Author information and notes

Included here are several items that might be of interest to readers of A Triangular Attraction.

Apartment Floor Plan

Performance Skit

SO AM I

Stage directions are included in case you would like to perform this as a play. Written as girls, but could be done as boys with minor changes.

Cast:

SARA - At the beginning is trying to fit in and be accepted by the "in" clique.

JEN - Knows she doesn't fit in, won't be accepted, has some attitude about that.

MEM1, MEM2, MEM3 - Members of the prayer group. One or two more could be added. Dressed in whatever is the current nice and proper girl/boy style.

The focus in this play is intensely on the people. The set should be minimal, so the lighting is very important. Costumes and makeup are whatever is usual for a high school in the performance locale.

ACT 1 - SCENE 1

(Conversation in school hallway, by lockers, books in hand, on their way to the next class.)

SARA: Will you come to my prayer group with me?

JEN: Why?

SARA: You're my friend, and they're my friends, and the group is important to me.

JEN: Uh, Sara? I'm queer, remember?

SARA: That and a buck fifty gets you a cup of lousy coffee. So what?

JEN: Sara, I give you maximum respect and I think you have figured out what Jesus really was saying; but your attitude is not typical, my friend, not at all.

SARA: Oh, come on. Queer is just what you are. Why should that make a difference to my friends?

JEN: It will. It'll probably loose you your friends.

SARA: Like in the drugstore scene in that movie we watched, was it Two Girls in Love?

JEN: Oh, Sara. You are so naive. Yes, just like that.

SARA: No way!

JEN: Okay, it's your funeral.

ACT 1 - SCENE 2

(MEM1-MEM3 and SARA around table on stage right. JEN near them, not at the table, in a chair, her head in her hands.)

MEM1: She's your friend? How?

SARA: Huh? She's my best friend, you know what that means.

MEM2: Oh? So you talk about boys and she talks about girls?

SARA: What? We talk about making the world a better place, what we're going to do when we graduate, about how we can help bring peace and love to the world.

MEM3: Love? What kind of love? Does it have a name?

SARA: I don't understand.

MEM1: Jen is a l-e-s-b-i-a-n, Sara. If you're spending time with her, what are you?

SARA: Why does that make me anything? She's my friend!

MEM2: She's a sinner!

MEM3: What would Jesus do?

SARA: I think Jesus would be her friend.

MEM1: Oh!

MEM2: Shame!

MEM3: Are you one, too?

(MEM1-MEM3 freeze, as lights go dim. JEN and SARA move to stage left, followed by spots that merge. They stand looking at each other, not quite close enough to touch.)

SARA: Oh my God oh my God oh my God! What happened?

JEN: Where are your friends?

SARA: Gone. I can't believe it.

JEN: You can try to go back.

SARA: No, I think I'll try to go forwards.

JEN: And where is that?

SARA: I don't know, yet. But we're still friends?

JEN: Of course. Us outcasts gotta stick together.

SARA: But not just because of that Jen, please?

JEN: No, not just because of that. Let's go.

(They walk out the door together as lights dim. JEN starts to reach out to SARA, but pulls back. SARA doesn't notice.)

ACT 1 - SCENE 3

(In the hallway at the lockers.)

JEN: Hey, I have tickets to a movie I'd like you to see with me.

SARA: Cool! What is it?

JEN: RENT. It's a musical.

SARA: RENT? Isn't that about a bunch of drug users with AIDS? A bunch of queers? At least that's what I heard from my, from those jerks who used to be, my friends. Um, what is it about?

JEN: A bunch of flaming queers and drug users with AIDS. It's very upbeat, in a dark kind of way, which I think maybe you're about ready to appreciate. I love the soundtrack to pieces. Some folks I know are going, and I'd like to share the experience with you.

SARA: I don't really know any of your other friends. I'd probably be out of place.

JEN: (softly.) You're not out of place among my friends, Sara. My friends are really friends.

SARA: Your friends are a bunch of queers.

JEN: Yeh, and probably a couple of drug users. And God forbid, maybe someone with AIDS.

SARA: You want me to go with you?

JEN: I went to your prayer group.

SARA: Don't remind me!

JEN: This will be different. You're my best friend, and they'll respect that.

SARA: So would they think I'm your girlfriend?

JEN: Maybe. Let's say they do. Is that bad? Anyone who sees enough of us will figure out we aren't lovers.

SARA: But I'm not queer.

JEN: (with sudden anger) So effing what? Are you afraid to be seen with some boy because "they" might think you spread your legs for him?

