During college, other queers often told me I was a femme and I would get all indignant, as college-aged queers tend to do. Don’t tell me how I identify! My gender is fluid and I may look girly sometimes but I ain’t no femme. It took me a few years before I figured out that I am: Femme. As. Fuck. And I have never felt so empowered and authentic as I have since embracing my femmehood. I love being a femme so much I had to tell you all why. (It’s not just the lipstick, that’s only 20% of it).
1. Not apologizing for who I am
This tends to happen to us all when we start embracing our true selves and living life with confidence. I used to be so uncomfortable in my own skin, and you could read it in how I presented myself. In college, I felt so ugly and unconfident that I would hide in giant sweatshirts and sweatpants. I was basically a big sweat tent, and nobody could see me. Or so I thought. Now I want to be seen. For years, I thought makeup and fashion were frivolous and I was wayyy too deep for that girly nonsense. Then I realized that was pretty misogynist of me and that wearing makeup can be just as empowering as not wearing makeup. It’s all about what’s right for you. So here’s to wearing lipstick every day, or never wearing lipstick ever, or wearing it sometimes, because I support everyone’s decision to be whoever they are because you’re all beautiful and because I am a big, sappy, hippie femme.
2. The element of surprise (also file this under my least favorite things about being a femme)
Apparently, to many people, being a lesbian means you must always wear flannel and Birkenstocks. And look really angry or something. I do love Birkenstocks, but I usually pair them with fabulous winged eyeliner, short skirts and my big-ass lipsticked smile. This tends to confuse people. I’m not exaggerating when I say that people are often shocked when they find out I’m gay. A straight male co-worker once asked me, “You’re gay? You?! So, like, no dudes at all?” Man, what is it about me that screams “I Heart BlowJobs?” I mean, I don’t even wear that shirt anymore. I don’t know what the confusion is, maybe it’s my long hair, or my boyfriend (Joke!). It used to drive me crazy that my queerness was invisible, but I’ve accepted it now. I get to look fabulous and consistently disappoint straight men. That’s not a bad life.
3. The lipstick
This may be hard to believe, but I used to hate lipstick. I found it sticky and inconvenient and I felt really self-conscious wearing it. I’ve only been wearing it on the regular for about two years now, and it took a few months before I fully embraced it. What helped was finding out about matte, long-wear lipstick that isn’t sticky! Unfortunately, no matter how high-quality the lipstick is, I have yet to find one that doesn’t come off on my grrlfriend’s face when I kiss her. I kinda like leaving my femme mark on her, though I know it’s not her favorite (Sorry, love, it’s part of dating a femme!). If nothing else, I will throw on lipstick to automatically up my confidence factor and fabulize my outfit. Now if somebody would please stop me from buying more. My makeup bag overfloweth. My bank account does not.
4. Running Oakland
As my best femme told me shortly after we met, “Femmes run Oakland.” And it’s true. In New York, I often felt excluded from queer circles, even though I knew some fabulous femmes there, too. In Oakland, I am actually read as the big queer I am. Women flirt with me here, which is a completely new experience. I still deal with dudes hitting on me, but the cute lady queers balance it out and make me all fluttery and swoony and happy. I encounter femmes everywhere and we smile at each other, because solidarity and stuff. Thank you, Oakland femmes, see you at the monthly city council meeting.
5. My Femmeships
I am lucky to be part of an amazing national community of femmes. Back in 2011, a college femme friend invited me to a secret femme facebook group. I was ambivalent about it, as I didn’t identify as femme, but Lauren knew something I didn’t. Gradually, I got more and more involved and learned that femmes are amazing and they know everything. And that maybe I was one of these fabulous femmes. Many of the femmes in this group have become my real-life friends and they have taught me skills for everything, from perfect cat-eye eyeliner to healing from trauma. My femmeships make my world go round and I know they will always be there for me, to hold me when I cry and then fix my smeared mascara.
Featured Image: Flickr user Steven Depolo via Creative Commons