I’ve always been a little feminine.
One day, while talking to my friend in 8th-grade after school, her little brother came up to me and asked “Why do you talk like a girl?” I didn’t know how to respond. On numerous occasions, people have said “Oh I’m not surprised” after I come out to them. What they really mean by that statement is that I use too many hand gestures or my voice pitch changes too much for me to be straight.
The bottom line? We equate atypical gender expression with queerness.
But what if you are queer AND gender-normative? While you may be afforded the privilege of passing as straight, being labeled as straight by other people when you’re not isn’t an ideal situation, either. People (including fellow queers) will constantly question your queer identity. These feelings of doubt and invisibility might make you feel ostracized from the community. “Where exactly do I fit in and where can I find others like me?” is ultimately what these people wonder.
For femme lesbians and queer-identified womyn, femme visibility is the way to combat this. Not all queer womyn have buzzcuts, drive motorcycles, or shop at Home Depot. Campaigns like Femme Visibility are outlets for queer womyn to claim that no, they are not secretly straight and wearing high heels doesn’t make them any less queer. Normative gender expression does not equal heterosexuality, and the world would be a lot better place if we stopped assuming heterosexuality on everyone that doesn’t tick our queer radar.
While mainstream media doesn’t have that many out femme lesbian role models (aside from Portia DeRossi and Santana from Glee) there’s a whole community of femme YouTubers documenting their experiences.
Check out the videos below: