One thing that I’ve always struggled with is my identity. Not really about who I am, but how I identify as a lesbian.
I couldn’t stand the word lesbian when I was coming out – it had plenty of daggy, off-putting meanings for me. I didn’t want to be called butch either. I didn’t qualify for femme. I eventually went with queer for a while, until ‘gay’ came along and sorted it out. Eventually lesbian became a word and an identity I could accept.
However, I’ve never really seen myself as butch, although I’m certainly not femme! I always say I have lesbian dag instead of lesbian swag. I’m not sporty, I’m not arty and I’m definitely not classy. Pretty much all that is left is daggy. That’s probably got nothing to do with me being a lesbian – just an unfortunate coincidence!
I’ve kind of looked at myself as a bit of a tomboy but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a bit more girly. I’ve struggled to accept those softer, more feminine aspects of myself. I always felt ‘in drag’ in dresses! Trust me, I wish I looked as good as Laverne Cox in her smoking hot outfits! (And yes, I know LC is transsexual, not transvestite.) However, I never felt comfortable in them, even if I really liked them. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I guess it took turning 40 to give myself permission to branch out and do things that I’d been afraid of before, for whatever reason. Once you turn 40 you can say ‘stuff you world, I don’t care what you think!’ I hope dear reader, you can come to that conclusion much earlier than that!
Anyway, at 40 I started wearing a few more ‘girly’ colours to work. I got a handbag. I started to wear foundation regularly. I know right! Revolutionary! But I don’t even know what any of that means, except that I’m not scared to have a handbag anymore. (It’s a pretty plain handbag!)
For me, femininity was about crying, dresses and being needy, and none of those appealed very much. Since I’ve gotten a bit older I’ve let go of the ‘not crying’ thing, although it sometimes is difficult to let it out. But just because I’m not crying on the outside, doesn’t mean I’m not torn apart inside.
Butch has certain connotations that didn’t resonate with me for a long time. I was uncomfortable with it for a number of reasons – butch is not pretty, weak or womanly. It took a long time for me to realise I could be whatever version of it I wanted, and that didn’t mean I had to be a ‘stone’ butch or look like a man. Most of all, butches aren’t vulnerable, or at least I thought they weren’t when I was impressionable enough to care. And I never wanted to be vulnerable. That was way too girly for me.
When I was growing up and coming out, there weren’t really lesbians visible and they certainly weren’t feminine. Melissa Etheridge, kd lang (Constant craving was my permanent mood) and Ellen probably saved my life. But I wasn’t attracted to any of them.
All my friends were heterosexual, pretty, smart and funny women. To be honest, I was fairly good looking myself. I wish I’d known that then but that’s probably another post! These were the friends I grew up with through those constant craving years and these are the types of women I’m attracted to (well, aside from the heterosexual part!).
As an aside, I blame my Dad’s obsession with Olivia Newton-John for my strong preference for blue eyed beautiful blonde women…thanks Dad!
Meanwhile I dated boys because a) a girl has needs and b) I thought I needed to at least try to conform because being a ‘lesbian’ was way too scary for both me and my family.
I was thinking today about how I felt when I was in relationships with the male of the species. I did enjoy not being the ‘strong’ one. I enjoyed being the one who got wrapped around, who got driven around, who had to look up to kiss. (Maybe I should just try to find women taller than me??!) But I didn’t like being the one who always had to compromise or run around after him. And although I really wanted to have sex, I really didn’t want to be fucked. So dating boys was a fairly unsustainable course of action for me.
Today there are plenty of things I’d change about me but I’m a lot more comfortable about being called a lesbian and even joke around about being butch. I’m kind of a soft butch so I’m not sure how appealing that is to anyone. Although attraction for me is a lot about humour and kindness and quite frankly, chemistry, those things don’t tend to come together for me with particularly butch women.
Which is why I despair at ever finding someone again because the women I find myself looking at are feminine (and most probably straight). Lesbian femmes whine about their mistaken identity but a) why don’t they wear some sort of universal signal or something? and b) femmes seem to end up with femmes anyway, so c) I’m doomed.
I guess I’ll just have to make up a blue-eyed, blonde woman who is hot, funny, smart and independent and NOT straight to keep me occupied until a real woman comes along (and frankly, I won’t care what her eye/hair/skin colours are).
Wishing you all the happiness that the Universe can bring.