Find the original post at In Our Words: Salon for Queers & Co.
My hair is perfectly curly, my bra and panties match colors, and my accessories bring out the subtle blue in the pattern on my sundress all while accentuating my silver and jeweled flip-flops. And I greet the day as if I have no cares in the world, but I do, of course. Especially issues surrounding how I present my self.
It’s the rare moment when I’m actually asked about my sexuality status. Maybe even this is the first time, by a random barista who isn’t hitting on me, just giving me a verbalized gay nod. He’s got a little time to kill and asks about which gay bars I frequent–because he wants to set up his newly “out” friend.
Body positivity qualms and confidence aside, I’m a person that puts a lot of thought into how I look each day. I am definitely considered straight when walking alone on the street; I don’t “look” queer. Hell, it took eight months for my now-partner coming to the neighborhood coffee shop I worked at to try and determine my sexuality before making a move. Let’s just say that inviting your friend with the good “gaydar” to come and figure it out for you isn’t always right, and thankfully almost two years later we didn’t let that little fumble stop us from getting together.
But here’s where my struggles to express myself lie: some label me girly or “femme,” both terms which potentially cover up my desire to be a visible part of the queer community.
Because I am queer. Actively. I enjoy going to Heavy Rotation or FKA (when my partner and I don’t fall asleep at ten o’clock like old people) and supporting other queer community events when the work schedule permits. I wore tiny shorts and chanted loudly at Dyke March. I talk and blog about being queer to everyone that listens. But somehow it’s not enough.
Imagine my dismay that I am sometimes dismissed by the individuals who still operate in a cis-normative, heteronormative framework…all because I don’t have an “alternative lifestyle” haircut or… what? a flannel shirt worn daily? Which, as a side note, is something that I and many lesbian or femme queer girls I know have had asked of them, “but you can’t be gay, you’re not [insert butch stereotype here]!”
But sometimes, I am also dismissed within the queer community for the same reason, for not being fiercely queer enough. Just in April, my partner and I attended Original Plumbing’s Sister Spit After Party at Beauty Bar. There were the usual faces we see out and about, except many more people of color mixed in the crowd (which we were glad to see). Like always, it’s so empowering to see so many outly queer and trans-friendly people gathered together there for a good time.
However, it’s been lately less empowering as my partner and I feel a bit on the outs because of our appearance. Dressed too preppy, dressed more seemingly mainstream, dressed less queer-hipster-culture-clash, we don’t get a lot of random chat-ups except from the people that already know us. While not overly important, it’s a disheartening feeling to get judgmental looks from the people I most want to be embraced by!
Assumptions about my appearance falsely inform my commitment to my queer sexuality. Aren’t these assumptions partially what we’re fighting against? How do I forgo worrying about my appearance when the community I feel a part of puts such a strong emphasis on my gender presentation?
However, part of me feels silly. Here I am complaining that people cannot read that I’m a queer woman, while so many other individuals are struggling not to be policed for their gender in public restrooms and other spaces. Why should I care if I look like a certain group? I know my politics and personal self-identity.