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Lesbian cynicism

So, I'm a fairly new lesbian... and quite happy to be one. :)

I consider myself to be fortunate; I've met a lady whose company I really enjoy, and am excited to be dating. We've been talking daily for almost a month, and have successfully completed two dates with a 3rd planned. She's in her mid-40s and has been out as a lesbian since college. We get along fairly well, and have a good bit in common.

I'm a fairly upbeat person, tend to look at life with optimism. My attitude tends to be, "It might be raining now, but those clouds are lined with silver." During our conversations, when I made a comment pointing towards that silver lining, my friend has laughed and said that she can tell that I'm a new lesbian -- I'm not cynical or bitter yet.

My life hasn't been a bed of roses; there have been a lot of events that could have led me towards bitter cynicism. It has been a conscious decision to not to be that way; the times that I have allowed myself to be bitter and angry were very disheartening. I really didn't like who I was or how I felt. I'd rather deal with the issues and move on with life.

My question is this: Have you found that a lot of long-time lesbians are cynical and/or bitter? Have you found that you've become more cynical and/or bitter the longer you've been involved with women?

Thanks for the education for this newbie!

Have a great day!


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i dunno. i have been extremely cynical since the age of eight. becoming a hermit actually was a goal for quite a number of years. i don't know if this answer helps or screws up your poll, but that's it in a nutshell.

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My question is this: Have you found that a lot of long-time lesbians are cynical and/or bitter? Have you found that you've become more cynical and/or bitter the longer you've been involved with women?

Interesting question!

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: About what, and what constitutes "overly?" Have to break it down a bit in order to answer it properly.

Like, do you mean, an overall cynical view of the world? I think lesbians, like any oppressed minority, are more likely to have a more cynical view of the world. "Out" women/lesbians more so than bisexual types that live their lives with men in the public eye and only do things with women "behind closed doors." It's my opinion and one shared by many dykes that living an "out and proud" life leads to more personal integrity and self-esteem, a "whole" life that one can inhabit fully and honestly, etc. However, there's usually some price to be paid along the way for that. Even in more enlightened communities/geographies, you're probably going to be victimized by some form of harassment or discrimination eventually. The longer you've been "out" the more likely it has happened already. This can produce a more cynical view of the world, your town, etc., than someone who isn't in a group that tends to have to deal with such. I've even found that a lot of straight people that wouldn't actively discriminate against or harass anyone for being gay themselves really underestimate the degree to which it does happen to queers. THEY never saw it happen, and no other straight people TOLD them THEY harass or discriminate against queers, so it must not happen that often . . . right? Many queers know otherwise.

Or, talking about relationships . . . that depends.  I mean, compared to whom? Straight women? It's been awhile for me since I listened to a large group of them talk for any extended period, but I seem to remember that if there aren't any men around they're trying to flirt with, and especially with a few drinks to loosen things up, it's not like they tend to sit around all, "Straight men. How understood we feel by them all. How fortunate we are that straight men never harass women, never practice gender stereotyping, never have unrealistic expectations . . . it's really a blessing to have them around, since they all respect us so very much. I've never had any problems with any straight men, and all the men I've dated have been absolute princes from start to finish. How about you?"

Um, no.

And then finally, EVERYONE of any gender or orientation that's been dating for some time is going to have a few "war stories." I guess the older the person, the more likely that is, but again, that's independent of identity.

Personally, I've also noticed a bit of a "bubble bursting" effect among some women that first dated men at least somewhat extensively for some number of years, then decided they were queer and would date mostly/exclusively women from then on out. That "bubble" that was burst being a somewhat unrealistic idea that all relationship hassles or difficulties would be a thing of the past, now that they've relocated to the Land of Lesbos. I think there are certain relationship difficulties that do become only an unpleasant memory if you dump the straight men and the need to please them and live into the annoying and sexist stereotypes so few truly overcome (and no, I'm not going to go into that right now, almost enough typing here). And that can certainly be a blessing. But there are a lot of problems or misunderstandings folks get into with their intimate relationships that are a result of poor communication and/or a lack of honesty about certain feelings. You're (and I don't mean AmiDenise, I'm speaking generally, the "global" you) going to take those with you, at least unless you work on them specifically, you're not going to "get away" just by becoming a lesbian. Everyone has to work on their relationships to some degree, and switching genders isn't going to make that no longer so.

All of this doesn't mean you shouldn't embrace your queerness if that's who you are, and I'm certainly glad I did . . . it's just that I have met a lot of women for whom "going gay" didn't turn out exactly like they thought it would as quickly as they'd imagined.

But then again, what big life thing does?

Thoughts, everybody? 

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Thanks for the answers!

Ramona, I think that your answer certainly covered the most territory. Thanks for considering the question from several different angles, and really offering this newbie some insight.

Ashleigh, cynical at eight and the goal of being a hermit... Interesting life you've lived dear... I don't know what to say other than, that's an interesting perspective I hadn't considered. You've given me something to "chew on" mentally...

