World (Greed) – Editor’s Note: In celebration of Pride Month, we proudly feature another article highlighting real life in the LGBTQ+ community, written by our own Carolanne Monteleone. Following is an original piece detailing the unique challenges that femme lesbians face in our society.
1. The “but you’re too pretty or too girly to be gay” comment
This stereotype may be intended to be flattering, but it’s undermining part of someone’s identity by saying they’re too much of something to be what they are. Girls who do enjoy doing their makeup can be gay, girls who wear dresses can be gay, and girls who do neither can be gay as well.
2. There’s pressure to prove you’re gay or look more gay (whatever that means!)
This problem stems from comment #1: the disbelief that you could actually be a lesbian if you don’t fit the typical stereotype of what society thinks a lesbian looks like. No one should have to change what they look like to appease someone else’s ideas.
3. Constantly having to come out to everyone you meet
Because you don’t look gay, you are forced to come out time and time again. It’s a daily occurrence.
For some girls, it’s scary to have to repeat the process of coming out every day because you can never be quite sure what someone’s reaction is going to be.
For other girls, it’s simply an annoyance to have to explain why you don’t have a boyfriend or why your girlfriend is actually your partner and not just your best pal.
4. Guys try to “turn” you
In any social situation where you’re surrounded by people who don’t know you’re a lesbian, there will always be that one guy you meet that won’t believe you’re gay.
Instead of being respectful like most human beings are, this dude will insist “you just haven’t been with the right man yet” and that if you get with him suddenly you’ll magically be straight. When he eventually gets it through his thick skull that you don’t want to be with him, he’ll probably say something like, “what a waste for someone like you to be gay.”
Pretty sure my girlfriend doesn’t think it’s a waste, buddy.
5. Men sexualize your relationship
This can occur with anyone from strangers to actual friends of yours, and it happens especially if you’re dating a fellow femme.
When you sexualize a relationship between two women, you are invalidating that relationship. You are stating that their relationship is only beneficial for your pleasure and cannot be actual love. It’s insulting and degrading.
6. It’s hard to meet girls
Since other lesbians’ gaydars might not go off when you walk by, you often have to make the first move. Stack that on top of the chances of a girl you are actually interested in living within driving distance of you and your odds of finding a girlfriend dwindle further. If you don’t meet a girl through Tumblr or mutual gay friends, you probably won’t meet one at all!
7. People assume you are best friends or sisters instead of partners
When I first started dating my girlfriend, we used to get “are you sisters?” all the time. It was frustrating and I wanted to scream, “NO SHE’S MY GIRLFRIEND!” While I guess it can be flattering to be told you look similar (because obviously you think your partner is attractive…duh), being asked if your partner is your best friend or sister is also invasive.
You wouldn’t go up to random groups of two and ask if they’re best friends or siblings and you most certainly wouldn’t go up to a man and a woman holding hands and ask if they’re brother and sister, so it’s best to keep your curiosity to yourself.
8. There’s little to no representation in media
Because there is only a small number of lesbian characters in TV shows and movies, representation in the media is already slim. As most lesbian characters are portrayed in the stereotypical fashion, there’s virtually no representation for femme lesbians. This is a problem – especially while growing up – because it can already be hard figuring out who you are and where you belong, let alone your sexual orientation. If there’s no one to identify with it makes it that much more challenging.
9. The “but who’s the man in the relationship if you’re both feminine?” question
This question is offensive to any lesbian couple but is particularly difficult when presented to a femme/femme couple. Femme/femme relationships defy all heteronormative values and gender roles because neither girl has many masculine attributes. The question is also void because the whole point of a lesbian relationship is that there isn’t a man involved! If there was, neither woman would want to be a part of it anyway.
10. Feeling invisible in your own community
Because others don’t automatically know you’re gay at first sight, sometimes you can feel invisible even in the LGBTQ+ community. Even at Pride events or other events held by local LGBTQ+ groups, femmes can feel excluded or overlooked as an ally. The internal discrimination against femme lesbians (arguing that they’re trying to pass as straight or can’t truly be gay), means that femme lesbians can also feel ostracized by the LGBTQ+ community.
11. The “what did a guy do to make you this way?” question
This question presumes that a man has a role in deciding someone’s sexual orientation. This is not only sexist, but also assumes that every lesbian has to have gone through some type of trauma in order to not be attracted to men. This is false and incredibly harmful to believe.
12. People are more likely to make homophobic comments around you
Because unless you’re wearing an “I’m GAY!” sticker on your forehead, the people around you are less likely to know you’re a lesbian and you are much more likely to encounter homophobic comments and slurs. While they’re not directed at you personally, they’re indirectly about you and that can be incredibly hurtful. It also makes it more difficult to come out when people just assume you’re straight and make homophobic remarks around you because they assume you won’t be too offended.
13. The “it’s probably just a phase” comment
When coming out, rather than hearing, “oh, that makes sense!” from friends and family members, you’re often met with complete confusion and bewilderment. Because you “look like the type of girl who dates men” it never crosses anyone’s mind that you might not be straight. Some loved ones will resort to thinking your sexual orientation is just a phase and that eventually you’ll meet the right man to marry, when that’s not true at all.
As a final note, I’d like to address that I recognize the privilege femme lesbians have in terms of being straight passing. This list is in no way meant to make it seem like femme lesbians have it harder than any other type of lesbian. It’s simply a list based on firsthand experiences, highlighting the struggles that come along with being femme.