Femmes & the Invisibility Cloak

Published in OUT FRONT on July 20, 2016

Femmes. The invisible lesbians. They roam all over the same streets, go to the same bars, and eat the same food you do … and yet every day, hundreds of feminine lesbians are looked over and assumed straight, thus rendering them invisible.

The strange part is that television often portrays lesbian women as feminine. GleeFaking ItPretty Little LiarsJane the Virgin, and Grey’s Anatomy all feature feminine lesbians who go unseen in day-to-day life.

As a feminine lesbian, I come out every single time someone gets to know me. It’s generally followed by a surprised look or an overly supportive group of interjections (“Wow! Awesome! Great!”) while trying to play it cool. When I casually mention my girlfriend, it’s taken that I mean my “friend, who is a girl,” (do people still say that?) until I explicitly say I mean my lesbian lover.

I’ve gone to numerous drag shows where I’ve been singled out by a queen as the “straight girl who came with her gay friends.” When I say (or shout, at this point) I’m a lesbian, I’m given the side-eye followed by the response: “Oh, so you’re experimenting.”

At gay bars, (X Bar, I’m talking to you) I’m frequently subjected to the “Let’s Guess Who’s Straight” game with random people that come up to me and my friends. I can’t help but roll my little lesbian eyes every time that happens.

I’m always the first to make a move on a girl with them later confessing, “I thought you were straight!” As a shy, introverted person, this is a traumatizing task that usually requires too many tequila shots which kind of ruins the night for everyone. It was especially rough in college because I didn’t even have one gay friend. This meant I brought my straight friends with me to the one gay bar we had only to be ostracized, or go to the straight bars with my friends and get hit on by guys (who somehow found me being a lesbian as an invitation to ask personal questions instead of a cue to leave).

Being single and femme is really difficult, especially when you see a cute girl outside a specifically LGBT place. I always try and send out a mental message so they know I’m also a lesbian, but so far my success rate has been zero. I feel like I’m not given a fair chance on the field if these women don’t even know I’m playing.

You may be thinking, “But Kelly. If you had a great personality, surely these women would buy you a drink even if they thought you were straight,” and you wouldn’t be wrong. But unfortunately, my resting demeanor isn’t super inviting (I’m working on it!) so let’s at least let it be known I’m a lesbian so I’m not completely looked over.

For a while I tried to add a little “gayness” to my style by occasionally throwing on a backwards hat or blasting Tegan and Sara because I was sick of having to announce I was gay. However, backwards hats mess up my hair and I’d rather be listening to Dave Matthews.

It took a while, but I’ve realized I’m just feminine at the core of my being and I’m not going to give into lesbian stereotypes just so that I’m not invisible in the gay world. I’ve embraced my heel-wearing, sorority-bun sporting self and I won’t look back.

And to you, I ask, let’s not overlook the femmes walking this planet. They deserve to be seen.


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