Lesbian Identity Crisis
Have you ever googled “What type of lesbian am I”? If not, you should.
From the first quiz, I got “Femme Lesbian“. Here’s the description:
Grab your lipstick and your newest pearl necklace, because you’re a femme lesbian! You’re often mistaken for straight and when you tell people you’re a lesbian, oftentimes, no one actually believes you. You’re the holy grail of lesbians. Keep doin’ you, baby girl!
First off, no.
But I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. There are butch lesbians, lipstick lesbians, tomboys, etc. but I just don’t feel like I fall into any of those labels. Obviously, we are not confined to labels and it’s unfair to box yourself in to such crudely-carved archetypes, but what came out of curiosity and good fun eventually became my Lesbian Identity Crisis. I became obsessed with knowing what kind of lesbian I was (or the closest thing to it).
Here are some key considerations pertinent to my lesbianism (what a niche string of words):
- I’m kickass at sports (softball, ultimate frisbee, badminton, for starters) and play with the boys. But I’m not a butch jock.
- I’m very technical – I love tinkering and taking things apart to see how they work. I’ve changed parts on my bike before with a monkey wrench and miscellaneous tools. But I’m not a butch mechanic.
- I don’t wear dresses on the reg, but I do wear them for special and networking events. I’ve worn casual summer skirts which pushes me towards passing as straight. But I’m not a lipstick femme.
- I work out and have pretty broad shoulders, so I don’t feel drape-y Urban Outfitters-esque spring catalogue clothes complement my body (or my personality, for that matter). But I don’t dress in baggy jeans, collared shirts, or own any flannel (I KNOW, DON’T TELL ELLEN).
- I’m very career-oriented. I’ve never met another lesbian as completely fixated on her career in the same way as I am. (That may be a lie. Seven has a solid career at Apple and is always keen on improving herself professionally and personally. Shout out to my Professional Lesbians).
But I’m not a stereotypical Lesbian Lawyer. Wait is that a stereotype or a character from The L Word?
- I love “introverted activities” like going to art galleries, curling up with a book, finding and losing myself in quality music (Nine Inch Nails [3 links!], Gallant, Starflyer 59). But I’m not a bookworm with a Tumblr girlfriend.
- I’m a huge Twitter nerd addicted to news about Toronto, the LGBT movement, municipal politics, the economy, tech news, and innovations. But I’m not a total techie or Gaymer.
Well, this has quickly become a personal profile… but that’s because that’s really what it is. I just don’t fit into a single category. My interests are all over the damn place.
“My sexuality is not the most interesting thing about me” – probably Cosima, on Orphan Black.
My sexuality is a part of who I am, yes, and I quickly bond with people over discourse over anything outside of the heterosexual range. Because that’s what I’m interested in – tell me your coming out story, tell me how gay you are, tell me how it’s been since you came out. But I also have other interests. I can just as easily bond with an LGBT person as I can a Toronto urbanist.
It’s easy to classify butch lesbians (see Lea DeLaria, Brittani Nichols) because the word immediately paints a picture in your head and helps you visualize them when being told a story about them. They are more than butch lesbians – DeLaria is an accomplished actress, comedienne, and jazz musician. Nichols is a much younger web content contributor, actress, and director of small indie film(s). They are much more than their label, “butch”.
So it’s frustrating that I still have this deep-seeded need to classify myself. I feel like I understand that it shouldn’t exist and that in itself should rid me of this urge. But I’m still frustrated that there are no labels for me… But I don’t need labels… But I want to be easily able to introduce myself in the community… But I don’t want to omit important details about me by way of stereotypes… But I-
Side note: I don’t think a meme has resonated with me so deeply as this one. I am completely serious and saddened by this realization.
I was messaging with a friend who’s backpacking through southeast Asia about this (link to original intro here, but in summary: we quickly became confidantes after I came out to her the second time we met (I was closeted the first time) when she brought up her own queer identity.
And also we almost made out but I ended up running away to puke and she ended up taking me back to her place to take care of me as I puked oh my god why do you keep puking in front of cute girls get your shit together why are you like thi–). Although I’ve only seen her less than three times in person, she’s been a solid confidante and we’ve had beautiful conversations about people, life, queerness, and politics. She barely hesitated:
I have nothing against butch lesbians… but I didn’t think that I was seen that closely as one. Out of the two, I feel closer to being a “hard femme” (although the label itself sounds like it’s an exaggerated femme lesbian) and I just don’t identify with the word “butch” at all. Then again, we have only seen each other a handful of times, with the first time being me in baggy clothes, almost makeup-less, at a three-day music festival. And I keep bringing up that I play softball, initially as an inside joke. I suspect that because we don’t see each other often, we have a much more vague and idealized image of each other, and the association with softball/athleticism draws an artificially more “butch” memory of me.
She is right though – it’s unfair pressure to put on “my sled”.
At one point, I brought up that my favourite character/crush on The L Word was Jenny Schecter – it was purely superficial and I’m pretty sure I skipped the parts where she was a bitch (which was most of the series, apparently). She FLIPPED. She was rushing to get on a bus in Malaysia, but she made damn sure that I knew when she was back, we’d marathon The L Word together so she could set me straight.
Well,… Ah, you can find the joke in there yourself.