About a year after I graduated from college, I lived in Paris for a few months, working as an unpaid intern for a small film festival and ignoring all my student loans. That’s where I met a girl I’ll call E.
We indulged in every tired old cliche it's possible to indulge in when when you’re young and in love and living in Paris. She was not my usual type — though it wasn’t like I’d been out as gay long enough to really have a type — because she wasn’t masculinely androgynous. She was American, like me, and small and soft and blonde and very, very feminine. I was someone who wore the occasional swipe of lipstick; she put on a full face of makeup every single day after curling her long, beautiful hair. I used to love watching her get ready to go out. Her rituals.
One night I was meeting her for dinner in the Marais. When I got off the metro, I found her on a street corner, and we kissed. Nothing crazy, but perhaps a beat or two longer than your typical greeting sort of kiss.
We were, suddenly, mobbed by a group of men. Six or seven of them surrounded us, shout-whispering what I assume were terrible things — I’ve never felt better about not speaking French than when I was getting harassed on the street — and one stuck his hand up my dress, managing to slip the tip of his finger into my underwear. I shoved him away before he could go any further, disgusted and afraid, but otherwise did not make a scene. Even if I knew which words to use in my defense, I’m not sure I would have used them. E and I escaped the fray and walked to dinner, not touching. At the time we were shaken, but we laughed it off — “Men are disgusting!” — and didn’t let the incident ruin our date. But we were different, after that, when we were in public together. We had to be more careful.
When Cara Delevingne released a statement on Wednesday alleging that Harvey Weinstein had trapped her in a room where he tried to get her to kiss another woman in front of him, I felt a sick jolt of recognition. Delevingne joined a growing list of women who have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault, and each allegation is as disturbing as the next. But I was particularly upset after reading Delevingne’s account. When I brought up what she’d written with some of my queer friends, I found that they felt the same: sick, horrified. Because they knew.
Too many queer women can relate to Delevingne’s story. She says that when she first started acting, Weinstein called her, asking if she “had slept with any of the women I was seen out with in the media.” She didn’t answer him, but before she got off the phone, he allegedly told her that if she was gay, or decided to date women in the public eye, “that I’d never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood.”
A year or two later, she says she met with Weinstein in a hotel lobby with a director, and after the director left, Weinstein “began to brag about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had made their careers.” He then invited her to his room, which she tried to get out of — “I felt very powerless and scared but didn’t want to act that way, hoping that I was wrong about the situation” — but her car wasn’t outside yet. When she got to Weinstein’s room, there was another woman there, which at first made her feel relieved and safe. But then Weinstein allegedly asked them to kiss, and the other woman made a motion to oblige him. Delevingne got up and started to sing, attempting to make the situation “more professional… like an audition.” Weinstein, she says, tried to kiss her on the lips before she was able to get out of the room.