Guest Blogger: Femme On A Mission tackles “femme invisibility”♥
What’s up Fab Femme readers?
My name is Julia and I am a femme on a mission.
Recently I did an experiment in which I wore a super gay t-shirt in a busy mall. (You may have seen it – Aryka was kind enough to feature it in the sidebar of The Fab Femme.) What I was trying to combat is the feeling of invisibility that many femme lesbians experience on a daily basis.
Imagine walking down the street and seeing a member of your community – your people, so to speak – and yet you pass by unrecognized. For femmes, this happens almost every time they see a queer person. You know the old joke, “She plays for the other team.” Well, for me it often feels as though everyone else on my team is wearing a rainbow jersey – and I never got the uniform.
This invisibility often leaves me feeling alienated from the LGBT community. It has become a running joke between my partner and I that whenever I spot a lesbian couple or a rainbow sticker on a car, I will shout just below earshot, “Hi me! Hi us! We’re gay! We’re gay too!” It’s funny and we have a good laugh, but at the same time, it is representative of the desperation I feel in trying to be visible to my community.
I catch myself staring at lesbian couples for a few seconds too long. I wonder if they think I am judging them, when in fact I am just trying to catch their eye, hoping that they see me for who I am.
I know I often appear as “the enemy” so to speak: a straight white homophobe with no knowledge or regard for the many inequalities in the world around her. That’s not to say that invisibility is not, in its own way, a privilege – because it is. The ability to slip under the radar can be life-saving. But the fact of the matter remains that there is a certain kind of suffering that comes with invisibility. It’s easy to feel worthless and less than when no one can see you.
So how do we solve the problem? Well, from personal experience I know that the answer is not for femmes to change how they dress or present – because I tried that, and I lost touch with myself in the process. The problem instead lies in the cultural assumption of heterosexuality in everyone and for everyone. Only when there is some kind of gender nonconformity happening do people every question the sexuality of a person. And gender does not equal sexuality, as any trans person can tell you.
The solution to femme invisibility starts with all of us – choosing to fight against heterosexuality as the default setting in the eyes of the world. Starting today, try to break the habit of assuming a person’s sexuality based on their appearance. It’s not easy, but it will be worth the effort the next time you meet a femme lesbian. What a breath of fresh air it will be for her when you ask something like, “Do you have a partner?” instead of “Do you have a boyfriend?”
Just the thought alone is enough to make this femme’s heart smile.