Keeping up appearances
From Gaelick contributor Christine Allen
“Feel’s nice doesn’t it?”
Inside the bathroom door of The George, at one of our dedicated Dyke nights, Pussywagon, I stop dead in my tracks. Two lesbians stand before me at the washbasins, engaging in what I can only imagine to be a new form of lesbian foreplay. Head bent to one side, revealing a partially shaved hairstyle, one girl directs another’s hand across the shaved portion of her head, resulting an audible squeak of excitement from the other. As the night continues, the number of lesbian’s I encounter with similar hairstyle’s increases, and I can’t help but self consciously stroke my own long untouched hair.
‘You’re not very lesbionic…’ observed a butch lesbian at an LGBT youth group that I happened to be attending for the first time. Why? Was it because I had long hair of a certain length? Or perhaps it was my light foundation and eye make-up which made her sceptical of my sexuality?
Am I a real dyke?
Since coming out, I have struggled to fit into the stereotypical ‘lesbionic’ role. I’ve suffered infected piercings, spent a ridiculous amount of money on Topshop shirts, purchased high top runners – hell I even bought a GOLA side bag not too long ago and yet I can’t help but wonder whether this style is my own, or a style I feel I should own.
There is scepticism of women on the scene who don’t fit the stereotype of short hair, piercings, tattoos, boyish clothing etc. Due to this, fem lesbians can often feel pressured into disowning their own look when they first hit the gay scene. I know one such fem who completely transformed her appearance following constant negative attention and questioning about the authenticity of her sexuality from her lesbian peers.
In some cases, a young person’s appearances can drastically change because coming out gives her the confidence to ditch the dress she has hated for the past few years and sport the clothes that reflect the real her. There is another side to this, however. Some girls feel that they have no other choice but to disown their feminine look in order to be accepted by both the straight and LGBT community as a credible dyke.
It’s not just within our community either. Straight men in particular are sometimes guilty of disbelieving fem women’s assertions that they are gay. Some get harassed on nights out with straight friends in straight bars. On numerous occasions following a night out, one of my friends has joked about shaving her head and exchanging her dress for a checked shirt – ‘Maybe they’ll believe me then and f**k off!’ she recently exclaimed, understandably frustrated.
I wonder if there are some who come out and feel that we must ditch our old straight-looking self and embrace a whole new look. Who feel that they must conform to a style that shouts “queer!” as if there is nothing else to our person that defines us?
For some of us who were perhaps bullied about our sexuality, is this change of ‘image’ essentially a defence mechanism? Two fingers to those who dragged you down? If it’s your own image great, but don’t subjugate your look to fit in, or out. Aren’t there other ways in which we can show the world that we are proud of being gay?
I should add that if you are a lesbian who genuinely loves the style that you sport and fashion that you wear, whether it include a Gola bag, a pair of high tops or a partially shaved head (it is a hot look), then keep doing what you are doing. Coming out is all about embracing who you are, and if this is part of the real you, then more power to you!
But the same has to go to those gay girls who are content with their high heels, dresses and Rapunzel-like locks. There is no rule book, so just be who you are, look in the mirror and be happy with what you see. We are a community remember, so don’t judge your family.
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