LABELS AND ME- FEMME

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FEMME

“But…you have been with men before obviously?”
“Yeah, but you’d go back, right?”
“You’re gay?! But you’re so pretty”
Femme. Why is it that one term seems to change your credibility in the lgbtq+ community as well as within society? Why is is that enjoying being feminine seems to be tied with the inability to love women in other people’s eyes? How is it that even though femme women have fought incredibly hard for the rights of the lgbtq+ community throughout history and yet the community keeps denying them an appropriate voice to express their experiences and thoughts?
I grew up extremely feminine. I was enrolled in gymnastics at the age of 18 months and given a rigorous routine filled with glitter, body suits, elaborate dance routines in a community mostly supported by women. My mother is one of those women who is always impeccably dressed with her designer sweater vests and pearls, which allowed me to explore my feminine side as I grew older. When I was in my teenage years, I moved to Montreal for nine months and met a wonderful group of girls who decided to take me in and teach me what elegant style was all about. They were sophisticated, classy and high status; everything I was not but I learnt quickly to assimilate.
When I came out as bisexual, it seemed as if everyone took it incredibly well. I was a pretty girl willing to kiss other girls for other’s enjoyments. I was sexualised for a genuine sexuality because of how I portrayed myself. It seemed as if everyone appreciated the typical cliche of a college girl having some “fun” with other women, as long as I did not threaten anyone’s masculinity by developing feelings for these girls. It wasn’t until I started seeing my first girl that this became incredibly apparent; the amount of men who asked me the questions listed above were numerous on a daily basis. I would get harassed, pushed against walls, groped, called vulgar names and whenever we went to parties, were coerced to be all over each other for the entertainment of the party. This is an incredibly sad truth that happens to an inconceivable amount of sapphic relationships. There is no need to ever justify feelings or have to behaved theatrically because of how society tells you how two pretty, feminine women should behave when together.
When I came out as gay a couple of years later, it wasn’t the backlash from the non-lgbtq community that surprised me, but more so the negative attention brought forth from it. I was told that due to my past with men and that because of the way I looked, I could probably go back to men and so that meant that I could not identify as anything but bisexual. I was told that real lesbians don’t dress the way I do, or that I was stereotypical for being with a “boi/butch”. I was told not to wear heels because pretty women shouldn’t be taller than their partner, and expected to look my best whenever I would leave the apartment at all times. I had to justify multiple times that I was not using being gay as an excuse to get close to someone’s boyfriend. I was forcefully told multiple times to “prove” that I was gay. I was told that I have not experienced struggles or assaults because I didn’t look typically gay. My community rejected my ideas, and my society rejected me because I threatened masculinity. I am not saying these issues are only for femmes, but that I have noticed that this is a reoccurring theme for lipstick lesbians in the community.
I am thankful for those years as it pushed me to self-reflect and realize that I was using makeup and femininity to fit a standard that others had of me, as well as a facade so other’s would not see how unhappy I was. I started playing around with other styles, and am now in this wonderful process of finding where I am comfortable. I do not identify with a label anymore, but I do want to tell anyone who identifies as a femme: Your voice is valid. You do not need to justify to anyone how you feel, or where you are on the homosexual spectrum. You are an amazing addition to the lgbtq community and your experiences are just as valid as anyone elses. Keep rocking that highlighter and those stilettos !
All of the love,

 

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