“Wow, I don’t wanna say I’m enjoying lockdown,” your boyfriend is saying, spooning the last of the homemade hummus onto some freshly baked sourdough, “but we’ve really gotten into some new hobbies, haven’t we babe?”
Your boyfriend is right. Everywhere you look – virtually at least – a lot of people seem to have undergone a certain lifestyle change lately. Nature walks and DIY. Baba ghanoush and gardening. Hand-painting old furniture and sewing patches onto their jeans. Poetry books! Papier mâché! “Lockdown culture”, it seems, is in full swing. The world is slowing down and people are finding new and novel ways to pass the time spent cooped up inside their homes.
Except when I scroll through Instagram observing this play out, I can’t help but think that I’ve… I’ve seen this before. Yes, I’ve definitely seen this before. It’s uncanny. In fact, I’ve seen this for years. I’m sorry but lockdown culture is clearly just… lesbian culture. Everyone around me, it seems, has turned just as gay as I am.
It’s not just the predilection for homemade, bean-based vegan dips and close up photographs of plant life. It’s the rest of it too. The sad selfies. The wondering out loud daily about adopting a cat (“we could call her Sylvia Plath”). The DIY haircuts (never seen so many straight people with shaved heads and fucked up mullets). The sex toys. The sewing. The moving in with a partner after three dates before deciding that while, yes, you should break up, you should also continue to lean on each other for "emotional lockdown support" (although maybe adopting that cat wasn’t such a good idea after all). Oh, and the yearning. The constant yearning. Lesbians have been doing this for decades.
One reason lockdown culture might look so much like lesbian culture is that it’s kind of tied up with nature, with hands and with doing (everyone has gotten a lot more practical, a lot more DIY, because they've had to). A couple of years ago, writer Mikaella Clements dubbed this phenomenon "dyke camp". In a piece for Outline, she explained: “If camp is the love of the unnatural, dyke camp is the love of the ultra-natural, of nature built up and reclaimed.”
According to Clements, dyke camp is “a Walkman, a pair of Adidas sweatpants, the paintings of Kelly Beeman with their glazed sleepy stares”. It's “certain brands of gardening gloves; for obvious reasons, dyke camp tends to favour hands”. All of those things, to me, sound a lot like what I'm seeing on my feed at the moment.
“It's true, it does quite lead quite gleefully into the stereotype,” Clements agrees when I reach her over the phone. “If you're living in an apartment or high rise, there's this need to bring as much of the outside world in as you can. We've got basil plants which are going berserk, big bundles of flowers, plant pots everywhere. So there's this sense of that weird 'ultra-natural' vibe of 'dyke camp', of going natural – along with my armpit hair.”
Obviously, I’m not saying that all lesbians are as I've just described or follow these traits. And I’m not having a go at anyone embracing newfound creative pursuits or a generally melancholy slash wholesome aesthetic. We’re living through extremely difficult and unusual times – some more so than others – and getting through this in a healthy way can only be a positive thing. All I’m saying is that the other day on my TL I saw a straight guy in Birkenstocks and dungarees raking the soil in preparation to plant some cannellini beans. That’s all I’m saying.
A lot has already been written about when it comes to what the world and culture-at-large might look like once we get through this pandemic. Will we experience another “roaring 20s” following such widespread devastation and deferred spending? Will we even want to go back to the clubs or will we prefer to stay inside, baking? Is everyone going to become more socially conscious and community focussed? Or more selfish? Are "zoom dates" going to become a thing, even when we don't need them?
I have another theory. Which is: the world is going to look a lot more lesbian. And by “lesbian”, I don’t mean more women hooking up with women (although that too maybe, who knows how this’ll pan out). I mean lentil recipes and repurposed, customised trousers. I mean hammers and homemade palette beds and fabric paints. I mean “send me a selfie and I'll turn it into a watercolour portrait”. I mean “shall we go on a walk?” I mean “I miss you, even when you're in the next room”.