By Jessica Ross, Pride Central Coordinator
There was such a build up to my coming out. It literally took me years to fully accept it and then longer to finally just do it. It was probably the most stressful thing of my entire life and it felt so good when it was finally done. I was finally out and free to live my life as I had always wanted to. So, you can imagine my surprise when I realized I would have to come out over and over again, probably for the rest of my life. I have built up quite the repertoire of coming out stories – some are have gone quite smoothly, others not so much. Realistically, I take pride in either. The come-outs that go well make me proud of other people. The ones that are a bit rougher make me proud of myself.
That being said, the constant coming out can be exhausting. Why am I always coming out you may ask? The answer is simple: I don’t look gay. My identifiers are all seemingly heteronormative. I identify as a white, cis-gendered female, with a femme aesthetic. Which means that I was born, they assigned me female, I identify as female and I look like a female. I like the colour pink, I like lace and frills, form fitting denim and high heeled shoes. To the hetero world, I look like one of them – except that I’m not. Technically, my sexual orientation is bisexual. I don’t often refer to myself that way; more often than not, I just say queer or gay, depending on my audience. Queer, because while my sexual orientation is bisexual, my romantic attraction is more lesbian geared. Essentially, even though I retain some sexual attraction to men, my relationships are all same sex.
My privilege is my ability to blend into hetero society. For multiple reasons, it’s also one of my biggest obstacles. It’s the main reason for all the come-outs. For example, if I’m on a date with a girl who also has a femme aesthetic, everyone assumes we’re sisters. This come out is a little easier, as all I must do is very obviously show affection to my date when I’m sure the restaurant server is watching. Which, if I’m being honest, is kind of fun. Or when I meet a stranger, especially an older person, usually a woman, and they ask if I’m married. When I respond “no,” the immediate follow up question is: “do you have a boyfriend?” When the answer is again no, the general response is something along the lines of “you’re too pretty to be single.” Sigh, I’m not single. Do I go about my business and allow this lady to think that I can’t get a date? Or worse, risk having her try to set me up with her really nice, successful son/grandson/nephew? Eek! As I said before, what I choose to do or say always depends on the audience. Generally, I feel pretty confident in coming out in this situation, taking secret pleasure in breaking down other people’s stereotypes of what queer women should be.
Blending so seamlessly into hetero society can be mildly annoying when dating as well. It’s tough to get noticed by other queer women when they assume you’re straight. Nobody wants to get in to the straight girl trap. With general society becoming more inclusive, and LGBT+ culture kind of taking on this popularity, we’re seeing more straight people, particularly straight women, in predominantly LGBT+ spaces. Where as before you didn’t dare enter a gay bar unless you were indeed gay, now having a GBF (gay best friend) and frequenting LGBT+ places is the in thing do. Now, us femmes must work that much harder, going to such lengths as getting the ever-popular side of the head shave (me), or visible tattoos (also me), or wearing nose rings in stead of studs, backward snapbacks, converse sneakers, and actual t-shirts with slogans like “Nobody Knows I’m a Lesbian.” The list goes on, all eventually to be usurped once again by the straight girl.
Finally, there are the straight up offences that accompany the queer femme. People almost never take you for your word, forcing you to reiterate multiple times: “yes, I date women, I have a girlfriend,” only to be met with the infuriating: “you’re too pretty to be a lesbian.” Or whichever deity help you if you come out to a straight white male, especially if you’re with your partner, as there’s a good to guaranteed chance the two of you are getting invited to a threesome. Because, clearly, you don’t know what you’re missing. That last one is the worst of all and it’s then that I must make the difficult choice of being out and proud and fighting these advances off, or using that aforementioned privilege to fly under the radar while politely excusing me and “my friend” and making a hasty run for the door.
All in all, one thing is for sure – coming out is the best. However, it would be nice if someone told you that unless you’re willing to get the Pride flag tattooed to your forehead, you’ll be coming out in one way or another for the foreseeable future.