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Gay Girl, Straight World

Gay Girl, Straight World


Six Degrees of Stellastarr*


This is the story of the teeny, tiny world of gay women and a band called Stellastarr*.

You know that joke (that often proves true) about the six degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon-any actor can be connected back to the Footloose star in six connections or less? Well, the same is most definitely true within the gay community.

The gay world is a small world, but it gets downright tiny when a couple of factors are taken into account.

First of all, if you are gay and live in a fairly small city like Santa Barbara, you are bound to know virtually the entire homosexual community. Or, if you’re my friend who’s partial to Red Bull and vodkas at the Wildcat on Sunday nights, you may have dated one of the go-go dancers, who is now dating another go-go dancer. Like I said, it’s a small world.

Secondly, if you are dating someone from another city, county, state, or country, your gay world gets a lot smaller. My girlfriend, Jackie, for example, is from the San Fernando Valley. When I started dating her, of course the amount of people I grew to know increased. However, in adding more fish to my pond of friends, I came to realize that some of the fish I already knew were friends with or had been involved with the fish Jackie brought to the pond. It turns out one of my lesbian friends was dating the roommate of one of Jackie’s old girlfriends.

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me about a young woman in Santa Barbara with whom she had lost touch and suggested I look for her on MySpace. Armed only with a first name, I entered the black hole that is MySpace, the meeting spot for all sorts of people you never thought you’d have to see again from high school but who miraculously want to be your “friend” because they happened to find you since you both typed in that you attended Smith High School in Orange County.

My search yielded 17 pages of profiles. But we never got past the second profile: a beautiful redhead whose headline quoted J.D. Salinger and who identified as a lesbian. Bookish, beautiful, and open about her sexuality? I was curious about this triple threat, so I clicked on her picture.

An infectious tune streamed across my computer. “Who is this?” my friend asked me, her head starting to bob along with the song. “Stellastarr*, and the song’s ‘My Coco,’” I said. “I like it, too.”

Scrolling down the page, I noticed two things: This redheaded lass was extremely tall and had lived for a while in Santa Cruz. Hmmm. Bells are ringing in my head, red flags are going up-why does this sound so familiar? Because she was the ex-girlfriend of my current girlfriend, Jackie. And not just any ex-girlfriend-the girlfriend Jackie told not to visit for the weekend because she had met someone else the day prior. And I was “the day prior” girl.

So here I am, (sort of, but not really) minding my own business, and I’m confronted by a face to go with the name of a girl I felt horrible about hurting. And, to make matters worse, I really liked her profile. She had good taste in books and movies, she indicated a coffee addiction, and her blogs were witty and self-deprecating.

Within three clicks of my computer’s mouse, I had come across a young lady to whom I had been “the other woman.” And I couldn’t get her profile song out of my head.

I hummed Stellastarr* while driving home later that evening, I hummed Stellastarr* while walking to work the next morning, and I hummed Stellastarr* while at the music store looking for the Stellastarr* CD. Finally, I listened to Stellastarr* sing Stellastarr* songs when I got home. What a relief-they sounded so much better than I did.

I showed Jackie my latest purchase, and she agreed this indeed was infectious pop music. She wanted to know how I had heard of the band. “Well,” I said. “You remember that redhead from Santa Cruz?”

Penny Patterson writes an online column about gay life in Santa Barbara called Gay Girl/Straight World. See independent.com/gaygirl for more.



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