A while ago, in an email chat with Laura and Sarah of Sprezzatura, the girls mentioned that they didn’t have many/any other friends who were in lesbian relationships. Whilst I completely agree with them that the internet is a wonderful place to meet other people who are similar to you – straight, gay, whatever – I still struggle to remember that not everyone has a super gay friendship group like Stace and I do.
I know that Stacey and I are lucky – as well was having each other, we have a number of friends who are also girls who date girls; I can think of around 4 couples immediately and I have a few single lesbian friends too. I joke to Stace about this quite often, but it sometimes feels like she and I don’t have any straight friends – other than the folk we both still know from school and our colleagues. Even our male friends are more likely to be queer than straight.
Mainly, the reason for having such a strong LGBT friendship group comes from the fact that I (and Stace, although slightly less so) was so strongly involved in the University of St Andrews LGBT society, as I’ve mentioned before. Being on the committee and going to a number of their events meant that I met so many friendly gay faces in St A, and a number of them became the people I think of as my closest friends.
If you looked at any of these girls, there’s no way that anyone would glance at any of them and immediately think **LESBIAN** unless they had seriously good gaydar. That’s not because they’re ‘femme’ per se, but none of them conform to lesbian stereotypes either. There are no shaved heads, cropped haircuts or checked flannel shirts – but one has an amazing half sleeve tattoo, another has stunning red curly hair, and another has a wonderful collection of humourous t-shirts. I guess that if you wanted to classify us, I would be the most ‘femme’ – but really, that’s hugely subjective. (And even I went through a ‘must look super gay so that people know I’m a lesbian’ phase when I was first coming out!)
My gay friends are all doing very different and wonderful things with their lives. Two will soon be doctors. One is an art student. Another wants to be a teacher, whilst her girlfriend is a psychologist. I know lesbians who are physicists, personal trainers and even one who works in a circus. The common thread? None of them look ‘like lesbians’. Why not? Because whilst some girls who like girls may cut their hair short and wear baggy jeans all the time, that is no prerequisite to being gay. At the end if the day, the way you look has no effect on who you fancy; the girl in a dress and heels us just as likely to have a girlfriend as the one who in converse and hoodies, but really? The majority of gay girls are most likely to be somewhere between between those two extremes.
There’s a lot of chat at the moment about ‘femme invisibility’ – particularly from Megan at What Wegan Did Next. Whilst I fully support ANY campaign to increase the visibility and acceptance of LGBT people in the UK, I wouldn’t want to focus just on those who identify as ‘femme’. I think it’s really important that the world realises that what you look like has NO effect on who you get into bed, and (as the girls in the L Word find our in that episode where Lara and Dana get together) that you can’t pick out a lesbian just by looking at them. People shouldn’t just be accepting of the obvious lesbians, or the ‘pretty’ ones. There are gay girls in every industry, every community, every walk of life, and they all look different. They are all as deserving of visibility as one another.