Ah, a conundrum as old as time.
(This article really does put the ‘long’ in ‘long-form’ so get comfy.)
If you’re a woman, and you look a bit like me, quite a few folks may have called you a “lezza” (or some other gay slur).
It’s not meant as a compliment. Although I annoy these people by saying thank you and treating it as such.
As heterosexuals, we’re used to being the default.
It’s sort of the same if you’re white/born male/financially stable/able-bodied/neurotypical blah blah.
I am white and straight and I identify as my biological sex, so I know that those things afford me certain privileges.
It doesn’t mean life hasn’t had its shitty moments (fuck, no) but it does mean those things weren’t a factor in why they were shitty.
Stuff like being working-class and female can, however, create problems in certain circumstances. These days I choose my battles wisely or I’d be angry all the time (and fucking exhausted).
Heterosexuals are comfy knowing that they’re the standard.
They don’t ever have to think about their sexuality because there are no negative consequences to being straight.
We can live our lives freely without fear of being “found out”.
It’s easy to spot “a gay” isn’t it?
By how they dress and how they behave. The media is there to help identify them, portraying stereotypes in all their grotesque glory.
I have been told (on more than one occasion) that I look like a lesbian.
My family members have said it.
My mother-in-law said it when I had my hair shaved (because straight women don’t do that unless it’s for a cancer charity or they actually have cancer).
Who would have thought a haircut was a subversive act?
A man online sent a DM saying, “I’m glad your hair is growing, now you don’t look so much like a dyke.” Because of course, ultimately if I’m not fuckable to men, what even am I?
That same man messaged me after a long hiatus in correspondence to tell me (again) that I looked like a lesbian in a recent video.
You see, my hair is always short. It has been since the age of 15. It is sometimes very short, like “man short” as another guy I knew said to me.
Listen, I don’t mind being called a lesbian. What I object to is these bastards using it as an insult.
Yes, I love excellent tailoring and I’m a big fan of KD Lang.
But it would seem that those things aren’t the only tells ‘giving me away’, no, it’s a vibe I give off (apparently), I have a certain “masculine energy”.
That sounds like a crackin’ 1980s fragrance – Masculine Energy by Coty.
As a race, we really do lack imagination.
We have tired-ass views on masculine and feminine traits.
So when I show confidence, assert my opinion, take control, show dominance, swear, and tell filthy stories, I am immediately belying my sex. I am viewed with suspicion – and thoughts of “she’s probably a gayer” enter people’s minds.
And really, what does it matter? Why are we obsessed with knowing who likes to fuck who?
We like binary choices.
It makes life easier.
Having two options means we don’t have to do much thinking.
The reality is there isn’t one human that lives an absolutist version of themselves. To say we’re all different is obvious and yet we don’t really live that philosophy when we judge others.
We all succumb to bias.
Most of us don’t realise it, some of us don’t care, and others are trying to understand more about it. Being raised on a diet of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and white supremacy is bound to have an impact on how we view and treat people that aren’t like us.
These things are systemic because they’ve been happening for centuries.
We almost take perverse comfort in the status quo, where even women are complicit in the belief that they are subordinate and a “poor man’s” man. Their own internalised misogyny tells them “this is the way it’s supposed to be”.
When I was a kid my dad asked if I was gay.
I had a best mate and we used to dress up as men (a lot) and film funny sketches.
We were unusual children.
We created alter egos who were failed, 1960s pop singers called John and Mike.
It never occurred to us that our parents might wonder. We just thought we were hilarious. Our comedy heroes French and Saunders did this shit all the time.
At age 13 we watched the iconic gay classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show – we LOVED it. So, we recreated a scene. My dad was horrified and shamed me for it.
As kids, we hadn’t yet learned to view being gay as abnormal.
And we spent much of our teens (and beyond – hence this post) being asked if we were gay.
We’re so uncomfortable when we can’t place people in neat little boxes.
I’m seen as “wearing the trousers” in my marriage because we’re equal partners. Because my husband doesn’t infantilise me and I get to enjoy my own autonomy, I’m viewed as dominant. Being less than and conceding to my partner’s will (because he has a penis) is still for many, the natural order of things.
We define our identities and that has fuck all to do with dicks and vaginas.