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A Day in the Life of a College Dyke: Pioneering Lesbos

A Day in the Life of a College Dyke: Pioneering Lesbos

UC Santa Barbara student pays homage to lesbian pioneers who paved the way for the women of her generation to wave their pride flags. Among the women she salutes are Lily Tomlin, Ellen Degeneres, Ilene Chaiken and Sheryl Swoopes...

Memorial Day really is a fantastic holiday. It's a day for us to remember all those who went before us and fought for our freedom, our safety and our rights. I woke up this morning and thought about all of those who were brave enough to do so, and not just on the battlefield. I stopped to think about all those brave women -- and men for that matter -- who went before me, came out of their closets and paved a safe path for my comrades in arms and I to walk down.  This article is dedicated to all of those lesbians who are brave enough to be out and proud, and as a result, have served as inspiration for me to come out and forge my own path along the way.

Just the idea of coming out is a daunting one. Before I did, I was comforted by seeing out lesbians on television, in movies, and through music. To me, they gave even more of a reason for us all to come out. It was as if to say, "If we can do it, so can you." Lily Tomlin was a definite eye opener for me. I remember when I found out that she was gay --my mother likes to call her "The Mother Of All Lesbians -- I was so proud! Not only is she hysterical, but also she is a brilliant writer and beautiful to boot.

As I've grown, I've learned that she's been a beacon for many women in terms of lesbianism and all-around independence. I happen to think that she has a classy edge to her. She avoids tabloid scrutiny -- other than her "official" coming out -- and she lives a private existence, keeping her distance from the paparazzi and gossip rags. I hope that one day -- if I do make it to 'celesbian' status -- that I can model my life to be somewhat like hers: funny, private, and inspirational.

As I got older and began to realize that I did play for the other team, I thought I should try my hand at watching The L Word. After learning that there were a wealth of lesbian and bisexual actresses, crewmembers, writers, and directors that were involved with such a highly rated, popular series, I was even more encouraged. I knew that Leisha Hailey was out, and to me, she defied every lesbian stereotype that I had previously heard. She was glamorous, beautiful, sassy, and funny. To make matters even more perfect: she was a secret musician! No longer just the yogurt commercial beauty whom I once ogled, she was now a double threat. I not only admire her acting chops as adorable Alice, but I look up to her as a female musician making a name for herself in a primarily male-dominated business. As if that weren't enough, she's even started her own record label, Marfa Records.

Even Ilene Chaiken makes my list of inspiring lesbians. Let's just admit this now and get it out of the way: she made us absolutely crazy. Whether it was Jenny's insane clown circus imaginings or poor Max's twisted and often non-sensical storylines, she gave us a place to sit down with our girls every Sunday night. Sometimes we gawked and guffawed, and sometimes we sobbed and shouted. Whatever we were doing, if it weren't for her and the entire L word crew, we'd be complaining even more about the lack of lesbian coverage on the boob tube [no pun intended].


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I would be completely remiss in this list if I skipped out on Ellen -- who is so notable that saying her name is totally unnecessary. What is there to say about her that hasn't already been said? She came out in a BIG way - national television in fact.

Although that may not be the road that most of us have chosen to take, it may have been one of the most inspiring acts that the gay and lesbian world has seen. Being able to grow up and watch her in all sorts of spotlights - whether it be through her talk show, her comedy, or her philanthropic and charitable endeavors - has made me realize that being gay doesn't have to be the focus of your life. It is an integral part of who you are, but that is not all there is to be seen.  Ellen has shown us all that shouting and screaming in people's faces is not the way to garner proper attention: instead, a hearty laugh and a gracious smile does more than enough.

This list could go on and on as there are countless others - k.d Lang, Virginia Woolf, Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, Melissa Etheridge, Billie Jean King, and Sheryl Swoopes. From here on out, I say we don't wait until that one day a year to thank the veterans who have fought for our freedom - we should be thanking them every day.

And the same applies to the pioneering lesbians who paved our way. We should all be thanking the women who were courageous enough to be true to themselves and make this world a safer place for us to be comfortable in our own skin. Whether they are celebrities, family members or friends, it is to them that we owe much of our own strength.

Had it not been for them, I know exactly where we'd be - stuck scared in a deep dark closet with no hope for coming out.  It is here that I say thank you for all that you've done and as a result, for all that you have allowed us to do.

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