If you were to hear the word “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “queer,” then I can safely assume that you have presumptions about what a “typical insert-label here” looks and acts like. From the flamboyant gay queen to the masculine butch lesbian, we have stereotypes about certain people in the LGBTQ community.
Of course, we can’t all generalize what a “typical” gay or lesbian is. Especially when there’s so many of us in the community, there’s bound to be diversity in our personalities, lifestyles, and certain attractions for people of different genders, race, and so forth. Really, we’re far beyond the “effeminate gay” or “hypermasculine lesbian” labels, as the 21st century is seeing so many changes in fashion, style, and ways of expressing oneself.
You see it all over social media: lipstick lesbians or bodybuilding gay men who could pass as straight, bisexuals who wear Uggs and over-sized sweaters, and so forth. There are so many varieties of different types of people that it’s certainly breaking down stereotypes of being “too manly to be gay,” or “too pretty to be a lesbian.” From Hollywood celebrities like Colton Haynes to YouTubers like Stevie Boebi, we see the wonderful diversity in the LGBTQ community today.
That’s why, then, it’s almost impossible to rely on gaydar anymore, especially when everything’s mixed up right now, from fashion to mannerisms. True, some queer people aren’t hard to tell, but others can be a surprise. I think it’s because people (even LGBTQ people) are still relying on certain stereotypes and mannerisms to see if someone’s queer or not, which can be problematic when they end up denying that particular person’s identity (which, by the way, no one should ever do. That’s rude).
I see it particularly with the lesbian/bisexual women community. It’s one thing for straight people to say that one doesn’t “look lesbian/bisexual,” but it’s another thing if lesbians and bisexuals themselves say the same thing. After all, it’s kind of hypocritical to deny, even convince someone, that their identity isn’t theirs just by the way they look. Especially when lesbians and bisexuals themselves had fought for so long to be accepted in the greater, heteronormative community…
There’s a level of discrimination, too, in which butch lesbians are taken seriously as being, well, lesbian, and others who might dress more femininely or neutral aren’t seen the same. It can be uncomfortable for someone who’s queer to dress a certain way (e.g. flannel, backwards cap, tattoos) just to be validated in the lesbian/queer women community. To have that pressure is, in my opinion, unnecessary, and it’s just as bad that some LGBT communities do this as it is with heteronormative society, with women pressured to wear dresses and men to wear pants.
I identify with the LGBT community, and I have been since my teenage years. However, aside from a brief instance in college of desiring flannel jackets, I never really subscribed to the stereotypes associated with the lesbian/bisexual communities (and I don’t even wear flannel anymore). There have been times when I did tell people about my sexuality, and they’re usually quite surprised. Perhaps I do pass off as “straight,” or maybe these people never really thought about my sexuality before– either way, these instances go to show that I’m not “queer enough”…and that’s okay with me.
Besides not wearing flannel, I also don’t wear baseball hats that often; the only times would be when it’s sunny, and I want to shade my face from the sun. And even then, I don’t wear it backwards, because I find it impractical. Same goes for not having full-sleeve tattoos or rolled up T-shirt sleeves (seriously, why?). Also don’t own Vans or Converse, as it appears that many queer women wear them nowadays…
As for mannerisms, I don’t think I do anything particularly “gay.” Like doing that sly side grin for that chick across the bar or playing varsity softball (I’m actually bad at contact sports). Rather, I’m just being myself, and that’s better than trying to pretend to be butch or femme (even “stem”) just to attract a girl.
Do I tend to wear minimal makeup? Do I tend to have shoulder-length hair? Do I tend to keep my fingernails short? Yes to all of them. But they don’t mean that I’m gay or straight: I have them, because they’re practical. As means of avoiding skin breakouts and being easy to take care of, respectively. In the end, it’s just me and what I prefer to have.
Maybe to some extent certain people (i.e. label-hungry queers) might classify me as a “blue jeans queer,” or someone who tends to wear jeans and casual clothing, with minimal makeup and accessories. But I say that it’s unnecessary to label me as such– it’s unnecessary to be labeled in order to fit in with the community. Plus, a community should never be so restrictive that it becomes exclusive– after all, wasn’t the LGBTQ community founded on inclusiveness?
Look, I like girls, but my appearance and behavior aren’t contingent on that. It’s fine that I don’t look “queer enough” for the queer community. I’m happy being myself first than looking for love or pseudo-acceptance from those who feel they have to conform to such standards. Love isn’t about how you look, but whom you’re in love with– men, women, both, neither, etc.
Do you believe that the LGBTQ community discriminates as much as heteronormative society? Let me know your thoughts!
— The Finicky Cynic
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