My Boyfriend is a Lady

ImageA sales assistant was trying to usher me out because the store had closed 10 minutes ago. I told her I was waiting for my partner who was using the washroom. So the sales assistant dashed over to the men’s washroom entrance and started calling out “Hello? Hello? The store is closed!” I blushed and shuffled over to the women’s washroom and softly called out to my lady partner. The sales assistant looked me up and down with that “Who are you kidding? Does your girlfriend know you’re gay?” look that I’ve become so accustomed to.

The sales assistant hadn’t even seen my partner, so it wasn’t that my partner was being misgendered as male, it’s that I was being read as gay. Sometimes I wonder how people know I’m queer. Then I look down at my outfit on any given day. It usually involves something like: pink leopard print necker-chief and matching pocket square, dangly fake pearl earring, tight shorts, bright pink socks and studded boots. Oh… that’s right, most straight people can’t differentiate between effeminate men and queer men. And mostly it’s only queer men who have the guts to express femininity in a culture like mine where femininity is punished and devalued. Patriarchy devalues both women AND femininity. I feel very sad for all those straight (and queer) pansy men who are in the closet about their love of lace, ruffles, pink and dangly earrings. For that matter, I also know a lot of women who choose not to present their feminine sides because of the harrassment they get from dudes. Ugh, more reasons why the patriarchy is not only horrible and violent, but incredibly boring as well. The world will be so much more sparkly, frilly and joyous when we throw down the racist, able-ist, colonial heteropatriarchy!

I love that people read me as gay/queer. I am queer, and that’s very important to me. I feel so grateful that I’m queer! Yet I find it incredibly awkward when they assume I have a boyfriend.  They are often being really sweet by trying to affirm to me “hey, I can see you’re gay, and that’s fine by me!”. And I want to celebrate their open-mindedness without embarrassing them, so how do I respond? My “closet” looks quite different than some other queers I know. For me, coming out of the closet involves declaring to the world, “my boyfriend is a lady!”. Sometimes I say this directly and then they assume I’m straight, or more likely closeted, and look apologetic like they’ve just insulted or outed me, when in fact, I see being read as gay or queer as a compliment. Just as commonly, they get a betrayed look on their face and say something like “but you said you were gay?” to which I’m a little baffled because generally this is people I may have known for 2 minutes or less and probably only talked about the weather. Many people are so compelled by their stereotypes that it’s as if before I even open my mouth, a loud speaker announces “this is Sunny. He’s Gay. Gay…. Gay gay gAy GAY gaaaaaaaay”. Other times I just avoid using pronouns about my partner for as long as possible and let them continue with their assumptions that I have a boyfriend. But then I feel like fraud who’ll be discovered at any moment and also I want to honour and celebrate my wonderful lady partner.

My partner and I get stared at a lot in public. We sometimes make a game of trying to figure out why. Maybe we make each other look trans? My partner is not trans, but she is quite tall and has a somewhat deep voice for a cisgendered woman. And I’m a short dude with some of the tell-tale signs of a trans-man (at least to the trained eye). Maybe we’re just a sight because she’s so much taller than me. Maybe it’s because we’re often both wearing dazzling, sparkly outfits. Or possibly they’re worried about my partner- “that poor woman, is she the last one to know that her boyfriend is so clearly gay?”. I feel like yelling “she knows I’m gay and she’s hella gay too!” Well, we’re both queer with an affection for the word “gay”. We’re both attracted to queers of all genders: women, men, genderqueers, including both trans and non-trans people.

Whereas my queerness is hyper-visiblised, my partner’s queerness is often invisiblized because she’s a femme cisgendered woman and therefore doesn’t fit people’s stereotype of queer women as butch. She’s only read as queer when she’s being sweet with someone who’s being read as female. Or when she’s with me–because they’re reading me as gay, they’re reading her as something-other-than-straight.

I’m considering making a t-shirt or a pamphlet entitled: “My boyfriend is a lady and we’re both hella queer!”

Some other popular blog articles:

Racism is to White People, as Wind is to the Sky

Femme Ally Conversation Starter

Boy Tits in the Locker-room

the Boy Tit Finale Summer Collection

2 articles on sobriety: Wet >< Dry and The Brandy is Just for the Zit in My Throat

Like Sunny Drake on facebook, follow on Twitter or instagram, connect on Linkedin

Check out video, photos, theatre shows and workshops on Sunny’s website

7 thoughts on “My Boyfriend is a Lady

  1. Pingback: Femme Resources | The Glamorous (?) Life of…

  2. These things are wierd. I’ve experienced having cis, male, and hetero privileve while wearing a dress and being with a cis femme woman. Wierd what to make of that. And inversely, I once made out with her at an LGBT center (because i feel safe there), but we were dressed like a typical het pairing, and I felt like a dick for taking up space/being- in-your face hetero in what was meant to be a queer safe space.

    The hetero privilege thing is tricky. One can have it and not have it at the same time, feel emboldened by it at the risk of internalizing queerphobia.

    And I also wonder if straight people ever read genderfucking as anything other than gay. It’s awesome if you like to do it, but I doubt it does anything as a tactic to smash the gender binary. :-p

  3. I’m hella queer, and I’m still suffering from these kinds of thoughts. God, how I hate it! Like if I see a person I read as for example a lesbian, and then see them with a guy or hear them talking about a guy I presume that they’re actually straight and feel disappointed and almost like they’ve let me down. Which is totally stupid because A) I was the one who presumed they were gay, B) just because they have a partner of a specific sex doesn’t mean that they’re exclusively into that, C) identifying as queer I should know better than to judge or presume what people are into.

    And I would also read very feminine women as straight. Just a couple of hours ago, a new accuaintance told me she didn’t know what her sexuality was, but that she enjoyed kissing both guys and girls. Still, just some moments later, I found myself thinking about her as straight, was sooo close to making straight jokes (like saying how she was flirting with this guy when I wouldn’t have said that about a girl).

    I know that hetero- and cis-normativity affects everyone, but it’s so frustrating. It’s like, if I can’t even be inclusive and non-judgemental – how are hetero-cis people supposed to be? I wish hetero-cis-white-able-rich-alcohol-fuckingeverything-norms could just die. So I guess I’ll just have to keep trying to kill them…

  4. I love that you use gender neutral pronouns just to throw people off, I literally lol’ed. I am a straight girl, with a straight boyfriend, but sometimes I refer to him as my partner, my better half, my love, etc. and when using this wording to people I have just met there is a this look on their face that signifies that they are trying to work out in their heads what my “partner’s” genitatia must look like. I find it a very fun social experiment.

    Props to you for expressing who you are all the time with pride. If only more of us in the world were so brave as to say “f**k you, I don’t care what you think about who I am!” I’m sure the world would be much more sparkly!

  5. Happens all the time to me, and I’m a femme woman with long hair who wears makeup and loves pretty dresses. I might mention a crush on a person with a specific gender and then refer to a previous relationship with a person of another gender and it blows their tiny minds. A judgement is made that I’m not queer because apparently I don’t look like one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s