SARA: Oh, Jen! That's gross!

JEN: What's gross? What girls do with boys, or the thought of you being in love with me?

SARA: (Opens mouth, looks at Jen, says nothing.)

JEN: So will you go with me?

SARA: (With sudden resolve, biting her lip.) Yes.

(Lights out, no fade, as soon as she says, "Yes.")

ACT 1 - SCENE 4

(Also at the lockers, but this is the next day. JEN and SARA have changed clothes. SARA looks like she didn't sleep much last night.)

JEN: So, how do you feel about last night?

SARA: I had fun.

JEN: Fun?

SARA: Okay, something happened. RENT. Your friends. You.

JEN: What happened?

SARA: It was. I don't know. I used to think being queer was like a movie. Not real people, like you. Your friends. And me.

JEN: We're all just people, eh?

SARA: No. Not "just" people. Not at all. Not at all.

JEN: Sara?

SARA: Jen, this is like being hit by a car. I've known you for years, but only after last night did I begin to understand what it means to be like you.

JEN: Because of RENT?

SARA: The movie, and the restaurant, and the two guys in the parking lot who said they knew how to straighten out dykes like us.

JEN: It wasn't that unusual.

SARA: That's my point.

JEN: Sara? Is this going someplace good, or someplace bad?

SARA: Someplace real. I don't know.

JEN: Should I leave now?

SARA: No! No, I need to talk more. Something happened last night. To me.

JEN: We can't talk here much longer.

SARA: Coffee after school? Do you know some place where, well, where...

JEN: I know a place. I'll meet you at the south steps at three fifteen. We'll go to Beemer's.

ACT 2

This act shifts back and forth between coffee shop and school hallway. This could be done as stage left and right using changes in lighting, or with minimalist set changes: a table and a poster for the coffee shop, a locker and a school pennant for the hallway. Whatever works for you.

ACT 2 - SCENE 1

(Coffee shop. Not out and out queer, but friendly and accepting. JEN starts off looking relaxed, but is nervous underneath. SARA is obviously uptight and intent.)

JEN: This way. There's a nook we can sit in and talk.

SARA: Do you come here a lot?

JEN: Yeh. I have a friend who reads poetry. I usually come and listen to her.

SARA: A good friend? Do you sit with her here? I mean...

JEN: Just a good friend. Not my best friend. That's you.

SARA: Best friends. Are we really--just--best friends?

JEN: This is hard, Sara. Do you really, really want to have this conversation?

SARA: If one of us was a boy...

JEN: (Barely under control.) Then we could stare into each other's eyes, and people would smile and laugh, and everything would be effing wonderful! Boys and girls are supposed to fall in love. It's expected. Everyone tries in out in their heads.

SARA: If I reach out to hold your hand...

JEN: Sara! Don't joke about it.

SARA: If you recruit me, you get a toaster oven, right?

JEN: Oh, shit! Do you know what it's like to sit here and want to touch you and know that the best thing for you would be to walk out of here and never talk to me again?

SARA: So you've tried it out in your head? You and me?

JEN: (Covers her face with her hands. Groans.)

SARA: Lots of girls have crushes, you know, on other girls. But they usually don't believe it can be real. Now I know it can be.

JEN: What have I done? Do you truly want to hold my hand?

SARA: Do you know what it's like to know that I can choose to do that? And to have to make that choice? (Long pause.) I can walk out of here. I can do what everyone would tell me is the right thing to do. But where would that leave me?

JEN: You've got your whole life ahead of you, Sara.

SARA: Oh? And if I ignore this silly crush I now admit I have on you, I can continue to live it with heterosexual privilege? I can be a brave but clearly straight ally?

JEN: (With a slight smile.) You've picked up on the rhetoric, all right.

SARA: Why do you think I've paid so much attention?

JEN: Crap. I noticed. I was afraid that's why you were paying so much attention.

SARA: Why afraid?

JEN: Because I...

SARA: You want me to say it first?

They look at each other for a moment, then slowly reach to hold hands under the table.

BOTH: (Softly, in unison.) I love you. (Lights fade on a shy kiss.)

ACT 2 - SCENE 2

The hallway again. SARA and JEN are not comfortable in this setting, but cannot keep away from each other.

SARA: Hi.

JEN: Hi.

VOICES: Jen and Sara sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

SARA: Oh, my God.

JEN: This is what it's going to be like, at first. Then it'll get worse.

SARA: How do they know?

JEN: You've been under suspicion a long time for being my friend. Word of what happened in your prayer group will have spread around by now. And the look in our eyes; who wouldn't be able to figure it out, hon?

