
Q 7: Needing more.
I’ve been really into this girl for months and finally told her so a month or so ago! It was really scary but we ended up hooking up and spending more time together and that has been really nice. The problem is that she is the world’s WORST texter (as in, short responses with lots of punctuation 6 hours after I text her) and I have been doing all of the work in this bizarre semi-relationship. I always have to text her first if I want to see her at all and she doesn’t pick up on any of my attempts to flirt. I know that I need to have a conversation with her where I ask her how she feels and tell her that I really need more communication from her and more security about her liking me, but I literally haven’t been able to get her alone for weeks and now I’m feeling like I’ll seem overly eager if I keep texting her. How do I get her to have this conversation with me without sounding like a crazy person and scaring her off? What do I do with a person who doesn’t know how to communicate feelings the way I need her to?
Hmmmmm I believe this is just who she is. Where you’re a person who texts and wants to be texted, she appears to be a person who does not wish to text. Does she speak full sentences to you and seem to care about you when you’re in the same room together? Which is to say, do you really need to have a conversation with her about how she feels about you, or do you already know? I feel like this sounds harsh but I’ve been mulling over your question for some time now and this is what I think is true! Talking about texting sounds like the worst conversation I could ever imagine. She doesn’t want to respond to your texts immediately, and so she isn’t — whether this is because she’s not into texting or she’s not into you or doesn’t have time or whatever, this is what she’s giving you right now.
If you’re texting her little things throughout the day that don’t require an immediate/semi-immediate reply — like you’re not setting up a date or asking her to come over and lift this piano off of your chest — and she’s taking hours to reply to them for whatever reason, do you really want to keep sending them? Are you having fun? If so, keep doing it and having fun! I fucking love texting my wife while she’s at work and can’t respond. I actually prefer it to texting her when she can respond. I send like 300 one-line texts over the course of a few hours and I know she won’t reply to any of them — not even later, when she could reply, because she won’t remember anything I’ve said — but I send them because I’m bored or I think it’ll semi-annoy her (in a cute way, you know) or because I think what I’m saying is brilliant and hilarious and she took a vow in front of like 40 people promising to love me forever so she’s the person who has to get these texts! It’s a BLAST for me! But if I was hoping she’d respond to every little thing I’d sent and then she did not respond, I would not be having fun, and I would not do it anymore. I’d wait and say those things to her cute face instead, so she’d be forced to respond because that is what a conversation is.
So why are you texting her? If you have something to say and she’s not a texter, just say it to her face. If she can’t seem to find a time to put her face in front of yours for the purpose of exchanging words and ideas (either because she truly can’t because she’s busy or she can’t because she doesn’t want to), she’s not prioritizing this relationship. In which case I don’t think you need to have the talk about feelings because it’s the not talking that has told you everything you need to know.
BUT MAYBE I’M JUST BEING A CYNICAL OGRE so let’s ask the readers what they think!
Q 8: Coming out to a husband
Hi there, I am a woman in my mid-30s who’s been married to the best man in the world for 10 years. I realized around 7 weeks ago that I’m gay instead of bisexual (as I always thought I was). I accidentally got really drunk and told him. Then I immediately took it back and said I’m still bi, but we’ve both been in a really dark place ever since. I lost around 10 pounds from being too anxious to eat, and got super depressed. My therapist wants me to keep dropping hints to him of my attraction towards women, or to keep communicating in some way, but I’m so scared. I had a panic attack about two weeks after the revelation and ended up in the ER, and when I asked him to come be with me he said he was too busy at work. I had this vision of him leaving me and got terrified. Since then we haven’t communicated, just pretended like everything’s fine. How do I open the gates of communication when things are so fragile? For what it’s worth, he’s from the opposite side of the planet and all his friends and family live there. I’m his only support network here, and I’m also scared that if we broke up he would move back there and I’d lose the opportunity to keep him in my life. Also, my doctor told me I have to get pregnant by the end of 2018 or freeze my eggs, and having a child is something we’ve always wanted to do. The clock is ticking on my making a decision, or at least owning up to my uncertainty and what it will cost us.
Thanks for any advice you can give, I’m super alone.
I’m yelling on the inside for you because this is too fucking much for one person to carry alone and I’m really mad that you’ve had to do it! Damn it! Right now the person who needs the most from you is YOU — not the husband who doesn’t have a support system and won’t come to the ER with you and is pretending not to know that you’re gay, and not the baby you may or may not have. You have to show up for yourself and you absolutely deserve to be happy and fully who you are, and this situation is actively preventing all of those things. You have to have a very real conversation with your husband. I don’t think dropping hints is the way to go, but your therapist probably knows more about you and your situation than I do, so possibly that’s the right approach for you! Either way this isn’t a sustainable situation and it has to be changed, for everyone’s sake.
