The Plight of the Femme Lesbian

“I just don’t look gay enough.”

We’ve all heard our more femme faced/dressed friends say it and all I can ever think is:
Boo boo don’t worry about it she’ll know you’re a huge fagette when you’re laying underneath her knee deep in…ok you get the picture.

I just really hate this whole “looking gay thing” because usually what it equates to, is throwing on a fitted or a snap back, wearing a pair of guys jeans, a loose but not too loose t shirt and of course a pair of boxers preferably American Eagle. (guilty)

And thus one can walk into many a bar/club and see tens of girls dressed in different variations of the same outfit. Its cute. Really. Alesbiandorable.

Granted I did see this a lot more when I lived upstate in the small city of Rochester; which definitely isn’t known for its impeccable fashion sense. But one can not debate that there are some pretty strict/serious lesbian dress codes here in NYC. And underneath all of the flannel, white T’s, tight leather jackets, snap backs, and black skinny jeans is this whine. This femme whine. It goes something like:
“Why isn’t she hitting on me DOESN’T SHE KNOW I’M GAY?!?!?! Promptly followed by: “Thats it we’re going shopping tomorrow, I’m shaving half of my head, and only drinking beer when we go out.”

So quick question to all of my fembians:
Would you prefer for society to know you were gay all of the time? Or do you just want the lesbian nation to know?

If you’re going to play dress up at gay events and parties why not do it at work? On the street? You’re playing games for pussy. Admit it.

I’m not mad at you for it. There’s this stupid idea in the lesbian community that once you begin presenting yourself in a more masculine context you will be guaranteed recognition in the lesbo world.

When I lived upstate I went through a mild crisis of not looking like any of my lovely white softball dyke bro’s. Here I was this six foot one, tattooed, black gender fuck surrounded by these tiny pretty faced blondes in American Eagle guys jeans and high ponys.


So I tried the style for a hot second. And you know what? I hated it. I was playing a role, and yes I was getting attention from girls, but not the girls that I wanted attention from. So I quickly went back to my old duds and became a ok with being that kid who was a bit different. And the kid who was finally dating people I was on the same page with.

Its your skin. Own it. Seriously.

Your sexuality isn’t determined by your clothes. Your clothes should accentuate your sexuality. They should show who you are. Who you really are. Otherwise you’re just playing games. And here’s another thing. Don’t assume that because someone is dressed in guys clothes that their self esteem is through the roof. What’s stopping you from buying them a drink and making the first move?

And this concludes Ryley’s Femme PSA. Thank you for listening.

In other news. Ciara. Imma need you to stop frontin:


5 thoughts on “The Plight of the Femme Lesbian”

  1. So, what’s the issue here?
    With femme girls dressing more masculine so they can prove their “gayness”?

    I’m not going to lie, I’ve been there. I’ve totally considering cutting off all my waist-length hair (or half of it). Of losing weight, to have less curves. Of bumping my occasional attire of jeans & sneakers & fitteds up to full-time status. I stopped painting my nails for years.

    But, wouldn’t be me.

    The problem comes when “owning your skin” earns you invisibility, dismissal, and even disrespect.

    I get it, I understand how femme allows me straight privilege, but it also earns me exclusion, too. It earns me snarky comments about the “straight girl”, questions about whether I’ve actually ever slept with a woman before, it earns me straight up silence when I try and engage in conversation and make new friends.

    Which in turn is why so, so many of us (femmes) try and fight the invisibility with the only visible solution we have available to us: dressing more masculine, dressing more like a “real lesbian”.

    Try being femme and queer, to boot, and feeling even more invisible.
    Yeah, that boy I slept with? He’s gay. Does that make me straight, now? Didn’t think so. And actually, the straight boy that I dated doesn’t make me straight, either.

    But people don’t understand.

    And yes, yes, a thousand times yes, sexuality is NOT determined by your clothes, but sometimes your inclusion in a social group is. And when people are struggling both to be accepted by their peers, to find acceptance in themselves (hello, mid-twenties), and to find a goddamn date, well, sometimes you have to try on a few suits (or skirts) until you find one that fits you right.

  2. Hmm…this post is questionable indeed. Clearly, this issue upsets masculine gender-queers because they think it’s easier for femmes to present as “passable” in mainstream society or because they think femmes are in a position of “privilege.”

    First, I don’t dress femme because I want to pass or because anyone tells me to. I’m a supa fly drag queen. I cry when I put on a pair of high tops. They’re ugly. Heels on wheels all the way, baby.

    Which leads me to my second point. I’m a POC, and I don’t want to hide my color OR my queerness. I’m proud of both. If people questioned your blackness all the time, you’d be pissed. There’s a term for that: regulatory blackness. Society tells us what we have to do and be and wear to be “black enough.” Unfortunately, the queer community has created “regulatory queerness,” where people are questioned about their queerness based on their looks.

    And, while we’re talking about privilege, it’s unfortunate that masculine privilege prevails in both queer and hetero-normative society. Yeah, people give you the stink eye because you wear baseball caps. On the same hand, I’ve been called into my office by male co-workers who want to know if they can “turn” me because I’m “too pretty” to be gay. Thinking that these folks are just homophobes, I go to my local gay bar with two of my straight male friends where I’m approached by a lesbian who wants to know if I’m really gay or if I’m a fag hag there with my two gay buddies. Uh, no, no, no, no honey, they’re my hags. It gets to the point where you just feel sorry for both communities’ ignorance. That’s a sad place to be.

    Point is, you must admit that we have other issues that you may not face, which are equally valid. Saying that they are not is like telling racial minorities to stop complaining and just assimilate the best they can.

    1. I know I’m madd late on this one, but as a queer woman of color, I have to sign on with what Zoe Parks here is saying. I’m bi, pretty feminine-presenting, and I’m mixed. Without tattooing all my identities on my forehead, I’m almost always passing. I’m passing because I’m being misread without my consent. I’m being misread when I walk around with my male partner. I’m being misread when I’m with my lighter skinned little sister. I’m being misread when I’m with my mom at Ginger Bar and people think we’re a couple, because heaven forbid two people who look SO SIMILAR but have different skin tones be related. So yeah, I do whine when my awkward pretty ass is at a bar and most of the lesbians or queer ladies in there think I’m “just checking it out.” or give me the stank eye. It doesn’t help that I’m often too shy to make the first move. And if I’m not in a specifically queer space, maybe I don’t feel safe walking up to a woman I don’t know and hitting on her. I have to look out for myself too. So when I complain about “not looking gay enough,” I’m not saying wah wah I don’t have the budget for new Japanese selvedge denim jeans or fly ass kicks. I’m saying wah wah, why is there such a thing as “gay enough?”
      Cuz I didn’t make that ish up.

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