It was around 1994, and I was crushing hard on L. She was fine—like an Asian Apollonia, but just a bit thicker, with a dynamite smile and an easy laugh. She was also the sister of a guy I worked and hung out with, and I liked her immediately.
Up to that point, my dating history had been seriously spotty: I’d been in love with and lost my best friend, and at the time I was kinda, sorta, maybe still dating a young woman off at boot camp. It was the middle of winter when L and her brother came through to play some board games and chill. I remember as we set up the board for a game of “Life,” I selected two pink pegs. She also selected two pink pegs—and moved a few inches closer to me.
As the night progressed, she flirted harder with me as her brother got more and more pissed. While we were getting a drink from the kitchen, he told me “not to fuck with his sister.” Long story short, we did—and it spiraled out of control. Let’s just say there’s nothing like a boyfriend scorned and a str8 girl who sends you a romantic letter, then pretends she was an innocent being hotly pursued by a lesbian.
Let me just take a moment to explain what I mean by “str8.” I’m not talking about heterosexual women who have experimented once or twice. I’ve never been with a heterosexual woman who didn’t explicitly say from the beginning that this was just a moment of curiosity and then we’re good. I’m using the term “str8” because it’s tongue-in-cheek—these women will get in bed with you then act like they are the victims of a lesbian predator. Or they’ll say, “Yeah, we were so drunk last night” or “I don’t go that way.”
I’m talking about women who are sexually and emotionally manipulative with lesbians. Str8 girls are not typically out here claiming labels of bisexuality, heteroflexibility or pansexuality—at least, not in public. These are women who are insecure about their own sexuality while trying to fuck with yours.
My history with str8 women is why Netflix’s recent iteration of She’s Gotta Have It had me tripping over the relationship between Opal Gilstrap and Nola Darling. First of all, I have to give a shoutout to Spike Lee and his crew for changing Opal from a predatory lesbian into a lesbian with her humanity intact. But I gotta call b.s. on Nola being “pansexual.” When the character told the audience she was taking a break from men and using Opal as a “palate cleanser,” I nearly lost my shit. I’ll be damned if a woman uses me (and my skills) in between stops in Penistown just so she can take a break from the drama of her man woes.
I get it; Nola is written as the type of chick who will turn the heads of women and men, so I’m not looking at Opal completely sideways when she tries to wife her up. But Opal—being an adult lesbian—should know that Nola ain’t the one. She’s fun to Netflix and chill with—and that sex scene was some decent choreography—but her heart and body are really with men. And if she looks at a woman as a layover until the next dick, she’s not living her pansexuality. She’s a str8 girl using a social identity as a way to cover up her sloppiness. Not cool—not cool at all.
Many lesbians have been with str8 girls. To some degree, women and girls are typically socialized to define ourselves through our relationships, and some of our strongest emotions can be connected to our relationships with our female friends. I know so many straight women whose most intimate relationships are with their sister-friends—so much so that I sometimes wonder if there’s something more happening there.
The well of emotions between women runs deep, so it’s not surprising that when a woman comes into her sexual identity as a lesbian, her first loves are usually her female friends. And sometimes that leads to an awakening with the friend, and sometimes that means you fall for a woman who is curious but not really interested in a long-term relationship with a woman. In short: Your world gets jacked by a str8 girl. Many a young lesbian’s heart has been broken by the friend who wanted to make out but then ignored you in the hallway at school or around other friends.
Opal does the worst thing a lesbian can do with a str8 girl, which is engage with Nola as if she is a prospective mate and not the casual, fun, momentary fling that she is. It’s the kind of cue that lets you know the people helming this project have no understanding of pansexual identity, as it reads more heteronormative fantasy than actual reality.
The original Opal was symbolic of the problematic “hunt” for heterosexual women and was rightfully labeled and critiqued as predatory by both men and other lesbians. Some of us go through that, too; internalized homophobia can often account for the attraction when we attempt to sex and wife up only str8 women. It’s another level of attempting to “pass” in the straight world. A str8 girl is usually hyperaware that her gender presentation holds up in the heteronormative world—and she’s very aware of how lesbian women don’t “fit,” straight-passing or not. Therein lies the power: access to sex but also emotional manipulation.
But for those of us who spent a number of our early years chasing heterosexual women in an effort to prove we could bed them, the “hunt” is also an extension of the toxic masculine behavior of the men we are often surrounded by. You know, the ones who believe if a lesbian only had some good “D,” she’d change her ways. (Nah, bruh. It doesn’t work like that.)
The question really is, should a lesbian get down with—or try to wife—a str8 girl? For me, the answer is no, but it also depends. You have to know who you are and be comfortable with your identity as a lesbian. No matter whether you’re a femme (str8 girls like you because it feels kind of fun, like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”), a stud (str8 girls like you ’cause you “look kinda like a boy,” but it feels kind of fun, like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”) or somewhere in between (str8 girls like you because you’re “interesting” and it feels kind of fun, like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”), you have to know that this woman is not going to be anything more than a fling.
Protect your emotions, because one minute you’ll be their sexy secret, and the next, they’ll claim you’re some crazy lesbian obsessed with them. And even though they may be right about your obsession, they’ll never own the emotional manipulation they engaged in.
Bottom line: If a woman ever tells you “Lesbians love me,” run. Run as fast as you can.