I posed the question to my boss - she's a life-long lesbian (to my knowledge) and a very cool lady. I'd walk on hot coals for her in a heart beat. Anyway, it was her thought that it depends on the personality. Those who lean towards bitter cynicsm through life in general are going to lean in that direction in matters of sexuality, romance and the gay / lesbian community. Does that mean that all gays / lesbians / minorities in general are going to be bitter? No.

She went on to say that the GLBT community tends to attract people who may have had negative experiences in life, therefore, the numbers of bitter & cynical members may be skewed from the mainstream.

Either way, I feel fortunate on several different fronts: (1) People were kind enough to respond with their opinions, (2) I learned something today and (3) I don't seem to have the type of personality to be bitter or cynical long term.

Now, if i can only find a way to get paid for each time the words "bitter" and/or "cynical" are used in this post! 

Anyway, thanks for the responses... I look forward to reading more responses!

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Hey again, for AmiDenise and others, I just couldn't help but want to clarify some stuff here. In my previous post, I did suggest reasons or experiences that might lead many seasoned lesbians to be/seem cynical or bitter. And I still stand by those. To answer the question withOUT indicating such would have seemed sort of "pollyanna-ish" or head-in-the-sand-like, to ME. Or maybe just less than totally honest. AmiDenise, in your original question post, you said, "My attitude tends to be, 'It might be raining now, but those clouds are lined with silver.'" I like that attitude. And when you said, "I'd rather deal with the issues and move on with life," I thought that was even better. I just didn't want to answer your question in such a way that suggested the "clouds" are totally insignificant or that it's always practical or even logistically possible to completely ignore them. The clouds do or shall exist in most openly queer lives.

However, I did want to also indicate or reemphasize that this somewhat seasoned lesbian, while having SOME reasons to be bitter or cynical, wouldn't have taken it (my experiences) all back for ANYTHING! (smile) There is and probably will be for some time a bunch of crap a person can get subjected to in the world just because they're queer, and many years on the earth AS a queer can produce more cynicism than one had when one was young. I'm definitely in that category.

BUT, to have been anything other than what I am would have produced a lot MORE bitterness. (this is the silver lining part ) If I was even capable of pretending to be something else longer-term, that is. I'm proud of who I am, and most of the choices I've made. (more silver lining) And in addition to bitterness, being something other than my "true self" would have produced regret, which in my opinion is one of the worst emotions to have to endure. I chose not to do that, but in doing so, I paid a certain price, but one that was (all things considered) ultimately acceptable to me. In choosing to be an out lesbian, I knew I'd get hit by some "shrapnel" (homophobic family reactions, for one, some workplace discrimination and sexual harassment in some previous employment situations for another), but I don't regret it, because the alternative would have ultimately been much worse for me. About this, there is no doubt in my mind.

Overall, I'd like to think I'm more like your boss, in that you seem to be suggesting she's chosen NOT to lean toward BITTER cynicism through life in general. LEANING TOWARD and BITTER being key words here. Overall, I wasn't trying to suggest LEANING toward BITTER was any sort of answer . . . but I didn't want to just deny or ignore the bad stuff either. I think an overall emphasis on what might be positive is the only way to move forward in a way that makes your life more worth living, and also makes other people more likely to want to live it with you. BAD shit is out there . . . but so is the good shit too, know what I'm sayin'? For most of us, ALL of it is there for the taking. No matter what bad stuff happened in your past, making that your focus exclusively or dominantly instead of a more positive attitude toward your future can't help but produce a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Positive, optimistic energy attracts similar, there's also no doubt in my mind about that.

However, I would quarrel with her assertion that, " . . . the GLBT community tends to attract people who may have had negative experiences in life, therefore, the numbers of bitter & cynical members may be skewed from the mainstream." MAYBE. Not entirely sure about that one way or the other. Basically, my contention is that she is mixing it up in terms of the direction of causality, at least for many, and DEFINITELY for me. I don't feel I was "attracted" to the GLBT community because of any negative experiences in my life. Not at all. At this point in my life, I feel I was more or less born a little baby dyke, but it took me quite a few years and some difficult stuff along the way to figure that out, and then a bit of courage to embrace it fully. For MYSELF, I do think that the negative experiences (around being a lesbian, that is) I've had since I've been out have been BECAUSE of my outness and the negative reactions that produced in SOME other humans. My coping strategy around that was to make those more negative humans less of a focus in my life, via the idea of "chosen family," via developing some less penetrable emotional armor in the face of homophobia, and finding more "alternative"/open-minded employment. And I feel stronger for having done those things.

But yeah, still obviously, YMMV. For AmiDenise and anyone else reading this.  I'd still like to read more responses too.

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one item that i observed in the nyc lgbt community was rampant transphobia. if i didn't have better things to occupy my time with, i suppose i could have spent it being bitter. but bitterness for me is like hate. i have no problem hating a particular cause or course of action. however, hating individuals is a complete waste of my time and energy. if i dislike someone, why devote so much effort just to that particular person? same thing with bitterness. there is always someone tastier somewhere else when you encounter bitterness.

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