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Last week we were all set to announce an exciting new chapter in the history of OutNewsGlobal and tell you all about the appointment of our Senior Features Writer, Charlotte Dingle, to the post of Editor. Tragically, and as many of you will know, we received the terrible news of her sudden death, compelling us to  publish this In Memoriam article.

Our beloved Lottie, as we knew her, was thrilled about her new role and, just two days before she was taken from us, submitted this article for publication. We have thought long and hard about whether we should publish this piece, her final article, but we decided that the best way for us to honour her memory is to keep her brilliant work in the public eye. This, of course, will be the only new piece of writing we’ll be publishing but, every Friday over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be trawling the OutNewsGlobal archive and reposting some of her past work. 

Well, wow. I write this as my inaugural article as editor, following on from the inimitable Rob Harkavy, who has moved on to pastures new. In his words: “Adults! Just a reminder that if you refer to your pets as ‘fur babies’…” and I’ll leave it there. Let’s face it, readers lesbian-spectrum and non-lesbian-spectrum alike, cats are (mostly) cool. There are those times they shit in your shoes or drink your bedside glass of water but otherwise… cool. If you can’t handle them at their worst then why have them at all? However, dear reader, I have to address an important equation here: cats and lesbian/bi women = harmony = why?

I love my cat. I don’t know that we have a mother-son bond as he is, after all, from a different species, but I know I wouldn’t want to live without him. When I’ve annoyed everyone and my heart feels drained, he comes and paws at me until I wake up and pay him attention. He licks my face when licking is the last thing on my mind. He’s a terrible rascal and often in trouble but that goes for me too. I realise there are some people who don’t see cats as much more than oversized vermin – but that’s not us lesbos/bi women. We are the queens of snuggling, the queens of chaotic joy, and the queens of distressed bed sheets. We are essentially the same as cats.

Lola, 23, has been single for what she describes as “too long now”. Her cat Grace is a 12-year-old rescue cat who went through the wars before she met her – suffering neglect, physical assaults and the deaths of her kittens. “I do try and see her as a kind of flatmate but not as a replacement child,” she says. “The bond we have might seem silly to some but it’s there. And I know hand-on-heart I’d never let a girlfriend get in the way of that.”

“Like women,” says Rachel, 40, “cats either want my full attention or for me to leave them alone – you can tell them they can’t have it both ways as many times as you want but they don’t understand your words (except when it suits them).” She adds: “Lesbians also tend to move in on the first date, just like cats do.” I can see what Rachel means, although you can’t really take a cat to IKEA. I hear there are Rules. Like not shitting in the aisles. Or scratching up the DIY cabinets.

“I got a girlfriend and a cat all at the same time,” says Lucy, 34. “And pretty soon we were all living together, in her flat. She said she wasn’t a cat person, but it all went remarkably well. And it still is. We remain at loggerheads about getting a dog but I may win this one.” Lucy’s girlfriend, Cathy, 41, responds: “I accept Kitty as my own, but I still want a dog.” We’ll leave it to these two to fight it out.

I realise I’m pandering to a lot of stereotypes here. The mad cat lady, the lonely lesbo looking for love… But how mad and lonely are we really? My girlfriend (thank you Lord for that one!) has a cat and we’re still going strong. It was partly the fact she has a dearly loved cat that attracted me to her in the first place. The woman who can look after a creature as impossible as the cat and still see its beauty is the woman for me. “Cats are rebels,” she says. “I’m here, I’m a cat, get used to it.”We could reduce ourselves to crass jokes at such a point, but I’ll leave you with a quote from Leah Raeder’s Black Iris: “Girls love each other like animals. There is something ferocious and unself-conscious about it. We don’t guard ourselves like we do with boys. No one trains us to shield our hearts from each other. With girls, it’s total vulnerability from the beginning. Our skin is bare and soft. We love with claws and teeth and the blood is just proof of how much. It’s feral. And it’s relentless.”

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Charlotte Dingle

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