By Caitlin Brady
Caitlin Brady is an MFA candidate from Texas who writes fiction and humor. She studied screenwriting at New York University and collaborated with Animal Kingdom Films (It Follows, Short Term 12), on a feature-length script.
Over breakfast, I told my sister Blair that the coolest character in my script was a lesbian. Blair, a lesbian very, very tired of gay stereotypes, immediately asked: great, does she die? I took a big bite of cereal as an admission of guilt. In the discussion that ensued, she helped me brainstorm a story outline as an exercise in avoiding lesbian stereotypes.
Two women, Cher and Whitney, meet at a restaurant and there’s chemistry.
CB: Sorry, is there someone you like more than Whitney Houston?
They go on a couple dates, and as this chemistry becomes clearer, they decide to date exclusively. Cher moves to a neighborhood further away, but Whitney still agrees to commute there and they see each other weekly.
BB: How far away?
CB: Bay Ridge?
BB: Fine, I guess.
When they’re together, time passes quickly and conversation is easy. Sure, they occasionally argue about where to get dinner, why one didn’t text back, or if the other’s irregular sleep schedule, or love of amateur YouTube DJs, is a deal breaker. But each time, after initial irritation subsides, they reach a compromise.
CB: For this to be a story we need conflict to challenge the status quo. Something bad needs to happen.
Just when Whitney might discover Cher has broken their exclusiveness by seeing someone else, whether a man or another woman —
BB: Seeing? What is this, the 1950s?
CB: Everyone knows what seeing means!
BB: (eyeroll at oft-noted quasi-prude hetero squareness)
— nobody has cheated on anybody. Though this might be the juncture where Whitney, in a fit of jealous passive aggression, attempts to seduce another man or woman as a preemptive effort at revenge, she does not; nor does she resort to emotional manipulation or physical violence, nor does a man quickly enter the scene to resolve or inflame the conflict while noting, ‘hey, one of you’s actually hot.’ This might also be a plot point wherein Cher and/or Whitney are somehow implicated in a scheme or crime at a man’s expense, but they haven’t participated in any such conspiracy because their existence is valid as more than a threat to the patriarchy.
So instead, after a long, long R train ride back from Cher’s, Whitney chooses to work on trust a bit more, and examine personal reasons for her insecurities. Through three a.m. tears of frustration on the couch alone, Whitney asks herself what she’s really afraid of. Is it the vulnerabilities associated with intimacy? The pressures of commitment? Terror of disappointing Cher?
BB: We’ll figure that out later.
So it turns out there’s really no one answer, dramatic blow up, or quick fix. People are complicated.
BB: Even gay people!
Sorting through a tangle of conflicting internal desires while in a romantic relationship with another person who has their own independent tangle of conflicting desires can be a huge challenge, but as it turns out, gay people do this all the time. They find happiness in profound, complex love, and sometimes it lasts for a while and sometimes forever; yet it also offers the ecstatic, universal graciousness of human connection and compassionate support.
BB: I mean, you can still have a cool ending.
CB: You don’t like that ending?
CB: What would you recommend?
BB: Isn’t ‘Thelma and Louise’ kind of gay?
CB: I thought you said no dying.
BB: Who says they die?
So anyway, while all those things in the last paragraph still technically hold, living in a society out to ostracize and criminalize aspects of Whitney and Cher’s love occasionally means getting in a car and just speeding off, just doing the damn thing. While driving across the gap / crevice / air part? of a canyon is NOT A GOOD IDEA success may also depend on speed, type of car, distance of air part, and determination.
BB: They are in a Subaru Outback going maximum speed and listening to public radio with a pug in the backseat.
CB: Oh god, you’re killing a pug?
BB: You’re worried most about the pug? This shit’s hopeless.
CB: I didn’t mean it like that.
BB: Everyone’s wearing a seatbelt, and everyone’s making it.
So there you have it. Two gay people, and a pug, happy together on the other side of the canyon.