SARA: How can it be wrong to love someone?

JEN: Is that the right question?

SARA: What do you mean?

JEN: What is, simply is. Where does right and wrong enter the picture? Does it come from within, or is it what other people say?

SARA: We need to talk.

JEN: For hours and hours. See you at Beemer's.

ACT 2 - SCENE 3

Coffeeshop. Same table. Staring at the walls, not knowing where to begin, what to say, what to do.

JEN: Do you know what you want?

SARA: I want to touch you, hold you, kiss you, and more.

JEN: That's easy. Lots of kids want and do that. But then what?

SARA: Can you imagine some guy trying to discourage a girl who says those things?

JEN: No. But they can get married. They have a place in the American dream.

SARA: Don't give me that crap. I lost my friends because of you. I can only imagine what my parents will say. Are you saying I don't understand what's ahead of me?

JEN: (Sigh.) Maybe I don't want the responsibility. People will blame me for perverting the person they thought you were.

SARA: People are idiots.

JEN: Your parents aren't idiots, they love you.

SARA: Do they? Or do they love who they want me to be? I have no clue whether they love who I really am.

JEN: I guess you'll find out. Damn. Why does it have to be like this?

SARA: I don't know, but now what?

JEN: I don't know, but this is too real. Let's go. (They stand, look at each other tensely. JEN starts to take SARA's hand, hesitates, then grabs it. They walk off holding hands, heads held high.)

ACT 2 - SCENE 4

(Hallway again.)

SARA: Hi.

JEN: Hi.

SARA: This either has to stop, or it has to catch fire.

JEN: That's poetic.

SARA: I thought you were the radical!

JEN: I was. When I felt safe.

SARA: I'd like to make it safe for you.

JEN: But you don't. People could just pass me by, before, when I didn't have a girlfriend. When I was just talk.

SARA: Okay, so this is it. Are you with me, or are you against me?

JEN: We could both...

SARA: We could both get tossed in a car, raped, beaten senseless, tied to a fence, and left to die! (Yelling now.) That's effing what it means today to be queer, isn't it?

JEN: (Cringing, looking around to see who's watching.) Sometimes that's what it means. That has often been what it's meant to be, say, Black, or Jewish, or simply female.

SARA: And now, queer, us. We're on the front lines now, too. Someone is always out there, taking the shit, and now we've joined the battle.

JEN: I have something really silly to say.

SARA: So say it!

JEN: I think you're worth fighting for.

SARA: And I'll fight for you! (They drop their packs, hug, freeze. Lights fade out.)

CURTAIN

Kathy's Poems

   KATHY'S POEM

   I know who I am,
   sitting in the dark.
   They know who I am,
   sitting in the church.
   Mother is sure she knows me,
   as her little woman.
   Father only knows that
   he thinks he can't know me.

   They're all wrong, because
   they haven't seen me with you.
   And I haven't found you, yet,
   so maybe I don't know myself.

   I'll know you when I see you.
   A girl like me, who likes to
   sing, watch anime, read manga,
   surf the net, shop for clothes,
   talk about what's going on, and
   lie in bed and kiss and touch and
   hold each other all night long.

   Yeh, I'm that way, yeh, I'm one
   of them, yeh, call me a lesbian,
   though I don't think it's that;
   if a boy was pretty and liked to
   sing, watch anime, read manga,
   surf the net, shop for clothes,
   talk about what's going on, then
   I can see lying in bed and kissing
   and touching and holding each other
   all night long.

   I'm an equal opportunity pervert,
   an abomination who works both sides
   of the street.
   Dyke, slut, whore, depraved, unnatural,
   freak? Sure, bring it on.
   I mean, God is so busy creating people
   like me in large number, could it be
   that I'm not a mistake?
   Or do you think God is so error prone
   that She needs more practice?

   I believe I was created in God's
   image, and I'm looking forward
   to
   Her
   embrace.

   PROMISE

   The shushing snow cannot still
   the winter wind's whisper:
      Die before the spring and I
      will flesh your bones of ice
      with fallen leaves.

   THIN LINES

   The universe is a network
   of so, so thin lines.
   Life and death,
   boy and girl,
   love and friendship,
   conscious and unconscious;
   They weave in warp and weft

   of Dreams...

   What mighty creatures be they,
   to stalk the night
   as swift conquerers
   of upheld reason.
   Perfection unequaled,
   bliss unending,
   power unchallenged;
   they do their battle

   against Reality...

