Thursday, August 28, 2008

What does a lesbian look like???

Lately i have been reading a lot of posts on gender expression. Although most of these posts have been from a butch prospective it has got me thinking. i am i guess what would be called a femme, a lipstick lesbian, a girly girl. I love my makeup and heels. I love to get dressed up in girly clothes. I love to smell good and I like the way that the ritual of makeup makes me feel. I do also enjoy dressing down. I love to snuggle on the couch with the wife in a comfy pair of sweats. I don't always get all dolled up, but know how to when I want to. Here is my for lack of a better word problem. I have been told over and over again that I dont look like a lesbian. Now I want to know what does a lesbian look like. I know that some women just present as such, my wife is one of those. If she were in a room of women and someone who didn't know her called her name and she stood up the first thought is ohh a lesbian. I on the other hand have to work harder to convince people that I am a lesbian. I have only been out for about 5 years and at first I was comfortable with the fact that people don't always know that I was gay, however now I have moved on to wanting to be known as a lesbian, I want people to look at me and think lesbian. I wear a rainbow beaded bracelet most of the time and I wear my wedding ring on my right hand. I know these are symbols that our community will recognise and I get the lesbian nod every once in awhile, but mostly when the wife is with me so I don't know if it's her or me they are nodding at.
I know that most of this problem is in my head and that my identity as a lesbian is not a problem. I love women and though I was married for 10+ years to a man I always knew that I liked girls. My problem is how do I get people to acknowledge that I am a lesbian on an everyday basis. I don't mind explaining myself I just hate it when I have to convince someone that not all lesbians wear flannel and have a mullet. I have tried to dress more butch, it just doesn't work for me. My wife laughs at my attempts, not because I look funny but because no matter what I can not look butch. In a baseball hat, sweat shirt,jeans and timberland boots I still scream girly, not that I mind screaming girly but come on even dressed like this I have still had to convince people that I am gay. I guess that I just want to be a visible lesbian without having to be all in your face about it. I guess that deep down I know that my identity as a lesbian is going to have to be something that I learn to except and hope that people just treat me well as who I am. I guess this will have to do until I get the courage to get the big LESBIAN tattooed on my forehead.LOL


Dosia said...

Hiya, I think the problem you're describing is one that's very real to women who identify as 'femme' (such as myself). Many people can't distinguish us from straight girls based solely on the way we look.

Honestly, it causes all sorts of problems for us/me, including having straight guys hit on me as well as being invisible to other lesbians. I wear a rainbow patch on my bag and that helps a little. I've also been queering my looks more deliberately -- not trying to change my gender but doing what you said, wearing more masculine clothes. A girly girl dressed as a boy is both hot (in my opinion) and looks more queer than a girly girl dressed as a girl.

Other than that, I guess all you can do is come out as soon as possible in social situations. My gf and I were talking the other day about how I manage to keep the bio-boys off me and agreed that it's my forbidding attitude. I refuse to acknowledge their presence at all most of the time, and that keeps them from hitting on me. But in regular social situations, I come out at about the third or fourth sentence in a conversation, and that usually takes care of it. However, I live in a really liberal area, where people are used to the idea of lesbians.

So, a lesbian looks like you, and me, and like every other lesbian out there. From Lindsey Lohan to kd lang. Go figure!

kmyoung said...

Hi--I stumbled on your blog and this post made me chuckle, because I have the exact opposite problem. I was "out" even when I was married to a guy (for 6 years). I can wear heels, long hair, a dress... and I look like I'm in drag. I don't know what it is--I have a decent build, a cute face... I guess I'm just a born butch. I don't love the fact that I can't be anything but "out," because I don't always want my sexual identity to be the first thing people know about me. (Btw, I too was married to a man--6 years, in my case.)

I think the rainbow bracelet is a nice touch for you, but to be honest, I became much happier with how I look once I started dressing for ME. If I look in the mirror and feel like I'm seeing ME, I consider the outfit a success. I feel like the same is probably true for you. When you're comfortable in your own skin, you'll be happier. A lesbian doesn't "look" like anything in particular, but we're social animals, and so we relate to each other based on stereotypes.

A few things you can do to out yourself:
(1) When you see another woman you think is a lesbian, hold her gaze for an extra second and smile (but not too long, or she'll think you're flirting!)
(2) Use the phrase "my wife" liberally in conversation.
(3) Get a super-short haircut
(4) Put an HRC sticker on your car, bag, bike, purse, whatever.
(5) Dress like a femme except for the shoes: go for docs, Vans, or some other guys' shoes.

But, yeah, I understand the problem, even though my problem's the reverse. Hang in there. Hopefully we'll both live to see a world where people don't make assumptions about each others' sexual orientation!


P.S. How do you know that all the women you see and think are straight aren't lesbians themselves?? Or that the butchy women aren't actually straight? ;)