To The FemmeMobile! Away!

{April 23, 2010}   Captain Invisible

Before I forget, I want you all to know that a friend of mine has started a blog! She’s never blogged before, so I’m hoping you’ll all check it out and offer encouragement. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Her and her friend are co-blogging on being single psychologists. And you thought you had a tendency to analyze your dates. ;-D Go see! Diagonsis: Single

So, I’ve been thinking about invisibility and the idea of coming out again and again. And, uh, the fact that I seem to come out of the closet all the damn time. I’m trying to change my thought patterns around it. It’s frustrating to be overlooked by my own people, but that’s not something I can easily change.

What I can change is how I feel about it. I can change the fact that, while I’m annoyed at always being assumed to be straight (or interested in other femme women — wtf, people?), I can instead choose to look at it as a chance to set expectations on their heads. I can be the sneaky wedge that slides into someone’s homophobic life and then says, “SURPRISE! I’m gay! Not so scary, am I? Aren’t I cute?” (You’ll have to imagine the batting eyelashes. I’m pro at batting eyelashes.)

I am totally this good at it.(Totally this good at it.)

I came out twice between Sunday and Monday. I have a couple of clients who are fairly conservative. Enough so that I hadn’t ever mentioned that I’m gay, despite the fact that we’ve been working together for almost a year and my personal life has certainly come up. In fact, while they’re not the only clients who don’t know I’m gay, they are the only clients I have purposefully not told.

On Sunday, we went to Napa valley. (Mm. Wine.) Before we went, I’d already decided that if it came up, I wasn’t going to lie (in fact or by omission) about being gay. Of course, it came up.

T: Have you ever been up this way?
Me: …Yes, in fact I was up here just last weekend.
T: Really? What were you doing?
Me: The girl I’m seeing lives up here.

We moved on. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  (I thought about referring to Q as ‘the butch I’m seeing,’ but one thing at a time. Sure, I could have said ‘woman,’ which is more accurate only in that she’s sooooooo not a ‘girl,’ but it’s two sylables instead of one. Shuddup.)

The next day, I took the dogs jogging and stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some herbal stuff my friend recommended. I tied the beasts to a bike rack, and when I came out a local homeless man was visiting with them. He’s a nice guy: from New York, but he’s been here for several years. He’s one of these guys who seems perfectly happy to be homeless, and every time I see him he smells a bit like smoke and is drinking a cup of coffee, black.

Anyway, he complimented me on my dogs, and we got to talking about what kind of dogs they are and the bad rap pit bulls get and so on. I forget what he said, but it was something about a boyfriend. I laughed and said no, my boyfriend didn’t feel that way — and neither would any girlfriend I ever dated. He looked surprised for a minute, and then just laughed and continued the conversation (but without switching topics like my clients did).

I’m pretty much positive that if I came across as gay, I would never have been hired by my clients. But I was hired, and we’re friends, and now they know — and maybe because I was invisible, they’ll realize gay people aren’t so scary. They know one despite themselves. I think about Ivan’s line in Hats Off To Beautiful Femmes:

I want to thank you for coming out of the closet. Again and again, over and over, for the rest of your life. At school, at work, at your kidโ€™s daycare, at your brotherโ€™s wedding, at the doctorโ€™s office. Thank you for sideswiping their stereotypes.

Maybe that’s a better way to look at it. At least, I’m trying.

The other night I went to bulldagger bingo with Q and some of her (butch) friends. (Let me tell you, never have I felt so femme as walking into a bar filled with butches. *laughs!*) Because I was with Q, because her friends knew we were dating, because she kissed me in public, no one gave me that sideways look. The one that says, “I’m not sure why you’re here.” The one that keeps me out of gay bars and makes me feel small and lonely.

But if Q hadn’t been there… I’m not sure I would have felt small and lonely. I might have to come out, over and over, again and again, to straight and gay people alike, but I can change things that might not otherwise be changed, too. And I’m gaining confidence — confidence that the butches around me see me, even when the lesbians don’t. It’s pretty great.

Before butch bingo, Q and I were playing pool at a billiards hall. She went to move her car — metered parking — and while she was gone two guys showed up. They were in their late teens, early twenties, typical guys. I didn’t think anything about it, but when Q came back something in her gaze shifted. I don’t know if it was something on her mind, something that happened with the car, or if it was those guys, but something had changed. She was a little more serious, a little less playful, a lot less touchy, a bit on edge. It reminded me of walking with DK one night, when a group of guys was walking behind us and she went stiff and careful. I hadn’t noticed them: I watch for the lone guy who might drag me into an alley and rape me. She watches for groups who, showing off for each other, might start something with the dyke.

Q mellowed back out after a bit, and things went back to normal. The guys were nice enough, if oblivious as young guys tend to be about their surroundings. But it does make me think. I’d be a very different person if I looked queer. I can’t quite imagine that. I have my own issues to handle, and I can’t say that one set is easier than the other, but they are certainly different.

Now that I’ve written this all out, I’m not sure where I’m going with it. Except to say — I’m glad I am who I am, and though sometimes I get tired of coming out again and again, I’m glad to be able to sneak in and introduce unwilling people to queers simply by being there and being under the radar. It’s good to be visible, to make people aware of it. It’s good to be invisible, too, though. It gives me oppurtunities.

It’s all about the mindset. ๐Ÿ˜‰



aneke says:

There’s some satisfaction to be had, to the ‘WHAT! YOU’RE GAY!??’ reaction (from straight people though, not fellow gays). I know how it feels, to be invisible. But hey, we screw with the homophobes stereotypes ๐Ÿ™‚

JB says:

*grins* We certainly do — and I love screwing with stereotypes anyway, so that’s a definite plus. ;-D Do you hit more of this, living in S. Africa? I would imagine the gay community there is significantly smaller…


I’m proud of you every day for coming out over and over, and I wish heterosexism didn’t make straight people assume your straight. I’m also proud of you for not changing who you are to “look more lesbian” just for acceptance in the gay community. You’re caught in the middle and there’s no right way to be except to be yourself and help open people’s eyes in the process. Keep up the good work pretty lady!

JB says:

Aww, you make me feel all warm and fuzzy. ๐Ÿ˜€ I went to a gay rodeo this last weekend, and people assumed I was gay. Despite my changing mindset, it was nice to have a break from coming out again. ๐Ÿ˜‰


aneke says:

Aarrgh, for some reason I can’t reply directly to your comment.

Yeah, in SA I definitely hit more of this, especially living in a very conservative town. There isn’t a big gay community, and people are still suprised that femmes can be gay. Mind boggling.

JB says:

I don’t know what’s with this form, but for some reason it will only let people reply once to a comment. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Man. I can’t even imagine that, to be honest. I mean, I’ve seen little conservative towns (half of my family is from the US’s Deep South), but I’m guessing it’s not quite the same in SA. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You hear about so much violence there — is that something you have to worry about?


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