And there it was: sitting on my knees in a little tapas bar, surrounded by drinks and food and a group of comfortable, relaxed, laughing women, I felt more at home in my own skin than I had ever had before.
I had met most of them only a few hours earlier, at my first ever Women's Nite. I'd been invited by a friend, and I knew I couldn't refuse. I'd never acknowledged my queer identity in any official capacity-- sure, I'd mentioned girlcrushes to friends, checked a few boxes online, hung out with other LGBT-friendly acquaintances at Pink Dot--but I'd never really tried to connect with the local lesbian community. I was a late bloomer, see, and I'd spent a large part of my early twenties struggling with my own sexuality--alone. It wasn't something I could just talk to anybody about.
But that was what the entire night was about. We talked, a whole roomful of ladies from all walks of life, united by one thing in common - that we'd all, at some point in our lives, come to realize that we were different from what others had deemed 'normal'. We talked about what it meant to be lesbian, about growing up, coming out, staying in the closet, figuring out, being confused... It was a night of sharing and revelation.
And it was like magic. A number of us went for drinks after, and we laughed and joked like old friends, despite it being the first time many of us had met. We made raunchy jokes and talked about things we would never have dreamed of broaching with our other friends. We were loud and raucous and we weren't ashamed of it. For someone so used to keeping quiet about my own identity, it came just shy of a miracle. For one night, I felt accepted, understood; I felt like I truly belonged. And it was great.
No matter the change of venue, different topics, there are always familiar faces, different stories, spectrum of opinions, none the less, similar views.
I like how Women's Nite has evolved, thanks to the women behind the scenes and essentially, the women who make up each session.
Incidentally, while evolution is in nature’s pipeline, I’m glad we had this opportunity to return back to basics. Questions like “why am I here”, “what makes me who I am”, “how do I feel being myself”, flowed through my mind as we sat, we reflected, mingled with different groups of women, each with their own individual mindset and having viewpoints exchanged.
Self-worth and identity may have wondered across our minds more often than others. We may not be alone in various aspects or in some ways we are but fail to realise it or are in denial. Gathering at Women's Nite discussions have always shed new facets and dimensions for me about how others think, feel and experience.
Points debated, arguments discussed, awareness raised, emotions thrown across the floor, digression flagged - all this takes place in a warm and friendly setting, where woman-to-woman bonding carried out on leveled ground.
Women's Nite is not a support group but it sets you thinking. Then you leave the session pondering, not just about your life, but also particularly about your past, present and future.
I found myself looking forward to topics posted for discussions.
It gives women (who are attracted to women) from different backgrounds, various opportunities to come forward, to have a voice to express themselves. In addition to the "how" and "what" I can learn from like-minded women, we get to share our feelings, experiences and stories, depending our level of openness. For me, it was another enriching session.