Embracing the “Lesbian”

Posted on | July 15, 2014 | 2 Comments

“She’s probably a lesbian.”

In my high school years, I heard that a lot. I heard it from guys and girls. I heard it whispered and muttered and snidely remarked behind open palms. I wore a lot of baggy clothes. I played basketball. I often wore ball caps when I wasn’t in school and yeah, I listened to the Indigo Girls. I didn’t have my first mani/pedi until well after college was over and I didn’t do anything to my hair on school mornings except maybe run a brush through it because I didn’t really know what to do with it in the first place.

“She’s probably a lesbian.”

My best friend had an older sister who told her not to hang out with me because I wasn’t what she thought would be proper and popular. Maybe most important to the guys in my class in making their assessment… I didn’t date. Ever.

“She’s probably a lesbian.”

Honestly, the words never really bothered me. I’m not a lesbian, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with being one. I thought it was all a little funny, to hear that people thought I was gay and it really didn’t bother me enough to want to change anything about myself. Even when being comfortable seemed to create this misconception about me that I was bitchy, unapproachable, depressed, and maybe a lesbian.

Oh 1996...

Oh 1996…

As the years moved on, I learned how to fix my hair and how to apply eye make up. I learned to wear dresses and skirts and developed a love of high heels. I learned to buy in to the press and tuck and prod and decorate life that so many of my high school friends were already aware of. I learned to accentuate my assets and hide my flaws.

I learned to be “feminine” in the way that I was supposed to be.

When I was at the beach this summer, my mother handed me a stack of old photos, many of them of me in high school. My first instinct was abject horror. What was I wearing? Why was my hair so short? Who told me ball caps were stylish? No wonder everyone thought I was a lesbian!

The more I pushed the pictures away, the more something deep inside me resonated with those photos. Since my graduation from high school in 1996, I’ve been called a lot of things.:

A tease.

A flirt.

A bitch.

A pansy.

A sweetheart.

A doll.

I’ve been loved and hated. I’ve been called names by both men and women. I’ve been bought and sold by the mainstream; molded into who a woman is supposed to be…. pink and prissy… sweet and subdued. I don’t get called “lesbian” anymore.

But I still find myself still torn between being the girly-girl I’m supposed to be, the girly-girl I often like to be, and the tom boy, foul-mouthed, sports loving woman I am as well. But there’s no room to be both, is there? There’s no definition of “feminine” that includes being able to burp on command, loving craft beer, and cursing like a sailor at basketball games. There’s no definition of “feminine” that says I can not paint my toenails, not fix my hair, and not give one shit about whether my clothes match.

“A woman’s femininity is like a badge of honor”, a guy once told me, remarking on my inability to paint my toenails without smearing it everywhere or to eat a meal without often wearing a portion of it home. A badge of honor, he said.

But maybe it’s more like a shackle, binding me to the definition of what it means to be a woman… as defined by a man. Maybe being called a “lesbian” just meant I was bucking the system… being myself… not falling into the trap of what someone else tells me I should be.

Maybe the way I define myself is my true badge of honor… regardless of what it labels me to anyone else. Because if being called a “lesbian” means just being able to be myself, then yeah… it sort of sounds like a compliment.

Because pink is totally overrated anyway.


2 Responses to “Embracing the “Lesbian””

  1. Sharon
    July 15th, 2014 @ 11:41 am

    No one has ever called me a lesbian (for some odd reason, having big breasts and long curly hair gives the appearance of femininity, even when one’s behavior is anything but feminine) but I can relate to your post because I have never, since childhood, been stereotypical feminine in the way society tells us we should be. I’m not a good cook or decorator; I rarely wear makeup and am not a stylish dresser; and worst of all, I am straight-forward, logical and matter-of-fact in my dealings with people, rather than emotional. . . like (gasp!) a man.

    You are who you are, and you get to define who that is. And you *are* good enough!

  2. Law Momma
    July 15th, 2014 @ 11:50 am


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