About a month ago, a lesbian meme account I follow on Instagram reposted a video in which two older women smoked weed and made corny jokes. These women called their account “420oldfatlesbians,” and they had, at the time, just over a thousand followers. A month later, they have nearly 78,000.
The account is pretty well summed up by its name: Sue and Lee are an old, married lesbian couple who like smoking weed. Both are medical marijuana card holders in Maine, and after retirement — Sue worked in end-of-life care, and Lee as an accountant — they decided it would be fun to start a project on social media. So in early March, they began posting videos in which they perform bits while consuming cannabis, primarily by vape. Often these videos are tied to holidays, or current events: for Easter, they wore bright plastic bunny masks, and smoked out of a blown painted egg. The script is as follows:
Lee: “Happy Easter, everyone!”
Sue, taking a bite of a baby carrot: “Aren’t bunnies notorious for something?”
Lee: [smokes from egg]
That’s it! That’s the video. Sue and Lee provide me with videos like this one every day, for free. They ask for nothing in return, though if you’d like, you can buy their merch: rainbow sunglasses (Sue and Lee never appear without them), or a gray T-shirt that reads “BE WHO YOU ARE,” their faces printed below. I love them. I want to be them. I recently got on the phone with them to learn how to do that.
How long have you two been together?
Lee: Twelve years, and legally married the last four.
How did you meet?
Lee: Plenty of Fish. I ignored her for a while. It wasn’t long though.
Sue: We met on Plenty of Fish in Florida, and we were living 100 miles apart when we met, but then we realized we grew up in the same place outside Chicago.
How did you decide to start the account?
Sue: We got it going because we retired last year. Neither of us were really using social media, and we thought it’d be fun to start something and see where it went. I think how it started clicking with people was that everybody could relate to a portion of it, whether it’s cannabis, or being gay, or fat, or old — there was something for everybody to relate to.
What do you hope people take away from the account?
Sue: We’re hoping that people see us as just normal, everyday people. We’re trying to tell people not to hate gays, or fat people, or old people.
Do you consider yourselves body positive?
Sue: We have a lot of fat people who follow us who are into that. We don’t judge people on their outward appearance. We like to get to know somebody, and we talk to people for who they are and not what they look like.
Lee: We didn’t plan on being part of a movement. We just are fat, and old, and gay.
How did you each come to cannabis use?
Sue: I started using it pretty regularly in high school, and then kind of slowed. Through my line of work over the years it became necessary for pain control, and for helping patients. I started learning more about the benefits, as opposed to Big Pharma medications. Twenty years ago is when it started hitting me, what this could do for people.
Lee: I tried it once in high school and hallucinated, so I stayed away from it. Then I had neck surgery ten years ago, and that’s caused a lot of pain since. I’ve done physical therapy, I tried steroid shots, I tried opioids for a couple of years. I finally tried marijuana again because Sue was making candies for me, and it was so much better than opioids. It really relieved the pain, and it’s not addictive.
What do you find that using cannabis does for your health, both physical and mental?
Lee: For me it’s pain relief, but it also helps me sleep, because I don’t fall asleep very easily. Before we retired, we had a lot on our plates trying to get ready to move, and caring for people, and it helped with stress and anxiety.
Sue: I think it’s a mood lifter.
Do you smoke everyday?
Sue: Well, that’s how we do the videos. [Laughs.]
Lee: Well also, Lee doesn’t smoke flower since her heart attack, so I can only vape and do edibles. We just got a device where you can vape using the bud, which is kinda cool.
Sue: We low dose throughout the day, just five or ten milligrams here or there, depending on our pain.
What’s your preferred method?
Sue: I like vaping and bud once in a while.
Lee: I prefer vaping. Edibles are good for travel, because you can make it appear to be candy and not worry.
Are you still making your own candy?
Sue: Yeah. I started making it for some of my patients. It’s just a simple hard-candy recipe with a tincture or concentrates.
Lee: We used to make the Green Dragon tincture. There’s a recipe on the internet.
Do you see yourselves as reducing stigma, or challenging smoker stereotypes?
Sue: We had a couple followers who thanked us for showing that older women do partake in cannabis. I guess society just has a view of older women just drinking wine, and with men, whatever goes. It’s been in the closet, but I think it’s slowly coming out.
Lee: There were people we knew [before doing the videos] who we couldn’t tell.
Sue: Well, now they know!
Do your real-life friends and/or family follow you?
Sue: Everyone that knows us personally knows of the account.
Are they fans?
Lee: Yeah, they all laugh about it. They think it’s funny.
Sue: Some of them think we’re a little loco, but for the most part they cheer us on.
How do you come up with your video ideas?
Lee: Sue has a really wild and crazy brain. She comes up with the ideas, and then we talk it over, and we agree it’s funny or isn’t. Then we go to the dollar store and pick up props.
Lee: The one in bed when we’re singing “Like a Virgin.” That’s kind of cool.
Sue: Oh, yeah. Oh god.