Femme Visibility


Last summer I spent some quality time with two friends from Spain in Brooklyn and the subject of lesbian visibility came up. Despite being able to get legally married, lesbian visibility is still almost nonexistent in Spain, never mind being a femme. My friends told me that I don’t look like a lesbian and I got pissed. It was an ego thing (you can count the number of Spanish lesbian writers who are out with your fingers, I’m a published author, I have written for 2 well-known lesbian magazines, I promote lesbian visibility in my blog, and you mean to tell me you don’t see me as a face of lesbian literature?) and also a self-image thing and thinking I’m screwed if I go back to Spain and want to meet women. What am I supposed to do? Cut my hair short? Wear mismatched, stained clothes? Give up on manicures, pedicures, and waxing entirely?

Another thing that bugged me around the same time was that our express mail delivery butch didn’t see me. I liked her eyes, her muscular legs, her cute ass in the uniform and her sexy Brooklyn or Bronx accent but I couldn’t think of a way to strike up a conversation beyond “hi,” “thanks” or “goodbye” when I signed for something. The receptionist is my friend and she told the delivery butch that I was going to be signing for the deliveries going forward so that we could get to know each other (of course, we didn’t tell her that last part). At some point I talked to her about a kd lang concert and I was extremely disappointed when she didn’t know who kd lang was (what?!!!); it made me feel “white” and old; it also made me think if I had read her wrong entirely because what self-respecting stud, papi chulo or butch doesn’t know who kd lang is?!

I spent some time during the summer thinking about lesbian visibility and how to make myself more visible without having to resort to wearing tacky rainbow bracelets or those jelly pendants you think are cute when you see them on Etsy but turn out to be something a 6 year old wouldn’t be caught dead wearing when they finally get to your house. I decided that this year’s Christmas gift to myself would be a personalized femme pendant in sterling silver or white gold and I even bought my gym duffel bag in the right colors to match an oversized acrylic femme pendant that I was going to recycle as a key ring thingy attached to one of the zippers (that didn’t work because the pendant is red and the stitching in the duffel bag is more of a bright salmon red).

Fast forward to a few months later: I no longer care about being visible, I’m not going out of my way to look more lesbian to Spaniards or be more visible as a femme in NYC, I have even made a list of perks of being invisible (post to follow)… AND I’m meeting butches everywhere. I think my energy shifted once I stopped caring about being visible in Spain and told the express mail delivery butch to stop giving me packages because the receptionist was playing matchmaker and she doesn’t talk anyways (yes: I’m too much!). Going No Contact with The Traveling Butch may also have played a part. I don’t know. Something changed. It’s almost as if I had gotten an invisible “femme” tattoo on my forehead that only butches, stone butches, studs or papi chulos can see because I’m meeting women everywhere: the building where I work, the gym, the supermarket, Duane Reade, online… It’s (using my Oprah voice) awesome.

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