Working in a Dog-Friendly Workplace is the Cat’s Meow
November 12, 2013
Suzanne McArdle
2013 W.Y.S.M. of the Year: Suzanne McArdle
November 12, 2013

Femme Problems 104: “But You Don’t Look Like a Lesbian”

Annoyed woman

We’ve all been there before: a straight guy does a double take when he sees you holding hands with your girlfriend at the mall. A grocer accidentally fumbles your tampons when you mention your unusually cantankerous wife at home. Your boss walks by your desk and sees a picture of you with your partner and asks, “Oh, is that your sister?”

Each and every one of us femmes encounters these and other social situations daily; where our sexuality is not only brought into unnecessary light, but also evokes an inescapable impression of shock and surprise in the guys that comprise our lives. Let’s face it, we femmes present as lipstick-loving, tight-dress wearing women. And the straight world still hasn’t been able to conceptualize the idea that we women do, in fact, love and make love to other women.

In my experience, heterosexual males between the ages of 24 and 35 are by far the worst. They haven’t seemed to socially evolve with the rest of us here and queer in 2013. The gay marriage train is picking up political steam and gay athletes are finally starting to come out of the closet. So why is it that every time I dare to forgo the comfort of gay bars and self-identified queer-friendly businesses, men are often dazed, dumbstruck and confused by the fact that I am a lesbian?

I fear I’m starting to develop a mild case of hetero-phobia. Whenever my straight girlfriends ask me to join them for a night on the town, my anxiety flares up and a series of awkward social situations, uncomfortable conversations, and inevitably agitating encounters flash before my eyes.


“But you’re too pretty to be a lesbian.”

This guy makes me want to curtsy graciously, flash a sly smile, then pop my parasol and whack him right back to 1850 where that line might have actually worked. Why thank you sir—I think in my best southern draw—I do so desire to be physically appealing to your oh so very keen and discerning eye.

I then swallow the urge to spit out an entire sermon on sexuality and gender presentation right in his face. But alas, the relationship between gender and sexuality is as intricate and complex as the physiology and psychology of the human body itself. Living in a society that paints gender as black and white, I don’t quite expect this guy to color outside the lines of his perfectly patriarchal picture of man plus woman equals family.


“You just haven’t found the right man yet.”

Why is it that every guy at the bar assumes that every woman there is just waiting around for Mr. Right to buy her a shot of whiskey and then whisk her off on his white horse?

No sir, I haven’t found the right man yet because I’m not looking for a man. I’m looking for a deep and meaningful connection with a fellow effeminate psyche. I know this goes against everything you learned from your track coach and big brother in high school, but please, feel free to stand back and take notes as I woo every other woman in the room.


“You got any friends?”

Wait a minute. Two seconds ago you were just hitting on me, and now you want a reference? I think I just got whiplash. No sir, actually I don’t have any friends for you. I just said I’m a lesbian, remember? That means we all drive a U-Haul and very rarely make it out of our cozy little nests unless Phase is hosting jello wrestling or Ani DiFranco is performing somewhere.

Birds of a feather flock together, and in lesbian culture, that means that we very rarely have any single straight female friends. Not only because we can’t find much in common, but also because—where the hell would we all hang out?


“Which one of us broke you?”

While I’m sure every guy out there would love to think of us women as simple sex machines turned on and off with the right touch of the right button, we’re not broken and we don’t need fixing. It absolutely boggles my mind that someone else who is as equally attracted to the female form would assert that because I am too, I must be defective. Hypocrite.

No dude, I don’t have daddy issues, and as my girlfriend will attest, everything here works just fine. My phallophobia stems from deeper parts of my consciousness than a tainted past of failed male relationships.


 “Well, if you ever need a sperm donor…”

Ah, the classic “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” approach.  At least I can respect the rationale, however flat it may fall in its delivery.  For me, it’s a simple case of nature verses nurture.  Sorry man, but I don’t think your narrowly knowledgeable genetic pool is quite from where I wish to draw my future spawn. While I lean toward the side of nurture, I still want nature on my side.


It is these and other tumultuous lines drawn between the straight and gay world that inhibit my desire to interact with those who do not share the same basic understanding of sexuality and gender presentation as myself.  But what do we do? I just can’t imagine that we are all socially doomed to suffer through this ignorance and social de-evolution for the rest of our lady loving lives.

I’ll never forget the time I was walking down U Street, and this guy approached me and said, “Damn, you’re beautiful. Can I get your number?” I wondered to myself if that’s actually ever worked on a woman before, and then proceeded to kindly ignore him. He followed me, and after several repeated attempts, I finally lost my patience:

“Sorry dude, but I don’t swing that way,” I smiled as I walked toward my blue Toyota Yaris, HRC sticker proudly beaming on the bumper.

“What do you mean? You’re into girls?” he retorted in absolute shock and dismay.

“Sir, let me ask you a question,” I said. “How do you feel about penis? Do you like penis sir?”

“Oh hell naw!” he replied in absolute disgust. I thought he was about to vomit on himself.

“See? Now that’s how I FEEL!” I emphasized with all my might.

Before you knew it, he was laughing with me, shook my hand, and said he got me. Turned out he worked at a tattoo parlor down the street, and offered me a steep discount should I ever be in the need of more ink.

And then, I experienced an epiphany: you know what? The irony here is that of all the varying sexualities in our society, it is these guys—the straight men—that I find have the most in common with us. They love boobs; we love boobs. They have about as much desire to perform fellatio on their male counterparts as we do. They think women are beautiful. So, why is it so hard for them to understand that hey, we do too?


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