I could write a diatribe about how appearances aren’t always what’s most important and it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but that’s not the direction I’m going with this. My main beef instead lies with the fact that based on outward appearance, everyone makes broad assumptions about people. For me, more often than not I get pegged as a straight girl rather than the raging homo I really am. Why? Because I’m a girly femme.
Am I using that label correctly? Or does it sound redundant? I could talk forever about how I don’t understand all the labels in the gay community, but I won’t digress here.
It never ceases to amaze me when people are shocked to find out I’m gay. The myriad of reactions are always based on my appearance.
“But you don’t look like a lesbian.” Oh really? And how are we supposed to look?
“But you’re so cute.” Only straight girls can be cute? Fuck you.
“But you seem so delicate.” What does this even mean?
“If you hadn’t told me you were gay, I would have never guessed.” Well it’s a good thing I told you then?
Sometimes I wish I could be more obviously gay on the outside, but I know that wouldn’t truly be me. I like to wear dresses and amazing (yet often uncomfortable) shoes. I like to put on makeup and do my hair and look pretty. It makes me feel good.
Even when it’s the source of something that makes me feel sad.
See, it’s not just the heterosexual world that assumes I’m straight, it’s the gay world as well. Those reactions I was talking about above? There are no limits on gender or sexuality when it comes to who I’ve heard them from. Because I don’t fit into some big gay mold there have been times when I’ve felt invisible or even ignored in my own community. I can’t decide if I feel more depressed/disappointed by the women who overlook me or by the men who won’t leave me the hell alone.
One of the weapons in my depression combating arsenal comes in the form of a video a friend sent me at the end of last year featuring author Ivan Coyote reading a piece she wrote for “all the beautiful, kick-ass, fierce, and full-bodied femmes out there.” It chokes me up, but it leaves me feeling special and appreciated and understood.
I’m not sure when, or even if, the majority of society will be capable of halting their assumptions of people based on what they first see. In the meantime, I’ll just keep explaining myself to surprised faces and trying to break the stereotypes.
And if anyone has any advice on successfully fending off the dudes, I’m all ears.