“I just don’t know what to wear!” I whined to my friend.
“Just wear whatever you want,” she said.
“but… But… BUT!!!!” I said.
We were talking about this wedding that I’m going to/singing in this weekend. Let me back up and be clear, I am generally not someone who spends ages debating about what to wear. Not that there is anything wrong with spending a lot of time thinking about what to wear. Thinking about what to wear is not inherently superficial or bad or whatever. And I certainly give thought to my appearance for important occasions. But I don’t tend to be the person who calls up friends to talk through outfit options, and I certainly am usually not the person who is at a complete loss about what to wear. Like… no clue.
But this was a particular situation. Because this wedding happens to be between two queer folk. So it opens up options for me. Now, again, I’m not one to bow to social conventions, and if I want to wear pants to something, I do because I’m an adult and get to make my own decisions about my body.
But for this wedding I knew that I could totally butch it up– I could wear a tux, or a suit, or my snazzy slacks and vest and button up and tie (I look totally adorable in all these options) — and that would be totally cool. No one there would bat an eye if I showed up in a tux. In fact I would probably get props for it. And wanting to revel in this all too rare atmosphere of total acceptance and support, part of me really wants to do it JUST BECAUSE I CAN.
But at the same time, I have a few totally fabulous dresses hanging in my closet that I almost never have a chance to wear. They call to me. They remind me how cute my boobs look in them. They tell me stories about how fun it is to femme it up and how adorable I look.
And so I am conflicted.
Because added to this seemingly straightforward decision are layers of — what kind of gay girl am I anyway? Am I butch? Am I femme? Am I somewhere in the middle? Is ‘going butch’ just to give social conventions the middle finger any better than bowing to social conventions just because they are conventional?
Is buying into idea that in order to be a “real” lesbian I have to always prefer pants to dresses any more healthy than buying into the idea that to be a “real” woman I have to want to wear ‘pretty’ clothes?
And why do I feel the pressure to be a “kind” of lesbian anyway? Isn’t queer culture supposed to be all about being our authentic selves and not bowing to pressure to be ANYTHING? Why can’t I just be me– dresses, jeans and all– and not feel like I have to fit into ANYONE’S idea of what I should be? The answer is that… well… I can just be me. But then there is the added layer of wanting to send out “hey I’m gay” vibes to other queer types. And non queer types. But you know, when you want to make queer friends and date queer ladies, you want to attract queer folk who also know you are queer. And I read as straight far more often than I enjoy/understand/am comfortable with, because with that comes the burden of privilege which is still privilege even if it’s unwanted privilege, so there is an element of I want to make sure people know I’m queer and will they know if I’m wearing a dress?
The answer– probably… considering I have a short, very dykey, hair cut, and other subtle signals. But, I guess what I’m saying, is that this is part of heterocentrism and hetero privilege. Because being able to have the world accurately deduce your orientation and gender identity on sight means that you don’t have to prove it to anyone.
Now, yes… I’m aware that there are many reasons and layers of elements of identity and self expression that go into many people’s choices of clothing. My problems do not negate the fact that other people have problems.
I’m just saying that this is a thing that I never used to have to consider until I came out.
And now I think about this kind of stuff ALL THE TIME.
I’m just saying that this is a lesbian problem that, when I talked about it to my straight friends, they went “omg… you are right.. that is totally a thing that I have never thought about!”
So I just thought I’d put it out there for people. Another dot for people to collect, to connect with other dots in their lives. (Also, the blog that sentence links to is by Amanda Palmer and is one of the most amazing things I’ve read in a WHILE, and you should all go read it and I will probably talk more about it after some craziness in my personal life has calmed down.)
For the record… I came to a decision. I mean, obviously, because the wedding is tomorrow.
I’m wearing an adorable black dress that makes me feel like a sexy rockstar in it.
Because I want to.