Lesbian Gender Aesthetic

The other day I was on a panel for a sex therapist class and I described my ideal gender presentation as “lesbian.” Now I know that lesbian is a sexuality, not a gender, and that lesbians have a very broad range of gender expressions from high femme to hard butch. But as a kid, I was always drawn to lesbians because of how often those were the people I saw in society breaking down gender norms. Where “tomboy” wasn’t just a phase as a kid but something you could be every day throughout your life. Where you could have short hair and wear plaid shirts and still be feminine. Where the people you slept with wasn’t dependent on how you dressed but it could still be a way of expressing your sexuality through clothing.

The closer I get to being a lesbian, the happier I am. Even though I know both my gender and sexuality are more complicated than that, it’s the person I always wanted to be as a kid.

Queerness and Gender intertwined

My queerness is integrally tied to my gender identity and it’s not a coincidence that I accepted both parts of myself at the same time.

As a kid, I found myself deeply attracted to lesbians as soon as I discovered them. There was a period where I was worried that I was somehow fetishizing people and being like those gross men who get off on watching lesbians kiss while simultaneously being misogynistic and homophobic. But I realize now that like most of my attraction to women, I can’t untangle my desire to BE them with my desire to date them. In my teens I desperately wished I had been born a woman so I could be a lesbian because at that point I still didn’t know that trans women existed.

For a long time I thought I couldn’t be gay because I was attracted to women and I didn’t have examples of bisexuality or transness in my life. And even when I started to realize that there were some men (like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine) that I was attracted to, I thought I couldn’t be bi because I was married to a woman. There was always some “good” reason that I couldn’t accept my whole self.

So when I finally discovered nonbinary people when I started dating again, I immediately glommed onto them for the same reason. I both wanted to be them and to date them. Now, 5 years later, I find myself dating 5 people, all of them nonbinary. Turns out I just really like people who do gender intentionally. People who have thought about it enough to make a conscious choice about how they present themselves. Which is why I like the term femme too. It means an intentional choice to present in a feminine ways as a queer person rather than just taking the role that society shoves you into.

The thing about sexuality is that there isn’t a lot of terminology that isn’t gendered. So much of homosexuality and heterosexuality is defined by “opposite sex” which doesn’t really exist. Even the term Bi on the surface can be interpreted to mean only 2 genders. So I initially defined my sexuality as pansexual because I was attracted to women, nonbinary people, and occasionally men. Now I’ve gone back to using the term bi for myself because I think there is value is showing people that being bi doesn’t mean you need to exclude nonbinary people. Most bi groups define it as attraction to more than one gender (same gender as you and a different gender). 

Early on, I also latched onto the more generalized term Queer because it kind of sums up both my gender and my sexuality. As I find myself now being more woman than not, that inner kid in me still has this strong desire to claim the term lesbian for myself too. But it’s not entirely accurate. I am too queer for a monosexual label. I’m genderqueer, I’m sexually queer, and I’m just socially queer too. There’s no single box that can hold me but to me, that’s a beautiful thing. I can find people that share some of the same labels with me by using that language and add more adjectives as necessary to fit the situation. I’m not an either/or person, I’m a both/and person. 

I’m not gay as in happy, I’m queer as in fuck your binary.