Go ahead and make plans to freeze those eggs, because now is not the time to get pregnant. Freezing them, if that’s a financial option for you, will eliminate at least one giant looming thing and free you up psychically, so you can devote yourself to figuring out the here and now.
All the great wonderful best husbands in the world who are married to gay women also deserve to be happy! And being a straight man married to a lesbian isn’t fun, you know? It’s not great. So while this — having the difficult conversations, possibly divorcing? — will probably feel like the most selfish thing you’ve ever done, never forget that you’re also doing it for him.
I’m so sorry this isn’t easier, but you’re not alone! Go back to the comments of previous Y’All Need Helps and see just how many women have been in your shoes. There are, um, a lot of us. YOU CAN DO THIS you can have the hard talks and make the hard decisions!!
Q 9: Please help me to not ruin this lesbian wedding
Next month one of my best friends is getting married. It will be a lesbian wedding, and a large portion of the guests will be ex-girlfriends/people I hooked up with when I slept through my friends group in my early 20s. I am stressed as hell and have been for months now. It will be a small wedding, and there were no plus ones on the invites so I’ll be going solo. I am nervous about seeing so many of these people, but I am v. v. v. nervous about seeing The Ex Girlfriend (who I was in love with for many years and it had a horrible ending and we haven’t seen each other in a very long time). My question is, how do I navigate this situation? How do I make sure I am prioritizing celebrating my friend’s marriage, instead of just thinking about myself and my own history? Do I full on ignore my ex, or do I go make nice to her and be polite? How do I avoid spending the night crying in the bathroom/getting too drunk from the anxiety/throwing myself at another ex/taking too many Xanax/making a total fool of myself/causing general drama/JUST RUINING THE ENTIRE WEDDING?!?!?
D O N O T G E T D R U N K !
I love you, look at me in the eyes THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU, Lorna. I’m calling you Lorna. This is your best friend’s YOUR BEST FRIEND’s wedding! It’s not your ANYTHING do you hear me? The only feelings you’re allowed to feel on that day are the ones of pride and love and hope for your friend. THAT’S IT, LORNA. That is IT.
Be nervous, be sick to your whole entire stomach if you must, but squash it all the way down into a fine powder and blow it the fuck away like the compartmentalizing, grin-and-bear-it motherfucker I know you can be. Lorna, look at me. Look at me. Is this about you at all? This wedding? Is it about you?
NO IT IS NOT.
Here’s what you’re going to do Lorn, you’re gonna get a gorgeous outfit and a haircut, maybe a color, too, I don’t know your life. You’re gonna make sure your skin is opulent and glowing, that you are well-rested, fresh-breathed, bright-eyed, HYDRATED. Look down at your shoes, they are perfect. Smile in the mirror. What a killer fucking smile, Lorna. Excellent. You are doing great. Who are you here for, Lorna? Who matters today? Your best friend, correct.
You absolutely do not ignore the ex. You smile with a face that says, “Denise, it’s not about us today!!!!! NOT TODAY!!” and “Aren’t you so, so fucking happy for my best friend? I am.” You are not here to make friends and you’re not here to make enemies, Lorna. You’re not even here to fuck. WHAT ARE YOU HERE FOR, BABE.
YOUR FRIEND THAT’S RIGHT.
You are a self-assured, hydrated, sober/mostly sober woman in the prime of her life. You’ve moved beyond any petty behavior, including gossiping, glaring, laughing sarcastically, giving anyone the silent treatment, getting drunk in public, crying in a bathroom that doesn’t belong to you, taking too many Xanax, falling down, throwing oneself at one’s ex, or participating in anything that anyone could ever describe as “drama.”
Now you get your ass to that wedding and you be an example for all lesbiankind. MAKE ME PROUD.
Q 10: Broke and done with this place, but…
I’m currently very unhappy with where I live, and I’m doing everything I can to move to a new city, pretty far away. It’s a slow process because I’m also at a financial low in my life right now; I’ve had to move back in with my parents. I can’t afford to simply get up and change locations right now.
I’ve also been feeling pretty emotionally low because of all of these factors, and a few friends have suggested I should start dating again. I haven’t dated in a while because I’m broke and I don’t want to be here anymore. Dating seems like a great way to stay broke, and get attached to someone in a way that keeps me from leaving (although granted – kissing a woman would probably improve my mood tremendously).
Should I stay single? Also if anyone has any suggestions on changing locations while broke, I’d love to hear them.
Stay single but hang out with people! Make more friends and do more cheap/free things and keep saving that money!! You’re doing GREAT. You have a plan, you have friends, your parents have opened their home to you, I bet your hair is cute. You are on the path! Get out of your house, do free things, have inexpensive fun experiences, take pictures, make a new playlist for every month, have a good day. Never forget that you have a PLAN, and keep your eye on that prize.
Readers, if you have tips for moving on the cheap, let this person know!
Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you’re able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?