   I am cold in a place you cannot touch,
   in a way you cannot reach.
   You do not touch,
   do not reach.
   Touch me.
   Reach me.
   I need you so much,
   but you're not there

   in the fabric of my existence.

   A HUMAN THING

   The long hair catches my eye,
   and there's meat on those bones.
   That shirt shows you off well.
   I approve of your gender,
   Now when you turn around,
   we'll see about your sex.

   Ah, so you are a "male,"
   I see the hair now,
   shadows on your face and neck.
   You could be a dancer,
   the way you hold your body.
   But what do you think of me?

   Soft mouth, long warm arms,
   sensitive nipples, a firm behind,
   and pleasure between the legs.
   Come now; what's this talk of
   male and female but two variations
   on one theme? 
   Love is simply a human thing.

   AT RISK

   A flash of color in the crowd.
   That dress, the jewelry, the nails,
   the hues of your face, your mouth
   a sex organ in public, those eyes
   captured in ellipses of black.
   I wonder, what are you like?

   Exhibitionist? Or just taking on
   protective coloration to ward off
   the predators? Most men would be
   afraid of your mouth; so bold, so
   expressive. Afraid your femininity
   would rub off and somehow mark them.

   Do you depend on some primal fear
   in men, hoping they will not dare
   violate a mask and risk the wrath
   of a goddess? Could be you make a
   mistake. Scare away the god-fearing,
   and who remains to hunt you down?

   UNTITLED

   I'm going away
   and you'll never know
   because you only believe in tomorrow
   and I'm leaving today.

   It was never okay
   I was always alone
   Myself and my other
   my loneliest lover.

   Too late now,
   it always has been.
   Never tomorrow,
   always today.
   There is only now
   and now is always too late.

   Goodbye forever, lover.
   You believed in tomorrow.
   Well, look again, lover.
   Tomorrow was yesterday.

Support Group Rules

This is a set of sample rules for a support group. The author has used these rules before, both as a facilitator and as a member of a group facilitated by other people. They seem to work pretty well. Not sure where these rules originated; they may simply be common sense.

It's a good idea to repeat the rules before every session of a group, even if the people present are regulars. This helps people move into a support group mindset.

  1. Try to arrive on time, remain for the entire session, and do not wander in and out of the session. (If the group meets for more than an hour, consider having a short planned break.)
  2. Unless you're expecting an emergency call, please turn cell phones or pagers off, and do not make calls during the meeting.
  3. This group is for discussion and support, not debate. No one is right, no one is wrong. In particular, there is no single correct view of sex, gender, social role or human sexuality.
  4. Listen. Hear what the other person is saying. Let them finish talking. Think before you react. Realize that the same word may mean different things to different people.
  5. Talk about yourself and your own experience. You may ask questions of others, but do not challenge the validity of their personal experience.
  6. Keep your comments brief and to the point, so everyone has a chance to speak.
  7. Do not generalize from your experience and feelings to the experience and feelings of others. Let them speak for themselves.
  8. Do not attack, do not try to hurt, do not pass judgment.
  9. Treat this group session as a private conversation, do not repeat elsewhere what is said here.

Perhaps the most difficult rule to enforce is #6. When a person first finds a support group, they often have a lot bottled up inside that they need to say and need to have heard. Because most groups meet for a relatively short time, it's essential to enforce that rule or some people will not have a chance to participate. The group facilitators need to be sensitive to people who look like they're trying to speak up but don't do so because someone else always jumps in first.

Author Art

A drawing that Lisa made in 2009 of Jami, Carys and Tam.

Art by Lisa Lees.

Author Information

Lisa Lees was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1952; grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma; went to college (philosophy) and graduate school (computer science) in Missouri; lived briefly in Kansas and New Jersey and finally ended up in Michigan in late 1978; where she has lived in Flint, Ann Arbor, Lansing and East Lansing. For information about Lisa's current projects, please visit: www.lisalees.com

Though A Triangular Attraction is set in a real location (Lansing and East Lansing, Michigan) the characters are all fictional and the names and details of real locations have in some cases been changed to fit the needs of the story. This is a work of fiction, not a political treatise; opinions expressed by fictional characters do not necessarily reflect the author's opinions about anything.

Simplicity was inspired by a real organization, Leaven, that did have a retreat center near Lyons, Michigan; but Simplicity is a completely fictional construct.

The book you are reading, A Triangular Attraction, is a sequel to Lisa's young adult novel, Fool for Love. She has also published a book of essays, Fragments of Gender.

Resources may be found at the following web sites:

  www.isna.org
  www.glsen.org
  www.pflag.org