This was Jillian’s first Lesbian ConFest and she was going to have fun, dammit. She hadn’t travelled all this way just to go to the workshops.
Although, she conceded, she might go to one or two if they looked interesting enough. Then again, there ought to be enough other activities on the program that she might not even have to consider it. She could make her own fun anyway, come to that. In fact, with over 150 dykes registered already, even though she rather suspected she didn’t know a single solitary one of them personally, she fully intended to.
It was silly to feel so nervous, Bev had been telling herself all morning. Most of the dykes here were friendly and, anyway, both Marjorie and Tricia had said they’d be there to give her much-needed support so she really had nothing to worry about. She’d prepared her opening remarks, had a basic outline for the structure of the workshop and after that it would be up to the participants themselves.
Still, she found she had to go to the toilet twice during the morning tea break and was in the room a good ten minutes before the workshop was due to start. She’d never run a workshop before and was only doing so now because it was a subject dear to her heart. She was sitting down trying to relax when a dreadful thought occurred to her: what if no-one came?
She wasn’t sure which was worse. Having to face a circle of lesbians who would be expecting her to know what she was on about. Or the humiliation of knowing that not one other dyke was interested enough in the subject to turn up. Or, worse still, that they’d decided to stay away because they didn’t like her.
Do you mind if I sit with you?” Margot hesitated, more out of politeness because she wasn’t really expecting a rebuff.
"Not at all,” Marjorie moved her chair slightly to make more room at the lunch table. She reminded herself that the reason she’d come to the LesFest was to be sociable so there was no need to feel under siege.
"I saw you at the last workshop. What did you think of it?” Margot asked, as she settled herself with her food in front of her.
Marjorie had just taken a huge mouthful of the vegetarian food in plentiful supply and grimaced to indicate she’d heard but wouldn’t be able to answer straightaway.
Obviously not as hungry as the other woman Margot continued, “I didn’t like the way the facilitator, I forget her name, ran the workshop, did you? I mean, she hardly let anyone else get a word in edgewise.”
As the facilitator was a very good friend of hers Marjorie wasn’t sure how best to answer and merely raised her eyebrows and took another mouthful.
"Lorraine,” Tricia was lying on her back contemplating the billowing roof of their tent. If the wind got up anymore she didn’t like their chances of staying dry if it rained.
"Mmmm,” unfortunately, Lorraine had started just before they’d left Melbourne and now couldn’t put it down.
"You know that young dyke from up north somewhere, the one with the blue hair,” she had trouble remembering names.
"Jillian,” Lorraine answered, promptly.
How did she do that? Tricia wondered, not for the first time, “Do you think she’s with that other dyke from Adelaide?”
"Margot you mean? She was yesterday. She’s with Bev now,” as of late this afternoon, so rumour had it
"Bev!” Tricia shrieked, “how can she be with Bev when Bev’s lovers with Marjorie. Isn’t she?”
"Not any more,” Lorraine replied, turning the page.
Lil wasn’t a smoker but she’d found the smokers’ area, being as it was outside and near the fireplace, the most congenial place to sit without feeling too out of it altogether. She was envious of the way everyone else seemed to know each other. It looked as if she was the only lesbian there without so much as an acquaintance to her name let alone any friends of long-standing.
She was also envious of the ease with which all the others greeted each other, arms around shoulders, hugs and kisses, sitting next to each other to chat and exchange gossip, laughing and joking in a friendly way. Making her own awkwardness and isolation all the more painfully obvious, it seemed to her.
"How goes it?” Jillian sat down next to her and stretched her hands towards the fire.
© Jean Taylor