And maybe in a year, I will not feel like a bad queer
About 6 months ago, I was listening to my favorite queer podcast (Buffering the Vampire Slayer, which I’ve written about here), when Kristin Russo announced she would be co-hosting season one of my soon-to-be other favorite queer podcast, To L and Back, in which Riese Bernard (co-founder of the site for and by queer women, Autostraddle) and Russo discuss every episode of the infamous lesbian Showtime series everyone loves to hate— The L Word.
As I cued up the first episode, I was unprepared for how swiftly I was yanked back to the blossoming of my own queer sexuality at 19 years old, over a decade ago.
I first started watching The L Word when I was still living at home. No one recommended it to me. I had no openly queer friends. I had no cable. But I did have a video store within walking distance of my house. I have no idea what moved me to rent the first season on DVD, but I’m lucky I did.
At the beginning of my To L and Back binging, I had very little memory of The L Word’s specific characters, story arcs, episodes, or seasons. I only watched it once. I remember feeling that, lesbians aside, the show wasn’t very good.
But I do remember watching the pilot, watching two women have sex for the first time, and thinking…this is hot! I really like this. I really want this.
It was such a subtle switch for me. I’d gone through my adolescence and early sexual experiences assuming I was straight, because I really didn’t think there was any other option. (Thank you, compulsory heterosexuality) Despite growing up in the Bay Area, I lived in a small island-town attending high school in the early 2000’s. Not long ago, but it could have been eons compared to the growth in LGBTQIA+ cultural visibility that has taken place in the past 20 years. (Never enough) I had no role models, and no community.
sokly543 on Youtube
I had TV. I had a lesbian-softcore-porn-soap-opera. Without which it may have taken me much much longer to begin my conscious queer journey.
Since then, I haven’t thought much about the little show that first raised my pulse and made my blood rush into a host of unexpected crevasses. To L and Back returned me to the inciting incident of my queerness and made me ask myself, why haven’t I been back to visit this beat until now?
Hannah Noël (she/her/hers) is a performer, writer, fan girl, dog mom, and anti-violence activist from the Bay Area, California, currently residing in New York. She believes in the power of stories to change the world.