In the middle of November, around the time of the boil-water advisory and the heavy snowfall, I had emergency abdominal surgery.
I had never been in the hospital before. But all of a sudden there I was at VGH, IVs everywhere, blood transfusions, painkillers, Salisbury steak for dinner, the whole deal. For six days.
The nurses and doctors were attentive, respectful and kind. But the best thing about them was how queer-positive they were. It’s unbelievable how many times you have to disclose your marital status or sexual history just to get some surgery, and no one batted an eye when I came out.
My girlfriend, Donimo, was at my side constantly, and the nurses and doctors consulted her and updated her like they would any boyfriend or husband.
Our queer presence at the hospital spread beyond the two of us. When I opened my eyes for the first time after the operation, I was sure I saw four superheroes standing in formation at the foot of my bed. They looked very tall, and their faces were in shadow, light streaming out from behind them. Then one of them spoke, and I realized it was Donimo. She added to my superhero fantasy by naming the other women there: our friends River, Isis and Uschi.
“God,” I thought, before falling back into my morphine haze, “dykes have such weird names.”
Throughout my time in the hospital, these women and others came to take care of me. Their weird names, boys’ clothing, short hair-none of it seemed to faze the staff.
And I got to experience firsthand what I wrote about a few columns back-the way dykes fucking rock at helping each other.
One day I was lying in bed so nauseated from pain medication I could barely open my eyes. Donimo sat beside me holding my hand and stroking my hair. I kept thinking about people who believe that queers are bad and dangerous. I wondered if they would be able to keep hating and fearing us so much if they could see into my hospital room.
If any of the nurses or doctors had been homophobic, my hospital experience would have been much worse. Instead, their unquestioning acceptance allowed me, my girlfriend and our friends to go about our business. I got to focus on getting the heck out of there, and the four lesbian superheroes were free to take care of me-in a very superhero-ish way, I must say.
Thanks to them, I am now safe at home with my brilliant girlfriend, pain-free and eating great quantities of lesbian-made soup and casseroles.