Some of you may remember my previous post (Surviving Cape Town: A Single Lesbian’s attempts). A lot has happened since then, and it deserves an update. I was stunned and amazed by the response my post generated, as I had no idea that so many women felt the same way. I’ve had lesbians seek me out on social media, and I even landed a little freelance writing work. I’ve even had girls contact me from faraway places: Thailand, Australia, and Simon’s Town.
I’ve met lesbians who were going to get married, lesbians who secretly eloped to Paarl to get married, and lesbians who have been married to men. I’ve communicated with caffeine-addicted PR hotshots and psy-trans hippies. I’ve met a single gay mum, a girl with a ‘chequered past’ (her mother’s words), and a woman with the most beautiful sense of urban Woodstock chic you’ve ever seen. I’ve also met an ADD artist, and a lesbian who’s never been with a woman. My orgy of Sapphic coffee meetings wasn’t limited to the Mother City, though. During a recent visit to Jo’burg, I even met a talented tattooed photographer, whom I now dub ‘ladydude’.
I’ve been introduced to concepts like masculine femininity, queer and gender fluidity. I’ve learnt about Unitarianism, Sado-Masochism and Political Lesbianism. I’ve also discovered that a ‘flat white’ is Capetonian for cappuccino.
Insane? Yes. Wonderful? Yes. Filled with gratitude? Totally. Screw up my coffee order again? Not a chance.
I have lesbians coming at me from all directions, from out of the woodwork to out of the closet. But this isn’t a brag-fest. I want to share my insights and observations with you. Read and learn, introverted lesbian grasshoppers.
First thing’s first. Contrary to popular belief, women won’t know you exist if they can’t see you. Flying beneath the radar will only result in you bumping your head, on rather low things. Granted, it’s taken me a while to figure this one out, but – finally – I get it. Write for AllThingsQueer, or go to a CTL discussion evening (which, by the way, I have yet to attend. I have ‘lesbian inundation’ as an excuse to give to Lara). Don’t be over-zealous at first. There’s no need to work the room, or go balls-to-the-wall at Beulah. Start off small and meet a couple of people at a CTL event. Get their contact details. Then, meet one-on-one for coffee, a beer, or shark cage diving. Whatever you’re into, really. Social media is also great for creating a dialogue to get things started – just don’t use it arbitrarily. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you send someone a friend request, introduce yourself and say something interesting or mildly amusing. A ‘bbm me bby’ usually isn’t part of the Forging Meaningful Connections 101 syllabus.
Next thing’s next. Cape Town is a networking wet dream. There’s more to its notorious cliques, and I’ve recently had an epiphany about it:
Lo! Everyone knows everyone!
So, in theory, only knowing someone can be helpful. Although it often seems closed, it’s a tight, close little community here. I was discussing this with a woman recently. She put it like this: “For the longest time, I felt like I was standing outside in the cold, with my face squished up against a window. Just looking in, seeing what everyone else was doing. I realised that instead of misting up the glass, I just needed to get a toe in that social door – and everything would improve.” Truer words have never been spoken. Except maybe by Mandela or Plato. It just takes that one connection to get a toe in. I understand that it’s somewhat difficult, but this is where visibility and a willingness to ‘put yourself out there’ comes in. It’s not easy, but I’m here to give you hope. Be patient, it’ll happen.
Last things last. Recently I saw a picture of the actor Steve Martin’s business card. It reads: “This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny.” Along with visibility and toes-in-doors, good vibes and quality interactions are invaluable to making meaningful connections. I can’t stress this enough. Being somewhat of a wallflower myself, I’ve always expected other people to make the first move and initiate a connection. But I’m realising that the power lies with me, not them. A warm smile and a positive attitude help, too.
You’ll attract what you put out, and Steve definitely has the right idea. Yes, it can be draining, and no, it’s not easy. But good luck, grasshoppers. I think it’s time to get some business cards made…